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Old 25-09-2010, 11:31   #1
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Dominican Republic to Florida

hello

last winter i sailed from florida through the bahamas and down to dominican republic. now im looking to leave luperon DR to sail back to florida.
the route im thinking of is going west through the old bahama channel, NW up the santaren channel, stopping in anguilla cays, then onto florida.

i was wondering if anyone had any information on this path, particularly the old bahama channel and cay sal bank. what is the current like on that path? is there a large us coast guard and/or cuban military presence there? from the chart it seems possible to duck onto the grand bahama bank...
and any information on anguilla cays would be great.

thanks!

ps. im also looking for paper charts if anyone has any for this route. particularly chart 11013.
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Old 25-09-2010, 14:13   #2
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I did a bit of research on that route a couple of years ago. I was planning a delivery run from St Thomas, through the Keys and up to Tampa Bay. It's pretty straightforward, as long as the weather is cooperative. The kicker for me was being able to get across the Gulf Stream in the vicinity of Cay Sal Banks. If the weather was bad (northerly or east winds), making the Stream crossing a bad idea, the Cay Sal Banks didn't seem to be a very hospitable place to anchor and wait it out. Geoff Schultz wrote about the difficult anchoring conditions in his Blog. Here's another link with some info about CSB, including a chart: http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/CaySalInfo.htm

I did the trip in early November, 2008, and used Chris Parker's weather routing services. We ended up changing our plan to take the OBC off the Dominican Republic when Chris told me we had a tropical wave approaching us from the east and a strong cold front coming from the west, and it looked like it was all going to slam into us just as we reached the narrowest portion of the Old Bahama Channel.

We decided to turn north and head out into the Atlantic between the Mouchoir and Silver Banks. I preferred being in open water vs. hemmed in by reefs and banks in nasty weather. We went around Eleuthera, through the Providence Channels and had a smooth crossing of the Stream, between cold fronts, from Great Isaac Light to Hollywood, then down to the Keys. I don't think it added a lot of extra time and there are more options if the weather gets bad. BTW, one of our fellow CF members ended up abandoning their sailboat near Bermuda in that storm (the cold front). It was a doozy!

Friends of ours did the St Thomas to Florida via the OBC with no weather problems. They did get intercepted at night by a Royal Bahamian Defense Force boat. The boarding crew was polite and professional, did a modest search, and thanked them and left.
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