Unfortunately most of the blogs are "adventure" stories and don't speak much to the nuts and bolts of getting from "A" to "B". Mostly because, unless something dramatic happens it is boring.
- - But a few suggestions that are not talked about doing the "Thorny Path." Be sure to have all your spare parts
and pumps and such on board before you leave Florida
. Getting anything thereafter involves enormous transportation costs, duties, and other assorted bribes, etc. - not to mention considerable time waiting around for the delivery
with little guarantee that the item will actually arrive.
- - Same with repairs
- a lot of places do not have very good, if any, repair facilities or mechanics so know how to fix your boat. Once you get east of P.R. repair facilities improve dramatically.
- - Be sure to get the Explorer Chart books
for the Bahamas
and the Wavey Line Charts
for the Turks & Caicos and Dominican Republic
- - Expect the worst sailing of your life from the Turks and Caicos
to the D.R. and then onto Puerto Rico
and along the south side of P.R. to the Virgins. With rare exceptions, unless you are really prepared to wait for an infrequent great weather
window, you will smashing and crashing and bashing your way east. Mostly under power so be sure that your engine
supply is adequate for multi-day continuous operation.
- - It is strongly recommended that you have high davits
or on-deck storage
for your dinghy
. There are some nasty seas involved and towing a dinghy
not only slows you down and increases fuel
burn but you can easily loose the dinghy in the rough seas.
- - Mentally be prepared to leave the mindset of the continental USA and enter the "3rd World" mindset of few, if any rules. Generally if the locals cannot extract money
from you they don't eat. They don't steal but are very creative at conning you and/or expecting "tips" for any and everything. It is a great help if you can speak Spanish.
- - Have the best guide books
you can get and of course, Van Sant's big book - and read it.
- - Once you get east of Puerto Rico
are very deep and having a lot of chain and a heavy anchor
- preferably a couple of different types will make your nights less worrisome.
- - Make sure everything inside the boat is secured or held in place by doors or bunghy cords. I have found that buying
a couple of the large packs of Walmarts/K-marts super cheap
washcloths/hand towels and use them to stuff and prevent rattling is great while underway.
- - Have a very large, if not whole deck
, awning for your boat when anchored. The sun down here is brutal and keeping the boat cool is nearly impossible without a good awning.
- - Once you have survived the passages to Puerto Rico, the passages further down island are almost all daylight hops with only a few exceptions. Compared to the trials and tribulations of getting from the Bahamas to the eastern side of Puerto Rico, you will now be in sailing "paradise."
- - Security
- be sure your have a good system to lock your hatches and other access points to the boat while you are ashore. Also a very long chain or "life-line" cable lanyard to lock your dinghy when ashore. Make sure the outboard
is chained to the dinghy. Padlock system mounted on the transom screws don't work as they can be broken free with a large screwdriver. The by-word down here is "Lock it or lose it." Stainless steel
padlocks are the best (expensive) and all bronze/brass the second best types. All the others quickly rust and stop working.
- - There are a hundred other hints and helps for making your journey a joy rather than an ordeal and I am sure others will suggest some more. The idea is that if you have thought of and are prepared to take care of these "little" things, then your journey will be all about having fun rather than recovering from one disaster or another.