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Old 05-20-2008, 09:06 PM   #1
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I need expert advice here as I know nothing about boating. So a college friend of mine bought a Checkmate ZT260 (26í) few months ago and he wants to take this boat from Ft. Lauderdale to Bahamas. I donít know anything about boats and I want to make sure this is safe trip.

Some Details:

-Leaving from Ft. Lauderdale on Monday morning and going to the Bimini Islands

-Going from the Bimini Islands and going to the Berry Islands on Tuesday

-Going from the Bimini Islands to the Grand Bahamas or Abaco Islands on Thursday

-Heading back to the Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday.

-We have no EPIRB.

-3 of us going total. The boat owner has a boating license. He has owned a Jet Ski for some years. I donít think he is a novice in the water world, but not an expert. He has never done a trip like this before.

What type of boating preparations should I make sure my friend makes? ??

How dangerous is this trip???

Is his boat large enough to make this trip safely???

I donít want to die on a boat trip. I am not a great swimmer either.

The boat he has:http://www.checkmatepowerboats.net/zt260.html
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:36 PM   #2
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How Safe ?? IT DEPENDS !

On the Weather

On the Sea State

On the State of the Boat

On the Ability and good Seamanship of the Skipper

As it is only 50 nautical miles (Ft. Lauderdale>> Bimini Islands) with a 300hp engine with 75 gallons of fuel at a comfortable speed of say only 15kts - it will take only 3 1/2hrs.

IF the boat has been thoroughly tested and trialled - especially the fuel system and IF the boat is carrying good life jackets - GPS - Compass - VHF radio - Cell phones - Depth sounder - Food & Water etc. IF the passages have been properly researched with each legs and destinations clearly identified for hazards and facilities. IF people on shore have been advised as to plans, timings etc. THEN with common sense and good conditions it should be as safe as most boating journeys, the biggest threat to safety will be macho behavior.

P.S. How many Nms does this boat do to the gallon ?
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:42 AM   #3
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We will be heading back to FL in the next several days from the Abacos, this morning is my last connection to the internet until we arrive, probably no earlier than Saturday. So this is quick and dirty.

The Bahamas have a few caveats regardless of the size of the boat. Do not cross the Gulf Stream if the wind is from the north. Many passes in the Bahamas, especially north passes into the Abacos and most anchorages in the Berry Islands, are impassable or dangerous in a norther OR a "rage sea". Rage seas do not need north winds to form, there just needs to be a northwestern storm on the northeastern seaboard of the US of sufficient strength to set up one of these seas. We rode through a pass into the Abacos at the tail end of a rage sea, it was just barely safe, but a day earlier we would not have been able to get in and we would have had to turn around and go back the way we had come.

Weather patterns must be changing, a rage sea in May is rare, yet there it was!

You must have a good radio. Check NOAA's National Weather Service. For the Abacos and information on crossing between S. Florida and the Bahamas, and general info about the Abacos, http://www.barometerbob.com/

Distances, approximate. Bimini to Berries: 78 nm; Berries to Abacos, 50 to 75 nm minimum, and much further for decent anchorage if you want to go beyond Grand Bahama Island. From Grand Bahama Island to Ft. Lauderdale, 68 nm.

The Abacos have a cruiser's net from 0815 each day, weather the first order of business, on VHF 68.

Fuel is, at minimum, $5.30/gallon.

Each person must have a life jacket. You need very good navigation charts. Eyeball navigation is essential on the banks or you can run high up onto a shoal or a reef. Do not, repeat - do not trust a chart plotter to keep you off shoals or reefs - the accuracy is simply not good enough. The GPS might be accurate within 15 feet, but the charts are not accurate to less than about 45 to 90 feet! You must eyeball the water to see if it's deep enough and there are no coral heads in your path.

Jetski experience has no value whatsoever in navigating a small boat.

Watch the weather and good luck.
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:16 PM   #4
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Please take heed of JeanneP's comments about the Gulf Stream crossing - and the rest of course.



See the Cruising Wiki HERE (see "Gulf Stream crossing")
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:36 PM   #5
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Sounds a little too ambitious to me. You guys might have a helluva time, and then again it just might be hell itself. A tight schedule like that with little, next to zero experience has gotten more than one person in trouble. I would try to get my friends to take the ride down to Islamorada instead, and stay within the safety of the islands. Get some experience under your belts, and do the trip at another time. If it was me.....I'd stay home, and watch the learning channel instead.
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Old 05-21-2008, 08:38 PM   #6
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There really is no expert advice required. The fact that your friend has a boating license means that he has been certified to operate a boat. Theoretically, he is qualified. That is all. In practice, he should first make one or several crossings like the one proposed with some experienced hands on board.

Owning a JetSki is not a significant part of the qualifying process.

If all goes according to plan, it will have been a lark. If anything goes wrong, it is a recipe for disaster. As the skipper of the vessel, it is his job to ensure that the necessary preparations have been made. That is his obligation and responsibility. He should be telling you what he wants you to do towards getting those preparations met. That should be your contribution towards the endeavor.

You ask how dangerous this trip could be? I’ll answer you this way; if you were my son or daughter, I’d ask you not to go. After the skipper has made this trip, under the supervision of experienced hands a couple of times and demonstrated sufficient competence, I would be less worried.

It’s all a question of common sense. The rest is just a case of “natural selection”.

I'm sorry if this comment is percieved to be unduly conservative.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
-Leaving from Ft. Lauderdale on Monday morning and going to the Bimini Islands

-Going from the Bimini Islands and going to the Berry Islands on Tuesday

-Going from the Bimini Islands to the Grand Bahamas or Abaco Islands on Thursday

-Heading back to the Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday.
I worry that the above "says it all". This is not the kind of trip that you can put a fixed date to with much certainty. Weather, weather, weather, sea conditions.

There is a very real danger that the excitement (and planning amongst yourselves) will overide good sense.

My advice to you: pull out of this "adventure" now. Yes, it can be done but there are too many odds against this venture.

I'm sure that this is not what you wanted to hear. Sorry.
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:00 PM   #8
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I told the guys I am not going on this trip. I passed on all the facts. They are still going. I rented them a EPIRB as a replacement to myself and I am going to throw in gas money.
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Old 05-23-2008, 01:37 PM   #9
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boatingtails,

Working with common sense are you?....lololol. Your time will come, and most likely all will be safe for your friends. Don't let that bother you when they return. You have made the right choice. I also commend you for renting the EPIRB, and still throwing in some money for fuel.....BE SAFE!
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:39 PM   #10
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I'm back. Just checked the weather files for Monday, and it looks as if there will be small craft warnings, Easterly winds up to 20 knots. I think your friends might not leave Monday. I hope they don't. That is not a fun crossing.
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