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Old 11-10-2018, 16:36   #1
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Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

I know itís been done before likely ad nauseam, however Iím looking for suggestions as to where and when. We will leave mid Nov. to the Bahamas and head South with the goal of likely being out of the Hurricane zone to the South, maybe Grenada? By the end of July.
We have not done this before, where would you leave from and where would you check in at? When does the Northern Bahamas get too cold and the Northers etc so you have to leave etc.
Initially I was going to skip the Abacos and start in the Exumaís, but am hearing that the Abacos are fine in late Nov, early Dec?

Iíve only flown to the Bahamas before, and only is Summer diving.
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Old 11-10-2018, 16:43   #2
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Hello friend,

There are more cruising guides and books about going to the Bahamas from FL than I have seen for anyplace else. Amazon sells many.

Others may be more excited to share their experiences, but its pretty laid out in the guides. Enjoy your cruise!!
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Old 11-10-2018, 17:15   #3
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

I have created a free Illustrated Guide to the Best Books for Bahamas Sailing and Cruising.

It includes suggested cruising guides, chart books, guide books, and more. It is based on what I have chosen for myself, after considering the advice of many Bahamas cruisers.

It is a work in progress (and still in early stage of development), and I will add much more to it over time. It already includes some of the most important things.

I hope you and others find it helpful.

Best Books and Gear for Bahamas Sailing and Cruising – GlobalAdvisor
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Old 11-10-2018, 18:06   #4
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Enjoy your trip. Looking forward to learning from this discussion
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Old 11-10-2018, 19:35   #5
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Youíll be doing the thorny path, which can be difficult, particularly between Turks and Caicos and the Leeward Islands as youíre heading dead into prevailing souíwesterlies. If you really want to get south of the hurricane zone by June I would not dawdle in the Bahamas. Once you get to the Northern Leewards getting south is much easier.

Bruce Van Sant has a book ďThe Thornless PathĒ that has some good strategies for making the trip easier.
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Old 11-10-2018, 20:14   #6
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Unless you are planning to do the I65, then buy Bruce Van Sant's book. Its pretty much the bible on the "Thornless Path".

Personally, I would be looking to head south of Georgetown by late March at the latest. That will give you lots of time to get into the island chain and still enjoy some islands while making Grenada by the end of July (if you don't get caught in chicken harbor, Luperon DR).
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Old 12-10-2018, 01:09   #7
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

You could cruise the bahamas until you're ready to swear off palm trees forever. I think it depends how much you want to get south of the cane belt year one. My plan was to go from Fl to Guyana in a season but ended up in the bahamas for 9 months and just scratched the surface.

A tricky thing if you're trying to get south. As was said you really can't dawdle, but that's a shame. Just plan the route but don't get tied to a schedule. You spend years cruising the US east coast, then, when you finally make it to the islands you gotta boogie boogie. I couldn't do it
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:34   #8
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Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

I have every cruising guide there is and the Thorny path.
It seems most of all of the the majority of the books is the same repetitious stuff, covering banks, what to carry, how to act, price of beer etc.
Not so much of how and where and when to cruise.
The Thornless path alone is over 300 pages, I guess Iím wanted a condensed version, but looking for advice like donít dwaddle in the Bahamas.
I expect to motor a lot, I figure that is inescapable going South and I know it will be bashing to weather, that seems to be our normal mode of travel.
But yes, Iím pretty set on being out of the zone of possible, I have an aversion for Hurricanes, have survived three, by mere luck of not being there. Panama City is our home port for example.

If anything is going to ruin cruising for me, itís stress from Hurricanes
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:53   #9
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

All the islands in the Eastern Caribbean have their charms, each one unique in what it offers. The passages between them are straightforward daysails, with the exception of the passage from the Virgin Islands to St. Martin, which pretty much has to be an overnight trek. I would plan to hit each of the islands in the chain, spending at least a few days on each one. Some favorite stops for us are Prince Rupert Bay on Dominica, Ile de Saintes off the coast of Guadeloupe, Soufriere on St. Lucia, and Bequia in the Grenadines.
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:57   #10
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have every cruising guide there is and the Thorny path.
It seems most of all of the the majority of the books is the same repetitious stuff, covering banks, what to carry, how to act, price of beer etc.
Not so much of how and where and when to cruise.
The Thornless path alone is over 300 pages, I guess Iím wanted a condensed version, but looking for advice like donít dwaddle in the Bahamas.
I expect to motor a lot, I figure that is inescapable going South and I know it will be bashing to weather, that seems to be our normal mode of travel.
But yes, Iím pretty set on being out of the zone of possible, I have an aversion for Hurricanes, have survived three, by mere luck of not being there. Panama City is our home port for example.

If anything is going to ruin cruising for me, itís stress from Hurricanes
Alright.. Here is my advice based on our Thornless Path run.

1. Ensure you have both Explorer and Wavy line charts.
2. Out of the Bahamas sometime in March (early if weather allows)
3. You may get lucky and have a weather window to skip T&C, if not you are crossing that bank. Wavy line charts are important here.
4. Do not daudle in Luperon. Its easy to get sucked in, as the next passages are the some of the worst.
5. Plan the Mona passage carefully. She can be a lion or a lamb. You can stage from Samana, but that will make a 24 hour passage to Puerto Rico. There is a fantastic marina there that was very cheap. It also makes checking out very easy.
6. West Puerto Rico is famous for lightening strikes (ask me how I know). I would not stay any longer than I have to on the west (especially Boqueron).
7. Welcome to the "Caribbean two step". One step forward, two to the side. If you make USVI by May, then take some time to enjoy the islands. Maybe spend a week in the BVI.
8. The Anagada is a terrible piece of water (often called the Ohmygada). Instead, do a multi day offshore run shooting for Kitts & Nevis or better Guadaloupe. Yes you are skipping islands, but can hit them next season on the way up.
9. Once you hit Martinique, then you are less than a 24 hour sail from south Grenada. Move at a pace that is comfortable to you. The Grenadines are fantastic and shouldn't be missed.
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Old 12-10-2018, 10:18   #11
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

November is when many people leave because they assume hurricane season is over. South to the Caribbean via the Bahamas from SE United States is known as "The Thorny Path". Personally, I'm not a fan of hanging out in Bahamas any longer than I have to is because it's windy, windy, windy ALL the time. That, to me, is irritating. Making quick work of the Bahamas isn't great either because it costs well north of $300 to enter. Finally, once you've gotten to the Southern Bahamas, you're heading SSE to Turks n Caicos. I kind of like TnC but, once you leave, you're in for a long upwind slog to get east of Hispanola (or you can head to the D.R. another wonderful place). In any case, yer going to have to get East and it WILL be long and upwind. Finally, you'll leave the North Atlantic and enter the Caribbean.

On the other hand...

You could avoid the upwind slog against the tradewinds and go directly east to Bermuda well north of the Horse Latitudes. Then, head due south on port tack (broad reach) all the way down the meridian at 65 degrees East longitude to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands. That way, it's downwind the whole way and you're in the Caribbean 10 days after leaving the US.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:15   #12
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
The Thornless path alone is over 300 pages, I guess Iím wanted a condensed version, but looking for advice like donít dwaddle in the Bahamas.

I know more than a few people whose extended cruising plans have been postponed by a year because they got stuck in the Bahamas, or T&C, or Luperon, with literally no weather window to proceed. And the first two are expensive places to get stuck.

If youíre not planning on coming back north, and have not spent time in the Bahamas and DR it can be tempting to linger, but the rewards of hustling through them are great; more dramatic environments (at least as far as the Bahamas go), less crowded, better sailing. You can always hit them up when you finish your circumnavigation, where reaching them will be easy.

You could easily spend a month or more on every island you visit in the eastern Caribbean, so itís all a compromise anyway. If you prefer tourist mode, moving in with more frequency, then itís less of an issue.

I would not underestimate the brutality of bashing to windward under power, into 15-20 knot trades. Itís far worse in reality than it is hypothetically.
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Old 12-10-2018, 16:55   #13
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Skip the "Thornless Path" it is not thornless. I have done this route in January & February and it is a PITA.

Sail towards Bermuda until you get to 65W that it what people are referring to as I65. Then turn south.

If you want to visit Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas do them on the way back. Then the wind will be behind you and the passages will be easy.
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Old 12-10-2018, 17:11   #14
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Re: Help Us Plan Our Eastern Caribbean Trip

Go west if you want to dive and be free of hurricanes. Once you make Belize, you're safe.
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