The best time to head offshore directly to the Bahamas or Florida would be during the month of November. This will avoid the hurricane season, and much of the tropical storms. But don’t wait to much longer that this, once you get past the month of November, there are strong northerlies in the winter months, that will kick up the Gulf Stream, creating very dangerous conditions. More southerly land falls in the Bahamas are best from northern starting points, as you will want to head offshore a fair bit to avoid the gulf stream after Cape Hatteras.
I would head out of NYC, after Long island, with a straight rhum line for Cape Hatteras, keep a sharp eye on the weather. Listen to all the forecasts, if you have internet weather or sirius weather on board, that is great. This will keep you relatively near the shore, once at the Cape, if you see 2-3 days of clear weather, then make your way around the cape. If not, then duck in on the inside, and do that part on the inside through the ICW and come out after the cape. The inside route could take as much as 3-4 days, the outside will take as little as 1 good day.
If you draw a straight rhum line for Miami, you will mostly be out of the gulf stream. This will take you 150 to 200 miles offshore at the widest part away from land, but as you keep moving towards miami, this gap will slowly narrow as you near Florida. If you are worried, you can just hug the shore, 10 miles out, keep out of the stream, and hug the shore down. But more things to watch out for doing this, fishing boats, recreational vessels, whale sanctuaries and fishing traps, and will take you a few days longer.
Have a look at our diagram, the blue line is a rhum line from NYC to the Bahamas. You’ll want to take the same precautions and watch for Northerlies or storms developing. You can either duck inside at the Cape, or head further offshore out of the Gulf Stream. The best way to cross the Gulf here is head ESE, directly at right angle across the stream, and head about 100 miles offshore of the Cape before you change your course for a more southerly direction. If the winds are very light it is best to use your engines to clear this area as soon as possible. Best land fall is San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. Ironically, this is said to be the place where Christopher Columbus first said foot on the American Continent.
Another Successful Delivery using this Routing to the Bahamas
Just completed this in 6.5 days from NYC to the Bahamas, landed at Little San Salvadore (aka Half Moon Bay) A little island between Eleuthera and Cat Island and then another 9 hour sail to Georgetown Bahamas.
Distance about 1,200 nautical miles on the Rhum line (As the crow flys or 2,200 kms) in 6.5 days non-stop. We had at least one 200 mile day. Average speed was over 7 knots sustained for the whole week. Many times we were sailing 8 to 9 knots and surfing double digits. Our max recorded surf speed was 15.5 knots. Average sailed per day 172 nautical miles or 316 kms. Greatest distance offshore (from land) was 300 nautical miles or 555km for those non-sailors.
Below Pics of our actual track plot.
Here are a couple of shots of our track. The above illustration is the general direction, the below pics show exactly how it should be done safely. One is a spot track record, the other is my bread crumb track from the chart plotter. The X waypoints, were simply dropped way points to record the vessel position of our buddy boat on this trip. We checked in ever few hours so we always knew where we were located.
Spot Tracking Record Above
Track Bread Crumb Trail from Chart plotter, Screen is set to boat up, meaning top is where the bow is pointing or heading. So the Top will be south, and the bottom is North. The Way Points X’s are simply plots of our buddy boat along for this ride, “Fortune’s Favour” a 45 Jeanneau DS, we recorded their location ever so often.