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Old 03-11-2014, 09:57   #1
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Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Hi All,

Sailing new/used Beneteau 50 from Miami to St Thomas Nov 20 (weather permitting?).

In the interest in time, I'm thinking to head to Turks and Caicos (picking up 3rd crew) then turn left out to "I-65."

Am I crazy? Is the weather so much worse than in early November?

Thanks in advance for your honest advice.

Cliff
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:09   #2
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

I'm leaving next week via Bahamas, Turks, Dr and so on.....lots of weather windows but it can get chilly when a norther blows. Just have to watch where you anchor when a front blows through. Some of the common anchorages in the prevailing easterlies are death traps during a front..

...._/)
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:24   #3
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

My opinion, from the T&C you are pretty far south to go for the I-65 route. You are only a couple hundred miles north of the latitude for the VI and well into the trade winds zone. To reach 65W you would be tacking into the trades or taking a long tack so far north the extra miles would not be worth it.

If you have the time I would just wait for weather windows and island hop the rest of the way. Another option, make for DR and play the sea breeze/land breeze and run down the coast. My experience the land/sea breeze effect is often minimal but at least you're close to land and have a few options on places to stop when you get tired.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:50   #4
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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My opinion, from the T&C you are pretty far south to go for the I-65 route. You are only a couple hundred miles north of the latitude for the VI and well into the trade winds zone. To reach 65W you would be tacking into the trades or taking a long tack so far north the extra miles would not be worth it.

If you have the time I would just wait for weather windows and island hop the rest of the way. Another option, make for DR and play the sea breeze/land breeze and run down the coast. My experience the land/sea breeze effect is often minimal but at least you're close to land and have a few options on places to stop when you get tired.
i agree, enjoy your trip, don't beat to wind if it can be avoided.
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:06   #5
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Thanks guys,

If I head for the DR instead of I-65, how much longer will it take? I need to be in STT by Dec 20.

Have any of you done I-65 from Turks?

THANK AGAIN!
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:27   #6
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

I just measured again. Its about the same distance from Turks to STT...bouncing along the DR vs I-65 from Turks.

And why do people go through the Mona Pass rather than up over PR?
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:51   #7
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

There is an excellent discussion of the "Painless Route" to the BVI from Florida in the September 2014 Edition of Cruising World, commencing on Page 58. There is also a good discussion of the Track in the "Blog" (jeeze I hate that word) of Ocean Angel (see-click on- Begin the Voyage to the Caribbean | Sail with Ocean Angel ).

Going through Mona and along the south side of PR gives one relatively protected sailing with lots of places to stop.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:10   #8
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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Originally Posted by clifflyon View Post
I just measured again. Its about the same distance from Turks to STT...bouncing along the DR vs I-65 from Turks.

And why do people go through the Mona Pass rather than up over PR?

Going south side of PR puts you in the lee of the island so out of the strong NE trades and the swells that come with it. Get more of the land/sea breeze effect and, as was pointed out, lots of places to stop.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:11   #9
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

This time of year winds in that stretch are consistently E to NE. Right now on www.passageweather.com shows almost exactly NE. So to get to I-65 you can beat into it OR take the port tack which will point you towards the VI anyway OR the starboard tack which will point you north.

If you want to make the best of the I-65 option you should really head east from a point further north.
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Old 03-11-2014, 21:16   #10
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Skipmac,

How much further north? It's 800 miles if I sell east from Miami. It's 300 miles if I sell east from Turks.
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Old 03-11-2014, 22:14   #11
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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Skipmac,

How much further north? It's 800 miles if I sell east from Miami. It's 300 miles if I sell east from Turks.
In my experience you will be subject to the easterly trades if you leave from anywhere in Florida. Look at the pilot charts
http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...106/106nov.pdf
or look at www.passageweather.com.

Occasionally you will see some west winds from central Florida and north but not reliably. Others may disagree, but I really don't see that the I-65 route as a reliable option when leaving from anywhere in Florida. You will be beating against east winds whether you sail east to 65 W and turn south or if you run through the islands.

I don't see any advantage to I-65 once you are much south of Charleston so leaving from FL I would just go through the islands and enjoy the trip. You can wait for a front to pass through and try to catch the north and west winds it brings (but not crossing the Gulf Stream) to make some easting but be careful you don't get caught in one stronger than expected and get your butt kicked.

I've made the trip a few times from FL to the VI. When I had plenty of time I hung out and played the weather and sailed when conditions were favorable. Made easting when the trades were more NE or more SE and I had a favored tack or waited for a front to bring favorable winds for a few days. When I had to get a boat delivered on a schedule I just motor sailed and laid back only when the trades got really strong and it got very uncomfortable.

From Florida there's just no easy way to get to the VI.
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Old 03-11-2014, 22:20   #12
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

One more comment. Winter trades are generally a little north of east with occasional disruptions when fronts pass through.

From south Florida the course is a little south of east. So if the winds follow the typical patterns you will have a port tack that is very favored and will put you pretty close to your desired course. Much better option that trying to sail due east or even northeast to I-65
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Old 03-11-2014, 22:36   #13
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

Several years ago we left Lauderdale through the Providence Channel on November 15. Then went rhumb line to the VI, making east as much as we could whenever the wind went a little north. In the end we couldn't quite lay the VI and ended up in San Juan. From there just waited for the right window and made an overnight to St. Thomas. It wasn't the most pleasant passage I've ever made, but it wasn't bad. Going out the Providence leaves you much further north, and therefore a little better on wind angle than heading out through the T&C.
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:34   #14
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

So, you guys are saying just sail down the Leeward side of the Exuma's?



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Old 04-11-2014, 07:20   #15
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Re: Miami to St Thomas in late Nov. How bad is it?

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So, you guys are saying just sail down the Leeward side of the Exuma's?
Not necessarily. I'm saying take the best course based on the winds at the time, your schedule and the easiest/safest route for each leg.

If the winds are right and you want to make max time toward the destination then Dsandurils route through the NE - NW Providence Channels is sort of a modified I-65 idea. You're making easting at the beginning of the trip so you have a better angle toward the VI at the end.

However with the current winds, from Miami through the Providence Channel at least parts of that leg will be a dead beat against the wind.

My general idea would be to take any and every option to make easting. If the winds are NE then pick a course close hauled on the port tack. If a front comes through with north winds then haul ass due east or even a little north of east to give you a better angle when the winds come back to the east.

Then combine this with picking a course through the Bahamas. Could be through the Providence Channel and down the outside of the chain IE east of Eleuthera and Cat Island, maybe heading toward San Salvador. Or might work out better to turn south and head down Exuma Sound passing east of Long Island and on to the T&C.

When you're trying to make this trip with a schedule in this time of year you will just have to be flexible and pick what works. This should include blowing off the deadline for arrival in St Thomas if conditions are bad. Trying to meet a schedule is a common cause for grief.

Again, to really make time on this trip I usually resorted to motorsailing. Keep the main up sheeted in tight and run the engine at about one third to half throttle, a little more if conditions are calmer and you aren't bashing and crashing too much. Under this rig I could hold a course maybe 15 degrees off the wind so make really good time to weather.
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