Cruising Close to Home
The Eastern Seaboard of the United States is extraordinarily picturesque and historical. Sailing offshore in Bahamas, the Florida Keys, or up in New England, and Maine guarantees a sensational cruise.
The South Florida’s Eastern Coastline
From bone fishing to swank nightlife, everything can be found on Florida’s coast. Such locations as Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West, and the Dry Tortugas make great cruising destinations.
Along the Intracoastal Waterway is the city of Fort Lauderdale Florida. It lies about halfway between Palm Beach and Miami. The city is one of the world’s greatest yachting centers with an amazing amount of luxurious mega yachts making it their home port.
Fort Lauderdale provides waterfront shopping, dining, and shelter along the cities hundreds of canals and rivers. This in turn provides an idea year round home for more over 20,000 yachts. The city is also a Port of Call for yachts cruising south for the winter.
A little further down the Intracoastal Waterway is Miami Beach. This is truly a unique area, made up of mostly man made islands. There are hundreds of flamboyant hotels, nine miles of beach, thousands of coconut palms, unlimited entertainment, and spectacular water views.
The next stop on our trip south is the old historic Key West. This is a high points on any cruise in the Florida Keys. Key West is a charming city with a colorful, if not rowdy, past. It is popular with artists, writers, and sport fisherman. Yachting facilities are excellent, and the restaurants of Key West are especially famous, for their seafood, conch, and Spanish dishes..
You might be tempted to believe you have escaped to a far-off tropical island paradise. The American facilities and customs serve as a pleasant reminder that the Florida Keys are indeed a U.S. vacation destination.
Cruising further south to the Dry Tortugas you will discover a number of tropical islands. Underwater explorers can examine. There is an abundance of shipwrecks to investigate that span five centuries of history. In addition there are countless caves, cliffs, colorful coral reefs, and variety of tropical fish making for great SCUBA diving.
The Bimini Island Chain
Across the Gulf Steam from Florida’s east coast lies the Bimini Island Chain. These sub tropical low-lying islands are a fantastic destination for a week-long sail. Bimini offers some of the finest SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing and beach combing anywhere. These “islands in the stream” offer water clarity that is nothing less than spectacular. Be sure to bring along your snorkel or diving gear.
For certified divers we highly recommend bringing or renting your SCUBA gear before you head across the Gulf Stream.
The Bimini Chain is lightly populated with the center of village life located on North Bimini, in Alice Town. There are many small restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the Hemingway Museum at the Complete Angler Hotel. Marinas are abundant if you decide not to anchor out.
The beaches on North Bimini offer miles of uncrowded fine white sand and snorkeling from the water’s edge. Golf Carts and Mopeds are available for rent make it possible to explore the island. An interesting dive site is Bimini Road, Some say it’s the ruin of the Lost City of Atlantis.
South Bimini is primarily residential with only two marinas. The Sands Marina along with the Customs and Immigration office. is located at the entrance to the harbor. Captains can clear in and out of Bimini without having to take a taxi and ferry over to North Bimini.
Near South Bimini lies the Wreck of the S.S. SAPPONA. This is a great snorkel and dive site.
North Cat Cay is the only other island in the Bimini’s with a marina. This is an exclusive island with some “high profile” homeowners. This marina is highly recommended this for your last night’s stay in the Bahamas because of its incredibly beautiful setting,
Just off the coast of South Cat Cay is a fantastic dive site. Tuna Alley offers 50’ to 80’ deep caverns and crevasses in the coral. For safety and convenience, mooring balls are available.
The Bahamas – Sea of Abaco
A little further offshore lays the Sea of Abaco comprising more than 1,000 square miles of protected cruising waters. The Abaco Islands have been described by visiting yachtsmen as a cruising paradise.
The Sea of Abaco provides some of the finest sailing/cruising conditions in the hemisphere. The small low lying islands break the swell of the Atlantic Ocean yet allow for the balmy southeasterly trade winds.
Barrier reefs to the east provide finest diving experiences one can enjoy any place in the world.
Great Abaco is the largest land mass in the chain of Islands in the Abacos. Although Marsh Harbour is the largest settlement, there are many smaller communities sprinkled across the island,. When visiting these exceedingly small settlements, you are likely to be treated as family.
Each Cay offers its own personality. While there are a large number of Cays in the Abacos, only a few cays are heavily inhabited. Ferries or private boats carry passengers to the Cays. All the Cays offer great beaches, nature, and pristine waters. One can easily find a simple position on a cay and live a quiet life.
Cruising in the Abacos is a unique experience. You are never out of sight of land. Plus. the crystal clear water with its white sand bottom is always visible.
Eleuthera and the Exumas
Other popular cruising ground in the Bahamas is the Exumas, which can be reached easily by yachts based in Nassau.
Eleuthera offers excellent cruising. It is not necessary to cruise south towards the Exumas to enjoy the best of the Bahamas. Eleuthera offers a great mix of quaint villages, great restaurants, fabulous resorts, and quiet anchorages. The beaches are excellent some even offer great surfing. You could spend more than weeks of vacation here and not discover all that Eleuthera has to offer.
Looking to enjoy some nice shoreside activities, then Eleuthera is a great destination for you. The resort areas around Harbor Island and Governor’s Harbor offer great social spots, restaurants, and even some shopping.
The Exumas have everything that makes the Bahamas one of the premier yacht charter destinations in the world. Here you will find delightful small islands, pristine white beaches, interesting and historic places, exotic creatures, and friendly locals.
Within the Exumas, there are 365 islands and Cays that lie strung out across over 120 miles of ocean. This makes this a yachting paradise!
From the air, the Cays look like jeweled steppingstones surrounded by a shimmering emerald sea. This illusion gives the chain the distinction of being one of the prettiest in the Bahamas. The bright white sand of the deserted beaches is in striking contrast to the deep aquamarine hues of the water.
Great Exuma and Little Exuma, are largest islands the chain. A short bridge connects these two islands.. Today almost half of the residents still go by the surname Rolle. The largest settlement in the chain is appropriately named Rolleville.
The Exumas’ Land and Sea Park that covers 176-square miles. It is a natural preserve offering brilliant coral reefs, exotic marine life, and the rare Bahamian Iguana. These Iguana can grow to over two feet long. A saltwater river on Fowl Cay can be explored that takes you through to the heart of the island. It is a truly breathtaking experience.
The New England Coast
The summer months are a wonderful time to visit the New England’s coast. You can roam the historic waterfronts of such places as: Newport, RI, Block Island; Martha’s Vineyard; and Nantucket. These are all beautiful places for a bit of history while shopping in high style.
Maine’s rugged coast is an ideal cruising ground with its stunning rocky cliffs, cool summer weather. And do not forget the wonderful seafood there.
The summer cruising season n New England and Maine starts around mid-June and can extend into September or October.
The Prime Time to Cruise These Areas
The prime time for cruising in the waters of Florida and the Bahamas are the months of March through November. On the other hand the months of December through February, can be very uncomfortable should a cold front appear.
Hurricane Season is typically mid-July through mid-October. Hurricanes do not just spring up, they move slowly, It is safe to go ahead with your sailing plans during a hurricane season if the weather system is stable. But on the other hand, you will need to always keep an eye on the weather system.
In closing I’d like to suggest you purchase, Trip Insurance because of the rapidly changing weather patterns in these cruising areas to protect your investment should the possibility of bad weather arise and affect your sailing vacation.