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Old 24-01-2015, 16:01   #1
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Cornell Route help Columbia and Panama

Hi folks, We've made it as far south as St. Martin...having a wonderful trip. Our trip "plan" was loosely to clockwise circle the Caribbean from Florida returning to the US via central america and the gulf of mexico, perhaps to Texas, arriving back in the US in July.

Can someone with experience in SW Caribbean help me understand the season/weather more clearly?

My Cornell book has two routes from the eastern Caribbean that raise my question. One to Columbia that says the best time is Dec to May, the other is the route to Panama, however this is listed as Apr to May as the best time.

Do the trades cause the seas between Columbia and Panama to be untenable between Dec and Apr. Cornell mentions the trades stacking up the seas, but is the window to get to Panama this small?

Thanks for your response.

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Old 24-01-2015, 16:30   #2
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Re: Cornell Route help Columbia and Panama

Colombia to Panama is the easy part - all down wind and down seas and you are past the compression zone. Yes, it can be a bit exciting at times when the trades are honking - but it won't be any different than the Eastern Caribe when the higher trades are up.

Frankly, I don't know why Cornell says Dec-May is the best time to go from the EC to Colombia. There is a very good chance you will get your butt kicked in that time frame - although it will only be a downhill butt-kicking.

The best time wind and seas wise is summer, but the squalls can be bad. Overall, late fall and late spring are much better times than winter for this passage.

If you are doing a Caribe loop, and not needing to get to the Pacific for the correct season to cross, then I recommend Nov to early Dec to go from the EC to Colombia. Christmas and New Years in Santa Marta and Cartagena is fantastic. Then just pick a window to go to Panama. If you have to wait a week or so, there are far worse things in life than being stuck in Cartagena Colombia. But if you don't mind brisk EC-type trade winds, then this is no different and all downhill (and only a single overnight passage).

Since Colombia and Panama are pretty much collinear from the EC, I assume Cornell is giving an offshore route skipping Colombia and a near-shore route that include it? Neither really make that much of a difference time-wise.

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Old 25-01-2015, 06:15   #3
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Re: Cornell Route help Columbia and Panama

Thanks Mark, this what I figured.

The two routes are more or less the same...from EC, outside the 1K meter curve, until they diverge north of Columbia approx 71.5W.
Also, for clarity, Cornell recommends the Columbia route Dec to May, and the Panama route Apr to May and Nov to Dec.

Since I can no longer make the Nov Dec timeframe, I was planning on spending the next month and a half in the EC, then going downwind to Columbia and Panama, possibly stopping in ABCs. From Panama, heading North in May June. We're covering a lot of distance in a short while, but the family is enjoying this pacing for now at least.

Any issues, concerns or advice for the remainder of this trip plan?

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Old 25-01-2015, 06:33   #4
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Re: Cornell Route help Columbia and Panama

Bonaire is a great stop. Cruiser friendly, easy shopping and great diving. Curacao is decent if you need boat parts. We left Panama for Cayman Islands and FLA in early May, just after the trades laid down. It was a nice trip and easy sail north in fairly light air.
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Old 27-01-2015, 07:10   #5
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Re: Cornell Route help Columbia and Panama

please....it is Colombia, not Col u mbia
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