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post #4 of Old 04-08-2013
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Re: BVI to Panama Canal

Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post

It should be an easy sail with the current and trade wind.
"An easy sail", huh? Uhhh, have you ever actually sailed in the open waters of the Western Caribbean Sea before? (grin)

You really should pick up a copy of Jimmy Cornell's WORLD CRUISING ROUTES, or at least have a glance at it sometime... Here's how he opens his discussion of Route AN74 - Lesser Antilles to Panama:


This can be a very rough passage, confirmed by the fact that many experienced sailors describe their passage across the Caribbean Sea as perhaps the roughest part of their voyage around the world. This is usually the case at the height of the trade wind season, when the constant easterly winds pile up the water in the western Caribbean making sea conditions hazardous. Many boats have been knocked down or pooped by the steep following seas, while others have been lost on the coast of Colombia after having been set off course by the strong current.
A few winters ago, I met a guy beginning a circumnavigation on a well-found IP 38 in Port Antonio, Jamaica... He'd been waiting there for weeks for the perfect window for the run to Panama. When he finally did get the green light from his weather router, he still had a very boisterous passage, wound up suffering a serious injury, and had to abandon his boat... So, following seas, and a fair current, are still no guarantee of "an easy sail" in that neighborhood, even this time of the year when the trades should be starting to ease up... And, "hugging the coast of Colombia", where the seas will become much steeper and more confused in the shallow waters there, doesn't sound like a very good plan, to me...

Not very likely that spinnaker will see much use on your trip, although you never know... Personally, however, I'd trade it for a spare autopilot or 2, if I had the choice... Perhaps most importantly, are you certain that your crew will be physically up to such a potentially rigorous trip, without becoming debilitated by seasickness, or exhaustion? That's not a recommended passage for newbies, after all...
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