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Old 10-05-2014, 00:35   #1
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Eastbound from Panama

Hi All,

So we are headed south from San Diego this December. Our loose itinerary thus far is to spend some time in Mexico/CA on the pacific side and then go east through the canal into the Caribbean. This will most likely happen around June or so. Once we get on the east side, we would like make our way to the ABCs and eventually to the leeward islands, virgin islands and onto the Bahamas and east coast. I know this can be a VERY tough trip, but we are not in a rush and are willing to wait for weather windows. I have read that summer months are decent times to go east because of the dampened trades, but I imagine that we would have to stay pretty low for a while till hurricane season passes. Anyone out there have any experience going counter-clockwise? Thanks -- Phil
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:55   #2
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Hi Phil,

From Colon, follow the coastlines of Panama and Colombia for some of the best cruising to be had and safe from hurricanes. Places like Snug Harbour and Sapzurro are not spoilt by cruise ships and charter boats yet!

As you approach the north point of Colombia, you will be monitoring weather for the dash around the corner to Aruba. During the summer, I would not go further north so no tack up to Jamaica. Good weather windows would be no wind so that you can motor, all the way up to west winds which happen every summer.
Our most northern anchorage in Colombia has been Bahia Honda which gives good protections from the sea but little to wind (the land is dry savannah there, like the ABC's).

From that north point of Colombia on, you can not consider yourself safe from hurricanes. We have had a hurricane in Aruba with the eye passing at 30nm.

Between Colombia and Aruba is another possible stop: the Monjes del Sur which belong to Venezuela. You can only go there with east winds.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:27   #3
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

And then what? You have 400 more miles to windward to go to get to Grenada. There are the offshore islands of Venezuela to stop at, but most are passing them by now do to security issues.
If your plan is to see both the US east coast and the E. Carib then you could do it the other direction. Go north in May from Panama to FLA. We did this via Caymans for a nice sail. It was late enough that the trades had laid down. Do the US East Coast for the summer, then sail from the Chesapeake to the Virgins in Nov. Then it is down hill to the rest of the Eastern Carib.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:50   #4
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

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And then what? You have 400 more miles to windward to go to get to Grenada. There are the offshore islands of Venezuela to stop at, but most are passing them by now do to security issues.
If your plan is to see both the US east coast and the E. Carib then you could do it the other direction. Go north in May from Panama to FLA. We did this via Caymans for a nice sail. It was late enough that the trades had laid down. Do the US East Coast for the summer, then sail from the Chesapeake to the Virgins in Nov. Then it is down hill to the rest of the Eastern Carib.
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:24   #5
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

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And then what? You have 400 more miles to windward to go to get to Grenada. There are the offshore islands of Venezuela to stop at, but most are passing them by now do to security issues.
If your plan is to see both the US east coast and the E. Carib then you could do it the other direction. Go north in May from Panama to FLA. We did this via Caymans for a nice sail. It was late enough that the trades had laid down. Do the US East Coast for the summer, then sail from the Chesapeake to the Virgins in Nov. Then it is down hill to the rest of the Eastern Carib.
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Old 10-05-2014, 22:26   #6
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Ive seen a decent amount of info on going from panama to colombia and on to arubu (much of it from Jedi ), but it is the "then what?" that I am concerned about. I'm not set in stone on any route obviously, but I would love to cruise columbia and it seems like it would be feasable to make it to the leewards from ABC before the trades get settled in. Anyone have experience going east from ABC? Thanks for all of the great advice! -- Phil
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Old 10-05-2014, 22:53   #7
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

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Ive seen a decent amount of info on going from panama to colombia and on to arubu (much of it from Jedi )
After you reach the Netherlands, where/why else would you go further?

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Old 10-05-2014, 23:54   #8
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

It was extremely hot and humid in Cartagena, Colombia last month (like 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity). Hope that climate is to your liking.

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Old 11-05-2014, 04:18   #9
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingTerrapin View Post
Ive seen a decent amount of info on going from panama to colombia and on to arubu (much of it from Jedi ), but it is the "then what?" that I am concerned about. I'm not set in stone on any route obviously, but I would love to cruise columbia and it seems like it would be feasable to make it to the leewards from ABC before the trades get settled in. Anyone have experience going east from ABC? Thanks for all of the great advice! -- Phil
I suppose one needs to be hit by a couple of hurricanes before deciding to stay out of their way. Alternative routes are a no-no during hurricane season because they all expose you to them.

Why wait for the hurricanes when you have one of the most beautiful cruising grounds of the world to explore in safety? Yes, after the hurricanes are over there are many more options. The simplest is to leave Bonaire on a tack going N-NE and see where you make it, hopefully the DR and work your way east from there along it's S coast, cross the Mona and continue along PR southcoast into the Virgins.
Let the weather decide the route; this is how it's been for centuries for sailing boats/ships. There are some places I would stay away from for security reasons and those are the mainland of Nicaragua and Honduras, and anything from Venezuela except remote off-shore islands: the Monjes, Aves, Roques and only use these for a short break.

When you go to the US first, you still have to make easting during winter after that and it will be worse than the route I proposed. I'm sure of that, as I did it myself
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Old 11-05-2014, 04:28   #10
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingTerrapin View Post
Ive seen a decent amount of info on going from panama to colombia and on to arubu (much of it from Jedi ), but it is the "then what?" that I am concerned about. I'm not set in stone on any route obviously, but I would love to cruise columbia and it seems like it would be feasable to make it to the leewards from ABC before the trades get settled in. Anyone have experience going east from ABC? Thanks for all of the great advice! -- Phil
One route out of Curacao is to sail N to Puerto Rico or the Virgins (whichever you make on a close reach, cracking off enough to be comfortable) after the end of hurricane season. Then circle down the islands from the leewards to the windwards.
If you want to head Bonaire to Grenada, then you have to decide if you are going to risk stopping at the Venezuelan out islands or not. I have some from friends that did the trip 2 1/2 years ago on a trawler. They were careful on the weather window planning, but still said it sucked. They stopped on the Venezuelan islands to break up the trip, but I doubt they would do it now.
There is one Dutch boat here in Grenada that is heading to Bonaire in the next week or so. They have been looking for a buddy boat to sail to the Aves and Rocas islands. Everyone else I know heading that way is planning to stand well clear.
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Old 11-05-2014, 04:29   #11
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

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It was extremely hot and humid in Cartagena, Colombia last month (like 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity). Hope that climate is to your liking.

That weather sounds like Florida to me and the only place in FL that comes close to your picture of Cartagena de India will be St Augustine. Castillo San Felipe is enough to show the huge gap between the two.

We have 90F but only 60-70% humidity in Panama now. June will bring lots of rain, as will November. It's the change of seasons that do this, with the summer months in between with good weather, incl. afternoon squalls to rinse the salt off and fill the water tanks.
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Old 11-05-2014, 06:46   #12
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

I sailed from Bonaire back to Trinidad in the 90's--one long tack into the Venezuela coast, then up along the beach. It was a bash, but doable then. I wouldn't think of doing it now due to the situation in Venezuela.
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Old 11-05-2014, 20:21   #13
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Thanks everyone. Good info!
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Old 18-11-2015, 13:21   #14
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Holly and I did Panama to Antigua in May of this year as we delivered a Tartan 37. One long tack out to basically Santa Marta, Colombia, then tacked up to the D.R., and then motored across the Mona and stopped in Ponce for fuel. That was 9 days. Then we did four days to Antigua. It was very windy (lots of mid-30s) and pretty large seas. It was a very, very wet ride.

We returned to our boat, and sailed from Colon, to Cartagena, to Santa Marta, to Aruba, and then Curacao and are now waiting to figure out a good time to keep pushing East. The four days from Santa Marta to Aruba was among the worst passages we've ever done. There were those that told us it would have been easier to sail to the D.R., then tack over and head back to Aruba, after the passage, I believe them.

The good news is that once you are in the ABCs, the distances are now pretty short (relatively speaking) ... Cartagena is a don't miss spot, and Santa Marta as a staging area is great (but expensive since the Marina is really the only game in town) since you are right in the city and the people are fantastic.

Cheers,
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Old 22-02-2016, 21:13   #15
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Re: Eastbound from Panama

Can the original poster update what they ended up doing?

I moved from So Cal to Miami (job-related) and miss my 35' tri, which would be right at home here. The plan is to bring it over in 1-week increments. The downhill ride to Panama is a no brainer it seems, then it seems like there are no great options. I'm inclined to sail it up to the Caymans (or Cuba?). A quick scan of the pilot charts shows pretty consistent trade winds all year round, yet I read about them easing off in the summer.

Any sage advice on timing?
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