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Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:25 pm
by Lady of the Lake
So, it looks like Gina and I will finally be able to get enough free time to make a real Bahamas run sometime over the next year or so.

A few questions for the PDQ family:

1. When is the best time to go, considering that we prefer warmer weather and less winter winds, seems like a lot of folks go December-March, we are thinking more like March-April, will that work?
2. If we were to dedicate 3-4 weeks for the first trip, coming out of the FL Keys, what are the do-not-miss places? We have been to several Bahamian islands in the Bahamian north east, including Marsh Harbor, Hopetown, etc. on other people's boats but not yet on ours. The Berry Islands seem to be a favorite that I am being drawn to. And coming out of the FL Keys seems to make some of the south western islands attractive.
3. Any other recommendations including best charts to use, anchoring pointers, or any other "local" knowledge is greatly appreciated.

Thank you all in advance. Let the info flow, I am ready to absorb as much as I need to so that this is a safe and interesting trip. And I know this will be a good resource for others that want to go and a great way for those of you who go frequently to share some of your knowledge and great stories. We can share on this thread but if anyone has any prepared documents, charts, photos, etc., you can send them to me at and I can post them on for others to enjoy as well.

Sam and Gina
s/v Lady of the Lake
PDQ36 Hull #36015

Re: Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:20 pm
by duetto
hi sam,

we're there nov-apr. most floridians come apr-jul/early aug. i would reco may-jun. fronts have basically stopped, water is warmer, temps are nice, and humidity is not yet oppressive on anchor.

we're based out of marsh harbour but go down to eluethera/exumas/berrys at end of season. my favorite area is the 60 miles between hybourne cay and staniel cay. lots of snorkeling and great anchorages but virtually no food stores/fuel/water so you have to go prepared.

explorer charts for areas you will travel thru are a must. there a number of good cruising guides.

in general, abacos and eluethera have most food/fuel/water easily available. depends on what you're looking for abacos/eluethera have mix of "city" and remoteness. berrys and exumas are more remote. we've never been south of staniel cay.

you'll want to get a phone with a bahamian simm (batelco or aliv) and get a data plan for internet and weather access. i can get you details on setup if you want.

feel free to email me or call if you want. send me pm or email if you want.

Re: Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:42 pm
by Lady of the Lake
Great info, thanks. And yes, I will contact you shortly and talk more.

Thank you,

Re: Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:33 am
by SecondWind
Sam, We spent 4 1/2 months in the Bahamas, mostly the Exumas. I would recommend trying to get to Georgetown in time for the Cruisers Regatta, usually around the end of Feb or early March ( ) ( ). You will need a set of Explorer Charts for Navigation- They are updated annually by cruisers in the Bahamas. Half wetsuits are advisable early on, but the water does warm as the time goes on. Try not to have much of a schedule and remember that you can provision in the Bahamas. You should definitely talk to us before you go.

Re: Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:17 am
by Lady of the Lake
OK, thanks. We will definitely talk soon. Maybe it would be cool to get a group together just to talk Bahamas...I could bring in one of the musicians we work with and have some music, make it into a party!

Re: Need info on Bahamas trip please

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:37 pm
by Iriemon
Hi Sam,

You can go to the Bahamas anytime. If you want warmer weather and fewer cold fronts, then Apr - June is a good time to make a trip. July and August a probably a little warmer than you want! Mid-October - December is also a good time period. Jan-Mar you can get cooler weather and frequent cold fronts. The main problem with cold fronts is that strong north winds kick up the Gulf Stream.

If you want to schedule 3-4 weeks for your trip, I'd focus on picking a group of islands to cruise. It's not enough time to see everything in the Bahamas. For your first excursion, the most popular options would be the Exumas or the Abacos. Either can be reached in 3-4 days and have lots to offer.

The Abacos are more populated and offer more bars/restaurants/provisioning. With the Abacos, you take advantage of the north flow of the Gulf Stream and check in at West Point in Grand Bahama Island. You can make a big loop going around the north side of Grand Bahamas Island and then to the east side of Abaco island into the Sea of Abaco. Cruise down the Sea of Abacos, visiting lots of cute little Islands like Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Man-o-War Cay and Elbow Cay. Marsh Harbor and Hopetown are well know cruiser hang outs. Marsh has good provisioning and a nearby airport can bring or depart guests. As you sail south around Great Abaco Island, you can take a detour to Spanish Wells and the northern part of Eleuthra. Then follow the NW Providence channel west, taking advantage of SE trade winds. You'll pass north of the Berry Islands, and you cross the Great Bahamas Bank and you can spend a couple days in Bimini before making the crossing back.

The Exumas are more sparsely populated, and provisioning opportunities (including water) less frequent. At least until you get to Georgetown, which is a big cruiser hang out with approximately 3-400 boats anchoring there in the winter, though many start leaving in late March and April. To get to the Exumas, you'll probably first go to Bimini, then cross the Bahamas Bank to the the NW Channel on the south side of the Berries, and head to Nassau, where you can spend a couple days if you wish. Then its a direct sail to the Exumas, with its chain of hundreds of little Islands. Some of the more well known are Allen Cay with its friendly iguana residents, Big Major Cay with its friendly pig residents, a James Bond underwater cavern at Staniel Cay, yet another Great Guana Cay (lot of guana in the Bahamas), and Great Exuma Island, home to Georgetown. You'll probably spend a few days there provisioning and taking in the cruiser hangout, which can easily turn into a couple weeks. Coming back is the opposite of going in, so you can skip some islands on the way in to have something different on the way back.

While the Exumas are more sparsely populated, that doesn't mean there are fewer boats. Both the Abacos and Exumas are popular cruising grounds, and you'll encounter lots of other cruisers if you are there during the season. If you want something less traveled, the Berry Islands may be a good choice. When I last went, they were very uninhabited, with fewer other cruisers, but it's been about 30 years since I've been there. To really get away from it all, you need to go to the less popular places in the Out Islands, where you can sometimes find yourself anchored off a beautiful beaches all alone. But that's for another trip.

I concur with others that Explorer Charts are excellent. But a good pair of binoculars and polarized sunglasses will be your best friends. As far as anchoring, we almost always go with one anchor. The water is usually shallow enough that you can dive down to make sure it is set properly when you back it in, if you can't see it clearly from the surface. The 1-2 times I tried a "Bahamian mooring" I ended up with a tangle mess of anchor rode.

We will probably be heading for the Exumas for a month or so next year in the March time frame. Let us know your plans, maybe we can hook up.

Bryan on DILLIGAF PDQ 32.