Im a 33 year old guy on a 32ft sailing boat on a low budget. Not a lot of experience and a ībest learn from my mistakesī mentality. Initially my plan was to make a clockwise circle around the caribean, following all the islands. Starting in Guatemala and ending in Columbia. In want to be in columbia by around march or april.
Everthing however is going much, much slower than expected. Most importantly, i have spent 3 weeks inland for christmass and newyear and left my boat alone at cozumel where it got badly damaged while i was not there and just now its starting to look like i will soon be sailing it again.
During this time i also found out that single handing a boat can be kind of lonely and i really like meeting other travelers on my journeys and maybe take some people to crew on my boat for a little trip now and then. More specifically, the backpacker types.
Also, while before i started my sailing adventure i never really thought much of currents being very important, during my little bit of sailing from guatemala to cozumel i gained a lot of respect for this gulfstream. From San pedro, Belize to Cozumel i made a 27 hours singlehanded trip. When i sleep, just wake up every 15 minutes to check for other boats. The current helped me and i made 8.5 knots with my 6.5 knots hullspeed. This was an amazing trip, i liked it a lot
However, when i tried motoring down a little piece from playa del carmen to puerto aventuras, i found that i actually did not really move at all unless i stayed really really close to the coast. (like 50m) This means i have to constantly keep a carefull watch, carefully keep following the coastline and the autopilot is more or less useless. I can do that for a while, but 1000 miles of that does not sound like fun to me, moreover, when sailing instead of motoring, it can be even much more anoying to follow every bend of the coastline as it may require me to tack or may even want me to go straight upwind sometimes. Kind of like sailing a river
Now i am in puerto aventuras and i am in doubt:
-Go to cuba, follow southcoast eastward, then possibly go to haiti and dominican and cut down south directly to columbia from there
-Or follow the coast back down to collumbia.
So now i got a few questsions that influence my choise most:
-How is the southcoast of Cuba, am i gonna find any backpacking tourists and hostels there anywhere remotely like what im used to from central america or is it only locals, lots of police and maybe a few other cruisers there ?
-How tough will it be going east down the southcoast of cuba. I figure im gonna be going against the gulf stream there and will have to choose the days that the wind is not coming from the east or sail at night. How strong is this current gonna be here ? how safe are the coastal waters for sailing in the night (on a boat with no radar sonar etc, just the basic depth sounder, GPS coordinates and a paper map) Am i really gonna have to stay close to the coast to avoid the current like i had to here on the coast of mexico, or can i go out in open water, turn on the autopilot and make longer overnight journeys, without having 2+ knots of current against me ? please elaborate
-Similar question, How tough will it be getting eastwards on the coast of panama ? As well as the rest of the coastline, going down honduras, nicaragua and costa rica?
-How feasable is it to cross the carribean sea from haiti to columbia, will the gulf stream be so strong that im gonna end up in Nicaragua anyway, or is it very doable ?
Does anyone have a link to a website that gives me really good information on how strong the gulf steam is in different locations around the caribean ?, preferable in detail so that i can see the difference 100meter, 1 mile or 10 miles of coast.