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Old 10-20-2011, 06:20 PM
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Default SE FL - Bahamas.

Considering a boat trip from southeast florida to the bahamas in late spring. I have a few questions, and i am open to concerns or opinions.

1) customs concerns? How do i go about this?
2) places that are boater friendly - slips ect once i get there.
3) actual distance. (the most ive seen is around 100miles to gas stop)
4) abnormal supplies a guy from indiana wouldnt think of?
5) what kind of water worst case? Best case?
6) "the bahamas" is vague. Where should i shoot to take a break and take in the night life and fun?

Im sure alot on here have made the trip. Feel free to add anything... Im Weighing my options.

Thanks.
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:56 PM
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I am planning a similar trip but no dates yet.

I am going to head for "West End" at closest tip of Grand Bahama Island. It is 54 mls from Riviera Beach Fla.
When it's calm as it normally is the first couple hrs of the mornings here, it would be a no drama, great trip.
If it's blowing like it was last weekend (20-30 winds w/6' waves) you wouldn't go. Key is, if you launch in good water/weather, in a fast boat, you're in.

Scariest part is crossing the Gulf Stream 1/2 way over. If you lose power while in it, you will be heading for New York @ 3 - 5 mphs and quite possibly out or radio range to shore/help.

Bimini Island is even closer to Miami at I think 44 mls.
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:43 PM
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30 feet is minimum and go with another boat first trip.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:29 PM
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Google Bahamas Fling, these are group trips set up by the Bahamas, they make a lot of the arrangements for you. Not really set up for go fasts but the web site has a lot of good info.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:39 PM
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I just did a crossing in May, first plan plan and more planing, read everything you can. Second your plans have to be flexible we left on a Thursday planning to return Monday, winds had us stay till Wed.

A couple things you'll need American and Bahamas flag plus a yellow quarantine flag. GPS, Epirb, ship to shore radio, passports and charts. Get all your boat registration serial number hull number everything.
File a float plan with the coast guard and I would do the local boating option so you don't have to check in with customs in the US when returning.
Sat phone and emergency raft are nice but not necessary.
If you want to bring a weapon that is suppose to be checked in when arriving in the Bahamas
Top of your fuel and leave in the morning with your American flag flying. When you get to Bahamas water fly your yellow quarantine flag with the US flag. The yellow flag will stay up until you clear customs and the you replace it with the Bahamas flag. They speak english and take US dollars so that isn't an issue. Once close enough radio the marina and ask for your slip, yes call ahead and get a slip reserved. When your docked if they follow the law to the 10th degree the captain is the only one allowed off the boat until customs is cleared, but they let my wife and I off and we checked in to the resort. You have 24 hours to check into customs bring all your paper work passports boat registration everything, I make a 3 ring binder up with plastic protectors to put everything in. You fill out a couple forms and pay your money and they stamp your passport your in. Stay and have fun.
Where do you want to leave from and where are you going?
I left Miami straight across to north Bimini 45 miles.
In north Bimini you can stay at the Big Game club or Bimini Bay resort.

Bimin Bay Resort casino is suppose to be open by winter.
Also prepare to be shocked because their busy season is summer when the oceans calm.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:42 PM
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Link to my trip

http://forums.boatfreaks.org/showthread.php?t=18319
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Old 10-21-2011, 12:24 AM
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BBB725 and others covered off most of the important points very well. Nice job, Brooks. I would just add a couple of things to be aware of. They are going to charge you a $ 300 entry fee. Good for 90 days. This has discouraged a lot of people from just going out for a "lunch run" to Bimini and back the same day. Many of the Islands are pretty quiet and if your looking for a major party scene you will need to go to Nassau / Paradise Island. That is 150 miles +/- from FLL / MIA. Once you get beyond Bimini there is about another 50 miles of Bahama Bank that is the most gorgeous water you will ever see except for perhaps in the Exumas. The last 50 miles to Nassau is a deep water crossing but does not seem to get too rough like the Gulf Stream. Nassau is quite central to the Bahamas and you can then access Eluthera chain, Exumas and others.
I recommend buying a Bahamas cruising guide. As was stated you will want to read up and really study this.
It is always a good idea if there are a couple of boats, especially on your first trip so try and talk some friends into bringing their boat along if possible. Another thought is to do the trip with the Florida Powerboat Club and many of the arrangements are made for you. Check their website.
If you are fortunate and patiently wait for a good window to cross you will get good weather as shown in this crossing I did in May 2010. Be sure to get a good weather report. Remember you not only have to get out there, but also back. If there is a north wind, it fights the Gulf Stream and will be ugly. Ideally light winds out of the south.
I will post a few pics to show that the rewards in doing this are great .... if you have nice weather. Good luck,

Bob

1) GPS data - We were able to cross to Bimini at 65 MPH. Took less than 50 min.
2) A flat gulf stream.
3) pigs swimming at Big Major Cay ( mid Exumas )
4) Iguanas at Allen Cay ( northern Exumas )
5) Sunset at Bimini Bay Resort
Attached Thumbnails
SE FL - Bahamas.-bah-2.jpg   SE FL - Bahamas.-bah1.jpg   SE FL - Bahamas.-bah-3.jpg  

SE FL - Bahamas.-bah-4.jpg   SE FL - Bahamas.-bah-5.jpg  

Last edited by Bobthebuilder; 10-21-2011 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:08 PM
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Is the $300 dollar entry fee per vessel? Or person?
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PigNaPoke View Post
Is the $300 dollar entry fee per vessel? Or person?
Per vessel. I believe you can leave and if you return to Bahamas within that 90 day period you are not charged for subsequent visits.

Is your boat a twin or single engine ? If a single I would not do it alone under any circumstances.

Bob
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Old 10-21-2011, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PigNaPoke View Post
Is the $300 dollar entry fee per vessel? Or person?
It is actually two tiered. $300 for boats 35 ft. and greater. $150 for under 35 feet.

For a first trip I'd do west end, then on to Port lucaya. There are two good places to stay at lucaya. From there, if you are adventurous, you could head to Treasure Cay etc.

Every place is different. Treasure Cay is more laid back, it's all about the fishing/diving/etc. Grand Bahama Island is more updated. You'll kinda feel like you are in the keys at a nice resort.

Be sure to bring spare fuel filters as gas isn't usually sketchy but certainly can be. Gas is also $$$$ over there. Really spare parts is a must. second set of props, extra belts, hoses, or at least some way to repair things. Good tools in general. I never found a good marine store in the Bahamas, and if you do find one they will have a bajillion parts for outboards.

also... paper maps / handheld GPS is a must with spare batteries. handheld VHF too. Be sure to have a dump bag ready with the handhelds in them, water, etc. Two or three of anything needed to get you there and back is the mentality you have to have. you shouldn't go to the Bahamas on a budget.

It is a VERY fun trip but just be super prepared

Last edited by VetteLT193; 10-21-2011 at 02:13 PM.
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