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Old 20-09-2012, 17:59   #1
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Galveston to Belize

I am planning my first sailing trip ever, and am thinking Belize to visit the Mayan ruins. I know the gear I need and am working on the legal stuff. I'm also wanting to hear any advice or experience in sailing in the Gulf down Mexico and such. I hear the winds can be bad, but I have good experience in 40 mph winds more inland. I realize there is a difference out on Gulf with the water, but will it be much worse? Any info on anything appreciated, as knowledge is power!
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Old 20-09-2012, 21:57   #2
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Re: Galveston to Belize

What boat are you taking? I hope it's not your Catalina 22?

The problem getting there is that it's straight up wind. From Galveston to Isla, plan on a week. If you are lucky and can catch the tail end of a norther, and you don't mind have the crap beat out of you for a couple of days (northers are horrible in the Gulf), you can get some easting, making your last few days better than beating into a southeast prevailing wind.

This is NOT a trip for the faint of heart, nor is it a great choice for a "first trip". The Gulf of Mexico is possibly the nastiest piece of temperate water on the planet. The water is shallow, and the wave periods stupid-short. 6 or 8 feet at 5 seconds just plain sucks.

Oh, and let's not forget the tropical storms/hurricanes that can crop up in 24 hours.
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Old 24-09-2012, 11:27   #3
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Re: Galveston to Belize

I am planning on taking the cat22, though it is in good shape and was well taken care of by the previous owners. Dry docked and sailed in the Galveston area. My crew of 3 and I are the farthest from faint hearted, however I was planning on staying within sight of land the whole time to be safe. I also realize how crazy fitting 4 people on my vessel might sound, but my plan was to have pairs so someone could be at the helm at all times and not be sailing singlehanded. You saying that the whole trip is going to be that bad, or just parts of it?
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Old 24-09-2012, 12:27   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essail
I am planning on taking the cat22, though it is in good shape and was well taken care of by the previous owners. Dry docked and sailed in the Galveston area. My crew of 3 and I are the farthest from faint hearted, however I was planning on staying within sight of land the whole time to be safe. I also realize how crazy fitting 4 people on my vessel might sound, but my plan was to have pairs so someone could be at the helm at all times and not be sailing singlehanded. You saying that the whole trip is going to be that bad, or just parts of it?
How long do you expect this trip to take? How often do you plan on putting into shore? Will you be far enough off shore to dump your porta potti? How long will your water and other provisions last? Why are you concerned with allowing crew to single hand this craft, when help is within hollering distance?

These are the kinds of considerations that will determine if your expectations are realistic.

For me, four people on a 22 for a couple of weeks does not sound like fun.
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Old 24-09-2012, 13:44   #5
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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Originally Posted by essail View Post
I am planning on taking the cat22, though it is in good shape and was well taken care of by the previous owners. Dry docked and sailed in the Galveston area. My crew of 3 and I are the farthest from faint hearted, however I was planning on staying within sight of land the whole time to be safe. I also realize how crazy fitting 4 people on my vessel might sound, but my plan was to have pairs so someone could be at the helm at all times and not be sailing singlehanded. You saying that the whole trip is going to be that bad, or just parts of it?
Then by all means, drive with the trailer to key west, and launch from there with a lot of extra fuel. The gulf coast from TX to the yucatan is pretty rotten.
Going either way is going to take a lot of fuel, and kick the crap out of you in a catalina 22.

Once in the yucatan, it's no problem to sail to belize. Just getting there is going to suck.

count on over a month coast hopping down.
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Old 24-09-2012, 18:40   #6
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Re: Galveston to Belize

Realistically, your plan is ill advised. A 22 foot boat crossing the Gulf of Mexico (or, trying to navigate around the Gulf of Mexico) is a really, really bad idea.

Here's a plan for you to TRY out your idea. Sail from Galveston to Port Aransas. Stop in Freeport and Port O'Connor, as night stops. Once you get to Port A, turn around and go back. The thought of spending the night on a Catalina 22 on the Gulf just has me shaking my head.

THEN decide if this is what you really want to do.
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Old 24-09-2012, 19:47   #7
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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Here's a plan for you to TRY out your idea. Sail from Galveston to Port Aransas. Stop in Freeport and Port O'Connor, as night stops. Once you get to Port A, turn around and go back. The thought of spending the night on a Catalina 22 on the Gulf just has me shaking my head.

I'd not worry about the nights on the gulf.......I'd worry about the nights on the gulf with 35 knots of wind behind you and the seas mounting as you approached your destination in shallow water.

Last time we sailed from Galveston to Matagorda, the wind was nil along the galveston coast, and mounted to over 30 knots as the night wore on. Entering Matagorda we had roughly 6'-8' short period seas. The schnauzer was not happy.
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Old 24-09-2012, 20:52   #8
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Re: Galveston to Belize

In my younger more enthusiastic days I did a lot of sailing along and in the gulf in a 25fter with an outboard even 15-17mph wind will kick up a sea that you will not be able to make forward progress the prop will be in the air one second and the engine underwater the next!! and this was in mild conditions. You would have the safety of the ICW till you get to mexico but then what ??
Have you been in the gulf yet in that boat try that first
Had it not been for the icw my new wife at the time would have left me in Port A
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Old 24-09-2012, 21:08   #9
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Last time we sailed from Galveston to Matagorda, the wind was nil along the galveston coast, and mounted to over 30 knots as the night wore on. Entering Matagorda we had roughly 6'-8' short period seas. The schnauzer was not happy.
Reminds me of my first time thru the Matagorda Inlet. Near dusk, on an Endeavor 37. Out of no where, winds kicked up to 35 kts as we entered the jetties. We came into Matagorda Bay, found a partially protected anchorage, and spent the night going up and down about 6 feet! The catamaran about 300 yards behind us wasn't so lucky. The next day we found out that they spent the night on the bottom of their boat, IN the inlet.

The Gulf of Mexico is NOT a piece of water to toy with.
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Old 28-09-2012, 00:14   #10
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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How long do you expect this trip to take? How often do you plan on putting into shore? Will you be far enough off shore to dump your porta potti? How long will your water and other provisions last? Why are you concerned with allowing crew to single hand this craft, when help is within hollering distance?

These are the kinds of considerations that will determine if your expectations are realistic.

For me, four people on a 22 for a couple of weeks does not sound like fun.
Greenhand; I was thinking about 3 weeks or a month roundtrip, I'd go to shore any time it was nessesary, but not too often, I will have a desalination hand pump for water and provisions and fishing gear as well as a propane stove and electrical hot plate to cook on, and i want the crew because I enjoy sailing with them rather than myself and i think it will do well for moral on water and saftey on shore.

Sortorst; What kind of boat was your 25? And from your experience with that boat and your trips would you say you regret taking it out, or was it just a little to crazy for comfort?

Everyone else; Your advise is well taken into consideration. I will try and do a test run from Galveston to Port Aransas, that sounds best. I had heard mixed things about the Gulf, and it definitely sounds like its quite the nasty place.
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Old 28-09-2012, 06:38   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essail

Greenhand; I was thinking about 3 weeks or a month roundtrip, I'd go to shore any time it was nessesary, but not too often,
I think your timeframe is too short. A one way crossing with decent weather rhumb line Galveston to Isla Mujeres. Is typically 7 days. Your boat is smaller than average and you're talking the coastal route. Nonstop you might make it down there in three weeks.

Don't give up on this, but start with smaller distances for practice. Galveston to port A or even Galveston to Freeport are good practice runs
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Old 28-09-2012, 07:04   #12
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Re: Galveston to Belize

My last trip Port Aransas to Isla took 7 days. Return trip this past November was 5 days, but the last 60 miles was in a norther with 10-12' seas (anyway . Hugging the coast all the way might be doable in 3-4 weeks one way. As said earlier, it is pretty desolate from Brownsville south. Also, staying inshore in shallow water, you will really get bashed in any kind of weather. 4 people in a Catalina 22, Texas to Belize, a very bad idea, imho.
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Old 28-09-2012, 07:22   #13
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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Originally Posted by essail View Post
...
Everyone else; Your advise is well taken into consideration. I will try and do a test run from Galveston to Port Aransas, that sounds best. I had heard mixed things about the Gulf, and it definitely sounds like its quite the nasty place.
The Gulf is indeed potentially a very nasty body of water (I have many years of experience there). Localized weather and current conditions can make forecasting challenging. Forests of oil rigs. Lots of commercial traffic (seismic research vessels towing 6 nm of cables and sensors are especially fun). I've been in the Gulf in seas to about 30' and have been thankfully snug and warm at the dock listening to offshore reports of seas to 50' in the mid-gulf. Regardless of the boat, the Gulf should be treated with a great deal of respect.

April is on average the most settled month, but you can get intense localized squalls any time of year. Check out the Pilot Charts for the Gulf, but remember these are long-term averages so that they tend to smooth out intense weather events which are normally short lived.

LOA of the boat would not concern me so much as the fact that it is OB powered (so it will cavitate in any significant seas) and very lightly built (so it may not withstand repeated punishment in bad weather). There are plenty of very seaworthy small boats, like the Flika, which are appropriate for offshore use, but the Cat 22 is not. The upside is that it is trailerable. You could just drive it to Belize. Or, even better, ship it as deck cargo (for example, I shipped my Jeep to Guatemala for $750...way cheaper than I could drive it here).

Once you are inside the reef in Belize, the Cat 22 would be more appropriate. Except in severe weather you generally don't get more than a heavy chop inside the reef (although there are a some areas where you can get seas to a few feet in stronger sustained winds).

I have a friend who trailered his small boat down to Guatemala from the USA last year. I can probably hook you up with him if you want to discuss that option.

If your primary objective is to sail Belize in a small boat then I can help you arrange that without playing Russian Roulette in the Gulf (or transporting your boat).
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Old 28-09-2012, 07:56   #14
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Greenhand; I was thinking about 3 weeks or a month roundtrip
Running full time at your boat's max speed, this trip would take a week, one way. Conditions never allow anyone to run full speed full time. It will take you most of the day to put in, refuel and restock in a new town.

Quote:

I'd go to shore any time it was nessesary, but not too often, I will have a desalination hand pump for water and provisions and fishing gear as well as a propane stove and electrical hot plate to cook on, and i want the crew because I enjoy sailing with them rather than myself and i think it will do well for moral on water and saftey on shore.
An electrical stove? How many solar panels can you fit on your boat? Are they enough to recharge your battery, or just slow the discharge?

How many days worth of provisions can you carry?

How is the weight of all that gear and four crew going to affect the performance?

My question about single handing was not about going alone, but rather about your plan to have pairs on duty. It seems to me that everyone on board for a survival trip such as this should be capable of single handing the craft. After all, the rest of the crew is less than 20 feet away if you need to holler and wake them up.

These are all thing you will need to consider for even a few days along the Texas coast.
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Old 28-09-2012, 14:16   #15
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Re: Galveston to Belize

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
The Gulf is indeed potentially a very nasty body of water (I have many years of experience there). Localized weather and current conditions can make forecasting challenging. Forests of oil rigs. Lots of commercial traffic (seismic research vessels towing 6 nm of cables and sensors are especially fun). I've been in the Gulf in seas to about 30' and have been thankfully snug and warm at the dock listening to offshore reports of seas to 50' in the mid-gulf. Regardless of the boat, the Gulf should be treated with a great deal of respect.

April is on average the most settled month, but you can get intense localized squalls any time of year. Check out the Pilot Charts for the Gulf, but remember these are long-term averages so that they tend to smooth out intense weather events which are normally short lived.

LOA of the boat would not concern me so much as the fact that it is OB powered (so it will cavitate in any significant seas) and very lightly built (so it may not withstand repeated punishment in bad weather). There are plenty of very seaworthy small boats, like the Flika, which are appropriate for offshore use, but the Cat 22 is not. The upside is that it is trailerable. You could just drive it to Belize. Or, even better, ship it as deck cargo (for example, I shipped my Jeep to Guatemala for $750...way cheaper than I could drive it here).

Once you are inside the reef in Belize, the Cat 22 would be more appropriate. Except in severe weather you generally don't get more than a heavy chop inside the reef (although there are a some areas where you can get seas to a few feet in stronger sustained winds).

I have a friend who trailered his small boat down to Guatemala from the USA last year. I can probably hook you up with him if you want to discuss that option.

If your primary objective is to sail Belize in a small boat then I can help you arrange that without playing Russian Roulette in the Gulf (or transporting your boat).
As usual, well written. PLEASE take this advice.
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