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  Topic Review (Newest First)
11-13-2012 12:37 PM
sv sea bird
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

So when you lose your radar reception you still have the AIS data on your chart plotter? I can see where AIS would be important, particularly with those tankers and freighters that carry them. But, from what I've read and seen on sites like not that many yachts carry AIS. The speed of the big ships makes them the most dangerous. So, I definitely will be getting an AIS transponder.

But, you're not using radar proximity alarm? Since most of the trips between islands south of St Martin are one day trips you don't see much need for alarms.
11-10-2012 04:49 AM
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Even though I don't often see them, my AIS shows how busy the St. Martin - BVI passage is with commercial shipping. This is a main passage from the north Atlantic to the Panama Canal and back and is quite busy. But the passage is 70nm wide (unlike the Channel) so ships can spread out a bit. In addition to this roughly north-south heavy metal traffic doing 20+ knots there are numerous cruise ships plying the east-west route between the islands and often they are idling along at 8knots (so they remain in international waters and can keep their casins open). Before I had AIS I had a couple of very uncomfortable trips in rainy weather and low visibility sharing the same sea space with big cruise ships.

The better the weather the better Radar works. In heavy rain and winds, where your boat is heeled over deeply and rolling around, radar doesn't work quite as well and you might lose targets in all the clutter and mush. But for the Caribbean and when not on a fixed schedule you can choose your passage weather with a very high degree of accuracy (since no passage is going to be longer than 24H) and not have to worry about really nasty weather.
11-09-2012 11:21 AM
sv sea bird
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

That's good information, capta. I've wondered about going west from Florida. Some of the western Caribbean ports look interesting, but it seems everywhere is uphill, against the wind and/or current. And, that way has some long passages. So, starting from Florida and the Bahamas as with most people it seems the best course is to prepare to beat upwind until St Martin.

Single-handed doesn't seem to be too difficult, in the right weather for one long night, but I doubt I could manage more than 30 hrs without good sleep. Rough seas can be tiring, and hard on autopilots, but again good preparation and good equipment should make the difference.

How reliable are radar proximity alarms? Is ship traffic much of a problem from Bahamas, through Mona passage and the route from VI to St Martin.

With autopilot set to follow the wind I could use GPS alarm if there is a wind change. But, of course, using autopilot would require lots of battery power and re-charging capabilities. A wind speed alarm would not give you advanced warning of a squal, but still it would be a help. Also, as you say, keep minimal sail set - keep one reef in the main - or, better yet, get mast furling and buy a new main sail. There never seems to be enough money to do it all...
11-08-2012 05:41 PM
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Sailing the eastern Caribbean alone is pretty easy, but if I were you (I did single hand this boat until I met my girlfriend) I would take at least one crew for any passage from the US to the Carib unless you leave Key West for Cuba, 90 miles, as the ocean passages are long and very tiring.
The north side of all the islands east of Cuba is a terrible and hard windward sail. Better to come into the Virgins, though there are a few who do the south coasts of those islands in tiny hops and love the trip.
Virgins to St. Martin is directly into the trades with a lot of current going north. After St. Martin, as stated above you can day sail to Grenada or Trinidad, but it not running, rather close reaching or beating unless you have a really fortunate weather window.
To give you some idea of the realities of eastern Carib sailing; almost everyone here sails with at least one reef (every day) in the main and more in the Christmas winds. Every channel funnels the wind and changes it's direction so that we seem to be beating more often than not, but the seas are manageable for a boat 40+ feet and more on the beam. Don't forget a good dodger and bimini; real comfort necessities down here.
We love the in mast furling for the main; it gives an infinite variety of sail sizes and does not require someone feeding the sail onto the mast track as I believe in boom furling does.
Good luck and I hope we can raise a few together when you get here.
11-01-2012 12:45 PM
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Originally Posted by sv sea bird View Post
Hello, I am preparing to get a sailboat and single-hand cruise the Caribbean in about 4 months.

I have single-handed sailed my last boat, a Sea Wolf 40, but in the protected waters of Puget Sound and Salish sea. I have bought many books and researched weather and sea conditions best I can, but personal experience of others would be the best source.

I would very much appreciate corresponding (here or email) with anyone/everyone experienced in single-handed sailing in the Caribbean.

Thank you,

Sea Bird
This sounds like a great plan if all your ducks are in row. Like money and mail..single handing in the Caribbean is so doable especially if your are not in a rush. Sail down to Guyana. You will meet a nice Lady there that likes boats and you will no longer be single-handing. Better scrap that plan. You want to single hand so only sail into ports with large cruise ships. Navigation and weather is predictable. Buy a wind vane and SSB with pastor. You can get some info as you go.. good luck Mate!
10-30-2012 10:26 AM
sv sea bird
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Thank you TQA. That is definitive information. The offshore route makes a day or so of Mona passage look much easier now.
10-29-2012 10:27 AM
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Originally Posted by sv sea bird View Post
Thanks SPECIALD. So, you don't go through Mona's passage. How is crossing PR's north shore? What is best anchorage on that shore or do you sail past PR?
The Mona passage is the passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Most cruisers will arrive in the DR at Luperon which has excellent shelter and when ready to cross to PR move to Samana and leave from there. Typically a 30 ft sail boat will take 2 nights and a day to make that passage.

This is not a passage to take lightly and many people have had a real beating on it esp. if they get clobbered by the thunderstorms that are generated by PR in the afternoon and them rumble all night across the passage.

Getting well clear of the islands seems at first sight to be a good option but for a 30 footer it is not a viable one. The further offshore you are the stronger the head wind will be, the stronger the current will be and the bigger the waves will be.

Bruce Van Sants stategy involves using the night lee periods which gives reduced head winds and keeping close in to minimise the current to make passage along the coasts and only going across the open passages when the winds fall light.

The usual strategy to get to St Maarten offshore involves sailing out into the Atlantic North of the Bahamas and South of Bermuda untill you reach Longitude 65 [ I65 ] then turning south. 2 -3 weeks hard beating to windward in a 30 footer.
10-29-2012 10:09 AM
sv sea bird
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Thanks SPECIALD. So, you don't go through Mona's passage. How is crossing PR's north shore? What is best anchorage on that shore or do you sail past PR?
10-24-2012 05:14 PM
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

You can see St Thomas from the East Coast of Puerto Rico. It is not a long passage and can easily be done in Daylight. We usually leave early and get to Souper's Hole on Tortola by late afternoon. there are great marinas and a West Marine in Fajardo if ypu need to re-equip.
10-24-2012 04:06 PM
sv sea bird
Re: Cruising Caribbean Single-handed

Yes, I keep picturing the eastern Caribbean as all lying north and south.

So, to restate; instead of turning south through Mona passage why doesn't anyone (that I've read) continue east past Puerto Rico and then turn south to BVI ect. I realize it would require a much larger weather window and some sea room off the PR north shore, but the many difficulties I've read about Mona passage would seem worth considering.
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