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Harborless 05-06-2013 09:29 AM

How to Proceed...
Leaving for the Bahamas May 13th out of JAX. Had two questions.
1: the leg from JAX to New Smyrna Beach looks to be a possible over nighter. On the east coast of FL there are not a lot of inlets between Jax and NSB. My question is "how would you proceed from Jax to NSB single hand? Would you leave at night so that by the next day you are approaching? Would you break it up?

I want to travel through the Bahamas to Puerto Rico. I have heard this called the thorny path. How long do you think it would take to do this route? I do not want to do route 65 headed toward Bermuda. With hurricane season ramping up around August I want to make sure I reach Rico with enough time to find a good marina or anchorage.
I plan on living in Rico until hablo espanol muy bien. Then I will sail to st. Croix je voudrai parle francois tres bien. After that I do not know what I will do.

Last question: If you were in Rico and a depression was developing, would you stay in rico on the south side of the island? Or would you run towards the coast of S.A.? Or would you try to run down to the virgins?

This is all incredibly exciting. I cannot wait for next week to come!

FSMike 05-06-2013 10:22 AM

Re: How to Proceed...
Harborless -

1) I would overnight in St. Augustine (assuming favorable weather for the entrance). Contact the commercial towing service in St. Augustine (SeaTow I think) before departure for up to date local information on the inlet.

2) Buy a copy of Bruce Van Sant's book "The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" aka "The Thornless Path". Read it cover to cover, it will be a great help to you.

3) Good luck on finding French speaking people on St. Croix. It is part of the United States Virgin Islands. Which reminds me, don't forget to buy all the necessary charts for your trip.

4) In event of an approaching tropical system, I would stay on the south coast of Puerto Rico, which has a number of places to hide. See #2 above.

Have a good trip.

blutoyz 05-06-2013 10:48 AM

Re: How to Proceed...
Whatever you do...find some wifi for updates and to upload pics


TQA 05-06-2013 11:10 AM

Re: How to Proceed...
Do be very aware that you are pushing your luck to be leaving this late. Hurricane season starts in 25 days.

Get Van Sant's book and really study it esp. the parts on waiting for weather windows to make certain passages.

If you have a powerful diesel and your boat is 45 ft + with a reliable autopilot you might make it motor sailing most of the way. In fact the weather is showing reasonably light conditions for the next few days so today would be a good time to leave.

However if the SE trades start honking with the Caribbean 2 step running [ a short sharp boat breaking sea condition ] then going south and east will be somewhere between hard and impossible. Esp if you have a 30 ft boat with a tiddly engine.

There is a reason it is called the THORNY PATH.

CalebD 05-06-2013 01:41 PM

Re: How to Proceed...
Martinique, Guadaloupe and Haiti are where you will find some sort of French spoken. Not King Louis' French though, it's more of a Patois.

killarney_sailor 05-06-2013 06:20 PM

Re: How to Proceed...
Your plan seems pretty risky to me. The Thorny Path is quite slow since you have to wait for the appropriate weather systems before heading to the next anchorage. These systems are much more common in the winter when the whole meteorological world shifts south. With what the jet stream is doing now, I would imagine the Trades are very well established and likely honking. Trust me, going hundreds of miles to windward in strong Trades is something to be avoided.

If a hurricane/tropical storm is coming I don't think you could get to South America ahead of it. Once you knew it was a threat to PR you would only have a couple of days (say 250 miles, don't know fast your boat is) and SA is a long way away, especially if the storm turned left a bit.

If I were you I would be looking for a November departure for the Caribbean. Find a really good hurricane hole or marina in Florida and spend the time sailing your boat and fixing the problems that emerge. Will a really clear forecast, ie no sign of a tropical disturbance even off the coast of Africa, you might head into the Bahamas but not too far. Be ready to head back to your bolt hole at the first sign of trouble even if it is 1000 miles away - think in terms of days both for the storm and for your retreat. You don't want to lose your boat, not to mention your life, in the first few months. Read van Sant and Cornell and trust their advice.

Wasn't St Croix Danish at one point? Wonder if anyone still speaks Danish? BTW, if you want to work on your Spanish I believe that some folks in Florida speak that language.

Harborless 05-06-2013 07:23 PM

Re: How to Proceed...
Thank you all for your replies and advice. I am worried about the thought of banging into the trade winds for that long but I do not intend on doing it all at once. I would spend the last two weeks of may and full month of June getting down the Bahamas and hopefully on the way to Turks so that hopefully I could make Rico by the 2nd week of july. Is 8the weeks sufficent time? I have 2 brand new North Sail made sails jib and main to help me shave close up so i should be able to make good ground if I wait for proper weather like one poster said correct? I suppose if its really that impossible i could stay in the abacos. Until november as they have some good holes and you im very familiar with the area.
id really like to attempt the rico trip i want to start working again before i go to low on funds. Im selling my car so returning to jax is not an option. Also, i would plan on going south through the bahamas and then turks and caicos to get to rico. That would be the plan. Just wondering if i can make it realistic in 8my weeks. I know its pushing it..

bigdogandy 05-06-2013 08:28 PM

Re: How to Proceed...
Harborless - I don't think 8 weeks is enough time to do the trip you're talking about safely or comfortably.

Have you thought about spending the next 8 weeks cruising the Florida coast and the Keys? There are lots of places in S. Fla where you can learn Spanish and French and not expose yourself to the hazards of the trip you're copntemplating during the start of hurricane season.

Not trying to talk you out of an adventure, just saying there might be other avenues for cruising fun without bashing down to Puerto Rico.

In any case, good luck and godspeed. Enjoy the trip!

FarCry 05-06-2013 08:29 PM

Re: How to Proceed...

Originally Posted by killarney_sailor (Post 1026445)

Wasn't St Croix Danish at one point? Wonder if anyone still speaks Danish? BTW, if you want to work on your Spanish I believe that some folks in Florida speak that language.

Yes the USVI was purchased from Denmark. There are frequent Danish tourists that come to the USVI and many make visits to the various cemeteries to see their relatives headstones. They speak Danish. I've not heard many others.

I've enjoyed following your blog Killarny. Hope you are healing well and can get back out there again soon.:)

luv4sailin 05-06-2013 09:27 PM

Re: How to Proceed...
Why would you stop in New Smyrna? That inlet looks nasty on the chart, particularly if the weather is uncooperative. If you wait for nice Easterlies, which should not be much of a wait, you can go to Cape Canaveral or Ft. Pierce which are much more welcoming inlets. If you time your departures to get to your destination by 9AM, you'll get there by noon. If for some reason you are rocketing along and you think you'll get to your destination in the dark, reef, reef ,reef. Slow her down to 2 knots if necessary but never, never, never make a night landfall.

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