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Old 02-12-2007, 19:15   #1
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Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

Would like to hear of anyone's experiences of sailing through the Windward Passage. I'm planning on going from the Bahamas to Panama but any information about actual experience there would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-12-2007, 19:38   #2
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Would like to hear of anyone's experiences of sailing through the Windward Passage. I'm planning on going from the Bahamas to Panama but any information about actual experience there would be greatly appreciated.
The Windward Passage can be pretty boisterous in strong trades.

I would not recommend trying to anchor off of the end of Great Inagua. It's a lousy, exposed, rolly anchorage. It may be best to watch for weather in Long Island. There is a very pleasant anchorage in the middle of the East side of the island.

You are just about as likey to find calm conditions in Windward Passage as windy. The seas can build up in that pass like any other pass.

I would recommend keeping up a good speed (motoring if necessary) through that area and stay mid-channel. The fisherman from Haiti have been known to harras the passing yachts that try to see shelter from the wind by hugging the coast.

Both times that I made that passage, I was approached by the USCG to see if we were OK. They asked if we had been approached by any vessels. I told them we hadn't. Although we did see several small boats attempting to intersept our course.

Jamaica can be a nice stop over, if needed.
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Old 02-12-2007, 21:13   #3
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In your passages through, what was shipping traffic like? When I went from Key West to Isla Mujeres it was like trying to cross the Interstate. At one time I had SEVEN ships in sight! Closest trouble I ever had was being overtaken by a small freighter in between Chinchoro Banks and the Mexican mainland at nighttime. In spite of having my running lights on and bridge to bridge communication via VHF he came within 150 of my starboard quarter.
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Old 04-12-2007, 14:51   #4
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In your passages through, what was shipping traffic like? When I went from Key West to Isla Mujeres it was like trying to cross the Interstate. At one time I had SEVEN ships in sight! Closest trouble I ever had was being overtaken by a small freighter in between Chinchoro Banks and the Mexican mainland at nighttime. In spite of having my running lights on and bridge to bridge communication via VHF he came within 150 of my starboard quarter.
The only ship that I saw in the Windward Passage was a USCG Cutter. Then again, it had blown 30+kts the night before.

I tried anchoring off the end of Great Inagua and decided to take my chances in the channel. It was unbelievably rolly. Just before we got there, someone flicked a switch and the wind literally stopped.

We motored on to avoid the fisherman from Haiti. They will row out 20 miles to try to board or beg from a passing yacht. We saw a lot of them. The CG Cutter came along side just after passing the Peninsula to ask if we were harrased by them. I said that we were motoring at 7kts and they weren't a problem.
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Old 15-11-2014, 14:35   #5
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Re: Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

How feasible is it to put in at Santiago de Cuba en route to Jamaica (either Port Antonio or Kingston)?
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Old 15-11-2014, 15:55   #6
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Re: Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

I did it back in April, 2010. I was crewing for imagine2frolic (an old member here-now deceased). Once through the Windward Passage, John dubbed it the "windless passage". Maybe just lucky that time? A few pics from that trip - Cruisers & Sailing Forums - RTB's Album: Sailing-NE FLORIDA to CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

We left Miami, sailed to the Jumentos, and through the Windward Passage, heading for Panama. The trades weren't playing nice, and we ended up in Cartagena, Colombia. No lack of squalls on the Carribean south of the Windward Passage in the springtime, apparently. Some of them quite fierce.




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Old 15-11-2014, 15:58   #7
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Re: Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

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I did it back in April, 2010. I was crewing for imagine2frolic (an old member here-now deceased). Once through the Windward Passage, John dubbed it the "windless passage". Maybe just lucky that time? A few pics from that trip - Cruisers & Sailing Forums - RTB's Album: Sailing-NE FLORIDA to CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

We left Miami, sailed to the Jumentos, and through the Windward Passage, heading for Panama. The trades weren't playing nice, and we ended up in Cartagena, Colombia. No lack of squalls on the Carribean south of the Windward Passage in the springtime, apparently.

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Nice photos. Thanks for the info.
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Old 15-11-2014, 17:44   #8
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Re: Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

Can't speak to the windwards. Just left San Juan for Morocco on the 27th of Oct. had strong tradewinds 25 to 35 kts on the nose, @ about 80 true. Don't know how they are now.
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Old 16-11-2014, 17:59   #9
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Re: Info on Sailing the Windward Passage

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In your passages through, what was shipping traffic like? ...
Near the Cuban coast there is a charted traffic separation scheme. There can be a lot of traffic in there, but it runs N-S so you can parallel it rather than cross it. We sailed to the E of it so saw traffic, but did not cross any.

Windward Passage can have a gap wind effect and sea state seems more irregular. When we sailed thru, systemic winds outside were about 25 kts, increased to 30+ in the WP.

Just as I was thinking how nice it would be to visit Cuba again, we were checked out by a Coastie 'copter. Big Brother is watching.
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