OK so heres where I'm coming from: I sail a Hobie 16, I windsurf, one time 49er sailor, I've skippered transatlantics, been thru the med, Caribbean islands and Bahamas on my own 30 footers over the years. So have a little experience for what its worth (Oh and I used to crew a Prindle 18 in the USVI which is where I first thought of island hopping small cats) Hobies in the Exumas camping on beaches YES! I think it would be amazing. So heres a few thoughts so far:
The camping question is one I am still trying to resolve. There is a company in the Exumas presently running kayak and sea pearl camping trips and the exuma land and sea park also mention a $5 per night camping charge yet others have told me your not allowed to camp.
I emailed the kayak operation for some clarification and I'm waiting for a response.
I sailed over from Hillsboro inlet direct to Nassau in March on my 31 foot cat and there is a $100 cruising fee (which includes a fishing permit) I would guess if we sailed over in Hobies we would probly have to pay that. I will email the Bahamas tourist authorities and port authorities see what they say (if anything)
As far as sailing from Florida, the trick is to wait for a weather window. When the cold fronts come over (which they seem to do about once a week in through January to April, the wind turns from its usual SE (on the nose) round to the South then clocks to the West, then NW, N, NE and back to South East. As soon as the wind has any North in it you have wind against current which in the Florida straits is BAD! no place for small craft, very steep waves (could be fun for the reckless I guess!
) So the time to set off is before the front soon as the wind is in the South. Its about 50 miles from Biscayne Bay to Bimini slightly less from Miami but you have 2 to 3 knots of current pushing you North so better to start further South (Biscayne). As soon as you arent going directly across the current youre fighting it, which is why your straight GPS course is NOT the way to do it. Theres a lot of info on the big yacht cruising forums about this but thats the basics. Start South, head straight East and the stream will pull you up to Bimini. The faster you go the better but you need that weather window open long enough cos once the wind clocks NW its gonna get nasty.
The alternative is to ship the boats in a container which has its own difficulties (cost $2000 one way I think and then import tax? I dont know)
Or I could buy and import my own Hobies and people can fly straight to great Exuma and just hop on. I am seriously looking into that, in which case the questions are:
etc etc etc etc
Clearly the more people we can get to show interest the better and I would be grateful for any input on how people would like to do it.