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Old 29-05-2006, 05:00   #1
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Best Caribbean Route?

We plan on leaving in the fall of 07 for a partial loop of the caribbean, we would like to go south along the ICW to the FL keys over to Mexico and down along Central America. We would then like to go West all the way to Bonaire where we have friends. From there we would go North to the Virgin Islands then head back in a Northwesterly direction to the mainland then home. I know this is a very simplistic version of what we would like to do. My actual question is, what would be the best general route, meaning, would most people go the way I just layed out or leave the mainland at FL and go Southeastery to the Virgin Islands first, then down to Bonaire and continue West and then north along Central America?

Thanks for any opinions.

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Old 29-05-2006, 07:40   #2
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Mike & Paula,

Although I have not yet done the Caribbean loop you're considering...
most everyone departs Florida and head for the Virgin Islands and on to St Martin before heading south and down the windward islands toward Trinidad and then turn west to Aruba, Bonaire Curaco & Columbia before turning north along the coast of Central America.

I'm told that the easiest way to get your boat from Panama east to Trinidad is to put her on a ship, because you'll be battling both wind and current along the entire route.

Easiest & best provisioning prices arr found in St Thomas at Cost-u-Less and Try-n-Save style bulk stores.

The best fuel prices are in Venezuela but there are frequent reports of piracy along the coastal anchorages.

Don Street has written excellent cruising guides for much of the region.

Have a look at ALL AT SEA & THE CAIBBEAN COMPASS magazines for the current, local scoop.

Best time to get here is in November... just before the trade winds arrive.

If you come through St Thomas - be sure to stop by for a cold beer or two.



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Old 29-05-2006, 11:04   #3
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As Kirk notes, you are proposing a backwards (counter-clockwise) Caribbean circle.
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Old 29-05-2006, 15:40   #4
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western Caribbean

IM, Take a look here and sift through the posts of our recent trip from the Florida Keys to Guatemala.;all=SEARCH

Going south from there you can find info at and if you are a Ham or have SSB you can get more info from the Panama Net.
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
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Old 01-06-2006, 09:13   #5
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I understand that conventional wisdow indicates I would be taking a backassward route. I really was just wondering difficulties in going that way. Chuck thanks for your post, your logs are very interesting and I cant wait to post my own from our Mariner as well.

I wanted to end in VI instead of at the beginning. I love that part of the Caribbean and would proably never leave!

Again thanks to all for your input
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Old 01-06-2006, 09:18   #6
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You will be sailing up wind along SA and that can be a tough beat. But the thorny path over to the Indies is a beat too... but I suspect a bit shorter and easier.
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:01   #7
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Read 'West to East Across the Caribbean' in June's 'Latitude 38'. In fact, their free publication is worth reading every month online.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:17   #8
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We have just returned from the southern Caribe and Venezuela. The route you are thinking is do able but you will be heading from central america to Bonaire aginst the trades winds.

We sailed from the Bay to PR via the Bahamas, turks and then a 2 and half day beam reach from PR to Bonaire. From there it is down wind to Columbia.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:02   #9
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Best shot at Bonaire is SSW from Ponce, Puerto Rico ... actually from the anchorage at Salinas, Puerto Rico, next to Ponce. So to get there, go Florida to Bahamas to Turks and Caicos to Luperon, Dominican Republic, across the Mona Channel (eeeeek!) to Boqueron, Puerto Rico, around the southwest corner of PR at Cabo Rojo, then east to Ponce or Salinas. Turn left (south) about 200 degrees and don't stop untill you see the reefs of Bonaire. Fair Seas, Captain!
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Old 07-09-2008, 13:34   #10
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We made this run about 14 years ago in our gulfstar 41. A really nice trip except from Bay Islands, Honduras to Providencia which was a hard beat in poorly charted waters, and from Cartagena to Aruba which was much worse.
There was a group of boats in Cartagena, which we referred to as the comeback club, who had ventured east several times and appeared destined to spend the rest of their lives in Cartagena.
It was quite an adventure, but not worth the wear and tear on our boat and ourselves. With the current and wind in our faces we had a 22 mile day, and others not much better. A trawler which left at the same time had her generator break loose and wreak havoc in the engine room along with the bulkhead at the back of the chain locker busting up and setting 200' of 3/8 chain loose inthe forepeak.
A fast 44 foot catamaran left Cartegena at about the same time, but they cheated and beat across to Jamaica for a couple of days in Ocho Rios, and then a run down to Aruba. They were long gone by the time we got to Aruba.
I wouldn't recommend the southern route to anyone.
I would however take louhunt's advice if I were to try it again.

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