AN North America to Bahamas

Best time:

November (direct)

November to Aprii (from Florida)


Tropical storms:

June to November


BA: 4403

US: 108, 124


BA: 68, 69, 70

US: 140,147

Cruising guides:

Yachtsman's Guide to the Bahami



Intermediate landfall


Distance (M)

AN1461 Brer

AN1464 Salvador

Cockburn Town


41 C24'N, 71 '16'W

24'IQ'N, 74'35'W

24WN, 74'51.5'W

AN1462 Chesapeake

AN 1464 Salvador

Cockburn "or."


36*45^, 75'45'W

AN 1463 off Beaufort

AN1464 Salvador

Cockburn Town


34'40'N, 76C40'W

A direct route to the Bahamas from ports north of Cape Hatteras should only be considered if the destination is in the Southern Bahamas because the route has to go a fair distance to the east to avoid the strength of the Gulf Stream. Mainly for this reason, many boats reach the Bahamas by covering at least part of the distance in the Jntracoastal Waterway. The offshore section of the voyage is only attempted from one of the ports south of Cape Hatteras, such as Beaufort, Morehead City, or Charleston. There is a fairly narrow window for such a passage and the recommended time is November. An earlier start carries the risk of hurricanes, whereas a later start runs the risk of the winter northers which can produce dangerous conditions in the Gulf Stream. The frequency of hurricanes after the beginning of November is reasonably low and a good forecast obtained before departure should warn both of existing tropical depressions and of impending northers.

The course on leaving the coast should lead in a ESE direction so as to cross the Gulf Stream at right angles. One should proceed for at least 100

miles in this direction before changing course for the Bahamas. In light winds or calms, it is advisable to use the engine to move away quickly from the coast and the Gulf Stream. Perhaps the easiest landfall in the Bahamas is the island of San Salvador, which stands clear of all dangers and has a powerful light on its NE extremity, although a more convenient landfall is NW of the island, at WP AN1464. Entry formalities can be completed at Cockburn Town, the main settlement on the west side of the island, although the officials are often to be found at the airport. There is an anchorage off the settlement or a small marina one mile further north. Riding Rock Marina has a difficult entrance with a maximum depth of 7 ft at high tide. The GPS latitude of the entrance channel into the small marina has been reported as 24°03.4'N. The marina can be contacted on VHF channel 6.

Although Bermuda is nowhere near the direct route, some people prefer to make the detour to that island and reach the Bahamas in this way. Southbound routes from Bermuda are described in AN127.

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