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Old 20-02-2013, 13:08   #1
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3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

After 3 very long and tiring months on the hand in St Augustine Florida, we are finally ready to put the boat back in the water and make some miles south. Unfortunately, after the unexpected delay (we thought we would be in the Bahamas in December), we are way behind our planned schedule and need to make up some time.

We now plan on leaving Florida for the Exumas late next week. We will work our way south enjoying the sights, but want to be out of the Bahamas at the end of March. This now gives us 2 months to make it the rest of the way to the safety from hurricanes that Trinidad offers. After Sandy, we don't want to take any chances.

Any suggestions on routes from there? Cornell's book shows the seaward route going north of Turks and Caicos, out into the Atlantic and then down to the Virgin Islands, with an alternate route of Dominican Republic and the typical Thorny Path. Any preference suggested? Any less bashing one way or the other? Once you hit the Virgin islands what other islands would you skip over on your way down the windwards?

We know we wont see much on this quick tour south, but are really only looking to be safe, and have good sailing with as little bashing as possible.... we can sight see next year when we have more time.

Thank you,


Matt Johnson
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Old 20-02-2013, 13:12   #2
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

Take the thorny path and adjust as required to meet your deadline. The further south you get as you move along the more you can relax... as long as you have the ability to watch the weather. Nearly all the hurricanes start as "tropical waves" on the coast of Africa. There's a web-site...Just start watching those and watch to see if they develop or disappear. If one develops into a depresion, you still have a week or so to get further south. Rare for hurricanes in the southern part anyway even in June.
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Old 20-02-2013, 13:27   #3
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In your shoes.. unless I had a pressing reason to do the Bahama's and such I'd sail N and across the top of them out into the Atlantic on the SW'lies until I picked up the N'lies that carrry me far enough E then run down to St Martin on the NE'lies... 7-8 days... from there to St Barts then down to Antigua... from there its all downhill.. see the stuff you missed when you take the boat back... its only 400 miles Trini to BVI's as the crow flies..
If you need gear buy it in ST Martins.. cheapest in the Islands.. met one guy who'd flown up from Trini... said the savings (time & money)covered his flight and night in a hotel..
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Old 20-02-2013, 15:34   #4
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

We thought about doing the "Caribbean 1500" route going east and then turning south and ending up in the VIs, but my wife wants to see the Bahamas this year as a present for dealing with the last three months. After the Bahamas, I'm up for any route that gets us there safe and without being beat up.
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Old 20-02-2013, 17:42   #5
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I would move through the Exumas, then the Turks & Caicos and then dive down between Cuba and Haiti to Panama, with possible stops in the Caymans, Isla Providencia etc. before arriving in. Bocas del Toro.
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Old 20-02-2013, 17:58   #6
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I would move through the Exumas, then the Turks & Caicos and then dive down between Cuba and Haiti to Panama, with possible stops in the Caymans, Isla Providencia etc. before arriving in. Bocas del Toro.
Now there's a plan...
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Old 20-02-2013, 18:37   #7
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

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Bocas del Toro.

We will make it there, but not yet. Have to baby step it at first!
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Old 20-02-2013, 18:45   #8
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We will make it there, but not yet. Have to baby step it at first!
I think you got it backwards... going east from the Turks & Caicos is the tough route while going south to Panama is the smooth and easy option.
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Old 21-02-2013, 06:11   #9
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

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Any suggestions on routes from there? Cornell's book shows the seaward route going north of Turks and Caicos, out into the Atlantic and then down to the Virgin Islands, ,


Matt Johnson
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In your shoes.. unless I had a pressing reason to do the Bahama's and such I'd sail N and across the top of them out into the Atlantic on the SW'lies until I picked up the N'lies that carrry me far enough E then run down to St Martin on the NE'lies... 7-8 days...
Yes, I would do Boatmans idea because I used his idea when I went Key West to St Martin a month ago. Its the same/similar to Cornels seaward route. You can do it as a run straight thru to Trinidad or stop in St Martin (great place!) Total trip time about 3 weeks sailing... yes, you'll know all about upwind sailing at the end of it! But its not too bad.

Easier than the thorny path.

As with others advice, flick the Bahamas. Its nothing compared to making those miles south before the SE's set in. (And nothing compared to the Caribbean - but I may get shot for sudesting that! LOL)

Also have a look at Grenada instead of Trinidad. If you arrive at Trinidad and note its a stinking cess pit of an anchorage you can just come back to Grenada, its only 80 miles.
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Old 21-02-2013, 06:12   #10
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

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I think you got it backwards... going east from the Turks & Caicos is the tough route while going south to Panama is the smooth and easy option.
But Panama isnt Trinidad.
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Old 21-02-2013, 06:23   #11
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

Do the Thorny Path, read Van Zant's book, and adjust accordingly to time and desires. You are coming up on the very best time to be in the Bahamas. Work your way down the Island chain and enjoy, if that is your goal. Problem is, each stop has great attractions and you will hate to leave. Unless you are constrained by your insurance requirements, push the envelope a bit, you usually have enough time to adjust where you are if you are prudent in watching weather developments. You will be surprised how quickly those baby steps become longer strides. Listen to everybody, but make your own decisions.
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Old 21-02-2013, 08:59   #12
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

I like the varied responses. Surprised nobody mentioned the Northwest passage and around the horn to get to Trinidad

I was going to purchase Van Zants book, but I have read from a lot of reviews that it is hard to read and not applicable to newer boats with engines. I also read that once I get down to Georgetown that a lot of people can help with the recommendations of when and where to go... unfortunately, I don't know if those people will already have headed south before we arrive.

We may just follow your advice Jedi... the San Blas is our goal for next year, but maybe we can move that up to this year and see the eastern Caribbean during next years migration. How is the Caribbean sea from Jamaica to Panama?
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Old 21-02-2013, 09:04   #13
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You will have a great time - we did it in 2011, as we also had some delays. We set off from Emerald Bay in the Bahamas in late March and were in Trinidad by the 3rd week in June. We used Van Sant, though not slavishly. Spent time in the Turks and Caicos waiting out a blow, stopped for a while on the north coast of the DR and the south coast of PR. We zipped through the Virgins and then did a big (for us at the time) hop to Guadeloupe and after that it was island hopping to Grenada, and an overnight to Trinidad. If you want a detailed log, you will find one called "Voyage Log" on the lower right (I think) of our blog www.raconteursouthbound.blogspot.com
We did feel a bit rushed at times - if it's Tuesday, we must be in St Lucia - but got a taste for a lot of lovely places and visited most spots for at least a week or more. In the next phase (Dec 11 - June 12) we took it really easy.
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Old 21-02-2013, 09:24   #14
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How is the Caribbean sea from Jamaica to Panama?
Doubt its any worse than St Martin to Panama.. 1100 miles in 9days last April/May... winds get a bit light and flukey a coupla hundred miles out but mainly aft of the beam all the way..
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Old 21-02-2013, 09:31   #15
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Re: 3 Months for Florida to Trinidad Run starting now!

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I like the varied responses. Surprised nobody mentioned the Northwest passage and around the horn to get to Trinidad

I was going to purchase Van Zants book, but I have read from a lot of reviews that it is hard to read and not applicable to newer boats with engines. I also read that once I get down to Georgetown that a lot of people can help with the recommendations of when and where to go... unfortunately, I don't know if those people will already have headed south before we arrive.

We may just follow your advice Jedi... the San Blas is our goal for next year, but maybe we can move that up to this year and see the eastern Caribbean during next years migration. How is the Caribbean sea from Jamaica to Panama?
Oh my, don't listen to the cruisers in GeorgeTown... we call that Chicken Harbor for a reason as you'll quickly find out after arriving there

Van Zants book is nice regardless type of boat but take his POV like that of anyone of us here because I found as many errors as smart suggestions in that guide.

The Caribbean sea is pretty much the same everywhere except for the area off the Colombia coast where winds and seas are higher during the tradewinds, and especially during reinforced trades (have come and gone this year). But even there, broad reaching is the nicest thing to do

To get east from Panama to Grenada or Trini in a gentleman way means you need to sail as much as possible during the summer. This is not a problem as you'll be south of the hurricane paths for most of the time.
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