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Old 04-11-2014, 07:40   #16
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Skipmac,

I cannot thank you enough for your Thoughtful And thorough advice.

You are an amazing resource. Please feel free to add additional thoughts as they come.

Two weeks ago, I did a shakedown cruise from Miami to marsh Harbour. The winds were easterly 20 to 25 kn. It wasn't so bad. But the waves were definitely speed killers.

We did try motoring as you describe, in the wee hours of the first night and gave up Eventually and went back to sailing.




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Old 04-11-2014, 07:56   #17
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Why do people warn against the Silver Bank?


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Old 04-11-2014, 08:17   #18
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifflyon View Post
Why do people warn against the Silver Bank?


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Silver Bank and the Navidad Bank. Both more or less on the course from south Bahamas or the T&C to the VI. Unmarked, unlit, mostly underwater but awash in places and shallow enough to smash a sailboat. Also in an area where currents might set you a bit north or south of your course leaving you a little uncertain of your exact location.

At night you could be on these reefs before you know it. Even in the daytime if you aren't standing a close watch there's a risk.

Back in the olden days before GPS I was always a bit nervous until I was well past those banks. Would set a course to give them a wide berth, 15-20 miles at least and still worried and at night would alter course another few degrees just in case.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:06   #19
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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Why do people warn against the Silver Bank?

Missing Silver Banks could be a big mistake!
Silver Banks is one of the biggest whale calving grounds in the Atlantic. In late November the place should be spudding with happy mothers and squeaky kiddlins.

Also you could become a billionaire as Silver Banks is also one of the graveyards of the Atlantic. Back in the Spanish galleon days the ships would leave the Spanish Main (todays Venezualea, Columbia and Panama) and head to Cuba to resupply before heading to Spain. A simple run except for Silver Banks. Along the east edge of the banks the water shallows from its normal 20 meters to drying reef. Busted treasure ships abound! But if you do find GOLD you have to guve it all to the T&C government... But you are a billionaire for the time between digging it up and giving i away
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:51   #20
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Whales! Cool. Thanks for the heads up Mark.

I love this forum!
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:17   #21
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

After some thought, looking back on the many things I've read, I've come to the conclusion that people don't like to sail upwind/close hauled.

It's my favorite point of sail. Maybe because I am a lifelong one design racer.

I suppose this contrast was the source of my concern over the nearly unanimous warnings about sailing upwind.


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Old 04-11-2014, 10:21   #22
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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After some thought, looking back on the many things I've read, I've come to the conclusion that people don't like to sail upwind/close hauled.

It's my favorite point of sail. Maybe because I am a lifelong one design racer.
I did Key West to St Martin in one hit. 13 or 14 days upwind. It was fine.
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:24   #23
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Mark,

With no stops? 24/7?


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Old 04-11-2014, 11:56   #24
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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Mark,

With no stops? 24/7?

No stops. 13 days, 1,400 nms. Easy. Well, slow but easy, and a bit frustrating at times.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:34   #25
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

This article suggests that Miami is a good departure point for the I-65 route:
Tor Pinney's Homepage - A Cruising Sailor's Homeport

I'm guessing that Skipmac would disagree though. I'm sure it all depends on timing.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:02   #26
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

I will be taking my Lagoon 420 from George Town, Exuma to St. Thomas, leaving (hopefully) between Dec. 1 & 5. I want to arrive in St. Thomas by Dec. 14. My preference is to sail east of San Salvador and then make my way east north east, east, south east, or even south as the weather permits, favouring winds and weather that get me east to I65, to hopefully catch easterlies to the Virgin Islands. I'm ready to motor sail, but prefer sailing. I hope a front will pass before I leave so I don't have to beat into easterlies to get past San Salvador. I expect to make between 120 to 150 mm a day.
We may be doing this passage at the same time. I will have an Iridium Go device allowing me to send and receive emails and texts, and will be able to monitor the weather from Passage Weather and Weather 4D. I don't have SSB. Is there a way we can communicate on this passage?
Kevin
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:20   #27
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
This article suggests that Miami is a good departure point for the I-65 route:
Tor Pinney's Homepage - A Cruising Sailor's Homeport

I'm guessing that Skipmac would disagree though. I'm sure it all depends on timing.
I wouldn't quite say timing is everything but could be a huge piece of it.

I have read Tor's article in the past and went back and looked at it again. Happen to correspond with him a bit on Pearson things since he has a 424 which a close sister-ship to the 422. I'll drop him an email and ask if he still recommends I-65 from Miami. If he does I will be happy to point out the errors in his logic.
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:39   #28
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

My opinion is, avoid the trip down through the Bahamas or T&C at all costs. Note the post by Dsanduril, recommending that route but saying it's "not the most pleasant passage"). If you want a quick, safe and pleasant passage, wait for a system (they come through the South Florida regularly at this time of year) and sail to the Abacos. From there, head as much east as you can comfortably make -- say, N to NE. That is tough mentally (it being the wrong direction) but physically easy. As you go north the wind will become more variable, even possibly blowing N or W. That makes it easier to get to around 065 E. Turn right. You'll be in St. Thomas (or anywhere else in the Caribbean you want to go) before you know it.

If you do go down the Thorny Path, duck under Hispañola when you get to it -- the south side is much nicer cruising than the north side, with lots of protected stretches and good anchorages.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:40   #29
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Hi Akka,

In general and in theory I agree with most of your suggestions but have to add some comments based on my experience making the trip a few times.

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My opinion is, avoid the trip down through the Bahamas or T&C at all costs.

I wouldn't say at all costs. If you have plenty of time it is a very pleasant trip with lots of places to visit and gives you the opportunity to see some of the islands that are off the beaten path. If you're in a hurry and other options present themselves then by all means go the other way.

Note the post by Dsanduril, recommending that route but saying it's "not the most pleasant passage"). If you want a quick, safe and pleasant passage, wait for a system (they come through the South Florida regularly at this time of year) and sail to the Abacos.

An excellent strategy but not always reliable. First, the further south and east you go fronts will be less frequent and the impact on the trades winds less. Also, the wind change is typically only a couple of days or so then you are back in the NE trades. Probably don't need to mention this point but just in case, I would be very careful making the initial departure from FL during a front. Could get rather boisterous in the Gulf Stream. Further out not so much.

From there, head as much east as you can comfortably make -- say, N to NE. That is tough mentally (it being the wrong direction) but physically easy. As you go north the wind will become more variable, even possibly blowing N or W. That makes it easier to get to around 065 E.

All generally correct except Nov trades are frequently a bit north of east. This has two impacts on the trip. If the trades are NE then you will have a very favored port tack to take a course almost direct to the VI. Also, with the trades north of east if you take the starboard tack to make east for I-65 you will be sailing more north than east.

Looking at the math in very round numbers. Direct course Miami to VI 1100 miles. Due east from Miami to 65W 900 miles then 500 miles south to VI. So if you are able to sail due east from Miami you only add 300 miles to the trip. But if you have to sail north of east you could be adding 400-500-600 miles to the trip.

Turn right. You'll be in St. Thomas (or anywhere else in the Caribbean you want to go) before you know it.

That's the payoff once you get to 65W.

If you do go down the Thorny Path, duck under Hispañola when you get to it -- the south side is much nicer cruising than the north side, with lots of protected stretches and good anchorages.

Have done this route and it was pretty good. Was sailing from Panama to the VI in winter. Crossing the Caribbean was pretty rough but once we got close to the south coast of Hispaniola it was almost calm. What a relief.
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Old 05-11-2014, 11:18   #30
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

One other stray thought, pay attention to the weather forecasts and late season hurricanes. I know, most will scoff, but have a look at Kate in 1985 (I had an up close personal look from the inside on the deck of a sailboat). She reached hurricane intensity in the southern Bahamas on Nov. 16 and peak intensity (Category III) on Nov. 20 between Key West and Cuba. Not wanting to be a scaremonger, Kate was the latest hurricane to ever make landfall in the US, just a reminder that even this late in the year we can be on the tail end of the season.

Sea surface anomaly charts for the current period show the northern Caribbean/tropical Atlantic as being 2-3 degrees warmer than typical, which is similar to the conditions that spawned Kate. Not a meteorologist, and don't pretend to be one, just think people headed down this route ought to have eyes open and pay attention to signs of abnormal activity.

Hurricane Kate (1985) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As for the Providence Channel route, we had a reasonable trip. Got out in the middle of the Stream, made some northing, then were able to hold port tack close-hauled through most of the passage. As others have said here, what's wrong with a little upwind work? Not everyone's cup of tea, which is why I don't give it a wholehearted recommendation, but I'd do it again if the weather looked right. On the other hand, lots of nice places to stop in the Bahamas if you have time and want to break up the trip a little.
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