The Bahamas is not as far from Florida as you might think, but it’s a totally different world. You can find snorkeling, fishing, and beautiful landscapes unlike anything you’ll see in Florida by going to the Bahamas, but what kind of boat do you need to make the crossing?
How big of a boat to go from Florida to the Bahamas? To make your crossing safely, you need a motorboat or a sailboat that is at least 30 ft long to go from Florida to the Bahamas. If you don’t mind taking a risk, you may be able to cross in a motorboat as small as 15 feet, but 30 feet is a minimum for a sailboat since it takes much longer to cross in a sailboat than in a motorboat.
Whether you’re planning your trip from Florida to the Bahamas or just fantasizing about the boat you need to get there, here’s what you need to know about how big of a boat you’ll need to cross from Florida to the Bahamas, as well as some essential details about planning your trip.
How Big Of A Boat Do You Need To Go From Florida To The Bahamas?
Depending on where you set out from and where you’re going, it will generally take from a couple of hours to a day to go from Florida to the Bahamas. In a sailing boat that averages around 5 or 8 knots, you can expect a full day’s sail.
However, in a fast skiff which can go as much as 20 or even 30 knots, you may be able to get there within only a few hours. Technically if the conditions are ideal, the trip could be made in a small skiff of only about ten feet.
However, if anything goes wrong, being out in the open ocean in a little boat like this can be extremely dangerous. To determine how big of a boat you need to go from Florida to the Bahamas, you first need to assess how comfortable you are with risk.
To feel safe in the open ocean even if bad weather comes up, you’ll need an ocean-worthy boat of 30 feet at an absolute minimum.
However, if you trust yourself to read the weather and the water and are not very risk-averse, you may be able to make the trip in a motorboat of only about 10 feet.
If you’re taking a sailboat, anything less than 30 feet can get you into trouble.
Crossing From Florida To The Bahamas In A Motorboat Or A Sailboat
You won’t have any trouble making the crossing from Florida to the Bahamas whether you are in a motorboat or a sailboat. However, the boat you choose can have some important ramifications on how big it needs to be.
Powerboats can generally go much faster than sailboats. You can gauge the weather and set out in your powerboat and be in the Bahamas in only a couple of hours.
This means that you may be able to get away with a much smaller powerboat since you only need to have to predict the weather for a few hours.
If you are in a sailboat, you’re unlikely to be able to make the crossing in fewer than six hours, even under ideal conditions.
Such a long time out on the water makes it much more likely that bad weather can come up without you being able to predict it. That means that you will likely need to choose a larger sailboat to feel safe making the crossing.
What Kind Of Motor Boat To Choose For Crossing From Florida To The Bahamas
- To play it safe, it’s best to choose at least a 30-foot motorboat, but you could easily make the crossing in a boat of 15 ft or even less.
- Motor boats with a sturdy center council for offshore fishing do well with the crossing.
- Most people choose to spend at least one night in the Bahamas, so you’ll need a basic cabin in which to sleep.
- A high bow is essential for cutting through ocean chop.
What Kind Of Sailboat To Choose For Crossing From Florida To The Bahamas
- It’s very risky to choose a boat any less than 30 feet if you are sailing from Florida to the Bahamas. Sailboats cannot go as quickly as motorboat, and you do not want to find yourself stuck out in the open ocean as bad weather develops in a sailboat that’s not big enough to the ocean worthy.
- Many people find that multihull sailboats, such as catamarans or trimarans, are a better option for going across to the Bahamas. These boats are less likely to pitch in the ocean chop and they provide a lot more deck and cabin for the same sized boat.
How Far Away Is The Bahamas?
Many people are surprised to learn that the tropical destination we think of as the Bahamas isn’t actually that far away from the mainland United States.
The closest islands of the Bahamas are a mere 50 miles from the US. Of course, the islands extend for over 5,000 square miles, so there is almost unlimited exploration once you make it to the Bahamas.
Going From Florida To the Bahamas For Fishing
The Bahamas has some of the best fishing in the entire world. The Bahamian islands are mostly surrounded by shallow water and flats, which are the perfect place for coral reefs to develop and fish to congregate.
In deeper waters, you can catch Marlin, Wahoo, Swordfish, Mahi-Mahi, and Tuna. On shallower reefs, you can expect a number of different species of snapper, grouper, and other small to mid-size eating fish.
On the flats, you can find Bonefish, which are renowned as some of the best sport fish in the world. Many people make the trip from Florida to the Bahamas primarily for the fishing.
Fishing is good all the way across for deep water species, and you can begin catching Snapper and Grouper as soon as you reach shallow waters.
The islands of Grand Bahama, which are the ones most people reach when they first leave Florida, are extremely rich in all sorts of fish.
Despite being the first landing place, these islands appear to be far from overfished.
Planning Your Trip From Florida To The Bahamas
Predict The Weather
The most important aspect of planning your trip is planning for the weather. Even in a seaworthy sailboat or motorboat that is large enough to hold up to ocean waves, a crossing from Florida to the Bahamas in bad weather isn’t most people’s idea of a fun vacation.
Since you may not know how the weather will be until a day or two before your crossing, it’s best to plan to have a few days of flexibility so that you don’t have to travel in bad weather either going or coming.
Things cost more in the Bahamas. From water, to gas, to food, to luxuries like alcohol, it’s a good idea to stock up before you make the crossing. Some goods like fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely difficult or impossible to find in the Bahamas, so it’s a good idea to make sure you bring some of these.
For a trip of only a few days, it’s unlikely that you will be worried about putting too much weight on the boat, but if you have a small vessel, be considerate about how low in the water all of your supplies will cause the boat to sit.
An open ocean crossing is never without risk. Even if you have a seaworthy boat and feel very confident in the ocean, it’s essential to keep safety in mind when planning your trip.
Organize with friends or family to check in with you, make sure that you have essential safety equipment like a working radio and GPS, and be sure that you have emergency supplies like flare guns in case something goes wrong.
What To Do When You Get There
Most people who are taking a boat from Florida to the Bahamas want to spend at least a few days there once they make the crossing.
Fishing is probably the most popular reason for people to go from Florida to the Bahamas, but snorkeling and simply enjoying the gorgeous beaches and blue waters are also very good reasons to make the journey.
You have a few options for what to do for the few days that you are in the Bahamas once you cross:
The shallow waters between the islands of the Bahamas make it very easy to navigate between them. Even in a strong wind, there isn’t enough depth for waves to build up and cause problems.
Therefore, cruising around the islands is a great thing to enjoy doing. You can fish as you go and either anchor out or plan your trip around marinas.
Find A Marina
If you enjoy the comforts of home, you’ll probably prefer to spend your evenings in a marina when you are not fishing or exploring.
There are not as many marinas as widely spread in the Bahamas as there are in Florida, so if you plan on staying in a marina once you get to the Bahamas, it’s a good idea to check out where Marinas are available and even book ahead.
You can spend your days fishing and enjoying the islands and your evenings enjoying the luxuries of a marina.
The Bahamas has excellent holding compared to many other places, including Florida. The bottom tends to be sandy with grass or reef, both of which are great for holding anchors. There aren’t restrictions around anchoring out in most places in the Bahamas, so you can pick an anchorage you like and put down a hook.
Anchoring out enables you to spend your time in the wilderness that you came to see. It also provides greater opportunities for fishing at dawn and dusk when many species are most active.
Enjoy Your Crossing From Florida To The Bahamas
The trip from Florida to the Bahamas by boat may not take very long, but it will open up a whole new world.
The Bahamas has some of the richest fishing, most beautiful landscapes, and most gorgeous snorkeling of anywhere in the world. Enjoy your trip!