Sea Dog Blog

Elephants in the Gulf Stream

The crossing from Florida to Abaco is about 130 miles, 55 miles across the Florida straits, to West End, Grand Bahama Island and then onto Abaco. The most challenging aspect is crossing the Florida Straits. The Gulf Stream flows northward at about 3 knots and is 20-25 miles miles wide. During the winter months if the wind blows hard (15 knots or higher) from the north, against the current, you have the equivalent of a 25-mile wide tide rip. Looking out to the horizon it will appear jagged or saw toothed, large square waves (elephants), high seas kicked up by the determination of the stream, struggling to fight its way north against the wind. This is not the time to make your crossing. When the weather is right the crossing is not difficult. The key factors to safe Gulf stream crossings are watching the weather closely, traveling in the company of other boats, reliable communications & navigation electronics (preferably with a back-up portable VHF), safety equipment and filing a float plan prior to departure.

The Abaco Islands

A wonderful group of islands, situated 100 miles north of Nassau, the Abacos represent the most versatile, least challenging and easiest to navigate of the Bahamian island groups. Abaco is comprised of 100 or so large and small islands and cays with the largest being the Great and Little Abaco. Stretching from the northern most island, Walkers Cay to Hole-in-the-Wall at the southern tip of Great Abaco Island, the waters are largely protected without blue water passages. Navigation throughout Abaco is simple and you are seldom out of sight of a neighboring cay. The Abaco chain was truly created for the cruiser, sail or power. Situated approximately 130 miles from any Southeastern Florida port of call, Abaco can easily be reached by most any seaworthy boat, either sail or power. Faster craft can reach Abaco destinations in a single day, while aboard a sailboat or trawler is likely to involve a couple of days or more in good weather for unhurried cruising.