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Old 06-09-2016, 12:18   #1
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Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Does anyone have any real life experience of this trip? I'm obviously plainly aware that this is not an ideal plan, but its over 20,000Nm if we take the ideal route! We could head NE first and then back down, but I'm thinking that might just drag out the agony. Current looks favourable for the first half, we can wait for a window for the least bad wind as we are in no rush, but what about the waves? Any actual experience much appreciated. We are thinking May/June/July time.

Thanks in advance.

Rob
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:46   #2
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

If you opt to sail non-stop, nearly always the faster track is as you intend: NE first, then tack up in the center, then head for Bonaire.

It is more difficult when the trades are blowing hard.

My clients sailed this in a tubby cat. 6 days if I remember well. Can be done, but it is not something you are looking forward to.

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Old 06-09-2016, 12:56   #3
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Very sorry, but I have just re-read my post and it doesn't ask the question I intended, typing as I think never works, I should think then type!

What I meant to ask was has anyone done this directly? I think Panama to Santa Marta and a bit beyond shouldn't be too traumatic by hugging the coast as there is favourable current and we can wait for the wind to ease, but the last 100 miles or so to Aruba looks decidedly iffy.

If I'm way off with this I'm happy to hear it.

Rob
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Old 06-09-2016, 13:47   #4
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Yes. This is doable too, you want a big engine and some fuel. Round the corner and towards the ABC (actually, ACB) you are uowind (normally 20 kts or above) and up-current (normally about 2 kts). So there you must push very hard.

You will likely want to stop over at A then at C before you land at B.

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Old 06-09-2016, 13:55   #5
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

That's pretty much what I was hoping to do. We have the power and carry the fuel to do it, but was unsure how bad the sea state would be. I have bad things about sea state between the windwards and Panama but have never sailed those waters myself. Thanks for responding. Rob
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Old 06-09-2016, 14:43   #6
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Don't underestimate the current west of Aruba. When I went the other way, my SOG was over 11 knots and I was doing about 7.5k through the water.
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Old 06-09-2016, 18:31   #7
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

20 to 35 kts is normal. 15 kts will be a light day, may last beyond 24 hrs.

Wind waves normally between 8 and 12 ft.

The current is VERY swift. The waves and current will be your worst enemy.

It is easy in a trawler. Less so in a sailing boat will a 'low' freeboard - imagine driving a submarine for 48 hrs or so.

I would sail the hard part, not power. Power only if you catch a wind pause.

Check inshore / offshore pressure gradient. At times nights get much lighter inshore.

Cheers,
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Old 06-09-2016, 18:32   #8
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Don't underestimate the current west of Aruba. When I went the other way, my SOG was over 11 knots and I was doing about 7.5k through the water.
+1!

Exactly. Do not.

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Old 07-09-2016, 02:22   #9
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

This is a nightmare, I have seen many boats turning around just as they pass Santa Marta, it gets very violent and confused, even pointing N from Santa Marta is a real pain and most boats are not for it.

You will break stuff, for sure.



Quote:
Originally Posted by AliaVita View Post
Very sorry, but I have just re-read my post and it doesn't ask the question I intended, typing as I think never works, I should think then type!

What I meant to ask was has anyone done this directly? I think Panama to Santa Marta and a bit beyond shouldn't be too traumatic by hugging the coast as there is favourable current and we can wait for the wind to ease, but the last 100 miles or so to Aruba looks decidedly iffy.

If I'm way off with this I'm happy to hear it.

Rob
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:15   #10
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Looking at a real life forecast (a forecast may fall pretty far off from what you get in real life) starting Wednesday 13, one could get a nearly 72 hours period of max 15 kts wind.

My earlier assumption does not hold, as the frcst shows the windy moment to be around midnight and the lighter moment around noon.

The problem is, with any removed frcst, the weather often turns out closer to the averages (= more wind) as the period rolls in closer.

You can keep track of the fluctuations with any grib interpreter.

There is no wind sensor on the point, to guide you thru frcst correctness. There is one at Riohacha (some distance off) to possibly guide you in how much the fluctuations in the frcst align with what is actually happening out there:

https://www.windfinder.com/report/riohacha

Cheers,
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:49   #11
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

B

It is very of you to go to so much trouble. Thank you.

My reservation is sea state, not wind. We can point high, we can sit and wait for the least worst wind, and we can make quick progress in bad conditions, but whether we point high or motor its the waves that will beat us unless conditions are easier closer to shore. 99.9% of boats sail east to west and do so, to varying degrees, off shore, I was just trying find the 0.1% of boats that may done the trip. I have only found one so far, a mono, and his lowers stranded on the way, but he had gone round Cape Horn east to west and did say that they looked a bit iffy off Chile!!

We enjoyed Jamaica last time, maybe we will visit again!
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Old 07-09-2016, 09:34   #12
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

Expect associated sea state. Longer waves (+ for you) but these waves will move faster too (- for you). This is because they travel over the current running continuously, and fast, W.

I will dig out associated wind waves for Wednesday wind conditions. There is very little x-swell there, nearly always none.

Gimme a moment with the wind waves.

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Old 07-09-2016, 09:52   #13
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

The model calculates maximum wind wave at over 8ft for 20 kts of wind. It often blows harder there though.

For the low wind scale end, the model returns max wind wave 3 ft at 10 kts of wind. See the attached picture.

I cannot say how much a forecast like this matches the reality out there Only a boat in situ can report back the conditions.

Mind the CURRENT. Imagine a conveyor belt.

Note it is some 180 miles from Sta Maria to the point, so you may look for an anchorage somewhere btw Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas, and make your leap of faith only from there, only after receiving a positive 'go ahead' signal from your wx software or your router.

BTW You probably know this already but still worth saying for others that may stumble upon: the high wind situation is a compound of the land side local Low and a wave of reinforced trades. This situation can exist for weeks on end in this area in some months.

Cheers,
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:06   #14
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

One further thought.

Round the point, it looks like shelf conditions. If we were to assume this may parallel the situation with e.g. Agulhas current, the shelf may somewhat limit the current. Just look at the 100 fathom line.

Alas, I have zero proof this is the case. I am only guessing.

Unfortunately, Colombian govt is not one of the places where they collect or disseminate any relevant sea data.

Cheers,
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:36   #15
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Re: Panama to Bonaire. I know, I know...

I assume you are planning this trip now, ie before the trades kick in heavy. Close in to shore you have some extra risks. Trees and debris flowing out from landside rivers and potential for excessive lightening night after night along the coast.

I have some friends who did this passage (Panama all the way to Trinidad) a couple of years ago on a 42ft trawler. They had previously circumnavigated. Their comment to me was they'd never do it again.

On the plus side, Bonaire is a great place to hang for hurricane season.
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