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  Topic Review (Newest First)
11-19-2004 01:31 PM
FL to Aruba in April

WJ, I''d suggest you pick up a copy of Bruce VanSant''s _Passages South_, which is the bible for the island-hopping-to-windward pathway to the E Caribbean from the USA''s east coast.

The prevailing winds (Trade Winds) are quite steady and swish back & forth like a cat''s tail, always oriented basically E''ly and much stronger in the winter. Periodically, fronts penetrate the islands, further south as Winter arrives and the lows are stronger, and so Option A is to ''stage'' in the E Bahamas until a front approaches (winds begin to veer, initially to the S) at which point the boat departs heading E, keeping up speed and making miles. The frontal winds veer NW, N and finally NE, aiding the boat''s progress E and SE. The wrinkles with Option A are that a) frontal winds don''t last more than 2-3 days (sometimes less), at which point the veer back to E and the boat is pushed S while beating into them, often ending up in the T&C or off the Silver Bank above the DR''s eastern end, b) the front the boat chooses may be too strong (and the crew & boat not well set up for it) or too weak (boat makes even less easting), and c) most crews (and often, their boats) don''t like going to weather as much as this routing requires. A sailboat''s motor can only do so much against the stiffened Winter trades.

Option B is the ''Thorny Path'', meaning its a prickly series of bumpy rides against wind, wind-driven current and swell, S & E while transiting down thru the Bahamas, T&C, the DR''s N coast and then sliding across the Mono to PR''s S coast. The advantages are rest stops and the ability to choose weather for each leg, tho'' this requires good wx info & patience, both of which crews often lack.

11-19-2004 09:38 AM
FL to Aruba in April


Sounds good but I''m sure the wind direction for each day will play a factor, I would like to avoid running the engine as much as possible, or am I in for alot of motoring? BTW can someone shed some light on the thorny patch?

11-19-2004 05:50 AM
FL to Aruba in April

"...head stright west to 65 degrees, then turn right and go to St Thomas."

Oh, were it that easy... (And I think that''s E, not W).

11-19-2004 04:08 AM
FL to Aruba in April

Headed South. Advice , If you don''t go by way of Burmuda, head thru the Bahamas, and at Eluthura, head stright east to 65 degrees, then turn right and go to St Thomas. There''s the "throrny path " too, but you can decide if you like that idea.
11-15-2004 07:10 AM
FL to Aruba in April


Thanks, you''ve been a great help

11-13-2004 12:32 AM
FL to Aruba in April


You will find Passages South offered by Amazon, and at a reduced price. However, buy it new there rather than using one of their resellers, or you are likely to get an earlier edition...and with guides, newer is better. Blue Water Books and other marine book retailers will have it, as well.

WM will undoubtedly carry it. Interestingly, I learned last week from a book publisher that WM sells 40% of all retail marine publications. Given the typical condition of the book rack in the WM stores I''ve visited, I found that pretty surprising; they must do one hell of a mail order biz.

Given Sailnet''s business plan (essentially a ''virtual marine retailer'' with a reduced pricing structure), I would think they could chew away a chunk of that WM business in a heartbeat if they chose to.

11-12-2004 11:53 AM
FL to Aruba in April


Thanks again, I''ll do some research
Do you know where I can get Bruce VanSant''s _Passages South (west marine)(amazon)?

11-12-2004 10:50 AM
FL to Aruba in April

Jeff, there''s no reason to worry about hurricanes down in the ABC''s. Even the eastern end of the VZ coast has no hurricane incidence (unlike Trinidad and Grenada, both of which are viewed as safe but in fact have this same ''Ivan-like'' event happen every decade or two. You will in fact be much safer re: storms down in the ABC''s than you will be in Florida.

There''s quite a substantial southward migration of Caribbean cruising sailors in the summer months, altho'' some of the destinations (the VZ coast, Chag Bay outside Port of Spain in Trinidad, Margarita et al.) can suffer from weak Trades, high humidity and lots of heat. In some ways, the ABC''s are a great alternative, as WRT Bonaire you anchor off the leeward side of the island off a mooring, and will be able to scoop up whatever wind there is.

I think you need to read VanSant''s book and generally brief yourself on summer conditions in the S Caribbean, and then make your decision. Good luck to you...

11-12-2004 07:30 AM
FL to Aruba in April


Thankyou very much for the info, I will get the CD etc..
After see the boats in Grenada, were not sure if we should just stay in FL for the Summer and move around as required.
We were thinking the ABCs because of the good windsurfing and diving.
I''m totally new to the (staying south for the season) that I assume alot of Cruisers do, I''m not sure if there are good storm anchorages in the ABCs, Anyone been there for the summer?
If we go well worry about sight seeing on the way back in the winter, there''s no schedule.

Again, Jack thankyou for the info.

11-12-2004 01:02 AM
FL to Aruba in April


Your route plan sounds a bit ambitious to me, given the amount of time you will have. But the basic route you describe, S and E to the eastern island chain, is done many times each year. The best overall guide for this run is Bruce VanSant''s _Passages South_ and, if you stick with your plan, I would encourage you to buy it right now as it will help you anticipate many aspects of your run.

Basically, you have until June to get far enough S and W to avoid a possible hurricane''s path...and of coure, there have been early storms in late May some years. The two reasons you would go so far east before turning SSW for the ABC''s is to lay a fair course and to see the island nations along the way...which requires some time both to make the miles & to smell the roses. And you may need to factor in some weather delays, as you''ll be (motor)sailing against prevailing E & SE winds, seas and wind-driven current. Depending on when in April you leave and how much shore time you want to spend, I wonder if you''ll have the time to do all 3 things: go SE to the BVI''s, sightsee along the way, and subsequently get SSW sufficiently to be assured of no storm complications by let''s say 6/1.

The weather in April and May should be wonderful. The Trades lighten up, the cold fronts stop penetrating the Exumas or further south by then (or are quite weak if they do...) and you should find the anchorages relatively less populated until the Virgins. This period will also make sailing across the wind from the N islands (PR, VIs) down to Bonaire a bit more feasible, altho'' that''s a very optimistic route given the W''ly current and perhaps a S''ly component in the E''ly Trades. I''m sure that''s why you''re thinking about leaving from the VI''s, as you''ll find it easier to lay Bonaire and enjoy going downwind to the other islands.

I think you need to make a fundamental choice: stay with your route and end up in the E Caribbean as the storm season arrives, or stay with your destination of the ABC''s, expect a bit less time enroute, and/or change your route a bit. You might want to consider provisioning (the ABC''s are relatively expensive) in Santiago, inland of Luperon, DR, and then sailing via the Mono to head out for whichever ABC island you can lay...or you can stop in PR (Ponce has superb provisioning options, as does Mayaguez while the boat is in Boqueron) to enjoy 800#s and cheap USPS mail if you need something for the boat (boats usually have a systems issue by then...) and then depart from there for the ABC''s. The one scenario you want to avoid is heading out on your 4 day/450 NM run to the ABCs with a Depression appearing over the horizon.

For much cruising info along that entire route, consider buying a CD of the last 8 years of member Bulletins from the SSCA ($25). It''s available at (go to the store, then Pubs, then look for the CD); the CD can be searched using Adobe Acrobat, which makes using it very easy. You''ll get a lot of info on the ABCs that otherwise are missing from the standard guides.

Good luck; I think you''ll have a ball.

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