Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean? - SailNet Community
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 09-01-2012 Thread Starter
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Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

Hey all, We live in NY and will be sailing down to the Bahamas and further into the Caribbean on our way to Colombia. Our planned departure date from NY is presently set for Thanksgiving - hoping to avoid the hurricane season and squeeze out before the Nor'easters.

Any thoughts or opinions on our timing would be great. We plan on taking a straight shot south until we hit the Carolinas, then slowing up a bit and taking our time. We're sailing a 34' Seafarer sloop. 2ppl 2mutts.

Cheers!

Chance
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post #3 of 10 Old 09-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

THanks! I'll check it out.
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-02-2012
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

I sailed from the Bahamas to Jamaica and then on down to Columbia in Late March- early April and had great weather. I often sail to Honduras from the Key's in early Dec. and sometimes get low's and depressions that late in the season. It took me 4 day's to sail from the Central Exumas to Port Antonio Jamaica and 4 Day's to sail from there to Columbia. Easy weather window's to plan for.

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post #5 of 10 Old 09-02-2012
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

I would suggest that Thanksgiving is a little late. It is going to be cold. You want to be on the Florida/Georgia border - St Mary's, Ferandina Beach, Jacksonville about two weeks before Thanksgiving. In fact, if you are not in a big hurry you should spend Thanksgiving in St. Mary's. You will have the company of about 120 boats. Its a great party.

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post #6 of 10 Old 09-02-2012
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

Most people time their trip to be in the Chesapeake for the boat show in Annapolis and then carry on south from them. If you have insurance check and see when you are allowed to south. It varies from company to company in terms of date - Nov 1 or 15 for example and where the restriction kicks in - often at Cape Hatteras. Leaving at Thanksgiving will expose you to some pretty nasty weather. You may have to wait for weather windows and end up doing this in pretty wintry conditions.

Van Sant's book was mentioned. It applies to passages to the eastern Caribbean. You really have three choices of route depending on what you mean by 'Caribbean'. You can go to the eastern Caribbean but that is away from Colombia. You can go through the Bahamas and then between Haiti and Cuba, or you can go to the west of Cuba, which is the most direct route to Colombia. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Depends on what you want to do.

Back home on Lake Ontario after something over 36,000 nm circumnavigator. Not surprisingly there is a lot of stuff I want to get done on Ainia both cosmetically and functionally. Getting an early start so it will be ready to go for next summer (Lake Superior?).
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post #7 of 10 Old 09-03-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

Killarney - Thanks for the advice. I never considered my insurance. That is a huge consideration. We planned on hitting the bahamas then move west to cuba, mexico then south down the central american coast. I 'd love to hear any other thoughts you might have. route suggestions etc. if we have to wait until spring - is there a prime time to go?

Cheers again! J
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-03-2012
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

One thing to consider very strongly is not losing ground westward unless it is absolutely necessary. Having to beat to windward in the trades gets old very quickly indeed. When we were in the eastern Caribbean we listened to Chris Parker's forecasts and there almost always seemed to be an area of high winds (25 to 35 knots) off the coast of Colombia. Don't know why, but beating into it would be really horrible. If you really want to get to Colombia consider approaching from the east or northeast rather than the west.

While on the topic of insurance, check to see if there are restrictions re Colombia. Ours allowed visits only to offshore islands.

Back home on Lake Ontario after something over 36,000 nm circumnavigator. Not surprisingly there is a lot of stuff I want to get done on Ainia both cosmetically and functionally. Getting an early start so it will be ready to go for next summer (Lake Superior?).
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post #9 of 10 Old 09-03-2012
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

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Originally Posted by SailingChance View Post
Killarney - Thanks for the advice. I never considered my insurance. That is a huge consideration. We planned on hitting the bahamas then move west to cuba, mexico then south down the central american coast. I 'd love to hear any other thoughts you might have. route suggestions etc. if we have to wait until spring - is there a prime time to go?

Cheers again! J
First, you do understand the risk at present for Americans going to Cuba, correct? It is not insignificant...

KS is right, if you're headed to Columbia in the winter, the SE Bahamas/Windward Passage is the way to go... Honduras/Bay Islands/Belize/Yucatan would be better visited on your return to the States... Also, be advised Honduras - particularly the mainland and Cabo Gracias a Dios area - has seen an increase of attacks against cruising boats in recent years, it's become somewhat of a risky area...

Headed down the ICW in late fall, the single best upgrade you can make is the installation of a bus heater forced air heating system that runs off the engine/HW heater cooling loop... Since you're likely to be running the engine much of the time on that portion of the trip, such a mod will be worth its weight in gold... Heater Craft is probably the most popular brand out there, not a particularly expensive upgrade, and installation is quite simple, biggest challenge is likely to be simply finding the space in proximity to the engine for the unit...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 09-03-2012 at 07:33 AM.
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post #10 of 10 Old 09-03-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Best Time(s) of year to sail to Caribbean?

Thanks again for the advice. I'm not worried about visiting Cuba. I haven't been there 5 times already. There is really very little risk involved - even as an american - if you are ever interested. Some great diving in the south near the isla juventud - I hear. I had planned on doing some diving off the coast of honduras. Roatan is one of my favorite places. Going back to the Cenotes and Caulker were also hopes. That being said, I do have two dogs on board and would rather not spend most of our time to windward.

The thing is - we're not headed back to the States. Our move to Colombia is permanent. We were hoping to be there by April. I'm going to have to rethink my route.
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