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Old 20-10-2014, 13:50   #1
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Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Hi All,
I'd like some opinions how and where you would sail if you wanted to get out of the most likely areas for hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Let's say you were ready to head out from Houston / Galveston in early June. Would you take off across the Gulf and head directly for Aruba by passing between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba or would you sail to Florida and then the Bahamas and take the more traditional route along the leeward and then windward islands to get to Grenada? I'd like to hear why you'd make the choice you'd make or if you have a better route / destination.

Thanks.
Brian
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Old 20-10-2014, 14:50   #2
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Re: Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Well early June is the start of hurricane season. If the purpose of your exit is to get away from h-cane risk, then spending a month or two getting from FLA down the island chain would put you in a fair amount of risk. So a more straight shot to get south would make more sense to me. I'd head for Bonaire over Aruba. Cruiser friendly, great diving, dry climate.
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Old 20-10-2014, 16:49   #3
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Re: Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Ironically, the best time to head to Grenada is after the hurricane seasons ends in November-December. This is because the wind shifts predominately from the N.E. from E.S.E.. If you lay a route to pass between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, you'll be well advised to understand the prevailing currents and wind direction - in particular the further S.S.E. you go. Check the Pilot Charts that show month to month wind direction and strength to minimize odds you'll encounter headwinds. Have you considered taking the ICW to, say Pensacola then through the Windward Passage southward to Grenada? I've done the ICW bit twice, but never the Windward Passage because when I entered the Caribbean on both occasions it was from the Atlantic. The ICW can be a good experience. Also, you haven't said anything about the boat and crew - which can always influence decisions.
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Old 21-10-2014, 10:32   #4
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Re: Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Thanks for your responses. The boat is a Hunter 460 with myself and my girlfriend as the only crew. We don't have a great amount of experience and no water sailing">blue water sailing experience at all. I am researching pilot charts now.

Any other comments or suggestions?

Brian
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Old 21-10-2014, 12:17   #5
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Re: Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Quote:
Originally Posted by txh2oskier View Post
Thanks for your responses. The boat is a Hunter 460 with myself and my girlfriend as the only crew. We don't have a great amount of experience and no blue water sailing experience at all. I am researching pilot charts now.

Any other comments or suggestions?

Brian
With a mast height of I=55.33' plus freeboard, and a draught of 6.5' careful planning if you were to consider doing the ICW is required. Lots of bridges and in some places possibly shallow depths.

Since you have limited experience, I'd suggest you get as much exposure to different conditions and handling your boat as possible before sailing the kinds of passages considered in this thread.

The Gulf of Mexico can be down right dangerous. My last experience sailing between Grand Cayman to Galveston in 2012 was to say the least 'no fun'. Also encountered a storm in 2005 off Yucatan.

Once you've got enough confidence in your sailing skills and boat, consider sailing between Galveston and Port Arthur to the ICW. Depending on your research, and 'The Cap'n' web site is a good source for that, take the ICW when depths and bridge heights are right and for so far as you can go. Then, return to the Gulf sailing reasonably close to the coast. If you haven't seen much of Florida, there are entrances from the Gulf along the way. If depths and bridge heights are good, you can continue in the ICW westward. A good place to re-enter the Gulf is Pensacola. Conditions should be favourable to fetch St. Petersburg which is worth a visit. Then a stop in the Dry Tortugas for rest before continuing southward is possible.
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Old 22-10-2014, 10:31   #6
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Re: Texas to Aruba or Grenada

Also, if you have not heard of OpenCPN, a free 'opensource' charting program used for marine naviigation, you should know it's available. Versions for Linux, Windows and the Mac operating systems can be downloaded here: OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage . If you have an android tablet instructions for installing Linux and OpenCPN on android devices is here: Building on Motorola Xoom | Official OpenCPN Homepage You'll want to ask around to find other cruisers with "CM93" vector charts of the world useable in OpenCPN who will give you a copy. Free raster charts covering U.S. territory can be downloaded from NOAA.

These tools will assist tremendously in making plans and plotting your route(s).
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