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Old 16-06-2015, 07:54   #1
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Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

My big cruise is finally looking like it will happen!

I am leaving in January 2016, I have been always planning to leave FL, head to the Bahamas, then DR, PR, VIs, windwards & leewards, South and Central Am, and back to FL in a clockwise trip.

Budgeting about a 1.5 years for this leg of the trip. Goal is to circumnavigate earth going east.

I have been to the Bahamas more times then I can count, so won't spend a lot of time there.

I am thinking of changing the plan and going counterclockwise around the Caribbean vs clockwise.

Leave FL, sail to southern Bahamas Exuma and such, the only islands I have not been to. From southern Bahamas sail south to Cuba. Do Cuba's north coast, but very temping to do the south coast.

From Cuba down to Central Am, to South Am, A-B-C islands, up to windward and leeward, VIs & PR, and then in May of 2017 big jump to Bermuda for the Americas Cup in June 2017.

Thinking the counterclockwise route will be better for not fighting the trades. Or think it will make it worse?
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Old 16-06-2015, 08:08   #2
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Going to the western Carib first will have you fighting wind and current to head south...


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Old 16-06-2015, 08:17   #3
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

While the trip from the Bahamas-Cuba-Central Am-Panama will be off the wind, the trip from Panama-Colombia-ABC-Windwards will be fully against the worse winds, seas and currents the Caribbean has to offer. This is usually a truly horrible trip and manageable only by waiting very patiently for rare specific weather breaks.

If you leave the Bahamas on the back of a largish cold front, you will have several days of NW-N winds to make easting before needing to turn south on the NE winds to make PR. In 2010, we broad reached all the way from the Bahamas to PR doing this. These cold fronts come through like clockwork through the winter/early spring months in the Bahamas.

From PR, you can pick your way SE through the Leewards without too much beating. Then the rest of your trip is downhill through the ABC-Colombia-Panama-Honduras-Belize-Mexico until heading East across Cuba - where you must wait again for a cold front to return to FL.

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Old 16-06-2015, 08:19   #4
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Wait, you plan to do this in one year? While doable, it seems a bit quick. However, Jan-March is the right timing - cold fronts to get you East, below the hurricane belt for summer, then cold fronts to return you East again.

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Old 16-06-2015, 09:35   #5
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
While the trip from the Bahamas-Cuba-Central Am-Panama will be off the wind, the trip from Panama-Colombia-ABC-Windwards will be fully against the worse winds, seas and currents the Caribbean has to offer. This is usually a truly horrible trip and manageable only by waiting very patiently for rare specific weather breaks.

If you leave the Bahamas on the back of a largish cold front, you will have several days of NW-N winds to make easting before needing to turn south on the NE winds to make PR. In 2010, we broad reached all the way from the Bahamas to PR doing this. These cold fronts come through like clockwork through the winter/early spring months in the Bahamas.

From PR, you can pick your way SE through the Leewards without too much beating. Then the rest of your trip is downhill through the ABC-Colombia-Panama-Honduras-Belize-Mexico until heading East across Cuba - where you must wait again for a cold front to return to FL.

Mark
100% on the money; moreover, the water in the ABCs is delightfully cool in the summer.
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Old 16-06-2015, 10:03   #6
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

I plan to leave the first week of January 2016, and April-May 2017 head to Bermuda for the Cup. Cup starts in June 2017.

So about a year and a half doing the Caribbean.

I have done the Bahamas, so won't be spending a lot of time there.

I have done a few sailing trips to Honduras and backpacked Belize and Guatemala, so if I go clockwise as originally planned, and do PR, VIs, wind & lew, and from the ABCs double back to Bermuda and miss Central and South, it won't be the end of the world.
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:12   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

HI,
I cruised the Caribbean three years ago intending to make the hole circle but only did half due to lack of time. Started from Venezuela I traveled to: Las Aves, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica (Port Antonio) all north coast of Jamaica to Montego bay, Cienfuegos and rest of south coast of Cuba round Cabo San Antonio to La Havana, Key West, Marathon to Bimini, Nassau, Exumas (several Island in Bahamas) Turks & Caicos and to Dominicana (Puerto Plata), North coast of Dominicana to Cap Cana then to Los Roques and back home. About 3500 Miles in 105 days starting December 5 2011. Only difficulty is going South in the Bahamas but all other cruises where good and with good wind. Specially good: Marinas in Jamaica (first class), South coast of Cuba beautiful, The Exumas specially Staniel Key, in Turks & Caicos West Caicos we had a partially constructed marina all for us.
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:56   #8
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Ocean Roads,
Mark, colemj, gave you the definitive answer here...heed his advice...


But, what you wrote here might have gone overlooked???
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean Roads View Post
Goal is to circumnavigate earth going east.
Are you really planning an east-about circumnav, in a Westsail 28?
'Cause this would be a long way to sail to windward?
Yes, it is doable.....and if racing you'd certainly head east-about thru the Southern Ocean, but for most cruisers this isn't a normal route...



Fair winds..

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Old 16-06-2015, 16:02   #9
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

I was always planning a circumnavigation going east so I could do Europe. Never been. And with my Westsail 28, drop the mast and cruise the canals of France.

I hear many people going from Caribbean to Bermuda to Azores to Med.

But, I am flying to Europe on Friday for two weeks, so thinking of going east after the Cup, but since I will already be 1/4 of the way to Europe....
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Old 16-06-2015, 16:56   #10
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Ocean Roads,
No worries about east-bound from US or Caribbean to Europe....assuming the proper time of year...
But, few go thru Bermuda, from the Caribbean to Europe....

But, it's east-about from the Med, across the Indian Ocean and Pacific, that can be an issue....not to mention the issues with piracy along the horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, and western Indian Ocean...

Although rare, this is a doable route, and is done by some....and please understand I'm trying to throw water on your plans....just wanted to point out that you're not talking about a trade wind route here!
(you have looked at the pilot charts, yes??)


Fair winds...

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Old 16-06-2015, 17:23   #11
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Take your time, enjoy. Don't go to ABC's from Central America. Notorious Nightmare bashing.
Was a recent thread about a Pearson that came apart at the deck/hull joint trying it.
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Old 17-06-2015, 05:30   #12
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

We and a few boats with us did the opposite of what a bunch here say you can not do. Not sure if they are arm chair or not.

We left Miami and headed to Mexico and worked our way down the coast to Cartagena, Colombia and then back to Panama where we headed to Jamaica while our friends headed to Cayman Islands and Cuba then Jamaica. We then headed down island to Trinidad.
It was no big deal from Panama to Jamaica just wait for a weather window and we had a great sail all the way across as did our friends to the Caymans.

On going to the Med we left from Antigua and when we passed Bermuda we were 500nm east of it.

Now for timing. Wow 1.5 years you will really miss a lot. What is the rush? Take your time and enjoy all that is out there and there is a lot.
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Old 17-06-2015, 06:38   #13
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

We recently sailed from Panama to Florida via Jamaica for a short stop to wait out weather. This is comfortably doable at particular times if one waits for a weather window, but it still is very close to the wind and the currents are against you most of the way.

However, this isn't the OP's intended route. Jamaica lies pretty much North of Panama, while the ABC's and Grenada lie East. When the winds are East enough to make Jamaica, they are generally moderate and the seas are generally calmer. When the winds are North enough to make the ABC's, the winds are generally howling to gale force and the seas are generally monstrous.

Additionally, the route from Panama to Jamaica takes one above the Colombian low, while the route from Panama to the ABC's takes one directly through the low.

Here is today's look at the region - those are 40kt winds blowing directly from the ABC's to Panama. This is the norm.

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Old 19-06-2015, 11:19   #14
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean Roads View Post
I was always planning a circumnavigation going east so I could do Europe. Never been. And with my Westsail 28, drop the mast and cruise the canals of France.

I hear many people going from Caribbean to Bermuda to Azores to Med.

But, I am flying to Europe on Friday for two weeks, so thinking of going east after the Cup, but since I will already be 1/4 of the way to Europe....
I'm not sure you've thought this all the way through. What route do you plan to do after Europe? There's nothing wrong with getting to Europe, but after that, you have two choices. You can go brave the pirates by going down the Red Sea (which very few people choose to do these days), or you can go around the Cape. If you go around the cape, you'll be crossing back almost to Brazil before hanging a left and shooting for South Africa.

Once you get through to the Indian Ocean, you're either beating across an immense amount of ocean in a very small boat not known for its windward performance, or you're taking the Southern Ocean to Australia.

There's a reason 99% of people choose to circumnavigate westabout in the trades. You'll be safer and have a lot more fun.

Maybe you can do Europe another time? Or by land (I think it's better done by campervan, myself).
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Old 19-06-2015, 17:57   #15
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Re: Clockwise or counterclockwise Caribbean circumnavigation?

I know a couple of folks who've done counter clockwise around the Carib...."never again" has been their common comment.
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