Sailing San Diego to Panama - SailNet Community
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Sailing San Diego to Panama

I recently purchased a 1972 Bristol B40 in San Diego. I am currently active duty in the Navy and have 8 months left on my contract before getting out. My plan is to depart from the navy and take my B40 to Florida to live on and go to school. The estimated date of departure from San Diego is September 15th, 2020 with 3 months to get to Ft. Lauderdale. I have no intentions of trucking it but rather sail it through the Canal with my grandfather and at least 1 other person. I am looking for any and all advice. I have been reading as much as I can on the subject and believe I have a sound boat for the trip. Any help would be great and thank you in advance!
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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

If you delay your departure to the end of October you could join the Baja Haha regatta from SD to Cabo San Lucas. It would be the best way to have a shakedown cruise with others traveling along the route for any help and assistance. If anything is likely to go wrong, it would be during your first week offshore.
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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

Nice plan, thanks for your service and congrats on wrapping it up.

Your planned passage is the tougher direction to go, since you'll be beating into the prevailing wind, but it's done. I'm not sure it will cost much less to sail her on her belly, given canal fees and all the wear and tear, but I won't talk you out of the passage.

I'm not as familiar with how Pacific hurricanes form and where there are likely to go that time of year. I do know that September is still the height of the season, as you head toward Central America. Be sure to be well educated on the subject and know that even if one is hundreds of miles away, it will make passage less comfortable.


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Thank you guys! Yeah I could postpone and ride down with the Baja Haja in October but I'd like to head out a little earlier. I know postponing would push me back further into hurricane season also and I wouldn't be going through the gulf in the end of the season but rather the season would be over. We will keep a very weary eye on the weather though and always know we can jump into the coast if it looks hairy. We think we have plenty of time to do that as well as to stop over for a night or two in nice ports. I do have 2 GPS systems and 2 hand held gps systems. Plan to pick up the charts before departure. Have two autopilot systems, although haven't ever gotten the hydraulic one to work yet, So I guess we will say one autopilot. Also have an older radar system that works well. I'd like to think I've had a few shake down cruises going to Catalina and Mission Bay more than a few times, for a week at a time or so, but never heading south and I know that is a hell of a lot more of a trip than those that I have done. Is there anything major you would suggest doing before heading South to other countries? I am a Coast Guard documented vessel. I plan to have it hauled before the big trip and have the cutlass redone and bottom painted. The engine runs great as of now and sails are in decent condition. Have 1 extra main and 3 jobs, one being a storm sail. Hold 40 gal diesel, 150 pot water. Plan to strap on an additional 15 gal diesel and 20 gal pot water in containers. Have a large generator I'll be taking also. Thanks again for the input!
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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

You should have a way to get offshore weather and forecasts on demand. A satellite system is becoming the new norm. There were way to use a SSB radio, which work, but can be tricky. Downloading weather predictions is pretty important. IF you're unfamiliar with predicting weather and reading systems, a contract with a weather router can be helpful. These are not really necessary for day hops down the coast, but your passage will have you offshore from time to time.

There is no number of gps, nor jumping into the coast, that will help, if a hurricane is bearing down on you.

Again, I'm not studied in Pacific hurricane season. I would think the northern part of your trip is safer, while still inside the tail of the season. It's once you start getting further south, I must be riskier. I guess the question is how quickly you plan to push toward the canal.


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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

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Originally Posted by Blitzjreid68 View Post
..... Yeah I could postpone and ride down with the Baja Haja in October but I'd like to head out a little earlier......
BTW, a schedule at sea is the absolute most dangerous thing you can have aboard. Causes one to make bad decisions.


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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

During the early season (Jul – Aug), Pacific hurricanes veer west and hit Hawaii. Late season ones (Sep – Oct) veer east (and north) and hit the Pacific side of Mexico. That is why your insurance doesn’t work south of Cedros Is. Before Nov 1st. (and why the Ha Ha starts around Halloween).

Reliable fuel and drinkable water are rare on the Pacific side. You need to calculate your consumption rates and plan your tankage accordingly. Consider solar instead of a generator. My experience is 200 watts will work (barely), 300 is better and 450 watts means you can run a good-sized water maker with confidence.

Really do your homework concerning the Canal. My friend did it a couple (three?) years ago and it was cheaper, easier and faster to have his boat trucked across the isthmus. The Canal company is geared towards Panamax and Supermax ships so getting on their schedule is difficult and you have to deposit the entire fee up front and wait the three-four months for your scheduled transit. If you miss the transit date, your fee is forfeited. So really do your research on the canal.

George B
2000 Catalina 34 MkII
Alameda, Ca.
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Re: Sailing San Diego to Panama

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Originally Posted by GeorgeB View Post
....Late season ones (Sep – Oct) veer east (and north) and hit the Pacific side of Mexico. That is why your insurance doesn’t work south of Cedros Is. Before Nov 1st. (and why the Ha Ha starts around Halloween).....
I knew someone familiar would add color to season. I hope the OP considers this a deal breaker to leave in September.


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