In the past, we mostly saw sailboats and large yachts traveling from Florida to the Bahamas. However, in recent years, we have seen a variety of types and sizes of boats, including off-shore fishing boats and center consoles, make the trip.
Your boat should be large enough to endure the conditions of the open ocean, winds, and the overall unpredictable nature of the weather. In addition, your boat should comfortably fit your passengers, as well as all necessary equipment and safety gear on board. Your boat should also be capable of speeds that allows it to reach the western islands of the Bahamas in a reasonable amount of time. This will help you plan for a window of good weather.
WATCH THE WEATHER
Checking weather conditions is vital for a successful and safe trip. You will find stronger winds and cold fronts during the winter months, and the likeliness of a hurricane increases from June to November.
Listen to the tropical reports every day leading up to your trip. You can reference the National Weather Service for regular updates. Be cautious while crossing the Gulf Stream; this area is known for extreme winds and currents. Check your VHR radio constantly and remember that reception will fade as you get further from the shore.
As mentioned earlier, the western islands are the closest to Florida. However, the Bahamas are a massive archipelago, made up of over 700 islands and 2,000 cays. That is the beauty for boat owners; you don’t have to go to popular tourist areas. You legitimately have your pick of the seemingly never-ending islands. Once you find your perfect spot, drop anchor and enjoy all the magnificent views the Bahamas have to offer.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR INSURANCE?
It’s important to contact your insurance provider before setting out for the Bahamas. You should verify whether your policy provides coverage for navigation outside of U.S. waters and request an endorsement adding it if not.