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Bahama Bound


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The Admiral has a break in her work schedule starting mid-November. She says: "What if we took off for an extended cruise?" "For how long", I reply. "December and January?" she says.  Whaaat! Are you serious?  

That's how it all started. Now we are making plans to leave SW Florida after Thanksgiving and be on the JAH Love for 2 months. We will cruise the Keys of course and travel through the Okeechobee Waterway to the East coast. And the big dream is to go to Grand Bahama and beyond. I searched the forums and found a lot of discussion on crossing the Gulf Stream and going to the Bahamas.  I still have a few questions and appreciate any input:

1. We have lived on the JAH Love for 2 weeks at a time but that's it. Will we tire of living in such a confined place for much longer?

2. From what I have read, Grand Bahama Island is the place to check in. Is it feasible to cruise the Abacos and Exumas from there?  Is petrol readily available? Our cuisine range is 150 miles.

3. What currency do they use there? Do I need to bring gobs of US cash or are credit cards the way to go?

4. Do we need to fly flags? If so, which ones and attached to what on the boat?

5. Should I be concerned that I have a single-engine boat?  Does Sea Tow respond to calls there?

6. What is the best East coast FL marina to hole up waiting for the right weather to cross the gulf stream?

7.  Who else wants to come along?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience, MontreAl

 

 

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The Bahamas are basically closed to visitors right now...most of the islands are still shut down and they are requiring a  negative covid test and 14 day quarantine upon arrival. I doubt it will change by November as their PM is intent on dragging this "crisis" on forever.

 

That being said...

1) Maybe, but I would go for it.

2) You would want to check in Bimini or Grand Bahama and the proceed to the Abacos, Eleuthera, or Exumas.

3) USD is accepted.

4) Yes, a yellow quarantine flag before clearing in, then a bahamian flag.

5) I wouldn't be. I think Sea Tow now operates in the Bahamas, but double check.

6) somewhere in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.

7) I would love to if I could.

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DO NOT miss Bimini!  I would absolutely check in there and spend a few days exploring there.  Go to Honeymoon Harbor, the Sapona, Bimini Road, etc.  Also, Drew was right...fly the Q flag until you clear, but then don't fly the Bahamas flag...fly the Bahamas Courtesy Flag.  They are different.  Google them to see.

I would think two months on a 270 would be cramped, but I'd still do it!

Weather windows are everything for the crossing (and further explorations), so get a sim card for your phone after checking in.  Windy is a fantastic website / app for sea conditions.

Concerned with a singe screw?  You'll hear both camps.  Take spares, must have an EPIRB and fixed mount VHF plus portable VHF.  We took an aviation liferaft ourselves.  If you get a couple boats to go along you'll be much more relaxed and enjoy it more.

And yeah, like Drew said, Covid restrictions are a real thing.  Make sure you know exactly what's required and what's open.  Things are getting desperate over there so crime may increase.  Be prepared.

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Consider longer bad storm seasons. More intense  & longer lasting storms. Heck this is the first real year N J has had tornadoes.  Do it the flotilla way.   More weather people in the group is always best.  Get lucky on the days at sea.

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Thanks to Drew, TexasPilot and Phillbo for the great advice.

Since we plan to travel In December and January we hope that Covid closures will have eased a bit. A couple more questions if you don't mind:

1. Will we need a dinghy or a means to get off the boat while at anchor? When we travel now we anchor out 1 or 2 nights and then head into a marina for fuel, water and ice. I think kayaks or iSUP may be handy.

2. I am thinking about solar panels on our bimini top so that when at anchor we do not need to operate the genny or main to charge batteries to keep the refrigerator cold.  What do you think?

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1- Most marinas have locals that run a water version of UBER... I've used them many times. Or you can get a courtesy slip as needed. That being said there is no replacing the convenience of having your own transportation.  

2- You need to calculate how big a panel you can mount on your Bimini and see if it will cover your power needs. 

 

To one of your earlier question- being happy on a 27' cruiser for 2 months. How well do you sleep on the boat? If you don't wake up sore every morning you'll be fine. I would need to replace the mattress in my aft cabin if going out for more than a couple weeks. After a week or so I am aching for my bed at home. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
3 minutes ago, Phillbo said:

Yes, If you're a US boater and plan on traveling to or communicating with a foreign port, you can get an MMSI number by applying for a ship station license through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Thanks for the confirmation. That's what I was able to glean from my searches.

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On 9/5/2020 at 9:07 AM, MontreAl said:

Thanks to Drew, TexasPilot and Phillbo for the great advice.

Since we plan to travel In December and January we hope that Covid closures will have eased a bit. A couple more questions if you don't mind:

1. Will we need a dinghy or a means to get off the boat while at anchor? When we travel now we anchor out 1 or 2 nights and then head into a marina for fuel, water and ice. I think kayaks or iSUP may be handy.

2. I am thinking about solar panels on our bimini top so that when at anchor we do not need to operate the genny or main to charge batteries to keep the refrigerator cold.  What do you think?

1. A dinghy is great but would be a lot of trouble on a small boat. The Bahamas has plenty of marinas.

2. I wouldn't worry about solar. You will be using the boat a good bit, no?

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On 9/16/2020 at 4:27 PM, Phillbo said:

Yes, If you're a US boater and plan on traveling to or communicating with a foreign port, you can get an MMSI number by applying for a ship station license through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Did it - thanks for the advice. FYI, it costs 220 for a 10-year license.

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44 minutes ago, MontreAl said:

Did it - thanks for the advice. FYI, it costs 220 for a 10-year license.

Wow!!  I just have the BoatUS MMSI.  Since I only have one Bahamas trip under my belt, I figured it was just easier to ask for forgiveness after the emergency where it saves my life  :)

 

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17 minutes ago, TexasPilot71 said:

Wow!!  I just have the BoatUS MMSI.  Since I only have one Bahamas trip under my belt, I figured it was just easier to ask for forgiveness after the emergency where it saves my life  :)

 

From what I read, an MMSI for international waters needs to be issued by the FCC.

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4 hours ago, MontreAl said:

From what I read, an MMSI for international waters needs to be issued by the FCC.

Legally, yes.  But it would still work if in the event of an actual emergency, right?  I have only made the one trip to Bimini and probably won't make another (although I SOOO want to), so my point was that rather than pay the FCC for that one trip, I'd just pay the fine after they saved my life ;)

 

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