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Old 03-03-2007, 12:38   #1
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Choosing Destinations, Routes, and Times

Hi all,

I've been sailing the majority of my (short) life. I lived on board a tallship for six months as a mate, have sailed with a few school organizations as mate and such, and teach at a US Sailing school during the school year (am still in college). All of these have used set routes and destinations, leaving little "planning" besides weather evasion, to be done. Now that we're in the process of buying a "cruiseable" boat, I'm realizing that I lack one of the fundamental cruising skills: Knowing where to go, when, and the best way to get there.

I've been told that coast pilots and such are great resources, as well as World Cruising Routes, but I don't know much more, nor do I own these books. We live in SW FL (Charlotte Harbor). We'd like to start with a few trips down to the Keys for a week or so, then go for month or so down to some places in the Caribbean.

What are some good texts on choosing cruising routes and destinations? I've often read that it's great to talk to people and such, but it seems that you'd need to /be/ cruising to get that information. For someone who wants to plan a few short trips to get his parents into the sailing groove, it's a bit more difficult.

I appreciate everyone's help!

Fair leads,
Aaron N.
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Old 03-03-2007, 17:06   #2
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Aaron, Look at Bluewater Books in Ft. Lauderdale and Landfall Navigation for the most current cruising guides for the areas you want to travel. Then get the current charts and use the two to determine where you would like to go.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:59   #3
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blahman,

A good way to decide where to go and how to plan trips is to read sailing magazine articles and web blogs of other sailors trips. Just last year Soundings Magazine published a series of articles about a couple that started in the keys and sailed to Rio Dulce in Guatemala via Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. I had been to the Rio Dulce previously on a trip to the Mayan Ruins in Tikal and I instantly fell in love with the Rio Dulce. It was just dumb luck that we got side tracked on our trip, ended up in Livingston, Guate. and stumbled upon one of the great cruising destinations in all of the carib and central america. I promised myself I would return someday in my own boat. Now I am preparing for the adventure of my life and plan to follow the same route that the couple did in Soundings. So, there is no one good source. Cruising guides are nice and I bought a few of them to help me plan a trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Clearwater that I did last year. But in general I found the information to be outdated. A great website is sailmiami.com. They have some useful, and current, information on cruising south florida and the keys. I used the sailmiami site to plan most of the stops on our cruise. As far as my input, a great overnighter or short cruise in your locale is a stop at Useppa Island near Boca Grande.


BTW- the couple I was telling you about, in Soundings, is the guy who first answered your post. (Yes, Chuck, I am a fan - tell sounding they owe you another $25 because I subscribed to their magazine just so that I could keep up with your trip)
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:11   #4
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Aaron, it would be helpful to know where you are (nothing in your profile). To start cruising it is nice to do initial cruises close to home, then expand your horizons.

George
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:16   #5
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George:
He lives in Charlotte Harbor, Florida:
Quote:
Originally Posted by blahman
“... We live in SW FL (Charlotte Harbor). We'd like to start with a few trips down to the Keys for a week or so, then go for month or so down to some places in the Caribbean ...’
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:42   #6
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Sorry, guess I should read the text more carefully.

George
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:50   #7
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The Keys are a great start. To spend only a month, you should probably limit your self to the Bahamas, maybe as far as Turks and Caicos, but if you plan to visit islands and enjoy the trip rather than just sail full time, You are looking at 2 weeks going and 2 weeks returning.

Assuming you are going to wait for favorable weather, there aren't enough days to get farther.

Buy and read the bood "A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South." Van Sant has lots of good advice for crossing the Gulf Stream, staging up for weather windows, etc.

George
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Old 04-03-2007, 10:07   #8
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Thanks for the continued advice. I'm creating a list of resources here!

Specifically, we have a slip out on Boca Grande which is bound by Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf. It's equidistant from Fort Myers and Sarasota.

Aaron N.
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Old 04-03-2007, 11:07   #9
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Salty, Glad you like the articles. They finish up in the next issue. We will begin again when the next cruise starts.
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Old 04-03-2007, 14:40   #10
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A great resource for anchorages in SW Floriduh is at

Florida Sea Grant - Boating & Waterways - Anchorage Inventory
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Old 04-03-2007, 16:37   #11
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blahman,

i gave you the wrong web site. It is bootkeyharbor.com that has a real good cruising guide to south florida and the keys.
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