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Old 30-08-2015, 17:11   #1
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Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

I plan to sail back to Guatemala from Panama for a refit in 2016. I sailed down the usual route (Bay Islands, Providencia, Bocas), but am considering an alternate route back (San Blas or maybe Cartagena, Caymans, Belize, Guatemala). Probably leave in April (pilot charts show area off Columbia settling down around then). Weather routing looks good...especially if leaving from Cartagena).

Anyone done this route or legs of it?
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Old 30-08-2015, 18:54   #2
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

I want to hear about using the winds off Santa Marta to sail somewhere.
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Old 30-08-2015, 19:30   #3
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

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I want to hear about using the winds off Santa Marta to sail somewhere.
Gets pretty sporty off Santa Marta. Most I know of have just hoped to get a bit more W-SW, like Cartagena, without getting beat up too bad.
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Old 30-08-2015, 19:40   #4
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

So are you hoping to get some wind so that you could make the Caymans?
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Old 30-08-2015, 20:35   #5
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

Per Pilot Charts for April winds off Cartagena are highly probable to be E to NE at about 20 knots. Rhumb line to Grand Cayman is roughly 330. So catching a window of Easterly winds could make for a nice long beam reach. Area of higher sea states off Colombia has settled down to less than 10% probability of >= 12' by April.

I ran a weather route using today's GRIB files for current and wind (~20-25 knots from the E to slightly NE)...sure looks like a great sail in theory. About 640nm which should roll by pretty quick on a beam reach in 20 knots. Screen shot below.

Looking for input from anyone who as sailed this route?
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Old 30-08-2015, 23:46   #6
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

We did San Blas to the Caymans at the end of Apr/early May. We waited for the tradewinds to shut down and then had a really nice sail to the Caymans. One tack, a little heavier winds for the first day and then light easy sailing into the Caymans. People that went earlier had a rough slog.
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Old 31-08-2015, 04:43   #7
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

I think that would be a great route to take back. We left the San Blas for Providencia/Hobbies/Roatan and had a good sail - the Caymans are pretty much along that route.

We left Colon for the Windward Passage and were very hard on the wind. We could have easily sailed to the Caymans on a close reach from there.

Leaving from Cartagena would be even better because not only would you have a better wind angle, but you will likely have a west-flowing current in your favor much of the way. Leaving from Panama has you against the current more.

Keep in mind that generally in spring/summer the winds are NE close to the Panama/Colombian coasts, but change to E somewhere around 13* latitude. That helps even more.

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Old 31-08-2015, 06:52   #8
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

Thanks for the confirmation guys. This route is now a top contender for sure.

Getting over to Cartagena can be a pain, but I want to cruise more of that coast anyway just to do it.
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Old 31-08-2015, 07:55   #9
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

One concern I have on this route is beam seas, especially off of Cartagena, how did sea state work out for you guys?
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Old 31-08-2015, 08:32   #10
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Re: Alternate Route - Panama - Guatemala

Once above 13*, the waves are always from the East and always 8-9sec intervals. Just choose your weather window with the sea state in mind. Once the waves go behind the beam, they become relatively longer period and quite comfortable. We didn't think them much of a problem on our beam, although each time we chose a window with <6' seas (which pretty much coincides with <25kt winds).

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