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Old 08-08-2010, 13:36   #1
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From NOLA to Trinidad

Hey everyone,

Been lurking on cruisersforum for a few months now and am really soaking up the information.

I'm beginning to make plans for a trip a year from now, to sail from New Orleans, LA to Trinidad, island-hopping along the way. I'll hopefully be sailing a Catalina '34 with help (though single-handling it is a possibility if needs be), outfitted for coastal cruising.

As excited as I am, I'm wondering if this is possible. How long would it take to casually sail from New Orleans to Trinidad? A few months? I'm 26 years old riding this economic wave, so the time will be well-spent. A time to clear one's head and figure things out.

Can anyone comment on this sort of trip? Would continuing the circle be advisable (Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, etc.)?
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Old 08-08-2010, 14:23   #2
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It's very possible, sure. Forget the "few months" timeframe, though. You could do it in two in a huge hurry and incredible luck, unless you go the direct, offshore route. Even that will take you a month. Take your time and smell the roses.
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Old 08-08-2010, 14:53   #3
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Preposterous,

are you in Orleans or Southshore? I'm at Orleans.

BAB
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Old 08-08-2010, 15:22   #4
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@Drew: Initially, the idea was to sail leisurely to Trinidad and then back to the USVI for a season of bar tending/waiting tables/scuba diving, living off the hook. If I COULD make the loop leisurely, that would be fantastic. I've been warned by Preposterous Sr. that I might get lost in the Bahamian Out Islands...let us see.

@Easterly: Currently, the boat in question is in the slips opposite of Shubert's. Need to save some money until next summer, but planning on making the go in May/June (right during hurricane season!). Trying to get some contacts in the area, throw some ideas around.
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Old 08-08-2010, 16:04   #5
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Cool. Although right now that has to be the worst pier to be on...maybe one year they will finish the new levee wall and you won't have to walk so far from your car.

May/June? You've got bigger, ummm, somethings than I do. If I did that, with my luck, we'd have a hurricane that would dwarf Katrina. Despite that, I am very envious of your plans. Unfortunately, I woke up a few days ago and realized I'm 45 and have a lot of responsibilities. You are smart to be adventurous at your age while you can, wish I had done more back then.

I'll look for the boat next time I'm at the marina.
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Old 08-08-2010, 18:52   #6
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Preposterous Sr. is a wise man. Now if it was only legal to work there.
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Old 08-08-2010, 20:18   #7
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The sailing season in the Caribbean heading eastward is from November to July and it would take just about all of that to get to Trinidad. In each place there is so many activities to do while waiting for weather windows that you could expect leaving in November to be in Puerto Rico in April/May and then the rest of the time hurrying down island to Grenada or Trinidad to wait out the hurricane season.
- - The work in St Thomas is keyed to the cruise ship season which doesn't really get started until late November/December and ends in May. So you need to hot foot it north in November to get there and stake out your job. But in May when the cruise ship season ends you can take you time going back down island.
- - There are a significant number of young people living "on the hook" off Water Island and Long Bay that work the tourist business during the season. The going wage rate a couple of years ago was US$10/hr which is not enough to live on land unless you bunk with a few other young folks doing the same thing. Living on the boat is the only practical way to save your earnings so you can use them for cruising and hiding out during the hurricane season down island.
Leaving New Orleans in May is a major problem although you do have until mid-August at the latest to get to Grenada. So everything has to be perfect and you will need lots of close in good weather windows. I have actually done it myself leaving Florida in May and getting to Grenada by mid August - but I bypassed every island possible along the way.
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Old 08-08-2010, 20:46   #8
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@Easterly: Thankfully, the boat is next to the apartment complexes looking across at Shubert's. While over there, check out Pure Sex III, 44' of sailboat sold for 15K. Lots of salvageable parts (7K was for the dinghy). What do you know of that 31' Niagara in Orleans?

You bring an excellent point regarding hurricane season, I didn't think about it. I was so focused on getting out that...well. Damn. More time for the kitty.

@FSMike: No doubt. Dp you know how to apply for a work permit? Or is the work permit so ridiculously expensive it wouldn't be worth it?

I'm thinking long term plans (Marine Systems Programs), perhaps something that the average citizen doesn't have? Or maybe the only skills sought are medical?

@Osirissail: Would you suggest sailing through the Bahamas, T&C, (maybe Haiti) DR, PR to the USVI? Probably around August? That'll give me three months to get down there and situated. Do you know of the mooring situations in the USVI?

After the tourist season in the USVI, I could continue on my trek to Trinidad and Venezuela. Do you know what's the climate for sailors off the coast? I believe in Colombia, FARC is pretty active.
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Old 08-08-2010, 21:10   #9
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I haven't seen the 31 Niagara. I'm guessing it is for sale? I'll look for it when I go there next week to finish up a floor job. I'll walk over and look at the other boat as well. (I like walking around and looking at the various boat designs)

I got to thinking about it after my last post. Just save your money and figure out how far it will take you and get you home. If you find work along the way, hey, even better...your adventure will last that much longer.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:35   #10
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As to work permits - as a US citizen you will not be able to work anywhere except in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Work permits in other countries are complicated and expensive to obtain and normally only issued to workers tied to major corporations and their projects. So you would have to high tech/engineering/etc. experience and commit to a long term employment, etc. all of which is opposite of the purpose of cruising which is to travel and experience the cultures and explore the new places. Also in Puerto Rico you need to be fluent in Spanish to find work. So most minimalist budget cruisers work in U.S.V.I. - St Thomas for general employemnt/sales/service jobs; St John's for construction related jobs; and St. Croix for general employment.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:50   #11
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Assuming a small boat most under sail - get a copy of Gentlemen's Passages South by Bruce VanSant. It will give you the knowledge and suggested techniques for a small sailboat to make it from Florida to Puerto Rico. It is rather dated as to current services but the techniques of moving from island to island are valid for all the ages.
- - From NOLA you need to get to the eastern side of the Fla Keys either via the Marathon channel or down to Key West and around. Key West is of course a lot more fun and you can end up spending some significant time there.
- - From there you either go north in the Hawk Channel between the reefs and the Keys or ride the Gulf Stream north working across to the Bahamas. From Marathon or Key Largo you can cross to South Riding Rock or Gun Cay or Bimini - your choice.
- - Boats less than 34 feet cough up US$150 to enter the Bahamas ($300 if bigger). And then you can check in at Bimini or wait until you get to Nassau or Andros Island.
Absolutely - no if's or but's - get copies of the EXPLORER CHARTS for the regions of the Bahamas you plan to transit.
- - Crossing the Grand Bahamas Banks from your Gulf Stream entry point to NW Channel Light is an all day journey. From there you can head south to Andros and Morgan's Bluff (to check in) or east to Nassau and check-in. If you are checked-in and opt for Morgan's Bluff, you can run the eastern side of Andros for diving/gunk-holing - it is a major dive destination. Or head southeast directly to the Exumas south of Nassay/New Providence Island.
- - There is a serious amount of thing to see and dive/snorkel in the Exumas all the way to Georgetown, Great Exuma. There is a major cruiser community floating in the Georgetown area. From here east you are heading into the hinterlands of very small communities with minimal supplies, etc. Of course the more you get away from the population centers the better the diving/snorkeling.
- - A major detour is to head to Long Island/Thompson Bay and then south to the Jumentos Cays. Some really serious diving snorkeling in this chain of uninhabited islands.
- - Generally eastward tacking between Rum Cay - Crooked Islands - Samana - Mayaguana ends the Bahamas. Then Across the passage to the Caicos Islands and check-in/out at Provo. Here you wait for your window to head south to the Dominican Republic.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:56   #12
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Originally Posted by Preposterous
Dp you know how to apply for a work permit? Or is the work permit so ridiculously expensive it wouldn't be worth it?
As osirissail said, you don't need a permit to work in Puerto Rico or the USVI. You're an American citizen (at least, I'm assuming you are) and they are part of America.

In other countries, you cannot just buy a work permit. You have to be sponsored by an employer in that country. The alternative, of course, is to become an "illegal alien." That is, to work without a permit. The risk is that you might get caught. Most countries will only deport you in that case, but there are some that will jail you. I don't know what the penalties are in the various Caribbean countries, but I would find out before taking the chance.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:02   #13
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continuing - If you happen to be in the Caicos in mid November there is a one week window when the Trade Winds reverse and you can ride eastward all the way to Puerto Rico - downwind. All of the rest of the year you will now be heading dead into the wind and currents. Here is where you start to need your engine or outboard to push your way eastward against winds and waves. Tacking out and back is really non-productive as you end up getting into the major westward currents - it is more economically to hug the coastline and motor-sail.
- - From Long Cay in the eastern Caicos you cross to Great Sand Cay in the Turks and then due south to Luperon, Dominican Republic. You have to plan your crossing to arrive off the entrance of Luperon just AFTER sunrise to not later than 10-11AM. DO NOT attempt to enter Luperon in the dark - you will go up on the unmarked reefs. If necessary orbit offshore until the sun rises.
- - In Luperon you can get into serious trouble as a single young man. Everything is dirt cheap, the local ladies extremely accommodating and the parties never end. Just don't get any of the harbor water on you or you will get Duarte's Revenge something serious - the local Pharmacia has medicine to clear it up, but you will loose a week of partying.
- - Now you are looking for a day or two or three of very slack trade winds and waves. The you run at night (starting at just before sunset) along the D.R. coast making for Samana on the eastern end of the island in Samana Bay. ** Never check out of Luperon for Puerto Rico - no matter what your intentions - always check out for Samana. If you Check out for Puerto Rico you are officially out of the D.R. and if you stop anywhere or at Samana you have to pay for another whole Entry.
- - Samana is another very friendly place for a single young man. One of my friends holds the record for only three hours after arriving until hopelessly in love with a local lovely.
- - Again you will hole up there waiting for a weather window to cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. Pick a waypoint a few miles north of the eastern end of the Hourglass Shoals and cross at night aiming to be halfway at midnight. Then turn southeast to Mayaguez to check back into the USA or Boqueron and take Raoul's Taxi service back to Mayaguez to check in.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:21   #14
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continued - (I have a lousy wifi connection so have to do sections) - The south coast of Puerto Rico and Boqueron are major diving/snorkeling areas. Boqueron and anywhere in Puerto Rico on the weekends have some serious partying with ear deafening music. Think of standing behind a Boeing 747's engine at take-off power and double it.
- - The constant trades blowing 15-25kt and 5-8 ft waves along the south Puerto coastine is why Van Sant recommends and most cruiser do 20 nm jumps starting from sunrise to each next stopping point. Salinas - about 2/3rd's the way east - is another major cruiser port. Finally you round Point Tuna and enter the Virgin Islands and paradise. From here on it is really a divers/snorkelers paradise with more great places than can be listed. Puerto Rico is a major Spanish language island and although part of the USA, if you don't speak Spanish, job opportunities are very limited if non-existent. Once you get to the Culebra, Viegues and finally St Thomas the primary language again becomes English.
- - The two main worker anchorages in Charlotte Amalie are at the western side of Water Island and the eastern part of Long Bay. All the shops, tourist dives, stores and Cruise Boat activity is located in Charolotte Amalie. During the season, jobs are available in any area of helping the cruise ship passengers lighten the weight of their wallets. During a good season 2.5 million of them will get off the boats and spend, spend, spend. Up to 5 ships will be in port and once I saw 6. The more your talents go towards "people-pleasing" the more money you make. Generally you get a base salary and commission on sales/services.
- - Living costs are high but once you know where to drink and shop they are the same as living on the mainland USA if you are living on your boat. Only in the tourist sectors are everything double/triple priced. During the season there are major social interaction after work amongst the workers (you) and some serious opportunities to get into "trouble." But everybody is seriously focused on earning the maximum possible because in May it all stops - the jobs disappear and it is now time to head home or sail down island. The very "long-timer" sales/service folks can run year-round but for the vast majority it is little or no work until next season.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:38   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
. . . In other countries, you cannot just buy a work permit. You have to be sponsored by an employer in that country. The alternative, of course, is to become an "illegal alien." That is, to work without a permit. The risk is that you might get caught. Most countries will only deport you in that case, but there are some that will jail you. I don't know what the penalties are in the various Caribbean countries, but I would find out before taking the chance.
A very critically important point to remember. You DO NOT want to get "DEPORTED" stamped in your passport. That will end all your international travel opportunities until you get a new passport. You will be a persona-non-grata everywhere except in your home country.
- - And - while in a foreign country as a young person (party type) don't get into any fights, arguments, or "situations" with locals. You automatically lose or will be judged guilty as you are the "foreigner." Party Hearty - but keep one eye sober and on the furniture and others around you and don't provoke anything. Even if they start it, be docile, meak, and beat a hasty retreat away from the "situation" at "warp speed." Time and again I have seen young "turks" thinking they are back in the USA get thrown out of the country and their traveling aspirations ruined. The important point to remember is that you are the "gringo/foreigner" and you will absolutely lose any confrontation with a local citizen regardless of whose right or wrong.
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