I plan my trips early obviously

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whgoffrn
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I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:22 pm

Ever since I bought my boat I've fantasized about the exumas however the keys is really growing on me with this last trip having been our best trip yet and was a blast....truly the best vacation I've ever been on....and I still feel like I havent gotten to see all of the keys yet..... next year 2019 was my plan for when I wanted to go to the exumas ...and I figured it would take most of a year in planning and making mods to the boat and provisioning etc etc...however now I feel as if I'm missing out if we dont do the mini season bullynetting for lobster and I still want to dive down to the christ of the abyss and see the dry tortugas and troll for mahi and tuna etc etc....so many things still I havent done in the keys..... I know this isnt trip advisor but thought I'd ask the opinions of those who have made these trips .....I'm at a cross roads ...1 exumas ...2 abacos...3 florida keys again

Nauti Nell
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Nauti Nell » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:45 am

Have been to Northern Exumas and the Abacos. No time in the keys. The islands are fun. Lots to see. Trolling is good when crossing the stream and tongue of the ocean. Have not done it in my :macm: . Bare boats that were larger and could take some of the heavy weather better. I think windows would be smaller for the Mac re weather. I brought the boat to the back yard in order to get her ready to do those same fantasies. Bigger solar panels, AC, storage etc. Would like to bring spare rudders and center board. Home built for emergencies. Nothing fancy. Ply encapsulated in cloth. May try to figure out how to attach emergency rudders to engine as a second backup.
(hull I've looked at how to get to South America island hopping. Biggest stretch of open water is about 110 miles...)
If you go the to islands I'd be willing to try and tag along for safety's sake on a first crossing. I can get 20 day bundles of time off from work. Good chance I'll have an experienced crew member who used to live aboard and cruise the islands. Wife would fly in and meet me once over there. Marsh Harbor is a good little airport for commercial flights.

whgoffrn
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:46 am

Just curious if the abacos is as nice as the exumas....abacos looks to be a much easier trip but I wonder if the exumas is still hands down a much better group of islands

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March
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by March » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:43 am

Depends what you're looking for, whgoffrn. The exumas are mostly a national reservation and fishing ain't allowed therein-- I saw fishermen though blithely disregarding the law. Don't know if that applies to trolling in open waters though.
In what ways do you expect a group of islands to be "better" than the other? More tropical? More accessible? More touristy? Haven't been to Abacos, but in the Exumas, it seemed to me that each island was somehow subtly different, but the differences boiled down to: plenty of mosquitoes in the back of the Berry Island. No mosquitoes at Alan Keys. But that might have been happenstance

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:55 pm

As with all of boating even destination is a compromise .... I'm personally not into touristy places ....I would prefer the one that has the prettiest most post card looking photo shopped pictures ....however I also wont be alone I'm going with my children who are 12 and 13...and while they do enjoy a pretty beach I doubt they are at the age where THAT is the most important aspect of a vacation..(like me)... so that's what has got me considering a different plan now .... maybe the exumas is what I want but would be 2 boring months for them .... so that's what got me considering abacos .... but then having tried to look up "prettiest beaches in abacos" and other random stuff it then got me wondering if the abacos was even really that much better than the fl keys because I personally find alligator reef to be amazing ...just trying to see what others opinions are.....if a trip to the Bahamas is what I chose I need to start early to be prepared in time

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Starscream » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:19 pm

Yup, considerations for the kids are of primary importance for a happy trip. You have to know what makes your kids tick. For my three (oldest about to turn twelve, youngest is eight) it is certainly not the travelling part, nor the isolation part.

For many people of Mac-owning age, getting away from the day-to-day and staying away from other people seems high on the priority list, but for the kids it's most often socializing, activities, sports, etc. that floats their boats. When we do beach trips, we can only do a few days before they start thinking about moving on and doing something. For some kids I know, being alone in the Bahamas at a deserted beach with their parents would accurately describe their worst nightmare, no matter how picture perfect the beach is. And it would be 10 times worse if they didn't have their cell-phone data plan in good working order.

Do your kids fish? Navigate? Read in paradise? Snorkel? Hike? If so, congratulations and have fun in the Bahamas.

BOAT has given a few good descriptions of his early sailing days with his family: sure he learned a lot, it seems, but it sounded to me like he didn't have much fun on long voyages and often wondered why. Just my understanding of some of his earlier posts.

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Chinook
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Chinook » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:09 pm

We planned our first trip to the Bahamas in 2004. Despite our lack of experience with the boat, stories about the Exumas convinced us that was where we wanted to go. A wise old dockmaster in St. Augustine listened to our plans and suggested that we might consider going to the Abacos for our first Bahamas cruise. We took his advice, and were glad we did. Not nearly as long a trip, with only one major crossing (Gulf Stream from West Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island (70 nm) and a shorter crossing of the Little Bahama Banks. Once at Great Sale Cay you've got beautiful protected cruising all through the Abacos, clear down to Little Harbour. Only tricky place is The Whale Passage, and you can even avoid that with a careful crossing of the shallows. Mac is perfect for that. The Abacos are northern most of the Bahamas, and so are more exposed to winter and spring time northers. Also, water is cooler there, mid to upper 60's until mid April or thereabouts. We learned a lot in the Abacos about the weather, anchoring, currents, and reading water color. We dragged anchor during a nighttime squall, bulled our way through a rage sea, snorkeled a bit too close to a big bull shark, and watched a waterspout from a respectful distance. All in all, we had a great time.

For our second Bahamas cruise in 2011, we definitely wanted to see the Exumas. You're much further out on a limb going there, with 4 substantial crossings instead of 2 for the Abacos. 45 nm crossing to Bimini, then 80 nm crossing of the Great Bahama Banks, then 35 nm crossing from the Berrys to Nassau, and finally a 30 nm crossing of the Yellow Banks to the north end of the Exumas. Once there you have a delightful 130 nm chain of little islands and cays, leading all the way to Georgetown. The last 25 miles take you through a cut and outside, on the open Atlantic. Water is warmer, area is much more remote with fewer marinas and services.

As far as the Florida Keys are concerned, I don't think they come close to the Bahamas as far as cruising is concerned. I don't like that highway which runs down to Key West. It gets in the way of going from one side of the Keys to the other. Also, I don't like being that close to car traffic. Our shallow draft boats are great in the Bahamas. If you head that way, you won't regret it. Just allow enough time. I think 6 weeks is a minimum for the Abacos, and 8 to 10 weeks should be available for the Exumas. It's easy to get pinned down for a week or longer, waiting for suitable Gulf Stream crossing conditions, and each of the other big crossings can hold you up as well.

Good luck, hope you make it.

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:40 pm

I think I started to realize while I may really enjoy the exumas fhat my kids may not.... I would be happy living on a sailboat in the exumas where they are more "land lubbers" I asked my daughter what was her fav part of this last trip I was surprised when she said key west...she also likes to fish though ....my sons was bullynetting lobster .... mine alligator reef... so I started to consider the abacos as from what I had read it was more "developed" and would satisfy that part for my kids while we could still see swimming pigs..... so I started searching for info on the abacos and there really is little out there on it and maybe it's just that the exumas steals the spot light but from pics I've seen the water in the abacos doesnt look as stunning as the exumas so it made me wonder if going to the abacos was really even worth it and I should just plan for the keys if the water and beaches are not much different than the keys why even bother ...... so I guess my question is really more geared towards the abacos.....does it really have that same crystal clear water of the exumas or is it not quite as spectacular
We would be going in June and July

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Chinook
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Chinook » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:34 pm

Lots of good info sources for the Abacos. I recommend Cruising Guide to Abaco, as a good value with excellent local info. There are numerous other cruising guides to choose from. I suggest you get a couple, as it's always nice to have different takes on ports, anchorages, and routes. You definitely want to get the Explorer Charts for the northern Bahamas. On our cruise, we visited Great Sale, Walker Cay, Double Breasted Cay, Moraine Cay, Fox Town, Manjack Cay, Spanish Cay, Allens-Pensacola Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Marsh Harbour, Hopetown, Little Harbour, and several places whose names I can't recall offhand. We enjoyed good snorkeling when we had calm conditions. Wind blew a lot, and couldn't snorkel when the water got too rough. No problem with water clarity. Fishing was pretty good. We really loved the Double Breasted Cay, Moraine Cay and Manjack Cay areas. Hopetown was really special, with its candystriped lighthouse. We even managed to be at Nippers for the annual Barefoot Man concert, which was an amazing scene. If you go to the Abacos, you'll probably want to clear customs at West End on Grand Bahama. Be advised that the marina there is extremely pricey. Anchoring isn't good there, with thin sand over rock hard bottom. I've anchored overnight there, in the cove just north of West End, but only advisable in settled weather.

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Gazmn
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Gazmn » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:12 am

You're Livin' da Dream Goff - Livin' da Dream 8) ...

:!: & Learnin' from de Right people :wink:

whgoffrn
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:25 pm

And Nell if I do end up going then yeah a buddy boat would be great.... I THINK I'm deciding against the exumas only because I think my kids wouldn't find the same amount of enjoyment as I would from the isolation.... they really enjoyed the keys every trip we've gone so I guess I need to figure out if the abacos are really day and night difference from the keys or not...... so that it would satisfy that urge that I have because the keys isnt too shabby in my opinion as is so I dont know how much more beautiful it is or if any

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:27 pm

Anyone who's been to the abacos and the keys feel free to chime in... as far as clarity of water and beautiful beaches is the abacos hands down winner or are they pretty equal when it comes to sheer beauty between the two

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by Sumner » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:38 am

For me there is no comparison now. The Keys are just a step in getting to the Bahamas. Water quality is better but that isn't the determining factor. What you do have in the Bahamas is ...

Image

... natural sand beaches on almost all of them. The Keys are devoid of beaches unless you are at a man-made one and you aren't going to be alone on them like the one above.

Image

Image

Florida is flat and mangroves. In the Bahamas there is elevation to the islands and you can walk once ashore usually. For me there is just much more beauty there and the chance for isolation and privacy. You are going to find scenes like above all over the Bahamas but not in Florida.

The Keys are nice and for sure much easier to get to so the natural solution for most people who don't have 6-10 weeks minimum to make a trip to the Bahamas. Having the kids as mentioned for sure throws in an added twist and only you know what they prefer. As a kid myself I would of eaten up a Bahama trip. I went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico as a 14 year old and loved it and had to move to the west as soon as I was old enough, and did, and stayed :).
Saying that I was probably the only one in the troop that did. For most it was a hard camping experience and they would just as soon not repeat it. I'd suggest you strongly consider going once without the kids and seeing what you though about taking them. Also taking a 2 week trip to the Keys with the kids where you didn't go to marinas and such, but made it an 'out-back' trip would tell you a lot and would also prepare you and them for the Bahamas.

I've only been to a small part of the Abacos so don't have the insight for there that Mike has but I'd still venture to say it isn't like what you would find to do with the kids in say the Keys where there is still so much going on. The Bahamas are not the states in that respect (and glad for that). Most of the places where I was you made your own fun :wink:

Mike's insight's were good and I'd strongly suggest his trip reports as must reads,

Sumner

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1300 miles to the Bahamas and back -- 2015

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The Endeavour 37

Trips to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Canada, Florida

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whgoffrn
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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:07 pm

I believe I've written off the exumas for now because while it would be a dream come true for me I think my kids wouldn't appreciate the beauty of it as much as I would.... so now I'm between abacos vs keys..... we've stayed on the icw/ titusville at anchor no marinas for couple weeks but the keys is more difficult simply because as u said it's mostly rock and mangrove....if we wanted to go to land it's so much more difficult because almost any decent place to pull a dinghy up on is someone's back yard which may get mad at us jumping their fence and also us1 is right in the way with only 3 places in the entire 100 miles to cross over...snake creek channel 5 and 7 mile ....with everything we wanted to do we needed a vehicle but I do believe given a different location we could stay at anchor for 8 weeks ....at titusville we washed clothes and all aboard and dinghy water back and forth...keys was just not as feasible with no vehicle and largely impossible to land dinghy and walk where we wanted ..... I tried looking for blogs on the abacos but mostly all I seem to be able to find is blogs on exumas as it seems to get most of the attention ..... I guess now that's my question is if once I get to the abacos if I will be disappointed because it's not nearly as beautiful as the exumas and pretty similar to the keys or if it will be just as stunning as the exumas... I think with nippers pig island and a couple of the other things my kids would find the abacos entertaining enough ..... are the beaches, (are there any grottos??) Is water and overall beauty of the abacos equally as beautiful as the exumas?

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Re: I plan my trips early obviously

Post by whgoffrn » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:09 pm

Mike I tried looking for your diary of your 2004 trip to abacos but was only able to find the trip to the exumas....am I missing it???

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