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Old 06-03-2011, 03:21   #1
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Help required, St Lucia to Bahamas..

The plan is to head St Lucia from Canaries or Cape Verde in December 2011. Then, head north to leave Caribbean towards Bermuda, latest beginning April 2012. On the way I want to make Dominic Republic (Boca Chica) , Turks and Caicos, La Habana Cuba, Bahamas. The last port should be somewhere where I can make the preparations for the return to ensure safe passage back to Europe. The boat is Orana 44 ft cat. Questions are:

-Barbuda Anguilla was on the plan, but I will have to beat and the route is some 200 nm longer vs. directly cutting from St Lucia to Boca Chica. Should I still stick to this plan or directly head Boca Chica ?

-There are many small islands beetween St Lucia and up to Anguilla. I 'd love to see them all on the way but checking in and out every time is a waste of time and money. (holding a Turkish passport, most places require also a visa.. ) Can I anchor in any of them without clearing and without putting my feet on land ? How serious are the authorities on this ? Or at worst, can I take shelter if the wheather gets worse ?

-Safety is a major concern. Is there any spot I should definately skip ? Or other spots that I should consider ?

-Would USD (or €) do the job or shall I exchange money every time ?

-What is the likelyhood of getting really bad weather and sea in this season in the caribbean ? Bad weather = > 35 knots of true and swells exceeding 10-12 ft.

-Any comments, suggestions, thoughts ?

Thx a lot..

Yeloya
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Old 06-03-2011, 13:20   #2
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Re: Help required, St Lucia to Bahamas..

Yeloya:
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-Barbuda Anguilla was on the plan, but I will have to beat and the route is some 200 nm longer vs. directly cutting from St Lucia to Boca Chica. Should I still stick to this plan or directly head Boca Chica ?
Antigua and Barbuda is very pretty and worth seeing, both for the empty beaches and the frigate birds. I don't know how difficult the visa would be for you, but the British islands tend to treat Customs and Immigration much more seriously than the French.
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-There are many small islands beetween St Lucia and up to Anguilla. I 'd love to see them all on the way but checking in and out every time is a waste of time and money. (holding a Turkish passport, most places require also a visa.. ) Can I anchor in any of them without clearing and without putting my feet on land ? How serious are the authorities on this ? Or at worst, can I take shelter if the wheather gets worse ?
Checks on sailboats in the Caribbean islands are very sporadic, the only active checks I've seen are in the Dutch islands of St. Maarten/Saba/Statia. There is an international agreement regarding the "right of innocent passage" and using ports of refuge, so it is possible to island-hop and anchor overnight and not go ashore and thereby conform to the letter of the law. But you will have to present your departure papers from your previous port when you clear in and it might cause issues if you take 2 weeks from Guadeloupe to St. Martin. I would have thought that you could get a visa for the EU/Schengen countries and thereby have easy access to the French islands (which are all nice to visit)

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-Safety is a major concern. Is there any spot I should definately skip ? Or other spots that I should consider ?
Not in your proposed itinerary, although one should always be a bit careful of petty thievery

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-Would USD (or €) do the job or shall I exchange money every time ?
The Euro and US$ are the currency for many of the islands, the others have an EC$ which has a fixed exchange rate to the US$; they will accept US$ in those countries but at a terrible exchange rate for you, so I would go ahead and get some EC$ for use at restaurants, bars and for smaller purchases, otherwise a credit card is a fine internationally accepted means of payment.
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-What is the likelyhood of getting really bad weather and sea in this season in the caribbean ? Bad weather = > 35 knots of true and swells exceeding 10-12 ft.
The Christmas winds, which signal the change of seasonal wind direction, can give you 20-25 knots for a while, but otherwise you'll have 15-20 knots and wind from a generally eastern direction. I've just spent 4 months in the Caribbean and had two periods of a week where the wind was uncomfortable and I stayed in the harbours.
Waves can get bigger, the last 2 weeks have had 3 meter swell but at 10 second periods so it wasn't uncomfortable. Usually it will be 4-6 feet at most and your travels won't be upwind so the wave effects are minimized somewhat.
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:50   #3
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Re: Help required, St Lucia to Bahamas..

Hi Zanshin,

Thx a lot for the info. Meanwhile I checked yr website and got some very useful info for my upcoming trip..

Regarding visa issue, Schengen is no problem for me, but Noonsite is stating that Schengen wouldn't work for Martinique, St Barts, etc. you need a specific visa and in advance..Skipping British or Dutch island is not a big issue any way...
I was told that most of the islands don't care much about visa issue (as well as in general check in and out procedures) if one on his own boat..
I would hate to wait, queue up or wait for people for inspection, pay a fee, etc. for visiiting some small islands, unless it's really worhted. So I will skip anywhere this procedure is taken too seriously..

Cheers

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Old 07-03-2011, 05:38   #4
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Re: Help required, St Lucia to Bahamas..

That's what I'd call a whirlwind schedule, Yeloya! Too bad you won't have time to really enjoy a relaxed visit to many of the islands in the Lesser Antilles.

Zanshin's addressed your questions well (as usual), so I'll only add a couple of things. Here's a website that will help you get a handle on clearance procedures for many of the islands: https://www.eseaclear.com/PAN/index.cfm The system works, but not always perfectly. Also, you can get some info from Chris Doyle's website, though buying his two guides to the Windward and Leeward islands will give you all you need to know about each island in the chain, including sailing directions and sketch charts of anchorages. Here are some links to check out. You can find visa requirements in them.

NEW APIS REGULATIONS

Caribbean Islands

Noonsite: The global site for cruising sailors

Everyone has their own preferences for cruising grounds, but I have to say that I much prefer the Leeward and Windward islands to the Bahamas or Turks & Caicos. Finally, I think what I'd do given your proposed itinerary is plan to end up in Ft Lauderdale for final provisioning and any fitting-out work prior to shoving off for the trans-Atlantic return leg. I certainly wouldn't pick the Bahamas for the final provisioning stop.
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Old 08-03-2011, 14:26   #5
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Re: Help required, St Lucia to Bahamas..

Hi Hud,

I am bit surprise to hear that Bahama wouldn't be the most appropriate option for final provisioning stop towards Europe. I thought most yacht were doing so..Actually, noonsite is saying that Nassau and Freeport have good facilities. Moreover, the winds and the currents seem to be favorable for sailing from there to Bermuda or even directly to Azores.

Ft Lauderdale can be an option but if not, what is the other alternative (s) ? Since I will be sailing from Cuba (La Habana) wouldn't it be worse to go back against easterlies for another destination ??

Cheers

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