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post #1 of 8 Old 02-23-2007 Thread Starter
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Cruising routes to Caribbean

I know there are many of you who have "done" the Caribbean, and I am looking for advice to plan our year+ long cruise. I have to leave Pensacola in mid June of this year and have around 14 months to play. My concerns are avoiding hurricane season in the gulf, primarily, and I am thinking of an alternate route rather than the standard Miami to Exumas and straight southeast. My consideration is to cut across from the Dry Tortugas, along the northern coast of Cuba to the Yucatan ( I have heard the currents from Western Cuba to Isla Mujeres are hectic). If possible, I'd like to visit Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and then skirt along the northern edges of Venzuela, maybe using the ABC's as reprovisioning stops and eventually on to Trinidad. So - questions - I have heard that the Bay Islands in the Honduras are considered relatively hurricane free - is this true? second, how safe is Venezuela currently? third - would it make more sense to just sail as fast as possible along the thorny path and get south of the box by mid to late July? Last - does anyone know of websites, or someplace in sailnet that cruisers can contact other cruisers with similar itineraries? If it helps with anything, the boat is a 46' cat ( I know in previous posts I was getting a 43', but things got a little haywire) so I can cover quite a bit of ground under most conditions. Thanks.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-23-2007
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How much time have you spent sailing to windward in the Trades? I know a multicircumnavigator that tried sailing from the Eastern Caribbean down the eastern South America coast and eventually turned around because he broke too much gear and had too unpleasant a time making easting against the trades. Working from the Bay Is. to Trinidad would be very uncomfortable at best. Going the other way is a great trip (I say this from experience).
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-23-2007 Thread Starter
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Not enough - that's why I asked. I do appreciate the info. I know the prevailing currents and winds would make Trinidad to Bay Islands a great trip, I was just trying to figure out how to get south of the box in a reasonable time without putting myself too much in harm's way. I guess if I can get south by late July, I'll avoid most of the risk. With the new Satellite weather and a capable boat, I should be able to avoid anything that's 3-4 days away. Thanks.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-23-2007
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Been there, done that

Hi HeadingSouth -

We spent a year in the western Caribbean & loved it. The Bay islands of Honduras are absolutly, positively, NOT hurricane free. We were there just after Dennis & every tree above a certain elevation on the hill sides was flattened. We sheltered up the Rio Dulce while another strong hurricane wiped-out the islands of northern Beleze. Plan on being up the Rio Dulce (it's your only choice) during hurricane season. It's beautiful & fun, but there is some crime in the area. Anchor close to one of the marinas & use common sense & all will be OK.

Getting to windward along the north coast of Venezuela could be tough. I remember seeing an article how it could be done while anchoring almost every night (something us circumnavigators can only dream about).

Consider making your way to Trinidad alond the more traditional route of the eastern Caribbean. Although the western Caribbean is nice, you are giving-up some of your easting by heading west - it only puts you further down-wind.

Rick Goltz
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-23-2007 Thread Starter
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Yeah, I guess that's my conclusion too. I've been to the Rio Dulce and loved Guatemala. So, I guess I'm heading down the good ole' thorny path, but at least I'll have company instead of running against traffic... Thanks
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-23-2007
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HeadingSouth...two good things about the Thorny Path in a boat your size.
1. You can just power through a lot of stuff as you make your way to windward and make multiday passages in decent weather. (We went from Georgetown to T&C non stop and from Luperon DR to PR south shore non stop....and did several more non-stops on the way south once we turned the "corner" in the BVI's.
2. If you go in June, the risks of named storms are higher but the trades tend to be lighter so perhaps you won't get hung up in port waiting for weather as much as we did (6 weeks total). It IS impossible to go east when the trades are blowing over 20 for more than a day. I know that SOUNDS crazy but it is true. And you have about 700 miles of "easting" to do.

There is a new marina in Puerto Plata DR where you can check in and be safe and secure. Finally an alternative to Luperon. Check it out on noonsite.
May I also suggest subsctibing to Chris Parker's weather routing for the trip since you will be wanting excellent guidance at this time of year and he WILL keep you safe. (www.caribewx.com)

I think I've posted elsewhere about recommended charts/guides for this route so that should come up if you search. If not...ask again if you need 'em.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-24-2007 Thread Starter
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Cam,
Thanks for the input. I guess everything is a tradeoff, and I'm not overly worried about the early season storms. Quick question - although T&C is technically in the hurricane zone, isn't it considered fairly safe? I am also looking forward to checking out the new marina in Puerto Plata. Any reviews from others on the site who have been there?
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-25-2007
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HS...oh NO...the T&C is smack in hurricane alley and all low lying land. Big trouble if a storm hits. The only safe place in a named storm is in LUPERON (not... definitely not puerto plata.) If you are in puerto plata marina and hear of a storm approaching...get to Luperon and drop the hooks...filthy but safe!
There is also shelter in the mangroves in Salinas PR if you are a bit further along. Once you get past there...coral bay on St. Johns is a good hole...and then nothing much till Grenada south shore mangroves or Trinidad. We were in T&C on April 17th and it took us till early July to make it to Grenada...due to the trade winds in the T&C and DR. (We did spend a few days in all the islands on the way soulth too as there was nothing brewing in June or July weather wise.) Chris Parker gave us good days to move and we made up some time when his forecasts were good for multiday passages. READ Pavlidas' Guide to the T&C/DR and Puerto Rico as prep. Doyle guides to the leewards and windwards are also great and the new maptech/CYC chart kits are superb.
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