Sailing To The Bahamas: When & How

The Bahamas are located just a few miles away from Florida’s East Coast. But, when it comes to sailing to the Bahamas, when and how can you go about it?

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‍The Bahamas are located just a few miles away from Florida’s East Coast. But, when it comes to sailing to the Bahamas, when and how can you go about it?

The ideal time to make a trip to the Bahamas by sailboat is somewhere between December and April, even though you can technically sail there all year round. There are also certain routes you should follow if you want to reach there easier and faster.

Though the Bahamas are only about 50 miles away from Florida, sailors still get confused about the best way to get there. There are multiple routes, and the fact that you can technically sail there at any time makes it confusing.

Still, with experience comes expertise, and that is what we will be using to let you know when and how you sail to the Bahamas.

Table of Contents

When to Sail to the Bahamas

A trip to the Bahamas is completely possible on a regular sailboat, but you want to make sure you make the trip during the right time. One important thing to remember about planning your journey is the state of the weather. During the months June to November, hurricanes are frequent and you don’t want to get stuck in them.

The Bahamas islands also face various hurricanes, and if you are sailing from the US, you’ll find that the Bahamas is less safe from such conditions compared to the US. Therefore, it is best to do your research about the projected weather conditions, both at every step of the route as well as the destination.

Ideally, you should plan your trip between the months of December and April, since hurricanes are much less likely. The temperature is cooler and drier and the Bahamas is not as humid as it usually is. These months are also the peak winter season in the United States,therefore it is a good way to take a break from the cold as well.

Read up on tropical reports before you head out, and make sure you turn around if you see any possibility of hurricanes as well. While a trip to the Bahamas is great, you don’t want to risk your safety for it.

How to Go About Sailing to the Bahamas

If you’re heading towards the Bahamas, there are certain routes you can take.

Departure Point

It is widely agreed upon by sailors that the best starting point for your journey is Florida. Technically, you can begin your journey anywhere within the state, but it’s a good idea to start as further south as possible since this will make it easier to cross. Many sailors choose to start from Miami, since this makes their journey much easier.

Depending on what part of the Bahamas you’re headed to, you can change your departure point too. If you want to head towards Bimini or Cat Cay, you can start from Key Largo. Otherwise, if you’re headed to islands like Abacos or Fort Lauderdale, Miami is your best choice, and you can ride in the Gulf Stream for a while as well.

While sailing across the stream is also a possibility, most sailors would say that you should wait for weather conditions without any northerly winds, since this is the best time to cross.

Best Routes

There are a number of good routes you can follow to reach the Bahamas

You can either head straight to the western Bahamas Islands like Bimini or Cat Cay, where you can get a small snippet of what the Bahamas is like overall. This trip would be about 50 miles or so.

Another option is to sail towards the Abacos, which is 190 miles one way. This is the best place to visit in the Bahamas since it has a number of museums, shopping options and restaurants. To sail here, you’d start at Palm Beach, go over the Gulf Stream, and stop at the Bay Marina. Then you should head to Green Turtle Cay and then to Abacos.

You can also choose to head to the Northern Exumas, which would be a 220 mile trip towards one of the gorgeous tourist destinations. By sailing from Miami, you can head to Bimini, from where you can go over to Chub Cay, then to Nassau and then Northern Exumas. This trip can be a bit tricky because of the reefs present at the end of the harbor.

Regardless of which course you take, ideally you wouldn’t miss the Gulf Stream, which is definitely one of the main tourist attractions of this journey. That said, remember to check the weather conditions, since the areas falling between Florida and the western Bahamas Islands can face some extreme weather conditions.

What Kind of Boat Should You Use?

While sailing with a regular sailboat isn’t impossible, it’s not really recommended either.

When heading to the Bahamas, you should pick a boat that is built to be strong and sturdy so it can handle the rough weather conditions. Since there is no way to tell when the weather can change unexpectedly, your boat should be equipped to handle any adverse conditions.

It should also be large enough to carry you, your crew and all your equipment and supplies. You should have a large number of supplies and equipment on hand in case you ever run into extreme conditions that end up delaying your trip. Even if you plan to make a stop, make sure you have food and water that can sustain you for at least an extra week, and make sure you have good anchoring equipment as well.

The size of the boat will depend largely on your preferences and what kind of weather you’d be sailing in. If you’re headed out during rough weather, a small boat would probably not be the best, but if the weather is nice and the waters are calm, you’d do just as well with a smaller boat as a larger one.

If you don’t have any other options, you might want to wait till the conditions favor the kind of boat you have.

Boats that are made for offshore fishing are usually good enough for sailing to the Bahamas since it’s not a very long trip. In fact, the whole trip may take only about one day at most, if the conditions are favorable.

That said, many sailors prefer boats that have cabins since they’re best for ensuring safety, as well as giving you a place to rest and sleep if you happen to stop somewhere. These kinds of boats are commonly found at the Bahamas Islands.

The speed of the boat is also another factor to consider. Boats that can notch up to 25 knots can take you only a few hours to reach from your starting point to the western Bahamas. Such boats may take only about a day to reach as far as the Northern Exumas.

Other slower boats may take more time to make the journey. If your boat can notch up to six knots, your journey from Florida to the western Bahamas may take up to a day, and extra time if you want to go towards Nassau or the Northern Exumas.

Besides just the time it takes to get there, the Gulf Stream currents can also affect the displacement hull if the speed is slow, so it’s best to have a faster boat that can help you maximize the amount of distance you cover during the good weather windows.

Sailing to the Bahamas is not very complex – it is an easy journey to make if you know what you’re doing. That is why, if you follow these tips and plan your journey accordingly, you’ll definitely be able to make it safely and easily.  

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