Weather windows crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas can get very dicey mid-January into March, as the cold fronts cascade across the country. After a great visit with Benj, we were scheduled to leave the Fort Pierce City Marina (well, kicked out as our 2 months was up) on January 9th, giving us 1 1/2 days with a rental car to finish up preparations. We would then head south on the ICW to West Palm to await (hopefully) only a week or so for a good window to cross to the Bahamas.
However, a great weather window was opening up on January 8th, which meant only 1/2 day of final prep & leaving from Fort Pierce, much further north & a poor angle to cross the Gulf Stream. But … when the weather looks good in January, you go!
As common this time of the year, our great weather window was short, but “Windy” & our other weather apps showed this calm area moving south towards the Exumas. So if we didn’t stop at Bimini, but just keep going, we’d be enveloped in calm winds the entire way! While not crazy about doing a 240 mile overnight, we were in Palm Cay Marina, New Providence (near Nassau) 27 hours later clearing Customs. We were set to rest up & wait for another window, but our great luck continued! The next AM the weather was calmer than the forecast so we got underway once again & headed to Staniel Cay, Exumas. After a quick grocery store trip, we headed to nearby Black Point for lunch at Lorraine’s, do our laundry & most importantly pickup some of Lorraine’s Mom’s coconut bread – the best ever! Then another move to Little Bay & then Big Farmers for beach combing. And then a perfect window to continue on to George Town, but wait … there is more!
The weather was so calm that we rafted up with our friends on Adventure for a great fish feast. Oh, ya – the fish – we caught 4! One barracuda we threw back & one mahi got away, but that left two beautiful & tasty 3′ mahi!
Then the next day, onward to George Town for several calm days anchored at Monument Beach to see our friend Cort & start paddle boarding in the beautiful, blue water! This was all in 10 glorious days!! We know it won’t last, but absolutely enjoyed every minute!
Another nice write up of your travels. I enjoyed flipping between my Navionics App and Google Maps checking out all of the places that you mentioned. I have several questions in my quest for knowledge. First, I see that you skipped the Abacos on this journey south. Is that because you just wanted to get to the Exumas and George Town sooner this season? Do you just like it better etc…? Interested in your thoughts. Second,
Often we do start with the Abacos, however this year, we were crossing late to begin with so we decided to start south. The weather is a big factor, as the cold fronts really slam the Abacos mid-winter – at least some of them weaken or dissipate before reaching George Town. Also, we are planning on seeing The Barefoot Man’s last performance at Nippers on Great Guana Cay this April!
I’ve read that about the Abacos and the cold fronts and wondered if your prior experience has assisted with your decision to go straight to George Town. I was going to ask you another question but messed it up which is why it stopped with Second, lol. Anyway, have you guys ever made the jump to the DR & PR and the southern Caribbean islands with your PDQ 34? I’ve read many times of them going to the Bahamas but not on from there. My plan is to go south to Grenada for the later summer season and then back up to ??? during the winters. I sailed the Grenadines from St. Vincent to Grenada 20 years ago when I first met my wife. I would love to do the whole trip from the east coast down someday. I’ve been reading and YouTubing George Town a lot and it looks like a nice place to set up shop for a while in the winter. I’ll check out Barefoot Man and Nippers. By the way, I see your friends on that 41. Very nice like yours. I saw a freshwater one just listed on Yacht World well into the $400’s, expensive. They are nice but in some ways I like the main level of the 34 better. Bigger is not always a bad thing though. Thanks for the reply.
We’ve never seriously considered going further south, as we still have our son & friends up in New England we return yearly to see. This already involves traveling over 4,000 nm a year! Yes, the 41 is nice, but quite a bit more money & hard to find (only 12 ever built). Definitely some pluses & minuses…