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Old 19-11-2015, 12:09   #1
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Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Hello,
Panning on transiting the canal this spring and heading to florida. When I left Los Angeles I managed to find a Chart Book with the whole coast from Washington to Panama for $99 I believe. Now, I'm struggling to find a similar product for the Caribbean. Is there such a thing? Or must I buy all the individual sections?

Also, does anybody have experience/advice for the east coast of Central America/Yucatan Peninsula? Any thoughts on Wx during May and maybe into June?

Thank you
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Old 19-11-2015, 13:24   #2
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Re Wx. April-May is the most stable weather. June is transitional, but unlikely to have any tropical activitiy. No tropical activity in Panama of course, but you still get rainy season.

Re Charts. Navionics (electronic charts) is reasonably accurate in most places, very accurate in some, and a good price for S USA/Carib at about $59 IIRC. Add cruising guides for more detail and info on specific areas.

Ive lived/cruised the E coast of Central America for over a decade now. Happy to answer any specifics. Other knowledgeable folks here too.
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Old 19-11-2015, 20:33   #3
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Awwsome news on june wx.
After my INav disappeared off of my ipad halfway down Mexico, I definitely believe in always having paper charts, So still looking for advice on that.

If it's okay I'll send any local questions your way.
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Old 20-11-2015, 01:02   #4
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claryce35 View Post
Awwsome news on june wx.
After my INav disappeared off of my ipad halfway down Mexico, I definitely believe in always having paper charts, So still looking for advice on that.

If it's okay I'll send any local questions your way.
Check with Bluewater Books & Charts, they can set you up with paper charts. They do print on demand as well as b&w copies of NOAA charts (I have a full set of these for the W Carib as backup).

Be happy to answer any local questions too.
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Old 20-11-2015, 08:51   #5
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

You will die from storms, rough seas, and horrible currents. Or at least that is what you will feel like. That is a horrible trip to make. If you really had lots of time, might find going along the Spanish Main via Columbia and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean might be easier if not more interesting; then come up inside the windward islands. Anytime after June you run into hurricanes or near hurricane winds, brutal thunderstorms, and of course our good friends the drug pirates.
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Old 20-11-2015, 10:36   #6
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

@reed
Going east and then north was my original plan, but after looking at the pilot charts, that trip along Columbia and Venezuela looked pretty brutal. And I certainly don't have time to go all the way around this season (not if I intend on enjoying myself).
The pilot charts going north from the canal look like favorable winds and currents. Have you made the trip or just basing on hearsay?

I still haven't looked at proper charts, but the maps do look pretty shallow, and the coast of Nicaragua looks pretty shoal ly .

What's with these currents n rough seas? is it bottom related?

And these drug pirates? They be robbing cruisers often?
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Old 20-11-2015, 12:09   #7
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

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Originally Posted by Claryce35 View Post
@reed
Going east and then north was my original plan, but after looking at the pilot charts, that trip along Columbia and Venezuela looked pretty brutal. And I certainly don't have time to go all the way around this season (not if I intend on enjoying myself).
The pilot charts going north from the canal look like favorable winds and currents. Have you made the trip or just basing on hearsay?

I still haven't looked at proper charts, but the maps do look pretty shallow, and the coast of Nicaragua looks pretty shoal ly .

What's with these currents n rough seas? is it bottom related?

And these drug pirates? They be robbing cruisers often?
We did the southern route back in 82, late summer in order to avoid hurricanes. Its rough but also lots of ports to duck into in case things get out of hand. Not sure what the current pirate situation is. Back then they usually just killed cruisers rather than torture them to death. Still, it was a doable probability. Shoals, swamps, and no real dependable navigation aids. Did the northern route coming back. Hit bottom a lot, but then we drafted almost 7 feet. Only a big problem during storms when waves can hollow out the seas right down to the bottom if your near a shoaling coastline. The whole Caribbean is shallow so waves get slab sided during storms and the frequency is really short. For a small boat, its an endurance test. Be sure to take anti barf meds with yout.
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Old 20-11-2015, 16:01   #8
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claryce35 View Post
@reed
Going east and then north was my original plan, but after looking at the pilot charts, that trip along Columbia and Venezuela looked pretty brutal. And I certainly don't have time to go all the way around this season (not if I intend on enjoying myself).
The pilot charts going north from the canal look like favorable winds and currents. Have you made the trip or just basing on hearsay?

I still haven't looked at proper charts, but the maps do look pretty shallow, and the coast of Nicaragua looks pretty shoal ly .

What's with these currents n rough seas? is it bottom related?

And these drug pirates? They be robbing cruisers often?
Stay WAY off the Nica & Honduras coasts, lots of security issues there.
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Old 20-11-2015, 18:00   #9
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re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 20-11-2015, 19:10   #10
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claryce35 View Post
@reed
Going east and then north was my original plan, but after looking at the pilot charts, that trip along Columbia and Venezuela looked pretty brutal. And I certainly don't have time to go all the way around this season (not if I intend on enjoying myself).
...
Most go N and then E. There are some threads here already discussing the options.

Getting a bit E first can get you better wind angles. For example, San Blas or Cartagena.

I am planning on trying Cartagena to Caymans next year, but my final destination is Guatemala so I can just fall off if the winds don't cooperate to make the Caymans.

Colemj, member here, did San Blas to Jamaica last year and then up the Windward Passage to Florida. Lots of waiting on weather windows and motor sailing to do this. Any destination further E than Jamaica will be a serious bash to windward.

Going much further W is not uncommon....Porvenir, then on to Belize/Mexico and over Cuba to FL. One advantage of this route is that there are many great cruising stops and places to leave your boat so you could break it up and get to FL as time permits.
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Old 06-12-2015, 20:19   #11
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Can anyone out there help out a noob???
Looking for a FREE downloadable ENC of the western caribbean, with detail of the coast and ports. i seem to have found everything, including Cuba, but no luck with the WC!
Thanks in advance!!
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Old 07-12-2015, 17:31   #12
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

Free & legal, none that I know of. Free and pirated, CM93, but hard to find now that Jeppsen Marine has started enforcing their copyright (or so Ive heard).

Relatively inexpensive: Navionics on Android, more expensive on some other platforms.
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Old 07-12-2015, 18:00   #13
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

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And these drug pirates? They be robbing cruisers often?
Often and they are not pirates. Opportunist fishermen with rusty guns is more like it. They don't quite rate the definition of pirate but it's serious none the less. If you feel like taking the chance go for it but don't complain when they shoot your ass.
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Old 29-12-2015, 23:55   #14
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

If one was going to do this trip in January-March, would you go as far east as Caymans? OR???
where would you make the stops if you stayed to the West??
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Old 30-12-2015, 06:29   #15
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Re: Panama to Florida: Routes and Charts

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If one was going to do this trip in January-March, would you go as far east as Caymans? OR???
where would you make the stops if you stayed to the West??
Only difference in Jan-March is cold fronts. If you call your weather windows well, then these can be used to your advantage, if not....

See previous post on W route: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/....php?p=1967396

From Panama: Porvenir (my fav)/San Andreas and several smaller cayes around that area, Vivarilllos, Bay Islands, Rio Dulce, Belize...are all common stops.

Also, review Pilot Charts for seasonal shift of the Trades.
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