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Old 15-08-2018, 01:39   #1
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Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

Dear all,
I have just bought a boat in Trinidad and want to get up to the BVI’s for some easy sailing. My wife is an inexperienced sailor and I want to make this as easy on her as possible. We will be in Trinidad from October and don’t have to be back in England until August (although appreciate the Hurricane season)
Since so many boats are based in Trinidad, I’m assuming this is a common route.

I have been told that I need to head West to Bonaire and further before heading north to Puerto Rico as the sailing is hard going north?

this seems like to long a journey to put my wife through straight off the bat.
I am after advice.

What would you do?
When would you go?
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Old 15-08-2018, 01:55   #2
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

Island hop instead. There is some wonderful sailing and some beautiful islands on the way that would be a real pity to miss.

You may get so distracted along the way as to not even make it to the BVIs in the first season...

If you are so intent on heading direct to Puerto Rico or the BVIs, then it should be easy enough to find experienced sailors in Trinidad willing to help you move the boat, and maybe your wife can even just meet you there instead.

But in my mind Caribbean Cruising is definitely not about spending hundreds of nm at sea looking at mostly nothing but ocean.

Island hop and take it easy on the wife and the new boat and I doubt that you will regret it.
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:04   #3
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

Thanks so much for this.
My absolute ideal would be to island hop and take it as easy as possible.
What time of year would you suggest leaving, as I said we're there from Oct and I'm worried about the Christmas Winds.
I'm in no rush to head up but I also don't want to spend all my sailing heading straight into the wind.
Many thanks
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:27   #4
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

You haven't mentioned what type of boat you bought, which may be a factor, but in a general sense if you are island hopping most of the passages are relatively short so even if you are going upwind it is not for that long (daysails mostly, sometimes a long daysail, plus the odd overnighter).

You do however have an overnighter (around 100nm?) to Grenada at first.

Just pick a good weather window at the time. Remember that a slightly better weather window doesn't need to be very long with these short hops.

Current weather and passage planning are a big part of safe and successful, and just plainly more pleasant cruising.

That goes for all the hops really. If you have time and dont need to rush then don't put pressure on yourself or your wife and just wait.

If it will be just the two of you, and this will be your wife's first trip, possibly consider taking an extra crew member even to Grenada, just because it's a longer leg and the first trip.

You don't want to put off your wife from cruising on the first trip.

It goes without saying of course that you should also do sea trials and short trips, even day sails out of Trinidad first, with a new boat and crew combination to familiarise yourself as much as possible with the boat and all the systems.

You will quickly develop a list of things to do, and change, and fix.
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:42   #5
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

I've bought a Westerly Oceanlord 41. Very solidly build, been really well looked after in all important aspects. A few cosmetic issues and that's it.
I've already started planning the trip to Grenada as I know that's a trip I've got to take.

My plan is definately to day sail with the new boat for as long as it takes. Currently just wondering when I should aim to leave Trinidad. I think you're right about the island hoping. And we'll be coming back down so will get the benefit on the way back of the wind at our backs.
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:47   #6
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Nick.
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:53   #7
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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Originally Posted by jmh2002 View Post

You do however have an overnighter (around 100nm?) to Grenada at first.
100 nm does not have to be an overnighter if she's concerned, and if it's her first sail.... Get up well before dawn, prep the boat, get going at the first hit of light, if you make decent time (or motor if need be) you can drop anchor in the last light, unless you're seriously entirely into the wind the whole way. Or leave at 3 or 4 in the morning to be safe. Still not a scary overnight for someone who hasn't done it before. And then island hop to your heart's content!
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Old 15-08-2018, 02:57   #8
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Nick.
Thank you so much. The advice is making me a lot more easy and I feel very welcome.
The thought of having to do the 3 day over to Bonaire and then I haven't even looked further than that was worrying me.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:03   #9
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

It sounds like you already on the right track, and your boat will should go upwind comfortably enough when required, if not so 'fast and high'.

Leave when you are ready and by this I mean prepared and confident with the boat, and then combine this with the right weather window to jump across. Nobody here now can suggest an exact 'departure date'.

Also I wouldn't necessarily always count on 'going north is upwind, going south is downwind'. It varies a lot depending on multiple factors, and also on the leeward side of the islands you will sometimes have no wind at all and you will need to motor.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:21   #10
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

I completely appreciate that but to avoid the 'Christmas Winds' does that mean leaving in January? Or can I already be heading up in November and just find bolt holes from the stronger weather and wait it out? Sorry just finding information on the net very conflicting and unclear.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:25   #11
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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100 nm does not have to be an overnighter if she's concerned, and if it's her first sail.... Get up well before dawn, prep the boat, get going at the first hit of light, if you make decent time (or motor if need be) you can drop anchor in the last light, unless you're seriously entirely into the wind the whole way. Or leave at 3 or 4 in the morning to be safe. Still not a scary overnight for someone who hasn't done it before. And then island hop to your heart's content!
I get your point, since I did most of my caribbean cruising on a big and fast Swan 51, and I was young, still a racing sailer, and so the boat was sailed to it's potential even when cruising. We went past most of the other cruisers and bareboat charterers like they were standing still

However, some simple passage planning:

- 100nm at 5kn vmg (Westerly 41) = 20 hours give or take
(your VMG maybe even less, it might be closer to 24 hours)
- so even from 0300, that makes the arrival time 2300
- days are short in the tropics, 0600-1800 roughly
- this means leaving in the dark and arriving at a new and unfamiliar anchorage in the dark too. NOT prudent in my mind.

With a correct weather window I feel that it is more prudent to leave during the day (before 1200), get fully underway and comfortable with good light, sail overnight (in the open sea with minimal navigation dangers), and then also arrive in the new anchorage in the morning with daylight, and the day ahead to accomplish any tasks.

This also allows plenty of time for any delays on passage and still being able to arrive during the day at your next location. Prudent.

However as I mentioned in my earlier post I do agree that other shorter legs can be done as 'long daysails'. Once you are confident it is quite easy to slip out of the anchorage in the early hours of the morning.

If the OP is unfamiliar with tropical cruising I would add the extra note that as a good general rule ALWAYS plan to already be anchored and enjoying a cocktail by 1800 until you have more experience.

This is just good seamanship.

Hope this helps
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:37   #12
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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Originally Posted by jmh2002 View Post
I get your point, since I did most of my caribbean cruising on a big and fast Swan 51, and I was young, still a racing sailer, and so the boat was sailed to it's potential even when cruising. We went past most of the other cruisers and bareboat charterers like they were standing still

However, some simple passage planning:

- 100nm at 5kn vmg (Westerly 41) = 20 hours give or take
(your VMG maybe even less, it might be closer to 24 hours)
- so even from 0300, that makes the arrival time 2300
- days are short in the tropics, 0600-1800 roughly
- this means leaving in the dark and arriving at a new and unfamiliar anchorage in the dark too. NOT prudent in my mind.

With a correct weather window I feel that it is more prudent to leave during the day (before 1200), get fully underway and comfortable with good light, sail overnight (in the open sea with minimal navigation dangers), and then also arrive in the new anchorage in the morning with daylight, and the day ahead to accomplish any tasks.

This also allows plenty of time for any delays on passage and still being able to arrive during the day at your next location. Prudent.

However as I mentioned in my earlier post I do agree that other shorter legs can be done as 'long daysails'. Once you are confident it is quite easy to slip out of the anchorage in the early hours of the morning.

If the OP is unfamiliar with tropical cruising I would add the extra note that as a good general rule ALWAYS plan to already be anchored and enjoying a cocktail by 1800 until you have more experience.

This is just good seamanship.

Hope this helps
All completely fair points.... but Trinidad to Grenada is 71nm.... now we got it down to 14 hours even passage planning at 5 knots. Much more doable.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:43   #13
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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I completely appreciate that but to avoid the 'Christmas Winds' does that mean leaving in January? Or can I already be heading up in November and just find bolt holes from the stronger weather and wait it out? Sorry just finding information on the net very conflicting and unclear.
The so called 'Christmas Winds' don't blow for 3 months. Unless you have problems with the boat you should be able to be out of Trinidad before they arrive, and yes in general all the way up the island chain you can find sheltered anchorages.

If they really kick in you might have to wait a week or two somewhere. It is not so unpleasant, you will be on island time, a week is nothing...

The bigger islands are all interesting to explore ashore too, so don't forget that.

Make sure you have some good weather software. It is readily available these days.

The only aside I would add is that if you will have guests flying down, it does of course make sense to be somewhere easy and cheaper for them to fly to.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:52   #14
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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All completely fair points.... but Trinidad to Grenada is 71nm.... now we got it down to 14 hours even passage planning at 5 knots. Much more doable.
Yeah thanks, I don't have a chart in front of me (landlocked at present) so it was an estimate, however it still requires leaving in the night to arrive in the daylight and allow for any delays during the passage.

There isn't much twilight in the tropics. One minute it's light, and the next minute it's dark.

I would much prefer to do a few more hours at night, than be late and have to arrive somewhere unfamiliar in the dark.

I have done it many times of course, and even on a big yacht with a full crew, radar, ECDIS, etc, it makes sense to avoid it if you can.

So many boats go up on a reef in the tropics because of this simple but mostly avoidable error.
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Old 15-08-2018, 03:59   #15
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Re: Heading north from Trinidad? What would you do?

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Yeah thanks, I don't have a chart in front of me (landlocked at present) so it was an estimate, however it still requires leaving in the night to arrive in the daylight and allow for any delays during the passage.

There isn't much twilight in the tropics. One minute it's light, and the next minute it's dark.
Sigh. Yes I know, I've spent lots of time in the tropics.... I just also hate being wrong
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