SeaRay 540 – Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas

Vessel type/length – SeaRay Cockpit Motor Yacht 54ft
Engine type/Horsepower – Twin Caterpillar 3196 660 HP
Cruising speed – Economical 16.8 knots
Starting location – Dania Canal, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Final destination – Atlantis, Nassau, Bahamas

The Gulfstream can be an iffy place. This owner asked me to help him take his SeaRay 540 across the stream because he did not want to single-hand his boat.

I met him at Harbortown Marina on the Dania Canal the evening before in preparation for our trip. Safety first, we reviewed all systems and confirmed that extra fuel filters and other necessary spare parts were aboard. Bright and early the next morning we cast off and headed to sea. As we idled down the ICW we were greeted by a cruise ship arriving in Port Everglades. Clearing the rock jetties the ocean met us with gentle sea swells and a few rain showers. This would be a good crossing. Our path took us across the stream and onto the Great Bahamas Banks north of Bimini. We continued on to Mackie Shoal and to N.W.Channel. The shallowest water we saw so far was 15 feet. As we entered the N.W. Channel the water became more narrow, both horizontally and vertically. Here the water was 12 feet deep and you could see the sand bars to the left north and right south. This should be a good weather daylight passage so you can see where you are and stay in the channel.

As we cleared the N.W. Channel and entered the Tongue of the Ocean we had a mild chop throwing spray onto the windshield. Again we were fortunate we filled the wiper spray reservoir on the boat. This was able to keep the salt from drying and caking on the glass so we could see. Thank you, SeaRay. Fifty miles later we enter the channel leading into Nassau and Atlantis Marina. We refueled and backed easily into our slip. Clearing Customs and Immigration aboard the boat in the marina was painless.

Realistic preparation and planning was responsible for an uneventful trip. Earlier this week many who crossed in high winds and higher seas have a new respect for the statement “pick your day to cross.”  After a grueling crossing, one owner considered selling his boat while his wife just wanted a bigger one. Because we waited a few days for the winds to change from 20knots directly out of the north to 5-10 knots from the SSE our seas were perfect and the boat handled fine.

My flight home was early the next morning so I had to take in all the sights that night, walking around visiting the little city on Atlantis property. Moving quickly through the casino without slowing down to try my luck, I soon entered “The Dig”. “The Dig” is a replica of the Lost City of Atlantis. This is an underground tunnel that has floor to ceiling glass looking into the aquarium with fish of the Caribbean. I enjoyed all the sea life normally only found in the ocean including Jew Fish, Jack Cravelles, Pompano and Lobsters. The most exciting were two Manta Rays flying underwater across the aquarium. One may have been 12 feet across, wing tip to tip. I have seen these beautiful creatures soar through the air over the Gulf of Mexico but never underwater. They are beautiful.

The 5 AM taxi ride to the airport came all too soon. I am used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road in the Bahamas and British Honduras BUT- we eventually drove down a four lane highway and I did not know which side was the slow lane or passing lane? Lucky for me I was just a passenger. If you ever thought TSA is time consuming in the States, think again. The airport security in Nassau requires everyone to go through THREE check points, with all carry on luggage inspected at least twice and some three times. Oh well, Safety First!