Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 15-05-2013, 10:48   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 1
Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

I'll be sailing a 58ft Cat from Tortola to the Grenadines soon and would like to know if anyone has any advice on what route they would take and why, due to currents and general wind directions this time of year, etc. Thank you very much.
__________________

__________________
gpdwood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 07:45   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
colemj's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Presently on US East Coast
Boat: Manta 40 "Reach"
Posts: 10,049
Images: 12
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

If you need to get straight to the Grenadines, you can point right at them and go. It is almost due south, so the easterly winds should be fine. Otherwise, you can day hop the island chain all the way down. Here, you will need to sail closer to the prevailing wind as you go more easterly, then it becomes a reach after a while. I can't think of any other route.

Either way, it is an easy trip that you can get good reliable weather forecasting for. Currents are not an issue and the wind direction is nominally easterly, but you will know exactly before heading out from the excellent forecasting available.

Mark
__________________

__________________
www.svreach.com

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
colemj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 08:51   #3
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 4,038
Images: 4
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Actually, it's not "almost due south".

St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1312N 6112W) is SE of Tortola. From Salt Island Passage, the most likely exit in the BVI, it's 363 nautical miles on the rhumb line 148.4 true.

There are lots of strategies for getting there, depending on WX conditions at the time and on how much time you have.

One way would be to get across the Anegada Passage to, e.g., St. Martin -- about 100 miles to windward -- then island hop down to the Grenadines.

While you should be able to lay the rhumb line directly from the BVI (148T), you never know. Once I sailed directly from the BVI to Grenada and had a close reach all the way with high winds and seas. Not very comfortable and I doubt under those conditions a cat would have been able to do the same.

Current can be an issue. It runs in almost unpredictable directions just to the east of Virgin Gorda, but in general it sets in a westerly direction and can be as much as 1 knot or more. This argues for getting as much easting early as you can, particularly in a cat.

Bill
__________________
btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 08:59   #4
Registered User
 
Teknav's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Texas - USA
Boat: Twin Otter de Havilland Floatplane
Posts: 1,838
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Sail the Caribbean side of the islands, not the Atlantic side! Mauritz
__________________
Teknav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 09:06   #5
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 4,038
Images: 4
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Sail the Caribbean side of the islands, not the Atlantic side! Mauritz
Good reminder, Mauritz!

And, you remember to fly that Twin Otter with the floats downward, OK?

:-)
__________________
btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 10:05   #6
Registered User
 
Zanshin's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Caribbean
Boat: Jeanneau 57
Posts: 1,621
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

You didn't mention if you were on a timeline or not. I just came to the BVI from Antigua and I could have done it on one passage on one tack in just over a day; but instead did a comfortable Antigua-Nevis-St. Martin-BVI trip. Just as with the other direction, I'd bite the bullet and do the nasty 80nm BVI-St. Martin trip, provision there and then comfortably island-hop down the range with a comfortable or at least acceptable anchorage each night.
__________________
-Zanshin (SV Zanshin)
Zanshin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 10:31   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Boat: R & C Leopard 38 (2001)
Posts: 148
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Sail the Caribbean side of the islands, not the Atlantic side! Mauritz

True enough. One caveat: Keep in mind the wind/current shadow behind the taller islands extends a long way off. I'd either "island hop" and stay in the Lee, or stay 50 + miles off any shore. The sloppy chop and unsettled winds, downwind of the big islands is no fun to sail in.

Dave L38 #38
__________________
Dave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 16:20   #8
Senior Cruiser
 
colemj's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Presently on US East Coast
Boat: Manta 40 "Reach"
Posts: 10,049
Images: 12
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Actually, it's not "almost due south".

St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1312N 6112W) is SE of Tortola. From Salt Island Passage, the most likely exit in the BVI, it's 363 nautical miles on the rhumb line 148.4 true.

There are lots of strategies for getting there, depending on WX conditions at the time and on how much time you have.

One way would be to get across the Anegada Passage to, e.g., St. Martin -- about 100 miles to windward -- then island hop down to the Grenadines.

While you should be able to lay the rhumb line directly from the BVI (148T), you never know. Once I sailed directly from the BVI to Grenada and had a close reach all the way with high winds and seas. Not very comfortable and I doubt under those conditions a cat would have been able to do the same.

Current can be an issue. It runs in almost unpredictable directions just to the east of Virgin Gorda, but in general it sets in a westerly direction and can be as much as 1 knot or more. This argues for getting as much easting early as you can, particularly in a cat.

Bill
OK, it is ~160* magnetic, so it depends what one considers ALMOST due south.

Current isn't an issue because it is unpredictable and often changes, so the OP can't really plan on it much.

Weather conditions that time of year are pretty steady and well-forecasted for a two day passage.

Again, day-hopping down the island chain is very easy if the weather is less steady.

With no wind, that 58' catamaran can motor the trip in 36hrs if they need to get straight there quickly (the OP never stated if they were cruising or delivering or simply meeting insurance requirements).

Obviously, your experiences with 58' catamarans are either older or non-existent. Almost any 58' cat is going to fair well against any mono sailing upwind or in current. Not starting a cat fight, but just wondering why you were providing the owner of a 58' catamaran advice on how poorly it sails upwind compared to the particular mono you were on.

Mark
__________________
www.svreach.com

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
colemj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 17:11   #9
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 4,038
Images: 4
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
..........
Obviously, your experiences with 58' catamarans are either older or non-existent. Almost any 58' cat is going to fair well against any mono sailing upwind or in current. Not starting a cat fight, but just wondering why you were providing the owner of a 58' catamaran advice on how poorly it sails upwind compared to the particular mono you were on.

Mark
Well, Mark, you're right: I haven't sailed a 58' catamaran recently and, perhaps, I was amiss in assuming this was a cruising, not a racing catamaran.

In the BVI for over 11 years with my own monohull, I consistently walked away to windward from all the charter cats, including the big ones. This is not to start or prolong a "cat fight". It's just the truth: in any kind of a seaway...like the Drake Channel when it's blowing...a well-found monohull is likely to sail upwind faster than a charter cat, even when they're running both engines.

I'm not knocking cats. They can be devilishly fast off the wind. But cruising cats weighted down with gear, food, toys, etc. in my experience generally are not speed demons when hard on the wind. I apologize if I suggested anything more than that.

The statement that "Almost any 58' cat is going to fair well against any mono sailing upwind or in current." is patently ridiculous. Doesn't rate an answer.

Now, about the winds and currents.

The conditions I referred to on that BVI-Grenada trip were 40-45 knot Christmas winds, consistently, with 18-20' seas. They should have been on the beam, but they weren't. In order to lay the rhumb line we had to sail on a close reach for three days....416 miles, from Tortola to St. Georges. Very rough trip.

Attached is the pilot chart for the month of May, showing the average winds and currents in that month.

As you can see within the circled red area of interest, winds are generally from the eastern quadrant, but there is a substantial SE component which is not particularly favorable for following a 148T rhumb line in the prevailing 0.7 to 1.0 knot current. Yes, that current is there, a product of seas rolling from the east all the way from Africa. You cannot ignore it.

That's why I...and Zanshin....suggested that a good strategy would be to wait for a WX window and make your easting to St. Martin before heading further down the Leewards to the Windwards.

My comment about variable currents just to the east of Virgin Gorda pertained to that area in the Anegada Passage just NE of North Sound. It's marked on the charts.

Click image for larger version

Name:	PilotChartMay.jpg
Views:	108
Size:	263.7 KB
ID:	60885

FWIW,

Bill
__________________
btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 18:06   #10
Senior Cruiser
 
colemj's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Presently on US East Coast
Boat: Manta 40 "Reach"
Posts: 10,049
Images: 12
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Bill, were these charter cats sailed by owners that understood them and outfitted with decent sails and sail handling gear? Yes, charter cats are dogs and made into sleeping dogs when sailed by drunk midwest vacationers will inland lake sunfish skills.

Even 58' charter cats are going to do well in these conditions. There are very few of them in this size that were ever made for charter, but the FP and Lagoon ones will still do very, very well in the conditions in which you are pooh-poohing them. If the OP has a White, or LaRouge, or Schionning (other more common cats in this size), then pick your mono- it will be left in the dust and have a more uncomfortable passage. Really, waterline on cats changes the equation even more than waterline on monos. Since it doesn't rate an answer in your (non)experience with long waterline catamarans, I won't wait for one.

Of course, the OP could have a plywood homebuilt...

I am not arguing the weather situation you found yourself in. Based on your continued focus on it, it must have been disturbing. However, the weather forecasts are very good, and the fail-over options so numerous, that the OP has little to fear other than a few hours of bumpy ride. It is certainly unusual in that area to be caught way off-forecast for a 2-day passage.

The weather doesn't have to be bad. We were becalmed in May for weeks. Spent a lot of time in Saba floating on glass-calm waters. When the wind finally picked up to 15kts, it was a nice reach.

Check out the June pilot charts - more E and NE than May - particularly further down the chain. There is a 70% chance that the OP will have a real nice, fast reach. Good odds in my book, and not difficult to wait for.

For the record, I also gave the option of heading east and reaching down the chain. You and Zanshin were just supporting that option of the two. I gave both options because the OP did not state his needs in getting down island. I also underlined getting a weather window for both.

Currents are not an issue when continual currents exist. They have to be "ignored" if one wishes to sail in that area. If they were truly variable, or had counter currents, then one has tactical and temporal options. These are not head-on currents and mostly exist between the islands. And are not Gulf Stream type currents. They are easy to navigate with and adjust for.

Mark
__________________
www.svreach.com

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
colemj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 19:02   #11
Registered User
 
Zanshin's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Caribbean
Boat: Jeanneau 57
Posts: 1,621
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

Let's just take the mono / cat discussion out of the equation, until it becomes more pertinent.

We don't knowyet if the OP wishes to see the sights enroute or is in a hurry to reach the Grenadines. And, if the latter, if comfort is a factor or just speed. If speed is of paramount importance and "damn the torpedoes" then a direct route between the two points will, in typical Caribbean weather, give a fast and uncomfortable ride.

If comfort plays a bigger role, then making easting is important and can either be done by waiting for a frontal passage which, for a short while, changes the prevailing winds to be far north of east or far south of them; then going to St. Martin or Saba/St. Kitts is a short and relatively painful trip but after that the majority of the miles and hours at sea will be close to a beam reach in idyllic passage conditions.

So I think we should table discussion of merits of boat types until we know more about the priorities of the OP. I sail my 57 foot mono in the Caribbean a lot and have often shared passages on various points of sail with similarly sized catamarans and feel that comparisons of speeds might better be pursued in a separate thread, if Mark or Bill were to start one.
__________________
-Zanshin (SV Zanshin)
Zanshin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 20:15   #12
Senior Cruiser
 
colemj's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Presently on US East Coast
Boat: Manta 40 "Reach"
Posts: 10,049
Images: 12
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

I agree with all of that, and make note that I will NOT be starting a cat/mono thread.

My first post here was simply to state the only two reasonable options (Atlantic side is not an option) and suggest catching a weather window for both before heading out. I have also continually noted that I do not know the OP's needs and priorities. I noted that the weather forecasting is particularly good for the Eastern Carib and that the OP could do either option pretty easily by waiting for the right conditions.

Any debate has simply been around just how south "almost" south is, how meaningful a the current here is (particularly if one takes the island hopping option), and how one "could" experience adverse winds and conditions (if one did not wait for a good forecast).

Oh, and the relative comfort of a 58' cat in conditions that smaller charter cats would not handle well - which is NOT the same as a cat/mono debate.

Mark
__________________
www.svreach.com

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
colemj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-05-2013, 06:14   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Caribbean
Boat: Oyster 66
Posts: 973
Re: Tortola to Grenadines, How would you do it?

I'd overnight in a bay each night and go down the west side. You will sleep well and enjoy lots of nice spots. All depends on your priorities.

Wind is almost certainly going to be good to excellent for you. This is after all a trade wind zone and the best direction and time of year.
__________________
poiu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-05-2013, 06:48   #14
Do… or do not
 
s/v Jedi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: in paradise
Boat: Sundeer 64
Posts: 9,198
Last time we did that in a hurry was to first move to Virgin Gorda, prepping the boat for serious off-shore passaging. Then next day at noon we went anchor up and up around Virgin Gorda and pointed to Saba. At midnight we passed Saba and pointed to the north side of Guadeloupe. We anchored in Des Haies at noon, making this trip exactly 24 hours, which a 58' cat should be able to match or at least arrive that afternoon before dark.

That was the hard part of getting east. Next morning escape the willywaws of Des Haies and sail south along the leeward side of Dominica to Martenique. Would be grand if you make it to the south coast and anchor in Marin. From there we made straight to the south coast of Grenada.

Have a nice trip!
__________________

__________________
s/v Jedi is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:05.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.