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Old 26-11-2010, 07:55   #1
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Charleston, SC to Brazil

I have recently signed up to help a Brazilian man sail his "new toy" (87' Beneteau First 40.5) from Charleston, SC back to his hometown of Salvador Bahia, Brazil. I am not nautically challenged but I am not the most experienced sailor either so I was hoping to get some feedback about this journey. The plan is to sail straight from Charleston to Tortola (January 2011) hop down the islands and take off from Barbados towards Brazil (February or March 2011). I hear that winds and currents will not be in our favor most the time... Any input would be appreciated. Also, how important is it to have SSB on the boat?
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Old 26-11-2010, 08:53   #2
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Sounds like a great adventure and a lot of fun. Answers and comments.

1. Jan departure from Charleston could be problematic. That far into the winter you could see pretty strong cold fronts and they could come pretty frequently. Even if you find a break between the fronts for a good departure you might not get very far before the next comes and kicks you in the posterior. I suggest extreme caution in this regard. If you get caught in the Gulf Stream when a front hits you will not be happy.

2. Winds and currents. You will be crossing a number of different wind/weather/current regions; the northeast trades, intertropical convergence zone and the southeast trades. You will be against the wind for large parts of this trip but not the whole thing. If you stay close to the coast local weather patterns could have significant influence.

3. SSB is always nice to have but I would not cancel the trip if it wasn't on board.
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Old 26-11-2010, 09:59   #3
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I agree with skipmac. While in TrinIda, I spoke with many cruisiers who had made the passage from South Africa and Brazil, about the normal clockwise flow of winds and currents of the South Atlantic. Their advice was to sail from Barbados in a great circle route to Central Africa and back acrossed the South Atlantic to Brazil.

Hugging the coast around the NE corner of South America would be a very hard trip.

Do not attemp this during the hurricain season, of the Caribbean and east coast of the US, because all weather that could become a hurricain comes offshore just south of the Horn of Africa.
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Old 26-11-2010, 10:44   #4
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Make sure you are in Bahia by Carnival, it's the worlds' wildest, or so I'm told. I once got within a couple hundred miles before we pulled over and partied right there.
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Old 26-11-2010, 12:07   #5
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A safer route might be to go south to Miami (which would probably involve a good bit of time in the ICW to avoid weather that time of the year). Then a route due east to a point where you could turn south to the Virgin Islands.

Tor Pinney's Homepage - A Cruising Sailor's Homeport

This article describes the route, but I've seen it discussed and described in other articles (which a quick Google search couldn't rediscover). Weather offshore of the Carolinas, Georgia, even Florida can get quite gnarly quite fast that time of year. Took a little thrashing off Daytona in January once when the forecast was pretty benign.

There's also the Thorny Path route to the Caribbean that time of year, which is described in the book by that title, but by all accounts, that takes a lot of time and patience.

The link below has information about the route from the Caribbean to Brazil:

Noonsite: Caribbean, St. Martin to Angra dos Reis, Brazil

I haven't done any of these myself except the January trip from Carolinas to Miami. So this is NOT expert advice. For what it's worth. Good luck.
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Old 26-11-2010, 14:45   #6
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I had to do it from Trinidad once and tried the "inshore route" short tacking. Absolutely horrible! Along the Brazilian coast you have oilfields (pretty obvious though - so not really a worry) and masses of fishing fleets which can be a bit troublesome.

With hindsight and starting from Charleston - I'd go East straight away until I could make the "bulge" of south America! If you want a bit of tourism on the way though, that's a different matter.

Salvador is great - especially the old town up the elevator but watch your wallet and keep a very low profile, there are some nasty thugs about. Tony
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Old 26-11-2010, 16:23   #7
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Isn't the First 40.5 a rather light weight racing boat? Is that suitable for a long offshore passage?
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Old 28-11-2010, 17:38   #8
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Thanks for all the input. Lots of good advice and lots to consider. I would like to sail to south florida cut through the bahamas somewhere then hop through the Carib. Persuading the owner to do this is another story... When do the cold fronts and hard tradewinds calm down? Our schedule is rather flexible (could postpone til March or possibly a little later) so would it be worth waiting til then? The First 40.5 is a light-weight racing/cruiser boat which is why I would rather not go to far offshore. He wanted to take the Azores route but the crew and I talked him out of that one. Skipmac- when you said the weather could have a significant impact if we stay close to the coast would that generally mean a positive or negative impact? Again, thanks to everyone for keeping an amateur sailor well informed. And yes I hope I can make it there for Carnival
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Old 28-11-2010, 23:59   #9
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I don't think you understood what several people tried to tell you, so I'll try a little bit harder. Based on the acounts of several people who have gone south from Trinidad, you're going to get the holy sh*t knocked out of you as you round the SE corner of the South American continent and travel through the ITCZ and down the east coast of South America!! Boats have been LOST. Please give us the name of the boat so we'll know that it was you who had to be rescued.

You and the crew are trying to tell the owner that you know whats best for his boat, before you even begin the trip. I question how much experience you and the crew have vs the owner of the boat.
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Old 29-11-2010, 14:16   #10
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I think what John is trying to say it the sailing from the Windward Islands to round the corner of Brazil at Recife could be pretty nasty. You can expect 1-2 knot currents and headwinds 15-25 kts all the way, over 2000 nm.

Also, if you are that far south you have lost the option of sailing east until you are north of Recife and turn south. You will again be beating dead into the wind and current.

Take a look at the pilot charts for the Windward Islands and Brazilian coast for Feb.

http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...106/106feb.pdf

http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...105/105feb.pdf
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Old 29-11-2010, 15:56   #11
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Thanks Skipmac. I follow that hugging the brazilian coast is a rough voyage and probably not a good choice. I am trying to figure out the best way to Brazil that doesn't involve taking the Azores route. I realize that for all practical reasons this would be the way to go but I don't trust the boat or the skipper enough to sail 2,000 miles from land with it. The crew and I don't have experience, the skipper does but I don't think that is sufficient.
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Old 29-11-2010, 16:07   #12
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then don't do it
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Old 29-11-2010, 16:17   #13
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Touche. Leaning towards it. Before learning about the difficult winds and currents it sounded like a great trip, but I had a feeling it was too good to be true.
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Old 29-11-2010, 16:29   #14
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If you don't trust the boat or the skipper and you and the crew don't have any experience, I question why you're still considering the passage.

What you're suggesting is close to pre-medatated mutiny before you even get on the boat. Please realize that there can be no democracy on a boat. A skipper can't use his crews decisions as the reason his boat sank or there was any loss of life!

As a skipper/owner, if my inexperienced pickup crew started to question my ability or my decisions, they'd be off the boat in a NY heartbeat.
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Old 29-11-2010, 16:36   #15
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Perhaps the boat owner is thinking that the shakedown cruise to the Caribbean will prepare you for the rest of the trip.

Otherwise, don't go.
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