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Crossing the Gulf Stream: How to boat from Florida to The Bahamas

Published on 2/24/16 3:42 PM
Whether you’ve found yourself in Florida after a trip down the ICW or you call the Sunshine state your home, when you're boating in Florida, the Bahamas beckons.

 With flat, sandy, gorgeous (and mostly-deserted) beaches and the most beautiful tranquil blue water you’ve ever seen, the Bahamas is truly an island paradise.

Post by Adrian Mott

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If you’re not a boater, the Bahamas can be a difficult destination to reach – even more so if you’re interested in exploring the more remote spots in the islands, which offer some of the most scenic beaches and amazing amenities.

Boaters who cruise across the Gulf Stream are treated to a tactical, but rather quick passage from Florida’s East Coast to the nearest of the Bahamas islands: Bimini and Grand Bahama (specifically the town of West End).

The Crossing

Crossing the Gulf Stream from Florida is not to be underestimated. Strong current from the Gulf Stream can wreak havoc on your navigation, and weather from the Atlantic can seemingly come out of nowhere.

If you’re planning to make the crossing, make sure that you prepare your gear by following some helpful tips from our friends at BoatUS.

When making the crossing, there are three main things to consider: the speed of your boat (obviously including the wind speed if you’re sailing), the Gulf Stream current affecting your navigation, and the weather. If you’re in a power boat that can do 15-20 knots, you should be able to reach Bimini or West End in just a few hours with only minor adjustments to account for the Gulf Stream current. Make sure that the GPS on board is in good working order, so that you can get back on course if the current throws you off.


Pictured: Valentines Resort & Marina

If you’re sailing, it’s worth crossing the Gulf Stream on a day that has good weather and a fairly steady breeze so you can predictably get to the islands in good time. School of Sailing published a great piece on navigating current in the Straits of Florida here.


Pictured: Grand Bahama Yacht Club

Once you tie up

Once you get to the Bahamas, marinas are the safest spots to spend your nights, and many host restaurants and grocery stores so you can provision less food for the crossing. Read about some of our favorite Bahamas marinas. Enjoy the comfort of the marinas, and then hop off the boat to explore the beauty of the islands!


Pictured left: Flamingo Bay Hotel & Marina