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Old 16-05-2008, 13:39   #1
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Florida to Virgin Islans in Fall

Are there ever opportunities to hook up with other boats when traveling down to the islands for your first time? I am aware of the 1500 from VA. Is there a yearly trek from south FL? We are preparing that boat and while this is a long way off at this point I am curious. I doubt we will be ready in '08 but plan on departing Nov '09.

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Old 16-05-2008, 14:27   #2
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Janice,

I am unaware of any rallys to the Caribbean from Florida which are comparable to the Caribbean 1500 from Norfolk and New England. In part that may be because no one not otherwise constrained would knowingly choose that route (Florida through Bahamas to DR, PR, E Caribbean).

The route from Florida to the E. Caribbean is generally referred to as "The Thorny Path" because it is mostly against the prevailing winds and currents. St. Thomas lies many hundreds of miles EAST of Florida, so it is necessary to make considerable easting against the prevailing Easterly winds and currents. When you get into the Tradewinds belt, you are often facing strong winds (15-25 knots or more), waves, and currents. This can be difficult even for a full-powered, big motorsailor. In a Tayana 37, it would be very difficult to make way against the strong winds and currents.

One strategy if you're going to choose this path is to have LOTS AND LOTS of time, and dash from one protected anchorage to the next whenever a weather window presents. Many have done this, some using Van Sant's "Thornless Path" strategy. Many who have say they wouldn't do this again.

The time of year is very important, too, both because of the prevailing wind strength and direction. Often, in June or July, winds are light and there may be more opportunities to "dash" between islands. But, this is also getting into hurricane season, and you certainly don't want to be caught in the Bahamas when a hurricane blows through.

All of which is to say that -- given a choice -- I'd depart for the Eastern Caribbean from somewhere further north, go like hell to the east or even northeast until you get near longitude 64 or 65, then head south with a beam wind. It can be done from Florida, too, by taking a course north of the Bahamas and making as much easting as fast as you can.

Others will, of course, have different thoughts.

Bill
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:43   #3
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How much?

Bill,

What does 'lots and lots' of time mean? How much would you reccommend?

Chris
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:47   #4
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Chris,

It's entirely dependent on the weather, your boat, and how badly you wanna get beat up.

Essentially, you'd be island-hopping....going from one "protected" place to another... whenever the weather permitted. In a larger full-powered boat that could be a fairly short time (weeks). In a smaller, lesser-powered boat it could be much longer (months).

The point is, you don't want to undertake such a passage with a timetable, because you're very likely to do something you shouldn't. If you take your time and choose your weather, you could have a pleasant passage.

Bill
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:24   #5
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I would suggest leaving from as far North as Charleston or Beaufort. No need to get above Hatteras. Cut through the Gulf Stream and head East until you pick up the Trades. I wouldn't leave until early November. The seventy-five 1500 boats will be out there and in an emergency you will not be alone.
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:45   #6
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Lots of boats heading that way in the winter after hurricane season. Typically they leave from Florida, do a leisure cruise through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, north coast of the DR then through the passage to the Virgins. You can do it in a less than leisure time frame if you wish but others might not want to move that fast. There is no organized groups that do this. They generally meet up heading down the ICW or once into the Bahamas and travel together for periods of time. But this is very informal but not at all rare. Try connecting on the Cruiseheimers Net on the SSB and start asking around even now for those heading in the same direction you are during the migration.
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Old 06-08-2008, 13:57   #7
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Thanks Bill.

I've read Bruce's book and researched all I can but rarely does someone give an actual opinion on time.

My boat has a 19.5' waterline and an 8 hp outboard. My goals are to leave Annapolis Oct. 1 (w/ an eye on hurricanes), take the ditch and coastal hops to Ft. Lauderdale, cross the gulfstream to Freeport by Nov. 1, hopefully to arrive in the USVI by mid December to find work. Is this a reasonable timeframe in your opinion, give or take a couple weeks for all the invariable variables?

Janice, I don't mean to jump in on your thread but my questions are so similar I felt they belong in this one.

5 years of living aboard working just cruising to move on the east coast and it's time to really go, I can't wait.

All opinions are greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:00   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailsatori View Post
Thanks Bill.

I've read Bruce's book and researched all I can but rarely does someone give an actual opinion on time.

My boat has a 19.5' waterline and an 8 hp outboard. My goals are to leave Annapolis Oct. 1 (w/ an eye on hurricanes), take the ditch and coastal hops to Ft. Lauderdale, cross the gulfstream to Freeport by Nov. 1, hopefully to arrive in the USVI by mid December to find work. Is this a reasonable timeframe in your opinion, give or take a couple weeks for all the invariable variables?

Janice, I don't mean to jump in on your thread but my questions are so similar I felt they belong in this one.




All opinions are greatly appreciated.
A 23' boat with an outboard is going to mean a very, very careful eye on weather and those delays will be a big factor in how long the trip takes.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:08   #9
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Sailsatori, You are going to the VI in a small boat with an outboard motor? Have you spend many days sailing offshore with your outboard? I used to have a 26' Pearson on Lake Michigan and we could get some real weather there. I would never have taken that boat across that body of water much less the open sea! And I sailed that boat over 150 times in 3 years with short Wisconsin Summers. I knew her well, and knew her limitations equally well. An outboard will not make any progress in oncoming seas, the prop doesn't sit low enough in the water or have the power of an inboard.

I wish you well, but I would not go alone, that is for sure.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:14   #10
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When I was in Georgetown earlier this spring a 20 foot engineless boat was heading further south. It can be done but it's not easy. It's better to do it in the early spring as there's tons of folks headed that way and you can usually get a buddy boat to sail with. Nowadays with such good weather reports it's much safer.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:28   #11
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HUNDREDS make the migration every year. It can be thorny, but it's not so bad. Some folks do most of the thorny path yearly all the way to Georgetown. Chris Parker gives great weather forecast if you have SSB. You can pick, and choose. We always leave northeast Florida on a northern storm to make Miami. Just don't cross the Gulf Stream in a strong northern wind. It will be a ROUGH trip if you do!.........BEST WISHES
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:31   #12
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in a 23' boat?

you might be able to make it to the exumas but it would get much tougher after that. also you would need to cross the mona passage to puerto rico. plus carrying food water and fuel.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:39   #13
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Hey, the guy in my earlier post did it. I think he lived on $10 a month if he was lucky. Sold a few paintings to make a buck and mooched most of his food at happy hours and pot lucks.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:48   #14
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Wow! 8hp!
How much fuel do you intend to carry? Do you carry a long range radio or sat phone? How about a life raft and EPIRB? Off-shore with any large chop you will have difficulty making much head-way in the predominant head winds on the thorny path. I guess it could be done; I've seen some outboard powered boats in the islands - mostly cats. The problem is that you may become a liability to other boaters and government rescue services. Be sure your life insurance is paid up.
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Old 06-08-2008, 14:54   #15
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I have to say I personally would never encourage someone in a boat like that to make this passage with little experience. But that is just me. I think the thread is beginning to drift from Janice's original question.
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