The Bahamas are a dream destination for many- sunny beach days, strong smells of unique cuisine, and tropical attire abounds. It is no shock that this is one of the most visited locations by tourists in the world.
If you are thinking about going, and you already own a boat, you may be wondering if it is possible to use this as your ride there.
How Big of a Boat Do I Need to Go to the Bahamas?
How big of a boat do I need to go to the Bahamas? Assuming you are leaving from the nearest U.S.-based point, you will travel 50 nautical miles from the east coast of Florida to Nassau, Bahamas. People make this journey in anything from jet skis to large cruise ships, though 30ft boats are recommended offshore. Size is as important as the design, seamanship, safety, and comfort of your boat.
While it is likely that you are wondering about the size of the boat due to safety precautions, it is important to know that most boats that are equipped to handle the ocean waves will be able to bring you to this destination.
If your boat is prepared to travel in the ocean water and has enough power and fuel to make it 50 nautical miles (and then some- just in case of a hold up), you should be good to go.
How Do I Know if My Boat Can Go to the Bahamas?
To be confident that your boat can sustain a trip to the Bahamas from the nearest U.S.-based point (the east coast of Florida), you will need to check for several components to make sure it is safe for ocean travel and then for traveling the 50 nautical mile journey. To do this, there are several components you will want to check into.
Design of the Boat
For your boat to be able to travel to the Bahamas from the east coast of Florida, it will need to be capable of withstanding the force of the ocean waves and choppy waters, be equipped to communicate with other boats, and have enough power to safely make the journey.
You will want to consider the fact that your first plan may not go as you hoped. For example, traveling in one simple journey could change if bad weather approaches suddenly.
The design of the boat needs to be large enough (recommended 30-feet for offshore adventures, 15- to 25-feet for inshore) so that it can reasonably scale larger waves. Ocean travel is different than travel in freshwater areas.
The tides create more rough environments, and smaller boats are not as equipped to handle them. Larger boats that are designed well, though, can withstand storms- should you so happen to get caught in one.
Along with the size of the boat, the hull is going to be a critical component in the design. The monohull, twin-hull, or multihull is the portion of your boat that is under the water creating the buoyancy effect as well as providing the physical design that makes the boat easier or more difficult to navigate.
Look for a boat that has a more sharp-angled hull to be able to cut through the water. Some recommend the V-shape of the hull to be close to a 20-degree angle to provide confidence that the vessel can travel well in the ocean.
Other components of design will include the number of engines and their placement (which affects speed and fuel range), cabin space (if you plan to sleep on your boat), and sail versus motor to name a few.
If you are wondering if your boat will make it, begin first with the overall design, consider the essential requirements of a boat to go to the Bahamas, and then review public forums or ask others who have made the journey for confirmation.
Seamanship refers to the skills of the captain and the crew who are navigating the vessel across the waters. If you are an experienced captain, then, it is expected that you would have astounding seamanship. On the other hand, if you are a beginner, your seamanship could likely use some work.
The ocean is not exactly the best place to begin working on your seamanship- especially in the middle of it when you will likely not be able to see other land or have points of destination guiding your way.
If you are new to navigating your boat, you may want to consider trying on calmer waters first before attempting to travel the ocean. While the journey is not terribly far from the east coast of Florida to the Bahamas, it is still far enough to get lost if you do not know what you are doing.
Seamanship, therefore, is just as important as the size of your vessel. Even the safest and most well-designed boat traveling with an inexperienced captain can face serious, and even dangerous challenges.
If you are hoping to improve your seamanship, perhaps bring an experienced captain aboard your vessel to help guide the way. Until you are confident that you can handle almost any situation the sea throws at you, it is not advised to make the journey without experienced help.
The safety of your boat is a pretty obvious component that you will want to consider before traveling to the Bahamas. This will include the design and seamanship of your captain and crew, but will also entail the various safety mechanisms, devices, and procedures that your boat is prepared with.
There are many features to consider when it comes to safety. First, make sure that your boat is equipped with at least one floatation device for each person who plans to board the boat.
It is never a bad thing to have a few extra, either. These include lifejackets as well as life-saving emergency rafts among other devices. Should your boat capsize, begin to flood, or anything else that could result in your vessel sinking, you will need to make sure that you and your guests do not go down with the ship.
Another safety feature to consider is having enough fuel. Regardless of the boat you plan to take, you should make sure that your boat has enough fuel and a high enough fuel range to make the journey itself plus 10-15% additional in case the trip is not a straight shot.
If you run out of fuel, you will probably have to sit and wait in the middle of the ocean until you can communicate with someone to come and rescue you.
Speaking of communication, this is another critical safety feature that you will need prior to heading to the Bahamas. Be sure that your boat is equipped with a standard radio set that can permit you to call for help or be in touch with other boats/the Coast Guard. If you do not have proper communication equipment and something goes wrong, you will have no access to help.
Navigation tools are essential to traveling- especially on the wide-open ocean. Plan to learn the method of reading the water, know any guide points that may appear, and use a water watch. You can also include a set of polarized sunglasses to help you to maintain contact with the sea and what’s beneath it even if the sun is beaming brightly on the glistening water.
Finally, be sure that you have enough food and water for your journey. Though it is probably evident, the ocean water is not safe for drinking considering its high salinity potentially causing dehydration.
It is wise to pack additional food and water than just the time you plan to be on the water. This is essential to your overall health and safety- especially if something were to go terribly wrong.
The overall comfort of your boat is something to truly consider prior to making the trip to the Bahamas. While many boats are capable of proving an avenue for your travels, there are some that are going to make this trip more comfortable than others.
When deciding which boat is the right one for your trip, you will need to consider your specific plans.
For example, if you are planning to take the journey slower, stop at local marinas, and continue exploring via boat once you arrive in the Bahamas, you will likely want to choose a boat that has a considerable amount of cabin space.
This will give you a location to sleep comfortably, move around, socialize with your friends and family, and get out of the downpour of any heavy precipitation you are trying to avoid.
If your plans include a faster journey with limited stops, the cabin space might not be quite as important, but it is still something to consider. Take the needs of your guests in mind as well. S
ome people have limited abilities to stand for prolonged periods, for example, so you would want to provide a boat that has decent seating areas. Or, you may consider a motorized option rather than a sailing option to ensure that speed is maintained during flat seas with limited winds to carry your boat.
There are numerous components of a boat that will make it comfortable for you and your guests, so the real test here comes down to your specific needs. Considering your needs and the requirements of the journey, you should be able to choose a boat that makes it a comfortable trip for everyone.