AN Virgin Islands to Bahamas

Best time:

December to May

Tropical storms:

June to November





Cruising guides:

yachtsman's Guide to the Bahamas.





Destination Distance (M)


AN850 St Thomas IS^O'N, 64'56'W

AN851 Culebrita 18°22'N, 65'08'W AN852 Silver 21e10'N, 70°00'W AN853 Caii 22o20'N, 72°10'W AN854 San 23'10'N, 73"20'W

AN855 Safvador 23'54'IM, 74'32'W

Cockburn Town 644 24'03'N, 74'31.5'W

To reach the Bahamas from the Virgin Islands one can take either an inshore route, along the north coasts of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola (AN85B), or an offshore route staying outside all islands (AN85A). As the inshore route requires mostly coastal cruising, no waypoints are given. The offshore route (AN85A) is both shorter and faster especially if the destination is in the Northern Bahamas. It follows a NW course parallel to the chain of islands as far as the NE Providence Channel. Whether going offshore immediately on leaving St Thomas, or stopping first in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the course should pass Navidad, Silver, and Mouchoir Banks at a safe distance. The offshore passage can be made at any time outside of the hurricane season. Between December and April, at the height of the winter trades, fair, if strong winds, can be expected as well as the favourable NW setting Antilles Current. Light winds and even calms can be expected at the change of seasons, especially in May. The route can be affected by depressions passing to the north with resulting NW winds.

On leaving St Thomas, and having cleared Savana Island, off its western extremity, from Savana Passage and WP AN851 a course is set for WP AN852, north of Silver Bank. The route continues in a NW direction to WP AN853 off Caicos Passage. The Southern Bahamas can be reached via several deep water passes, all of which are sub ject to strong currents, as indeed is the entire area of the Bahamas. The nearest island to clear into the Bahamas is Mayaguana, whose eastern point should be given a wide berth to avoid the reefs surrounding it. Although Abrams Bay, the main settlement on the south coast of the island, is not an official port of entry, boats are allowed to stop there provided they complete formalities in the first official port of entry. The nearest is Cockburn Town on the island of San Salvador. If continuing on the offshore route, course for the latter should not be set until one is well clear of Samana Cay, a low unlit island lying between Mayaguana and San Salvador. From WP AN853 the course should be altered for WP AN854 east of Samana. From there a course can be set for WP AN855.

After landfall is made at WP AN855,5 miles SE of Sandy Point, the SW extremity of San Salvador, the west of the island should be passed at a safe distance before approaching the main settlement at Cockburn Town. Entry formalities can be completed there, or at the airport, where the officials are based. 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 24fl03.4'N. The marina can be contacted on VHF channel 6.

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