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Old 07-12-2014, 08:12   #1
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Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

On a possible circumnavigation:

Aruba to Panama after a down-island hop from the BVIs sounds the more adventurous route, but given the weather windows (December or April), it presents a dilemma: assuming an early Nov. departure from the U.S. East Coast (Norfolk or Beaufort), you'd be rushing it to be in place for an (early) December passage (recommended by Cornell).

Alternately, taking a leisurely jaunt through the Lesser A's, you'd wind up in Panama in mid-April, and that would place you in a race to make the canal transit and points west in the approved timeframe.

Jamaica to Panama would alleviate some of the time constraint (for a Dec. passage), but would be the less interesting route, I should think.

Thoughts from anyone who has gone either route?
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:27   #2
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama?

Have you thought about doing a season in the E Carib and making your Canal transit the following year? You are cruising I assume, not a delivery.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:37   #3
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama?

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Have you thought about doing a season in the E Carib and making your Canal transit the following year? You are cruising I assume, not a delivery.
Yeah, but I think the cruising budget wouldn't bear doing that both in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and personally, I'd rather spend the "extra" year in the S. Pac.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:59   #4
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama?

Then I can't see any reason to head to the E Carib. Arrive in panama with enough time to check out the San Blas. Then head on through the Canal. You might want to try and make Cartegena for visit. From Jamaica you can stop at Providencia on your way to Cristobal.
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Old 07-12-2014, 09:23   #5
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama?

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Then I can't see any reason to head to the E Carib. Arrive in panama with enough time to check out the San Blas. Then head on through the Canal. You might want to try and make Cartegena for visit. From Jamaica you can stop at Providencia on your way to Cristobal.
The San Blas islands would definitely be high on my list of priorities. Plan B (from Turks through the Windward Passage, with possible stop in Cuba before Jamaica) would get you to SB Islands by about mid-December. Assuming a Canal transit in March, that'd give you a lot of time there, but it sounds like there's a lot to see.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:56   #6
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

It' ll be a good trip. We are in the San Blas now.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:42   #7
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

do you go straight down from u.s. east coast?
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:56   #8
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

Hampton, Virginia to the VIs, down the chain to Grenada, Then Bonaire (great), Curacao, Cartegena, then the eastern San Blas. Now in the western San Blas.
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Old 09-12-2014, 16:46   #9
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

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Hampton, Virginia to the VIs, down the chain to Grenada, Then Bonaire (great), Curacao, Cartegena, then the eastern San Blas. Now in the western San Blas.
Oh, OK. So you basically did my plan A. You found that you had enough time to fit it all in from circa Nov. 1 to now? Or, did it seem rushed?

How was the notorious stretch from Curacao to Cartegena?
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Old 10-12-2014, 05:17   #10
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

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Oh, OK. So you basically did my plan A. You found that you had enough time to fit it all in from circa Nov. 1 to now? Or, did it seem rushed?

How was the notorious stretch from Curacao to Cartegena?
We had plenty of time. But not how you are thinking. We spent the hurricane season in Bonaire (great place) and Curacao. So it was over a year period, not all in one season. We'll be heading back through the Canal in Jan with a little luck.
Curacao to Cartegena was not bad. We had 24 hours of nice sailing. 24 hours of rambunctious downwind sailing with a fair amount of roll followed by 24 hours of nice sailing. We stayed pretty far offshore, as opposed to the stay 5 mile inshore philosophy.
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Old 10-12-2014, 06:03   #11
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

You can make this as fast or slow a trip as you desire. You could leave Virginia early Nov., 10 days to the VIs. a week in the VIs. Then an overnight to St Martin. Fix the boat in St Martin. Then a few days in St Barths. Then a 1 or 2 day to anywhere down the chain. Then 3 days to Bonaire. You could be in Cristobol by March, fix the boat and transit. Not what I'd like to do cruising, but doable, especially if you have a crew who wants to keep moving and you don't break anything important on the boat..
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Old 10-12-2014, 06:50   #12
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

A to P is a wind and current highway and often very windy above Columbia when a low is present there. Not a passage for the fainthearted then. Towards Panama it is often very light. We have not sailed from Jamaica yet.

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Old 10-12-2014, 07:08   #13
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

Pay close attention to Paul's last posting - it contains very important advice that most have to learn the hard way.

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Old 11-12-2014, 07:32   #14
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

Besides that stretch of the Colombian coast, which as you say, could be done in stages, aren't conditions on a rhumb line from Jamaica to San Blas Is. mid-Nov. going to be substantially the same as ABCs to Panama in early December.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:22   #15
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Re: Jamaica to Panama or Aruba to Panama ?

Nov is still the rainy season. Multiple boats got hit by lightening in one anchorage in the San Blas just a few weeks ago (ask Mark for the details). Sometime between the end of Nov and say mid-Dec the rainy season stops and the Christmas winds, aka trades, start back up. So it is a transition time of year. Both paths that you describe should be an OK passage. I'd rather show up in the San Blas latter, rather earlier -- but I'm a lightening chicken -- only because I foolishly put a 65 foot piece of aluminum straight up in the air on my boat.
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