Med or Caribbean for 1st longterm cruising - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-05-2010
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Med or Caribbean for 1st longterm cruising

Hi Everyone,
As you can see this is my first post on Sailnet, I have lurked here for over 2 years and seen some great advice and funny stories. I have a question that I hope to get some advice on from someone who has been there, done that.
We have about 2 years sailing under our belts in the Pacific Northwest, mostly day cruises and the odd overnighter. We have decided to take 1 - 2 years off work and go cruising.So keeping in mind Mediterranean or Caribbean, these are my questions.

1. Where is a better "entry" level cruising ground? Weather?
2. Is there a dramatic price difference in monthly expenses?
3. Would one place be more suited for a 1 yr cruise vs a 2 yr cruise?
4. More kids (11 - 14) in one area over the other?
5. Easier to come and go into countries?
6. Maybe I am discounting a good option on the Pacific? Not sure if we want to open water yet.
7. I will have to buy an offshore capable boat regardless of where we go, and being from Canada it means buying a boat in a foreign country no matter which way we go.

I am eager to see your responses

Kevin

Last edited by victor1239; 09-05-2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Forgot 1 important point.
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2010
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1. Where is a better "entry" level cruising ground? Weather?

Carribean as the weather is more predictable. It is still possible to anchor out in most places. Yes you need to be South for the summer but that is not a problem and the hurricane forecasting is very good. The med by reputation has either too much wind or not enough.

2. Is there a dramatic price difference in monthly expenses?

YES much of the med is now very expensive and is increasingly looking at the megayacht market. There are lots of places where you have to use a berth and the cost per night is $200 - $300 dollars. Fatty Goodlander has just had a big winge about this. Taking Meds to Sail the Med


3. Would one place be more suited for a 1 yr cruise vs a 2 yr cruise?

You could have a great 1 yr Caribbean Cruise by buying a boat in Trinidad and sailing it west to the East coast of the US or even to Canada through the Panama Canal. I do not know if I would want to do a 1 yr Caribbean cruise starting in Florida and following the the "Thorny Path" out. But people do. Or they go offshore from the Chesapeake to the BVI with some organised rally thing.

The med would be good for a 1 yr cruise but you need to think about what you are doing for the winter months.


4. More kids (11 - 14) in one area over the other?

Don't know, there are kids about in the Windward Leeward chain and they seem to get together in most anchorages. 4-5 teenagers just now in Prickly Bay Grenada

5. Easier to come and go into countries?
Easier for you as Canadiens to do the Caribbean. If you stay in an EEC country this rule applies
Quote:
The general rule stipulates a maximum 90-day stay within a 180-day period beginning from the first day of entry. Provided a multiple-entry visa has been granted, one may leave and return a number of times within the 180-day period but the combined stay within the region must total no more than 90 days.
Do a search on Schengen visa rules as things are changing.

In the Caribbean you would usuallt find no problems as the coutries are so small you naturally move on before their long stay rules kick in.



6. Maybe I am discounting a good option on the Pacific? Not sure if we want to open water yet.

7. I will have to buy an offshore capable boat regardless of where we go, and being from Canada it means buying a boat in a foreign country no matter which way we go.

Over 200 boats for sale in Trinidad between 30 and 50 feet!

I suppose I seem to be selling the Caribbean hard to you but I have friends cruising in the Med and they are all complainig vociferously about skyrocketing costs and anchoring restrictions for example one of the good cruising grounds in Croatia is the group of outer islands called the Kornati. When I visited it in the late 80s it was free. Now it will cost you $45 PER DAY if you buy your ticket in advance and $65 a day in the park. Menorca has just more or less banned anchoring in one of its main harbours.
Quote:
We were in Teuleda yesterday and were visited by a chap in a Port Police RIB, who told us we had to leave, as anchoring was only permitted in the Cala if there were no vacancies available in any of the marinas in Mahon OR if the weather was such that you needed to seek shelter. Whatever the cause, there was a 3 day maximum stay.
BUT no hurricanes in the med. I am sitting here down in Grenada and the Cape Verde hurricane factory is firing depressions across the tropical Atlantic in machine gun fashion. All have gone North so far but about every 25 years one comes down here for a visit.
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Old 09-05-2010
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Not all boat buying regions are equal

I would agree on the Caribbean. We left North America (we are Canadian and bought our boat in the US) with the intention of going to the Eastern Caribbean for the winter and Europe this summer but were dissuaded by the many Europeans we met who complained about the coast of cruising in Europe.. The Western Med is particularly bad - apparently there is no where to anchor in Mediterranean Spain and docks are 40 to 60 euros a night - way out of our budget.

Another consideration is where it is best to get a boat. Prices are much better In fact, many Europeans (and Canadians) go to the US to buy because the selection is great and costs now excellent. If you bought a boat on the east coast of the US it would be too much of a rush to go the Eastern Caribbean (via the Thorny Path) and back in one season. Better to take your time and spend the summer in Grenada. If a hurricane is coming it is not too hard to nip south to Trinidad or Venezuela if you have to (unlikely to happen but possible). If you go offshore to the Virgin Islands from the US it can be done in one year but you would want to really get your boat sorted out first - it is 1500 nm from the Chesapeake in November so not to be taken lightly.
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Old 09-05-2010
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Hi there, Victor!

So far you have some GREAT advice from both posters!

We are also in the Pacific NW (near Seattle). We just bought a bluewater boat that sat for more than a year without selling in Florida because the asking price was quite high for the year/make. We offered what we thought was reasonable and they accepted without a counteroffer. So I agree with Killarney Sailor, this is a good time to buy in the US. We're not out of the financial woods down here yet.

We are moving down to Florida to work on the boat at the end of this month, expect that to take at least six weeks, and then we'll probably spend a lot of time in the Bahamas. There were so many wonderful places the last time we went (in the early 90s), and some we wanted to explore but did not have time for. Our son is in the age range you specified, and this seems like the right time in his life to do this, also. It's something that should be a gift for his whole life; I know how strongly cruising the Caribbean affected the two of us the first time we did it (enough that we were determined to share it with him when he was old enough). And everywhere we went, especially cruising centers like Georgetown (not actually Caribbean, that :-), there were kids zipping around in dinghies and having volleyball games and visiting with each other. Take years, don't be rushed, and we will be looking forward to reading your adventures!
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Old 09-06-2010
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The Caribbean of course! Not only is it much cheaper, but the culture is much more vibrant and open to passing through tourist. You have so many activities you can do in the islands for free that would cost you more than a few pretty pennies in the med. Anchorages were a good point, still many places in the Caribbean that are free. Of course, if you do go to the Caribbean try to stay out of the major areas as they WILL find ways to get as much or your money as they can.
If you do decide to go to the Caribbean, visit the out islands. It will be like taking a trip back in time.
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Old 09-06-2010
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I recently sold an Island Packet for a client here in Florida. (I am a boat broker.) I got to know them fairly well. Nice folks. They spent 7 years cruising and decided it was time for a change. Over cocktails I asked them to tell me a bit about their trip. Short story--they spent four years in the Bahamas and three in the Caribbean. They said that if they had to do it over again, they would have spent all seven in the Bahamas. There was so much to do and see and they enjoyed the Bahamas and the Bahamians more than anywhere in the Caribbean and after four years they felt they had only begun to get familiar with them. After spending a month there myself this past spring I can tell you that my month off was not anywhere near enough time. But this work thing keeps getting in the way of my sailing thing.
Buy a boat in Florida where the supply is good, the prices are still attractive, and there is a tremendous amount of local talent and equipment available at good prices so you can prepare your boat for the big cruise. Watch the weather and head south for the hurricane season and you can always lay up in Trinidad which has good services and storage.
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WOW!! Thank you for the detailed and helpful responses, what a great resource of info!
Looks like the Caribbean is hands down less expensive and most likely a gentler way to ease into the cruising life.

Looks like the Bahamas is a pretty popular destination, do you get the persistent tradewinds at the Bahamas?

TQA: Where is a good place to find the boats in Trinidad, I tried Yachtworld but only came up with about 60. Is there a better site?

Killarney: Good site, OnAinia.blogspot.com


Thanks again for all the posters, probably give me a few more weeks of research!
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Old 09-06-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catamariner View Post
Hi there, Victor!

So far you have some GREAT advice from both posters!

We are also in the Pacific NW (near Seattle). We just bought a bluewater boat that sat for more than a year without selling in Florida because the asking price was quite high for the year/make. We offered what we thought was reasonable and they accepted without a counteroffer. So I agree with Killarney Sailor, this is a good time to buy in the US. We're not out of the financial woods down here yet.

We are moving down to Florida to work on the boat at the end of this month, expect that to take at least six weeks, and then we'll probably spend a lot of time in the Bahamas. There were so many wonderful places the last time we went (in the early 90s), and some we wanted to explore but did not have time for. Our son is in the age range you specified, and this seems like the right time in his life to do this, also. It's something that should be a gift for his whole life; I know how strongly cruising the Caribbean affected the two of us the first time we did it (enough that we were determined to share it with him when he was old enough). And everywhere we went, especially cruising centers like Georgetown (not actually Caribbean, that :-), there were kids zipping around in dinghies and having volleyball games and visiting with each other. Take years, don't be rushed, and we will be looking forward to reading your adventures!

Just out of interest, what type of boat did you buy?
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Old 09-06-2010
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There is a lot to see and do in the Bahamas but the winter weather is no where near as good as that further south. This was a particularly bad winter there as water did not warm up (one couple said they did not get into the water until April) and there were many cold fronts coming through. Further south, the only impact of the cold fronts was that the trades slowed down for a day or two (ie 10 knots instead of 20). If you have two years to spend you will be able to spend a lot of time in both the Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas (and places in between).

Particular faves for us were:
Bahamas -- Exuma Park, Staniel Cay (kids will love both Thunderball Cave and the swimming pigs), Georgetown for the family regatta but very crowded midseason, south of Georgetown it gets much less busy and we liked Long Island and Mayaguana
Elsewhere -- Puerto Rico (in general), BVI (beautiful but crowded), Montserrat (active volcano), Guadeloupe (especially Les Saintes), Martinique (St Pierre and Ste Anne), Grenadines, and especially Grenada.

There may be better places to buy a boat, check out BVI and USVI along with Martinique (reportedly there are something like 10 brokerages in Le Marin - how is your French). Be aware that there are issues associated with buying a European spec boat (eg 220v shore power setup (the wires are probably not big enough for 110v) and parts may be of very good quality but are brands not common in North America.

Have fun.
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Finished the circumnavigation in early February in Grenada. Have to work on a book project for the next several months so the boat will be waiting for next year.
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Old 09-07-2010
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WHOOPS When I ran my search again I only got 60 too in Trinidad.

I am just off a big boat hunt primarily in Florida but I nearly went to Trinidad to look at a cheap Freedom 44 that needs deck work but finished up buying a Bombay 44 out of the USVI through Maritime Yacht Sales. I can recommend Dave McCall as a good broker who made two trips over to Tortola where the boat was stored to take extra photos and patiently answered every question of mine.

I have just come down from the USVI to Grenada and there are lots of boats for sale in Martinique and Guadeloupe as people say. There is a list of brokers on the internet somewhere but some are not good at replying to english emails.

Do you know what size and type and general price range you are looking at.

What are you doing with the boat at the end of the cruise?
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