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Old 04-04-2010, 23:17   #1
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Key West to Cancun Motor Yacht Route?

Hello All,
I want to make this (first time) passage in the next couple of months. Any suggestion? Right now I am planning to wait for good weather and go as the crow flys. I'll be running at 7 knots and hopefully under 1,500 rpm.
Thanks,
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:14   #2
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What is your fuel capacity and gallons per hour burned at 7 knots or your total range?

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Old 05-04-2010, 06:47   #3
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With a Carver (47 ft) you are definitely going to need some auxilliary fuel tanks/barrels. To avoid the main currents wrapping clockwise around Cuba you choices are to run the US Gulf of Mexico shoreline - which is a exponentially longer route, or cross to the north coast of Cuba and run underneath the main current stream.
- - Go on-line and look at some Caribbean currents data to see what you are fighting:
The Caribbean Current
The Loop Current
[** My old links to the US Navy website with Gulfstream and other weather maps accessible to the public has disappeared. Does anybody have any current links to the "navy.mil" weather sites?]
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:20   #4
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I'm estimating 6 gph and I carry 400 gallons naturally... Which should get me there, but, I'll carry an extra 100 gallons in plastic for a buffer.
Following the gulf is not a consideration. I'd like to know of there is a "best" path that motoryachts follow that provides the most enjoyable and thrifty passage.

Thanks for the links. The direct route from Key West to Cancun somewhat hugs Cuba where the current is less. I was wondering if heading to Havana and "then" following tight on the Cuban coastline was the ticket?
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:39   #5
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JRO, Our route took us due west from Key West to a point just north and slightly west of Isla, then south. This kept us out of the Stream in both the Florida Straights and the Yucatan Channel. The exact positions will depend on where the currents are when you leave the States. You will need to plot the distance on the charts and then calculate your fuel usage and give yourself some reserves. You will also be able to use the route close to the Cuban coast, there is a counter current there and the mileage will not be a lot different but you will be dealing with crossing the stream twice and the crossing of the Yucatan channel can be brutal, especially for a power boat. I am intimate with the Carver and you will need to watch your weather extremely carefully. This boat was not built for this kind of offshore use. Having said that, others have made this trip in boats of the same quality and construction.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:10   #6
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I'm estimating 6 gph and I carry 400 gallons naturally... Which should get me there, but, I'll carry an extra 100 gallons in plastic for a buffer.
Following the gulf is not a consideration. I'd like to know of there is a "best" path that motoryachts follow that provides the most enjoyable and thrifty passage.

Thanks for the links. The direct route from Key West to Cancun somewhat hugs Cuba where the current is less. I was wondering if heading to Havana and "then" following tight on the Cuban coastline was the ticket?
So you carry 66 hours of fuel with zero safety reserve. The rhumb line is ~350nm. What speed do you make at 6gph?
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:50   #7
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I cross and fish the Gulf Stream all the time and believe that weather is always the main factor when you want to influence risk and somewhat enjoy the trip. This passage is a 50 hour tug and if the best course is generally a coin flip I think I'd rather follow the coast of Cuba for the scenery and emergency anchoring options.
I was hoping that a couple of the many motoryachts that regularly cruise the Yucatan from Florida would chime-in.
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:22   #8
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So you carry 66 hours of fuel with zero safety reserve. The rhumb line is ~350nm. What speed do you make at 6gph?
1500 Rpm = 6 gal/hr = "9-10" knts/hr
Going down-wind against the current and good water I should average "6-7" knots/hr.
At an average of 6 knot/hr over 400 miles it should take 67 hours.
67 Hours using 6 gal/hr totals 402 gallons.
The boat holds 400 gallons naturally and I'll be carrying an extra 100 gallons in plastic.
I think my calcs are fat and safe.

That said... My question is, (based real route experience), what is the "best motoring route" from Key West to Cancun?
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Old 05-04-2010, 13:37   #9
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1500 Rpm = 6 gal/hr = "9-10" knts/hr
Going down-wind against the current and good water I should average "6-7" knots/hr.
At an average of 6 knot/hr over 400 miles it should take 67 hours.
67 Hours using 6 gal/hr totals 402 gallons.
The boat holds 400 gallons naturally and I'll be carrying an extra 100 gallons in plastic.
I think my calcs are fat and safe.

That said... My question is, (based real route experience), what is the "best motoring route" from Key West to Cancun?
Your calculations look good. You should make it in ~60 hours @ 6knots, leaving you with ~20 hours of fuel as spare. I haven't done the route, but plan to next year from SW Florida, so I'll stay north side of the loop current as long as possible.
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Old 05-04-2010, 20:22   #10
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You are calculating only a 25% reserve fuel - 100 gal in drums versus 400 in your tank. Since you will be crossing some difficult waters and currents, I would suggest a 50% reserve fuel - 200 gal. Should your main fuel supply get contaminated or clogged you could operate directly off your reserve drums and safely get back to a harbor. Also adverse winds or waves could require significantly higher fuel burn than planned eating through your 100 gal reserve in quick order.
- - The law of the "perversity of the universe" states that if you have significant extra reserves you will never need them. If you don't - Mother Nature will throw stuff at you to teach you who's boss. This also works for spare parts, pumps, and filters especially the expensive ones or difficult to find ones.
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Old 05-04-2010, 20:55   #11
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You are calculating ~~~. I would suggest ~~~.
The law of the "perversity of the universe" ~~~. Nature will ~~~.
Thank you for your concern, suggestions and advice. I too believe that it never hurts to have too much of everything.

That said... My question is, (based on real route experience), is there, generally, a "best motoring route" from Key West to Cancun?
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:01   #12
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Hi JRO,

Back to your original question, essentially two options in your situation, try to hug the Cuban coast and hope for a counter current or west until north of the Yucatan Peninsula then turn south.

Since US citizens are not supposed to actually go to Cuba and I think the ods of finding a counter current low I would chose the later option. I would head past towards the Dry Tortugas (good place to stop if you haven't been before) then take up a course that would put me just north of the tip of the peninsula.

The southern route along Cuba does have the benefit of keeping close to land for most of the trip. In case of a problem forget the rules and head in.

Good luck,

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Old 06-04-2010, 06:25   #13
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. . . That said... My question is, (based on real route experience), is there, generally, a "best motoring route" from Key West to Cancun?
Basically - No. You would use the most frequently used route by both sail and motor which is to head to the Dry Tortugas then southwest (2-2.5kt eastbound current) to join the the north coast of Cuba (12nm offshore) until Cabo de San Antonio then southwest to cross the Canal de Yucatan and its 1.5-2 kt northbound current. But you might consider starting the Yucatan crossing earlier than the Cape if you boat rides better with waves forward of the beam.
- - There are two "Traffic Separation Zones" along the route: one directly off the west side of Cabo de San Antonio and the other just northeast of the cape off Golfo de Gauanahcabibes.
- - Doing a "minimum crossing time" of the Yucatan Channel by trackng perpendicular to the current flow will probably put you abeam Isla Mujeres and your destination Cancun.
- - You can expect to be hailed or monitored by the USCG in the area from Key West to Havana and might want to communicate with the Key West USCG office to see if they still want a notification that you will be transiting the area between Key West and Havana on your way to Mexico. If they know you are there and what you are doing it might save the hassles of being boarded and inspected.
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Old 11-11-2016, 07:13   #14
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Re: Key West to Cancun Motor Yacht Route?

I know this an old thread, but I am also going to be taking a motor yacht from Florida to isla mujeres as soon as a weather window opens in December. Does anyone have an update on doing this passage this time of year. The boat is a Bertram 58' motor yacht it carries 1200 gallons of fuel, fuel range at hull speed of 9 knots per hour is 800 miles.
So my question is similar to the OP of does anyone have actual experience in completing this trip this time of year and what advice as to route do you have.

Thank you in advance.

Rob
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Old 11-11-2016, 08:52   #15
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Re: Key West to Cancun Motor Yacht Route?

Here try this to check on currents etc. We use this site all the time.

http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/newNCOM/NCOM_currents.shtml

Hope it helps
Will
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