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Old 25-03-2010, 13:38   #1
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I Need Tips on BVI to Panama in July/Aug

Looking at buying a charter boat to be released in BVI in July/Aug. How easy is it to sail to Panama from BVI at this time of year. The full plan is to go thru the canal and up to Golfito. I have no passage making experience in Caribbean and this is hurricane season, right. So is this a reasonable plan? Thank you.

Eric
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Old 25-03-2010, 16:26   #2
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Eric,

It's about 1,000 nautical miles on the rhumb line from the Virgin Islands to Panama. This passage would take the average cruising yacht about 8-11 days. Typical conditions are strong winds from the eastern quadrant, heavy seas, and a favorable current.

You're right: July/August is hurricane season. While warnings are very good, it's perfectly possible for a dangerous hurricane to form in just a few days. This wouldn't be a good thing, to say the least.

I think you'd be better off to wait until November or December to make the passage, but you might get away with it in a July/August timeframe.

Equally important consideration: it's not an easy passage. It's a rough one. You would need to be sure that your new boat is truly up to the boisterous conditions you're likely to face. A boat just out of a charter fleet in the BVI could require some months of preparation for such a voyage, IMO.

Bill
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Old 25-03-2010, 16:44   #3
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Will second everything Bill said. First I would be very hesitant to take an untried boat, right out of charter, on a trip that far without spending a good bit of time checking it out. How old will the rigging be on the boat? Will it all be replaced or just checked for obvious problems and sent out?

Once you leave, to turn back would be very difficult. If you have any problems or breakdowns the only option would be to detour a long way off course to find a stopping place.

The winds could be boisterous and you are toying with the start of hurricane season. A system can develop in days and if you are in the wrong spot you will be in the middle of it.

Spending some time prepping the boat and waiting for hurricane season to wind down might be a good idea.
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Old 25-03-2010, 17:44   #4
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Very good advice from the previous posts! We all tend to be pesimistic when asked these types of questions in hopes that a degree of caution will be excerised. You might have a great time.

However.

Once clear of the VI's there is no safe refuge until Panama. If you decide to go back to the VI's, it's all up hill.

Boats in charter are maintained for day sails and sailed by customers who 1) are on a steep learning curve, or 2) don't care because they have no long term interest about the boat. Expect a period of refitting.

June, July and into Aug., hurricains can develop in the central Caribbean Sea and travel northward, ie. they form without warning.. Not to beat a dead horse but this is an El Nino year, so caution is preferred.

Keep us posted and where in the PNW are you located?

John
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Old 25-03-2010, 18:18   #5
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You could consider island hopping south then leave from Trinidad/Venezuela and stop at Cartagena/San Blas.
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Old 25-03-2010, 21:36   #6
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Yes, dana-tenacity has the wisest route. Sail to Virgin Gorda; if all still works, do an overnight to Guadeloupe (facilities available); next overnight to Martinique (again good facilities). If there are no problems and no tropical wave with lots of turbulence is on the way, you can decide to cut off the "Trinidad corner" and make the passage to Curacao (again, facilities available). Once in Curacao, you are much safer because you are south of the path of most hurricanes. If all is well you can shoot for Colon in Panama and you can divert south to Colombia if the weather forces you.

I would do this in June or July but not in August to end November. The later in the season, the more dangerous it gets because hurricanes can form off the coast of Costa Rica or Nicaragua. The early hurricanes come over the Atlantic so you get fair warning.

We once sailed from the Virgins to Grenada in August and we had tropical storms and a hurricane warning. Not funny. You're also very alone everywhere.

About the weather in between hurricanes: it is actually much better (lighter) than in the winter. Stay well off the coast of Venezuela and Colombia because that is where the ITCZ with all the thunderstorms come from.

Panama is the only hurricane-safe place in the Caribbean.

cheers,
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Old 25-03-2010, 21:54   #7
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Thank you for the advice

Thank you all. As I suspected this would not be simple. I don't think I will do this. So what do folks do when they take delivery of a phase out charter boat in July in the Caribbean. Are there safe places to hide in BVI til December and hope nothing comes your way? Put it on the hard til then? What about insurance?

Once again thank you

Eric
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Old 25-03-2010, 22:18   #8
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to panama

do yourself a favour and travel via Cartagena Columbia, fabulous walled city with masses of history and beauty. we travelled up the chain from Guadeloupe to puerto rico, then south to cartagena, up through san blas islands to panama.
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Old 25-03-2010, 22:28   #9
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Don't buy it in july , make them keep it till say nov. That way they have to deal with any storms that come up. Spend nov refittng and day sailing to try out the boat.

They want you to take it in July to save them the expensie of caring for the boat over the summer season, with all the storms.

If its a good deal now it still will be in Nov. Have hear many stories about how they strip the boat of new items and toss on old stuff, like heads etc after teh pictures and berfore you pick it up, so just fair warning as always be careful of what you buy with out being there to see it.
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Old 25-03-2010, 22:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallyhorob View Post

If its a good deal now it still will be in Nov. Have hear many stories about how they strip the boat of new items and toss on old stuff, like heads etc after teh pictures and berfore you pick it up, so just fair warning as always be careful of what you buy with out being there to see it.
I once took a ham radio course with a couple who had their boat in charter. When they went to the Caribbean to take it out of charter, the serial number on the engine didn't match their records.

But then I have a friend who bought a large new motorhome and found out that the warrenty was invalid because the serial number of the transmisssion didn't match the manufactures records.
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Old 26-03-2010, 01:22   #11
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I will tend just to the boat question, not the season question because the last time we were in a hurricane area - Great Barrier Reef 2009 - we were pumeled by a cyclone. So don't be a goose and call the weather gods down on your head.

We bought an ex-sunsail boat in St Martin and sailed it direct to Panama in 10 days and had a wonderful time with NO breakages, NO preparation other than buying one piece of rope as a replacement for any line failures (yep, we were on a budget!), and a few spare hose clamps, one which was needed prior to leaving. The main had some UV damage which we had mended prior to leaving for $150. The sail was fine and we still use it, in fact its just done the Red Sea. We have a new one which we will bend when we get to Turkey

We have had no major breakages or failures, and precious few minor ones in 25,000nms and all the equipment is stock standard Sunsail still! All our add ons havent upgraded the boat itself from original.

So, form our experience, if you buy well, and sail conservatively (not like a saturday race around the bay) your charter boat straight out of decommissioning will be fine and safe for you, your family and 10 glorious days maiden voyage across the Caribbean!

Have fun! Its one of the best, easiest passages you will ever do!


Mark
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Old 26-03-2010, 01:27   #12
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P.S. Next time we would (as sugested in other posts) stop in Cartagena and the San Blas Islands.... oh, stuff it.. we would stop at every island, town and sandy beach on the way
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