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  #1  
Old 12-01-2009
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Trying to Choose a Caribbean Route

This is my first year as a live aboard cruiser. Last winter my husband and I took our first cruise to the Abacos and back to the Chesapeake Bay. We are now heading toward the Caribbean but trying to decide where to go. We were initially planning to go to the western caribbean via Mexico, Belize and spend hurricane season in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala. After reading other cruisers experiences it seems that could be a difficult route.

We still like the idea of summering in Rio Dulce, but are considering first going to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and then head west to Honduras and Guatemala. I've not been able to find any information of anyone doing this and wonder if there is a good reason for not going that route.

Our other option is taking the thorny path down to South America and visit Guatemala the following year heading back north.

Any information or opinions would be appreciated.
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Old 12-01-2009
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A lot of the preferred route depends on the condition/experience of vessel, crew, & equipment onboard. Provide that info as well as your preferred cruising style...and the board may be more helpful in providing you opinions.
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Old 12-01-2009
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We have a fairly well equipped Tayana V42. 150gal diesel, 250gal water, watermaker, vhf, ssb, wind generator, solar panels, raymarine nav system with radar and sonar. Electronic autopilot as well as a Monitor wind vane. Emergency equipment includes a 6 man offshore life raft, epirb, and extended first aid kit. Currently our weather is from Chris Parker via SSB but additionally, we plan to add a pactor modem before leave florida to get grib files off shore. The vessel also has a set of storm sails but we do not have any experience using them.

My husband and I are the only crew. We have been sailing weekend trips in the Chesapeake Bay for years, last winter was our first trip out of the Bay. We took the intercoastal to Florida and jumped over to the Abacos. Leaving the Abacos we took a 3 day passage at sea to arrive in South Carolina. That was our first multiday passage at sea. This year coming south from the Chesapeake we are taking overnight or two night hops outside as weather permits to get down the coast.
We are planning to be cruising for at least 18 months possibly longer, we have no time frame or schedule, except staying out of the hurricane box over the summer. We tend to be somewhat conservative in cruising. We like to pick our weather windows carefully to avoid unpleasant conditions. Multi-day passages are not a problem, we are both comfortable at sea overnight.
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Old 12-01-2009
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If you're going to make it to the Dominican Republic, then the rest of the upwind leg to the USVI, BVI and St. Martin shouldn't be too bad and from there the sailing is a piece of cake and you get to see all the beautiful islands and countries on your way south.
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Old 12-01-2009
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I'd vote for the path down through the chain to Grenada - easy passages, a multitude of destinations, short hops once you start.

Of course you can do that in reverse, too, after wintering in Guatemala - though through the canal and into the South Pacific from there would be less arduous. But it would be a shame to miss the Windwards and Leewards.
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Old 12-04-2009
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Route

If you have the time I vote for Eastern Caribbean first, then the next year head west. My wife and I are full time on our Moody 46 (now in Croatia) and loved the Caribbean, in fact heading back Nov 2010 with the ARC.
From Bahamas come south to Spanish Virgins, well worth it, then over to St. John's, then BVI for a spell. Work your way through the winter down the chain ending up in say Trinidad for the winter. Be sure to stop in Barbuda, very cool. If you do clear in and out in Antigua as clearing in at Barbuda is a pain. You will not believe the beach however and there are few cruising boats and usually no charters.
Then next year sail back up the same way hitting the places you missed and then over to Puerto Rico and on west. Going west from Aruba and that area can be a most difficult passage so the northern route is better. If you make it to Cancun there is a marina east of the hotel district with good service. We have a condo on the water there and you could stay a few days in the condo if you like just to get off the boat for a spell
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