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Old 06-11-2013, 11:17   #1
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Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

Hello all!

My aim is to get critiques and advice on my current working "plan" for my first distance cruise. I live in Corpus Christi, and next October/November we plan on heading to Bimini and back with a possible few days in Cuba (we really want to visit before they open Cuba up to US tourists). Optimistically, I think we could make the entire trip with stops and without rushing anything in 5-6 months, or at least be back by May or June the following year. If finances work out his way, my friend will be buddy-boating with me which would make me feel far more secure. we'd likely have no more than a total of 5 people on 2 boats, or 2/3 on just my boat.

We'd like to visit some USA coastal towns along the way, but we can do that on the way back during late March (Spring Break) if we run straight across the first leg.

We may head out from Port Aransas about 250m, then head NE to get to either New Orleans or Panama City Beach to avoid the mass groups of rigs. Then, south into the gulf another 150m, then E to Tampa. Then S with as much Easting as possible to get to the keys. 2 weeks in the keys, 3 in the Bahamas, and then back West.

On the way back, we'll either run straight from the keys to Panama City Beach to CC Texas, or we'll sail to Tampa then try PCB then CC. Most of the way back i expect to be moving with the current but at a close haul against a SE wind.

My main questions are about how dense and dangerous those oil rigs are, how long it takes to run all the way across the gulf versus stopping at a couple of marinas, and the overall viability of the plan. Any advice or questions are MUCH appreciated! Thanks!

Note: My vessel is a 1970 Morgan M38 rebuilt in 1980-83 thats a proven blue water racer. With the right sails up I average 6-7kts 40 miles out in the gulf (farthest I've gone yet) with 4-7 foot rollers and 13-17kt wind.
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:26   #2
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

Just for the fun of it, here's a very rough, somewhat tricky to read drawing of how i understand the route to go as of yet.
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:33   #3
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

Once you get out of Louisiana waters, there aren't any oil rigs that I know of. A couple of offloading points is about it.

But, in Louisiana waters? They are literally everywhere. Most are on the nautical charts, though.
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:50   #4
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

I could be mistaken, but wouldn't sailing to New Orleans and then to Florida maybe be maximizing the number of oil rigs you encounter, versus going directly across the Gulf (and maybe even bending a little south)? And sailing so far off as to avoid most of the rigs and then to N.O. and so on would be some extra miles.


https://www.google.com/search?q=map+...iw=789&bih=410


Just thinking out loud: It seems that one of the bigger dangers in the plan is the feds finding out if you visited a certain country... maybe having a non-US citizen on board might possibly be of benefit, along with stopping in another country after visiting that country, or arranging to meet one of the exceptions to the travel ban, or finding some other legal loophole. (Maybe get a guy who's a Canadian journalist and Red Cross worker who has near relatives in the country to charter your boat????)
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:52   #5
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

One image...
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._Platforms.jpg

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Old 06-11-2013, 11:56   #6
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

hmmmm... Perhaps we skip New Orleans. I road trip a lot and have been there about a dozen times so skipping it isnt a problem.
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:19   #7
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

Quote:
Originally Posted by TenaciousH View Post
hmmmm... Perhaps we skip New Orleans. I road trip a lot and have been there about a dozen times so skipping it isnt a problem.
New Orleans will be out of the way, to get to it you'd have to go up the river a long way against the flow. Otherwise you will have to go around to Lake Pontchartrain.
Otherwise you could take the ICW inside from TX. lock across the Miss. R. stop in N.O. and on to the Mississippi Sound and out into the Gulf there or on to P.C. and out. I see lots of Texas sailboats doing this.
The oil rigs are well lit but there are lots of them, and if sailing tacking etc you'll be dodging them often.
Good Luck
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Old 06-11-2013, 14:44   #8
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

I'd think about going straight across the Gulf, too. Lots of yacht clubs race across it from the northern gulf side down to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

I've been across it a couple of times that way and it can be a slog if you get south winds. I've seen it really rough and I've seen it smooth as a mill pond (and only a few days apart).

I've also gone through those oil rigs in heavy fog before (late December), and it was pretty nerve wracking, even with two radars. Something else to think about (not to mention crazy crew boats that run wide open everywhere they go).
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Old 15-11-2013, 07:08   #9
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Yes, avoid the oil patch as much as you can. You might consider a straight run across the GOM to DTs or Key West for your first leg, rest up a bit and then it is an easy hop to Havana from there, and then coastal hop the N GOM on your return trip. This gives you a more favorable angle on prevailing winds. In Oct-Nov winds tend to be a bit more northerly so more likely to catch a good angle for heading SE...even better if you wait for the trailing edge of a front (ditto when crossing to Havana). Then on your return you should have prevailing E- SE winds.

One significant factor to consider is that your depature date is still in hurricane season...getting caught mid Gulf with a hurricane on the way would not be good and historically late season has seen some of the worst.
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Old 15-11-2013, 07:15   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgscpat View Post

...

Just thinking out loud: It seems that one of the bigger dangers in the plan is the feds finding out if you visited a certain country... maybe having a non-US citizen on board might possibly be of benefit, along with stopping in another country after visiting that country, or arranging to meet one of the exceptions to the travel ban, or finding some other legal loophole. (Maybe get a guy who's a Canadian journalist and Red Cross worker who has near relatives in the country to charter your boat????)
As I understand it, Duh W's proclamation plugged the "fully hosted" exception which many used in the past...and pretty much all the other common loopholes too, except for the normal exceptions to be granted official permission.
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Old 15-11-2013, 08:58   #11
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Re: Corpus TX to Bimini Bahamas First Timer's Itenerary

TenaciousH, we also live in Corpus on our boat off and on for the past 5 years. We are crossing in March delivering a Cat and again in April on our own boat. What dock is your boat on? We have several friends that have done multiple crossings on various boats and have given us a lot of good advice on what has worked and what hasn't on previous passages. We would be happy to pass along what we have learned or perhaps hook you up with some first hand accounts. We brought our boat from the East Coast and due to weather ended up in the ditch a good portion of the way. I can say that that is my least preferred option.

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Old 15-11-2013, 20:22   #12
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Tenacious,

We keep our Manta 40 Catamaran at Ingleside on the Bay. I have crossed the Gulf 8 times over the past few years. We generally cross over in the winter or early spring and we know that we'll catch a norther going across, which makes for a rough ride for a day or two, but the north or NW wind is a great way to get south quickly without having to beat in to the typical SE winds. Last March we left from Galveston just ahead of what we thought would be a fast moving front. It stalled at the Louisiana border for 4 days and the result was strong (35-45 Knot SE winds). It was a bit rough, but we just held on and kept working our way east and south as we could and waited for the wind to shift.

As long as you're making a crossing, I'd highly recommend that you make a stop in the Dry Tortugas. You'll go right past it on your way to Key West anyway - and it's well worth the stop. Beautiful water, very few boats, and a great historical site.

If you have any questions or you'd like to discuss crossing tactics, let me know.

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