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Old 16-02-2014, 15:47   #1
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Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

We have a 42ft Catalina. Can anyone offer advice on the following questions, per experience, regarding making a passage from Sarasota Fl to Guatemula and back:

1. Best/Shortest route?

2. Potential fuel stops?

3. Potential overnight stops?

4. Sailing back to Sarasota given the winds are often from the east?

5. Determining long enough weather windows?

6. Finding another experienced couple that would like to travel with my wife & I to help with sailing in shifts?

Thanx
Island Breeze
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Old 16-02-2014, 16:27   #2
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

Major stops would be Key West and Isla Mujeres or Cancun. Weather depends on the time of year. You have a sailboat--I used less than 5 gallons of fuel to get from Key West to Roatan. Chris Parker is the goto guy for weather, but if you have a SSB there is also the SW Caribbean net.
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Old 16-02-2014, 17:23   #3
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Breeze View Post
We have a 42ft Catalina. Can anyone offer advice on the following questions, per experience, regarding making a passage from Sarasota Fl to Guatemula and back:

1. Best/Shortest route?

2. Potential fuel stops?

3. Potential overnight stops?

4. Sailing back to Sarasota given the winds are often from the east?

5. Determining long enough weather windows?

6. Finding another experienced couple that would like to travel with my wife & I to help with sailing in shifts?

Thanx
Island Breeze
What part of Guatemala? It's one thing if you mean Puerto Barrios but quite a bit different if you mean Port of San Jose.
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Old 16-02-2014, 17:39   #4
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

Done it twice. Depart key west or dry tortugas .Angle for Cuba. Get along Cuban coast to be out of current. Get as far south as you can manage before heading for Isla mujeras. Super strong current be patient ,the last 80 miles will test you but the current will let go. Easy living in the Isla anchorage, easy access to good fuel.
Leave Isla and day sail to adventures. Stay tight to the coast to catch a counter current south. It's all in the blue book. You can day sail all the way to Belize if you want. Some of the reef passes are pretty dicey, but I am a chicken. Never had the nerve for getting in the reef pass at San Pedro Belize, tried once. The ship channel farther south is a non event. Once to Belize protected waters pretty much all the way to rio dulce but I have not done the 60 miles, headed to Roatan instead.
Expect pretty big swells on the beam as you get south of Cuba into the trades. I did it in a IF36 solo with very little experience. Get the guide"blue book". Map chip for gps, google earth images are nice as well. Of course the gps can be off so keep situational awareness about you. Never heard anyone having a bad time of it.
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Old 16-02-2014, 18:41   #5
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

From Sarasota best to cross the Gulf Stream as quickly as possible and utilize the counter currents near the coast of Cuba before re-crossing the Gulf Stream in the Yucatan Channel.
Isla Mujeres is a great stop, easy entry, good anchorage except in strong Northerlies, good marinas, and great. great food, but there's also Milagro, Puerto Isla Mujeres, and Oscar's inside the Laguna if your draft allows.
Nothing but expensive marinas on the Cancun side.
Puerto Morelos forces you into another expensive marina, no moorings or anchorage. Good settled weather anchorage off Cozumel, but its rolly in a Norther.
Puerto Aventuras is like sailing into Disneyworld, all plastic.
Banco Chinchorro is great if you can get permission, the laws/rules for anchoring/visiting constantly change.
The two Mexican bays before Belize are worth visiting if you like solitude. Lots and lots of solitude.
Xcalak was a quaint little place, but is no longer a port of entry, has a somewhat tricky entrance, and is at the literally end of the road.
San Pedro/Ambergris Caye is great if you're a 20something and like to party from 2200 to 0500, otherwise skip, it. If you draw 6' you'll bump in the wake of the passing dive boats.
English Caye channel is wide, lit, and good in any weather. The cruise ships and all ship traffic from/to Belize City use it.
Belize City is a great stop if you enjoy officialdom or if you want to catch all the nuances of cinder block and roofing tin construction.
Cucumber Beach Marina has a shallow entrance, maybe 5', a restaurant, a small, very small store, lots of noseeums, but it is a Port of Entry.
You can head South with good winds and no obstacles, choosing to venture to the offshore cayes or staying inshore. Stops can be any of the offshore islets/cayes or inshore at Sapodilla Lagoon.
Placencia is a good stop and there is official entry and exit at Big Creek.
You can break the trip to Guatemala with an overnight at New Haven, nothing there except a sheltered anchorage.
Entry into Guatemala can be accomplished at Livingston or at Bahia Amatique Resort which lies North of Puerto Barrios. I prefer Amatique, tell Esvin Chacon, the harbor master that Dan sent you.
Heading South in May, maybe we'll cross paths.
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Old 17-02-2014, 08:02   #6
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

Maybe crossing to Cuba is the way to go, and maybe not. It depends on the location of the currents. We crossed from Key West, you don't need to stop there from Sarasota, and went west until we were north of Isla and then turned south. We avoided the Gulf Stream and Yucatan currents. From Sarasota, sail south southwest to about that same point and turn for Isla. There is no need to add extra miles by going to Key West unless you want to stop there. From Isla, you have Punta Hut, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras, Bahia de la Ascencion, San Pedro Belize, anywhere in Belize, then the Rio Dulce. We chronicled our entire cruise down and back on our Sea Trek Blog. Chuck
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Old 17-02-2014, 08:16   #7
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

Thanks to everyone for the advice. Given that the winds are often from the east, are there any suggestions for sailing back/minimizing motoring back to Sarasota?
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Old 17-02-2014, 08:42   #8
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

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Originally Posted by Island Breeze View Post
Thanks to everyone for the advice. Given that the winds are often from the east, are there any suggestions for sailing back/minimizing motoring back to Sarasota?
How about the reverse of the route I suggested going south? Prevailing Trades are easterly, but that doesn't mean they will be when you transit. You will have to make that decision as you move north for the current conditions. Chuck
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Old 17-02-2014, 08:48   #9
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

You do want to make sure you carry enough fuel so that if you have to motor a long distance, you can. The choice would be to sit and wallow in the swells until the winds come back. On our last trip over, the winds died to nothing after 24 hours and we motored for 2 1/2 days through the Gulf to Isla. This is unusual but possible depending on the time of year. You can't count on getting fuel in Cuba. Chuck

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Old 17-02-2014, 10:57   #10
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

good info posted so far stops in belize, ambergris cay is nice do not waste your time with belize city when you leave mexico make sure you have enough fuel to get past belize city a stop at the blue hole is worth the time if you dive. currents between Cozumel and the main land are a bitch if I remember correctly.
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Old 17-02-2014, 11:06   #11
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

You can get fuel in San Pedro and Cucumber Beach Marina south of Belize City. Chuck
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Old 17-02-2014, 11:28   #12
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Re: Passage Help - Sarasota Fl to Guatemala

We did one hop from Key West (filled tanks) via Dry Tortugas to Belize (Placencia). I would not stop by Cancum or nearby. Don't like to cross G stream twice and then go against current heading south.

In our case, not much fuel was used, just one nite motoring directly west (270 degree) to Placencia. We were doing 160 to 200 nm a day in Nov. We rounded off the western part of Cuba and head south 180 degree immediately.
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