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Old 02-03-2015, 06:31   #1
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Chesepeake to Cuba: leave Dec 1?

Hello all,

I'm pondering going to Cuba this winter. Most likely will be singlehanded. 29' Pearson Triton. I will most likely not be able to leave till Dec 1. Boat is currently in Baltimore area although I could probably ferry it down to Norfolk by Dec 1 (maybe).

Is that too late to leave? I was doing 50 mile days taking the boat down from Boston this fall, would hope to do the same.

Also would ponder the Bahamas but Cuba sounds pretty cool.

The plan would probably be to return the boat to Florida or Norfolk and put it up for a year and then return to it.

Would take any thoughts or advice.

Thanks!
Paul
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:29   #2
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Re: Chesepeake to Cuba: leave Dec 1?

Ditch or offshore?

There's a reason most folks going offshore leave from the Ches Bay to either Bahamas or E Carib as soon after Nov 1 as they can. Most insurance windows open around then AND the later you leave the worst it will be. Dec 1 won't be too late unless it is. You might get lucky if you plan on a non-stop offshore route. But you have a small boat and a non-stop route crossing the Gulf Stream SE of Hatteras to the Bahamas may not be wise. A better idea may be to go in and out of the ditch coastwise and not cross the GS at all until around Palm Beach or so if you want to go to the Bahamas. If you want to go to Cuba you ought to decide where in Cuba you're going because it may make more sense to go thru the Bahamas to get to the south coast around the east end, if that's your intention. We may go to Cuba as well if the legalities get sorted out permitting it and we'd go thru the Bahamas first, arriving in Spanish Wells direct from the Ches Bay.

Dave
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:00   #3
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Re: Chesepeake to Cuba: leave Dec 1?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sully75 View Post
Hello all,

I'm pondering going to Cuba this winter. Most likely will be singlehanded. 29' Pearson Triton. I will most likely not be able to leave till Dec 1. Boat is currently in Baltimore area although I could probably ferry it down to Norfolk by Dec 1 (maybe).

Is that too late to leave? I was doing 50 mile days taking the boat down from Boston this fall, would hope to do the same.
No... While many would consider early December far from ideal, it's never too late. If it were, I never would have managed to get my boar south, the earliest I have ever managed to get out of NJ was Dec 16, most years it's not been until after Christmas :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sully75 View Post
Also would ponder the Bahamas but Cuba sounds pretty cool.

The plan would probably be to return the boat to Florida or Norfolk and put it up for a year and then return to it.

Would take any thoughts or advice.

Thanks!
Paul
For your first trip south, I'd recommend the Bahamas... As fascinating as it is from a cultural standpoint, the sailing and cruising in general along the N shore of Cuba doesn't compare very favorably with the Bahamas.

The Bahamas are a far better and more forgiving place to get your feet wet, learning how to read the water with the aid of excellent charts, and so forth... I wouldn't suggest venturing into Cuban waters before you've gained some proficiency and confidence with navigating/piloting around coral, etc., as Cuban charts are nowhere near as accurate as those for the Bahamas. And, you'd better have your boat very well sorted before heading to Cuba, there's precious little support infrastructure for cruisers there...

However, if you've still got your sights on Cuba, a good approach would be to work your way down thru the Bahamas to Acklins/Crooked Island, or the Jumentos, and then check into Cuba at Puerto Vita... Then, cruise back towards Havana in a more favorable direction...

You mention nothing about how well your boat is equipped, but don't forget that if you're venturing deep into the Bahamas or Cuba, you'll want some sort of HF receive capability in order to get your WX info. In the Bahamas one can sometimes depend on the "kindness of strangers" to glean some info second-hand, but in Cuba you'll be totally on your own in that regard...

Good luck, and enjoy...
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:26   #4
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Re: Chesepeake to Cuba: leave Dec 1?

The ditch being the intercoastal waterway? If so then yes, I was planning on ditch as far as I can. I'd rather keep the cold weather offshore passages to a minimum.

I was thinking I'd go straight from the keys to Cuba, but don't really know the area at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
Ditch or offshore?

There's a reason most folks going offshore leave from the Ches Bay to either Bahamas or E Carib as soon after Nov 1 as they can. Most insurance windows open around then AND the later you leave the worst it will be. Dec 1 won't be too late unless it is. You might get lucky if you plan on a non-stop offshore route. But you have a small boat and a non-stop route crossing the Gulf Stream SE of Hatteras to the Bahamas may not be wise. A better idea may be to go in and out of the ditch coastwise and not cross the GS at all until around Palm Beach or so if you want to go to the Bahamas. If you want to go to Cuba you ought to decide where in Cuba you're going because it may make more sense to go thru the Bahamas to get to the south coast around the east end, if that's your intention. We may go to Cuba as well if the legalities get sorted out permitting it and we'd go thru the Bahamas first, arriving in Spanish Wells direct from the Ches Bay.

Dave
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:15   #5
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Re: Chesepeake to Cuba: leave Dec 1?

That's when a lot of people in the Chesapeake head south. The only real issue going down the ditch that time of year is the shortening days, which gives you less daylight to make tracks, but 50 miles per day should not be a problem provided you can make it to a good stopping point each afternoon.
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