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Old 14-09-2010, 18:08   #1
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BVI to Forida Advice, Please

I am delivering my 47' Stevens from BVI to Key West in late December/ early January and need some advice. My plan is to go north of PR and DR and Haiti, following the Antilles current. But, I get confused after that. Should we go north of Cuba and hang a right at Havana? Or, should we take the windward passage south between haiti and Cuba and sail along the S side of Cuba then head NE toward key West? If we go north of Havana, how do we know when to cross the gulf stream?

I've sailed a lot, raced, cruised, etc, but this is my first time encountering the gulf stream and other currents so any advice would be greatly appreciated. And, any advice about stopping/provisioning along the way would also be appreciated.
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Old 14-09-2010, 19:41   #2
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The north side of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti do not have a surplus of safe havens.

Having delivered sailboats, sport fish, and yachts, I'd suggest the south side of these islands as you'll have better conditions and refuge in case things go bad. The winds will be ENE-ESE or on your stern and if you stay a dozen or so miles off the islands you should have a pleasant ride.

I'd turn to starboard between Haiti and Cuba and take the Windward Passage North (watch out for unlit fishing boats, long lines, and garbage) then turn to port and follow the Old Bahama Channel (between the N coast of Cuba and the Bahama Bank).

The Bahama Channel is fairly crowded with big tankers and inter-island ferries, but is a nice ride.

The Gulf Stream will come into play around Havana but by then you can begin turning North for Key West. I'd suggest a 2kt Gulf Stream current in the calculations so you may have to aim for the Dry Tortugas in order to make Key West.

As far as knowing when you're in the stream the water temp will rise, your VMG will drop, and you'll have to fall off in order to maintain your heading. The color's a bit different and the fishing can be very good as well.
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Old 15-09-2010, 04:59   #3
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I think that going South of the "Big Islands" adds a lot of miles. I always go over the top of PR and DR then home in on the Old Bahamas Channel. Once you're through the channel the last leg to key West is pretty basic and as has been said, you'll have to compensate a tad for the Stream. T
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Old 19-10-2014, 23:55   #4
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Re: BVI to Forida Advice, Please

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Originally Posted by iamlindat View Post
I am delivering my 47' Stevens from BVI to Key West in late December/ early January and need some advice. My plan is to go north of PR and DR and Haiti, following the Antilles current. But, I get confused after that. Should we go north of Cuba and hang a right at Havana? Or, should we take the windward passage south between haiti and Cuba and sail along the S side of Cuba then head NE toward key West? If we go north of Havana, how do we know when to cross the gulf stream?

I've sailed a lot, raced, cruised, etc, but this is my first time encountering the gulf stream and other currents so any advice would be greatly appreciated. And, any advice about stopping/provisioning along the way would also be appreciated.
Hi iamlindat,
What route did you take and how long did it take, I am looking at making this trip early next year, thanks for any info.
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Old 22-10-2014, 13:46   #5
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Re: BVI to Forida Advice, Please

I made the trip last year (April) in a Beneteau 37, we went through the Old Bahamas Channel (north of Cuba). Some rather large following swell, but nothing exceptional, I would take this route again. The Atlantic Pilot Charts show favorable prevailing winds (force 4, E/NE), you'll also have a half knot or so of favorable current. Of course, the big wild card is cold fronts, when we did it we had to wait 4 days in Luperon for a ridiculous April cold front to clear Cuba, and as others have mentioned between DR and the USA you have little safe harbor, but this is true on the S side as well (unless you plan on stopping in Haiti or Cuba). Keep your eye on the fronts and I would say the OBC. The Stream is pretty slow in the Florida Straits (usually!), so just make a right turn when it pleases you, or turn early and cross to the Keys and follow Hawk Channel to KW. Either way will work, the latter has the advantage of giving you some safe harbors for the last 100 miles or so. Pete
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:10   #6
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Re: BVI to Forida Advice, Please

Pete, Thanks for the reply,
How many days did it take excluding the "layover"
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Old 23-10-2014, 03:02   #7
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Re: BVI to Forida Advice, Please

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Pete, Thanks for the reply,
How many days did it take excluding the "layover"
58 hours from Tortola to Luperon, then about 4-1/2 days from Luperon to Miami (should be roughly the same to Key West). Have fun!
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