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Old 18-06-2015, 06:27   #1
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Talking Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Hello all!
I have recently decided that I am going to sail my 34' Columbia from North Carolina to Costa Rica! Uvita, Costa Rica, to be exact!
I am newer to sailing, and would love to hear all the advice, warnings, encouragement, and information that you guys have!
I am mostly interested in hearing about a general timeline, budget, marina information, and route information from people who have done a similar trip before!
Thanks!
-Katie
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Old 18-06-2015, 06:46   #2
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

KAtie You are asking for a lot--a lot of information, a lot of specifics, a lot of our time to try to provide you with helpful answers. You are planning a huge trip and on a very old boat (the tripp bubble cabin I presume?) and so to provide you with helpful answers--or perhaps a plethora of various answers, some helpful and some not, where does one begin? You want marina information? Why? Are you going ICW? You can easily get tons of marina information online without asking for specifics. Why do you even need marina information? Advice? Warnings? Encouragement? Where to begin? You have access here to hundreds if not thousands of experienced folks, each with different opinions--yes opinions-that is what you will get. You say you are relatively new to sailing--well, can you be more specific? Regardless of gear or boat or route the one major limiting factor is YOU--your experience, your goals, your skills, your expertise, so by general timeline and budget??? How can anyone give you a good answer to that? Some folks are happy eating cold cereal and washing in the ocean--others need air conditioning and marinas every night. My advice? Sail a lot--get to know your boat really well, Go out in all conditions--get a survey--have a yard look over everything...don't be in a rush to just go--instead really become a better sailor and more familiar with your boat--then just go--or take a real slow trip down the coast and ICW and make repairs as you go, get everything ready. read other guides for best times and route..and then go..but be wary of getting a dozen different opinions here--some may be very helpful and wise but some may just be...opinions and nothing more or less...so who are you? What is your experience? Tell us about the boat...work with us...we can only help if we have a starting place. And who is going with you on this trip????
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Old 18-06-2015, 06:50   #3
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Look up ActiveCaptain - the interactive crusing guide there has the best available information about marinas in all of the countries you are likely to be visiting. There are not many in Costa Rica, and they are mostly associated with high end resorts so they are rather expensive as well. Also, check out noonsite for general information about each country, ports of entry, getting through the Panama Canal, etc. I have done this route, going via Intra Coastal Waterway to Florida, out to the Bahamas, through the Windward Passage to Jamaica/Grand Cayman/Mexico/Belize/Guatemala/Honduras/Columbia/Panama Canal/up to Costa Rica. You can also take a straight shot from the Windward Passage to the Panama Canal if you are in a hurry, but plan that passage carefully with attention to weather forecasts!

Are you a resident of Costa Rica or planning to become one? If so, be aware that you must import your boat into Costa Rica in order to spend even a single day there, and the tax rate is 85% of the value of the boat! That is why very few people in Costa Rica have boats, and why there are so few marinas and why they can charge very high rates. As a tourist on a 90 day visa, you can get a temporary cruising permit, but read up on all of the warnings about cumbersome bureaucracy in Costa Rica on noonsite - you will get somewhat used to cumbersome bureaucracy as you make your way through the Caribbean and Latin America, but in various ways Costa Rica manages to top them all!
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Old 18-06-2015, 06:53   #4
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Katie.
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Old 18-06-2015, 07:19   #5
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

You are right! I suppose my extreme level of ¨beginner-ness¨ shines through in my not knowing what questions to ask and what specifics to give. I know I can look up marina information and such, but I guess I was looking for information from people who may have visited some marinas in those specific locations. Which ones they chose to go to, why, their experience there and so forth.
I guess I was just hoping to hear some different opinions and thoughts and to weigh them for myself. I know better than to look for specific answers and flat out ¨what to do.¨ It is my boat, my experience, and of course I intend for it to stay that way. Just suggestions, thoughts and ideas that might help if they resonate with my own thoughts and ideas.
I definitely plan on taking this time I have before attempting such a trip to take my boat out sailing as often as possible, to gain knowledge and experience, to put in the work that it will take to get myself and my boat ready. There are steps that I know I have to take, and those are things I am fully prepared for and know about.
As for me...I'm Katie, I'm 23, I have almost no sailing experience to date. I have spent all my summers growing up at my dads house, where the front yard happens to be the ICW. Years of watching sailboats go by led me to a dream to live aboard my own and travel. Life has it's quirks, and I spent a lot of time not believing that I could do something like that, and not taking the proper steps (sailing lessons etc.) to get there. Now, I have decided that I'm no longer going to get in my own way, so here I am.
My boat is a 1970 Columbia 34' MK II, yes, the Tripp Bubble Cabin design. She has no working inboard, and instead is equipped with a sp 28 hp Johnson outboard. Currently named Three Jesters as I have not done the ¨renaming ceremony¨ yet, upon the completion of which her name will become ¨La Espero.¨
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Old 18-06-2015, 07:22   #6
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Thank you for the ActiveCaptain suggestion Paul! Sounds like that will be a ton of help!
The route you took sounds similar to the route I am anticipating! I don't want to be in a hurry, I'd like to make it an experience!
I am not a resident, or planning to become one. I am planning on getting a 90 day tourist visa! Thanks for the information though, I will definitely be spending plenty of time reading up on the rules and regulations!
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Old 18-06-2015, 10:36   #7
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Katie, no one wants to discourage you from your ultimate goal and dream. In fact we applaud you. But my advice is to set numerous goals as a beginner for you to check off on way to your ultimate dream. For example, sailing lessons and certifications from a US Sailing or ASA sailing school, learning about your boat and her limitations, I.e. no in-board, learning about navigation and how to read charts, and the fun in learning and studying about sailing to all those places you will visit; I.e. the towns along the ICW for example. It's not as daunting as it sounds. You'll have a ball learning and becoming a sailor. Best wishes.
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Old 18-06-2015, 10:42   #8
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Hi Katie and welcome to the forum.

I like the name by the way. In fact I like it so much that's what I named my daughter although she's a bit older now and prefers Kate. We lived on board our sailboat in the Caribbean with her when she was 12-30 months old. She's still annoyed that we took her on this great adventure when she was too young to remember it.

First I think it's great that you plan to pursue your ambitions for a great adventure. I did the same when I was your age and my cruising from those days remain some of my fondest memories.

The trip you plan is pretty ambitious with lots of possible pitfalls so you will do well to start slow and build your knowledge and skills before taking off on the bigger steps.

Another option to the Windward Passage is to cross the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan and work your way down the east coast of Central America. Will allow for shorter hops, closer to places to stop in case of problems and add more places to see on the way. This way or the other do research your stop off locations carefully. Some parts of the Caribbean have become very dangerous and should be avoided. For example, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world and there have been a number of murders and robberies of cruisers in Venezuela in recent years.

www.Noonsite.com is a good resource for researching all information of interest to cruisers including crime, clearing in/out, expenses and fees, harbors and marinas, etc. For the states you already know about active captain.

For now, I recommend reading all you can and learning more about boats, boating and cruising. Just about anything you could think of to ask has probably been discussed on this forum so a great idea to go back and read old threads. One thing I highly recommend is to learn as much as you can about your boat and everything on it. Then go through the boat, hull, rigging, sails, pumps, plumbing, hoses, wiring with a fine tooth comb.

And of course ask more questions.

Good luck.
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Old 18-06-2015, 12:05   #9
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Katie,
How wonderful to set these goals at your age. The best of luck on this endeavor. I found NauticED a great web based educational program for learning about sailing. Please check it out.
Best wishes
David
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Old 18-06-2015, 12:11   #10
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Katie,
You said you wanted to sail from North Carolina. Is your boat located near the Neuse or Pamlico Rivers? They are great areas to learn in with out the consequences of an ocean crossing. Plenty of interesting places to go, areas to practice anchoring, and access to the ocean. A great place to get to know your boat and improve your sailing skills.
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Old 18-06-2015, 15:24   #11
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Hey Katie.

Kool, go for it. A lot of the advice given is good. That's a good design the MKII. it's the most balanced boat I've sailed. Jus lash the helm, trim the sails and she'll hold the course all day long. I've owned two of them. Remember tho with an outboard for auxiliary you can't do much in heavy seas as it will be out of the water at the top of most waves. learn to reef and have a storm jib and use the motor to assist to get in out of trouble. otherwise stay off shore a ways and ride it out.
If you take your time and inter act and ask questions of the other sailors in the different ports along the way, you'll do fine. pay attention to your surroundings and learn to read the clouds and the water, not just the waves and color but the currents and the turbulence underneath that can be read from the surface and tell you some what what the bottom is like...IE....shoals, ledges and what not. I've seen a lot of people get in trouble on the reefs down in the keys, because they can't read the water. Look for people who have just done the next passage you are about to make and see what they have to tell you. The above is the best school there is. But follow your gut instinct at every leg. if you stay in port because you don't feel good about a passage and it turns out you could've gone. So what take the next window. Maybe you were supposed to meet someone or help someone. ya never know.
PEACE LUV & HAPPINESS
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Old 18-06-2015, 15:45   #12
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Katie Get rid of the outboard! Make sure you have enough $ hid away for boat parts and then cruise down the ICW....stop along the way and work and learn to live aboard the boat. Meet other sailors--and read, read, read...and as a professional instructor--I highly recommend professional lessons. You can learn more in a few days from an experienced pro who has been there and done that than you can from weeks and weeks of trial and error and endangering yourself on your own. And of course, as a 23 year old woman you have both advantages and disadvantages in this sailing world. Have your wits about you..but don't push your budget or your timeframe. You are 23. Take it slow and easy....arrive alive..and get rid of that outboard NOW!!! Please..
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Old 18-06-2015, 17:16   #13
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Annapolis View Post
Katie Get rid of the outboard! Make sure you have enough $ hid away for boat parts and then cruise down the ICW....stop along the way and work and learn to live aboard the boat. Meet other sailors--and read, read, read...and as a professional instructor--I highly recommend professional lessons. You can learn more in a few days from an experienced pro who has been there and done that than you can from weeks and weeks of trial and error and endangering yourself on your own. And of course, as a 23 year old woman you have both advantages and disadvantages in this sailing world. Have your wits about you..but don't push your budget or your timeframe. You are 23. Take it slow and easy....arrive alive..and get rid of that outboard NOW!!! Please..
But she states the boat has no working inboard. That is not specific and could be anything from a rod through the side of the block to just needs a new battery and a tune up. Bottom line, don't off the outboard until you know the inboard can be made to run.,
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Old 18-06-2015, 17:41   #14
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

Uh, yes...the implicit assumption and implication was not to simply get rid of the outboard but to get the inboard engine working or replaced or otherwise operable. I think any reasonable person would infer not to "off the outboard until you know the inboard can be made to run."
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Old 18-06-2015, 17:55   #15
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Re: Sailing from the East Coast of U.S. to Costa Rica!

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Uh, yes...the implicit assumption and implication was not to simply get rid of the outboard but to get the inboard engine working or replaced or otherwise operable. I think any reasonable person would infer not to "off the outboard until you know the inboard can be made to run."
I assumed as much but we are dealing with a very new sailor and your advice was quite firm and unambiguous, possibly implying the she could not or should not go without replacing the outboard. I thought a little clarification might be appreciated.

If you have a motor no doubt that an inboard is better than an outboard but a boat with an outboard is not a deal breaker.

Also I'm thinking the OP is working with a limited budget so major engine repairs might not be an option.
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