Which way to BVI and southward from NE USA - SailNet Community

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View Poll Results: Thorny Path or offshore from Norfolk?
Read the book and follow the Thorny Path - not too bad 5 26.32%
Offshore is the best and shortest way to BVI 14 73.68%
Voters: 19. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 11-20-2008
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Which way to BVI and southward from NE USA

We are going to be going from the Eastern Seaboard to the Western Caribbean either next fall, or in 2010. I have read quite a bit about the two alternative ways to get there: 1) offshore from the Norfolk area or 2) the Thorny Path.

I can see significant advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Just wanted to see what people would recommend for our trip. The boat is a well-equipped Bristol 45.5. Crew for the offshore approach would be 4 or 5 people. If we did the Thorny Path it would most likely be just the two of us. I have some offshore experience (skippered four Bermuda-NYC trips). The admiral has only a few days of offshore experience but likes it more when it blowing 20 knots than 8 knots.

I n your comments, could you please indicate which of these trips you have taken (better still if you have done both!) and with what kind of boat and how large your crew was.

Thanks.
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Old 11-20-2008
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I did the Thorny Path with my wife. It took 3 months...about half waiting for weather/sea conditions that would allow progress (52'boat...so no issues there!).
If you can get crew...I would highly recommend the offshore route as you can see what you missed on the Thorny Path on the way back on a reach!! You might consider joining the Caribe1500 out of Norfolk for a bit of extra safety given your timing.
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Old 11-21-2008
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I crewed a delivery back from USVI to the Chessy, took 7 days from Red Hook to Little Creek. I've never read anything from anyone who thought the path was the way to go.
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Old 11-21-2008
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I have done the thorny path twice, and enjoyed both trips. Both times on a relaxed schedule, but a schedule none the less. For that reason we did a lot of motor sailing when ever the weather was acceptable. When it was not, enjoyed the area. Sounds like you have the time. Use it to enjoy some of the really beautiful islands and people.
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Old 11-21-2008
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Time is not an issue

We are really not on a schedule at all and will likely not be returning directly to the US. In all likelihood we will go to Europe from the Caribbean via Bermuda and Azores. One of the reasons for considering the Thorny Path is the chance to see various places on the way. The admiral really wants to visit the Abacos for example.

BTW, if we did go offshore we would seriously consider the Caribbean 1500. Oh well, at least I have time to think about this.
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Old 11-21-2008
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Killarney...You could still go down island offshore then come back through the Bahamas before jumping up to Bermuda/Azores. Your wife is right...the Abacos and Exumas are NOT to be missed!
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Old 11-21-2008
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Here's another vote for the offshore route when heading south. Plan a stop in Bermuda...great place to visit and to await a favorable weather window to jump off for the Virgin Islands. Best time to leave: early November.

After you've had your fill of the Eastern Caribbean islands, plan a leisurely trip up through the Bahamas in the spring. This would get you to a jumping off place for the Azores in good time (summer). Having already visited Bermuda, you might choose to go right on past if the weather is right and head for the Azores.

JMO,

Bill
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Old 11-21-2008
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My vote goes for the offshore route -- it's faster. You'll be in the BVI 10-12 days after leaving Norfolk and have a full season of Caribbean sailing ahead of you. Take the other route and you won't be their until the season's half over. You need to watch the weather closely (especially for a late season tropical cyclone), and count on one gale (35 kts +) as a cold front passes over you once you cross the Gulf Stream. If you're boat's in good shape, it is not a difficult passage, but it does require care and planning. You might consider joining the Caribbean 1500 rally which leaves from Norfolk in early November. It's not cheap (~$1200), but you'll have good advice in preparing, consistent weather reporting and others to accompany you as you make the passage. As mentioned above, you can do the Bahamas on the way home by sailing downwind vs beating your brains out going to weather. They don't call it a 'thorny path' for nothing.
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Old 12-05-2008
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"Eastern seaboard" and "western carib" are a bit vague but I do agree with the offshore option. "western caribbean" leaves me wondering.....
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Old 12-10-2008
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In the early 70's I delivered boats to/from the Caribbean/New England Area. Never did the Thorny Patch (you ought to read Bruce Van Sant - Gentleman's Guide to Passages South and Tricks of the Trades) and only went via Bermuda or via Norfolk to Morehead City and then outside.

I would second (or third) the idea of the Caribbean 1500 for the first run south - as BillyR says, you will get at least 1 blow - you may spend a good bit of time with a reef and hard on the wind. Bermuda is a great 1/2 way point but it is 1/expensive and 2/a bit of a weather magnet. I'd do the Bahamas on the way north and enjoy the ride.

You've got time and I'm sure will have fun planning and thinking it through.
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