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Old 09-11-2014, 15:31   #16
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Re: Cuba too where?

I appreciate the responses from everyone and I looked at them all. In the end, getting the boat to the USA so it can be outfitted turned out to be the most important. I know it will put the boat at some hurricane risk but its a trade off.

I looked closely at Curacao but the pilot charts for May show it could be a crap shoot. There is a %50 chance we would have the wind right on the nose. Not worth the risk with an inexperience crew.

The plan so far is to come around the west side of Cuba. If the weather looks good, then run for Pensacola, Mobile of Houston (all cheap for storage and outfitting). If the weather looks iffy, then we will stick to the coast to Havana and cross towards Key West, then up to Tampa (maybe continue to Pensacola).

Of course.. The best laid plans are always written in sand.. It might completely change when we get there in May.
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Old 09-11-2014, 15:43   #17
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Re: Cuba too where?

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I appreciate the responses from everyone and I looked at them all. In the end, getting the boat to the USA so it can be outfitted turned out to be the most important. I know it will put the boat at some hurricane risk but its a trade off.

I looked closely at Curacao but the pilot charts for May show it could be a crap shoot. There is a %50 chance we would have the wind right on the nose. Not worth the risk with an inexperience crew.

The plan so far is to come around the west side of Cuba. If the weather looks good, then run for Pensacola, Mobile of Houston (all cheap for storage and outfitting). If the weather looks iffy, then we will stick to the coast to Havana and cross towards Key West, then up to Tampa (maybe continue to Pensacola).

Of course.. The best laid plans are always written in sand.. It might completely change when we get there in May.
Hurricanes have a mind of their own, but Tampa has not been hit with one since the 1920's and Florida has not had landfall for 8 years now. I know the past is no prediction of the future, but I feel perfectly safe leaving my boat in St. Petes on the hard. If a hurricane is set to come through, the hard will use screws to attach additional tie downs (at a cost of course.. that is my insurance).
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Old 09-11-2014, 16:13   #18
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Re: Cuba too where?

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Hurricanes have a mind of their own, but Tampa has not been hit with one since the 1920's and Florida has not had landfall for 8 years now. I know the past is no prediction of the future, but I feel perfectly safe leaving my boat in St. Petes on the hard. If a hurricane is set to come through, the hard will use screws to attach additional tie downs (at a cost of course.. that is my insurance).
Could you suggest an affordable yard in Tampa that could accommodate a 40ft Cat (22ft beam).
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Old 10-11-2014, 10:28   #19
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Re: Cuba too where?

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Could you suggest an affordable yard in Tampa that could accommodate a 40ft Cat (22ft beam).
I use Elite Marine, however, I am not sure if they can accommodate a 22 foot beam. I'll send you their details by Private Message (PM).
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:52   #20
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Downside to clearing back into the USA from Cuba is that you will get hassled, even w NON-USA crew and boat.

Of all the options you list, only Rio Dulce has never had a hurricane and its a great place to refit. And the Guatemalan authorities don't care where you've come from.

...and its downwind.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:58   #21
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Re: Cuba too where?

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...

The plan so far is to come around the west side of Cuba. If the weather looks good, then run for Pensacola, Mobile of Houston (all cheap for storage and outfitting). If the weather looks iffy, then we will stick to the coast to Havana and cross towards Key West, then up to Tampa (maybe continue to Pensacola).
While odds of a hurricane are low in Tampa (it has had more recent TS category weather though), moving to the N Gulf is putting you right on the hurricane highway.

And there are few places in the USA which are "cheap" compared to other venues.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:13   #22
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Alright... Talk to me more about Rio Dulce Guatemala.. It was top of my list at one point, but I just didn't know enough about it. I also didn't seem to find much information online.

Here are some things I would like to know:
1. Dry storage. Is it affordable. How secure (do they do tie downs)?
2. Security. How secure would the boat be in dry storage for 6 months? I worry about break in and theft.
3. Refit, I know they have good prices on skilled labour but what about items. I.E. Batteries (maybe LifePo), solar panels, thru-hulls, pumbing items.
4. Shipping.. How secure is shipping to Rio Dulce. I will be shipping a few items from home (Canada) to the boat. I'm worried some stuff might go missing.
5. Speed of shipping. If they don't have an item locally, I plan to order it online. Will it take weeks or cost a fortune to ship stuff there?

Actually, all the questions above are why I'm leaning towards the US. All of the above is easy or affordable in the USA.

Not to mention that getting to Rio Dulce from Canada is a bitch.. Even more of a bitch when you factor the 3 kids under 10.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:08   #23
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Re: Cuba to Where?

There are 3 yards in the Rio for dry storage. One is very secure - the others may be also, but I don't have experience with them. Storage rates are less expensive than those in much of the US - particularly FL and New England.

The Rio has a West Marine and several other marine supply stores. One can ship in absolutely anything pretty inexpensively. While one could Fedex stuff quickly, the ocean freight takes 3 weeks from Miami and costs $14 per cubic foot delivered. This is really inexpensive when you consider what can be shoved into a cubic foot. We shipped in a lot of things in several batches and never had an issue. I never heard of anyone else losing anything either.

Can't help you with the getting there thing, but we found the Rio to be the most convenient and inexpensive place to do boat work in all of the Caribbean. It doesn't have the immediate access to an endless variety of boat parts that the Eastern Caribe, but one can ship in pretty much anything easier and cheaper than any other country. It is by far more affordable than doing most work in the US, but maybe not as convenient because one must plan their part shipments, etc.

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Old 11-11-2014, 10:43   #24
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Thanks Mark... I was planning to e-mail you as I followed your blog with the work you did there in 2013.. I'm glad you responded here so everyone can benefit.

My rough research on the net shows about $5-$6.5 per foot per month for dry storage. Does that sound about right?

As to travelling there.. I have heard 2 options.
1. Fly to Guatemala city and take a bus (5 - 6 hours).
2. Fly to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and take a cab (about 3 hours + border crossing)

Any other options for travel that you know of?
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:12   #25
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Not sure you still want an answer, but for the record:

Probably the easiest non-hurricane place to get to from Cuba is Cartagena, Colombia, pretty much due south and less than 800 miles away. You can get anything you want done there -- labor is skilled and cheap and there are good yards to haul your boat. Materials and parts are not very available, though, except for inflatable dinghies -- AB Dinghies are made there.

Only a little further away is Panama (Shelter Bay Marina or Bocas del Toro), where anything you like can be bought for US West Marine prices plus very reasonable shipping costs. But beware: if you stop by in the San Blas Islands, you may not leave for years. That's what happened to us!

Curacao is also a great place to get work done, in terms of both labor and parts. But it's not practical to sail there from Cuba unless you're at the western end of the island (Santiago de Cuba). Trinidad is a major slog to windward from Cuba.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:18   #26
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Re: Cuba to Where?

I agree that Shelter Bay in Colon is a great spot. Nice secure place to put the boat on the hard. Colon was not one of my favorite places but Panama City is not that far away by car or train.

And the San Blas islands are super fantastic. We can't wait to go back.
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Old 11-11-2014, 13:25   #27
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Thanks Mark... I was planning to e-mail you as I followed your blog with the work you did there in 2013.. I'm glad you responded here so everyone can benefit.

My rough research on the net shows about $5-$6.5 per foot per month for dry storage. Does that sound about right?

As to travelling there.. I have heard 2 options.
1. Fly to Guatemala city and take a bus (5 - 6 hours).
2. Fly to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and take a cab (about 3 hours + border crossing)

Any other options for travel that you know of?
We never had the boat in dry storage (that is different than being on the hard doing work), so don't know the costs there. We found that everything is negotiable to some extent and the yards are somewhat sensitive to competition and adjust accordingly (meaning they will match/beat other prices).

Those are the two most common ways to get in/out of Fronteras. Each has its pros and cons. There are buses to SPS, so you don't need a cab. There is another route to get there through Belize, but that probably isn't the best one for the type of coming and going you would want.

Having done work in Shelter Bay and Rio Dulce, I would pick the Rio for several reasons - price being the major one, but also more skilled and available labor in the Rio and much easier to ship things in.

For sure, Marine Warehouse is a god-send in Panama for bringing in parts at decent prices (basically West Marine prices), but shipping in anything they do not carry can be onerous and expensive. It is ridiculously easy and inexpensive to ship anything you want into Guatemala.

But again, if you are price-sensitive, Shelter Bay is not the place to be. Just a small example of costs: Haulout for 40' catamaran - SB $650 RD $250. Compound and wax entire boat, hull and deck in RD (2 full days of labor) $150. Scrub deck only with soap and water in SB (2hrs of labor) - $250.

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Old 11-11-2014, 13:26   #28
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Re: Cuba to Where?

You don't mention your boat. If a catamaran, there are other considerations in choosing a place for work.

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Old 11-11-2014, 20:58   #29
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Travellerw, there is a recent thread in which Mark & I both participated discussing refit options in Rio Dulce vs Colon vs Cartagena. Would be worthwhile for you to read I think. I would post the link, but search on the mobile app stinks.

I was in Cartagena recently and the quotes I got for yard work were double SB and several times more than RD.
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Old 11-11-2014, 21:07   #30
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Re: Cuba to Where?

belizesailor - After I posted the initial questions about Rio Dulce, I searched and found that thread. It was excellent information..

The only downside to Rio Dulce seems to be getting there... This is important as it will be the start of our cruising adventure. With 3 kids under 10, we will have some personal items to bring. If we go to Rio, everything will have to be brought with them in their luggage as I'm pretty sure we can't ship anything from Canada to there.

Sigh... Its a good thing I have until April to decide..
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