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Old 16-01-2010, 11:58   #1
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Panama to New York - December, 2010

Dear cruisers,

We hope to arrive from Chili in Panama by october/november 2010.
We expect the trip from Panama to Florida to be a difficult one.
Of course there will be many answers to this subject. But we would like to develope some thoughts and tactics this way.

Thanks in advance.
Peter Visser
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Old 16-01-2010, 13:24   #2
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Old 17-01-2010, 22:29   #3
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You arrive at a time that doesn't give you a relaxed schedule if you want to be out before the re-inforced trades hit.

Go through the Canal (assuming you arrive on the Pacific side ;-), put the boat in Shelter Bay Marina (come get a beer aboard Jedi so we can speak some Dutch again ;-) and provision the boat all the way to the gunnels. Sail for the San Blas where you should stick around the Cayos Holandes waiting for a good window to shoot north. You get a good angle from there. There's stops on the way if you like but your provisions should be enough for getting to Florida.

I would skip FL or at least south FL. Customs and immigration there think it's courteous to harress cruisers so I would not make a US entry south of Ft Pierce. You can visit the Abacos before US entry.

ciao!
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Old 18-01-2010, 08:29   #4
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Hi Nick,

Thanks for the info.
We will sure like to come and see you over a Heineken.
Visited your website to admire your beautifull Sundeer. The weather program is also nice.

We'll keep in touch.

Peter
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Old 18-01-2010, 08:31   #5
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By the way.
Did you mean we should be earlier then October before the reinforced tradewinds.
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Old 18-01-2010, 08:39   #6
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By the way.
Did you mean we should be earlier then October before the reinforced tradewinds.
Peter, I would say you want to be leaving Panama Nov 1st. Any earlier and you run a hurricane risk (its still possible to have a hurricane in Nov but much less likely); and any later and you run into stronger trades.
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Old 18-01-2010, 09:14   #7
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Well Nick, you must have hit a bad day with US Customs. I have cleared into S FL many times and never had a problem. I have usually cleared as a US citizen but came back from a sail/dive trip to the Bahamas with a group of friends that included 3 US citizens, one French, one Danish, one Belgium and one Brazilian, some US residents, one student visa, two left the boat in Bimini and one joined there. This required an actual trip to US customs office and a lot of paperwork. The officials were patient and polite throughout.

I think the problem is more the bad luck in getting a grouchy agent on an off day rather than the entire S FL Customs offices.

Regarding route, I would work my way up the coast of Central America and then hop from Mexico to Florida. This will give you plenty of places to stop and wait for weather windows. On the last leg to FL you will still be against the regular trade winds but can pick the weather and will also have a couple knots boost from the Gulf Stream to make easting and still have a couple of possible stops to wait out the weather like the Dry Tortugas, Key West or for non US citizen you can also stop in Havana.

Good Sailing.
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Old 18-01-2010, 20:50   #8
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Coastal hopping is the way we would do it too because we want to see everything ; it's the reason we travel. But somehow I got the feeling that Peter is looking for a more direct approach to getting there and the coastal route means counter currents, sometimes unfavorable winds and even some security concerns.

The current and wind is the top reason for starting from Cayos Holandes. First waypoint would be near (east of) San Andreas / Providencia off the coast of Nicaragua. Later, instead of going downwind to the Yucatan, you can make a more northerly course, stay in the good currents and skirt the SW point of Cuba without ever getting the wind forward of the beam.

About FL customs: you were US flagged... all foreign flagged yachts try not to enter in south FL because of the vast number of horror stories. It's not the grouchy agent unfortunately, it's their aggressive nature and complete disrespect for visiting yachts. There's hope though, the last couple of years we noticed a change for the good at the south FL airports (which were really bad too) so I think someone sent them to some training course in politeness and we can only hope the seaport officials are sent there too.

cheers
Nick.
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Old 18-01-2010, 21:29   #9
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\]
About FL customs: you were US flagged... all foreign flagged yachts try not to enter in south FL because of the vast number of horror stories. It's not the grouchy agent unfortunately, it's their aggressive nature and complete disrespect for visiting yachts. There's hope though, the last couple of years we noticed a change for the good at the south FL airports (which were really bad too) so I think someone sent them to some training course in politeness and we can only hope the seaport officials are sent there too.

cheers
Nick.
Well that's just a rotten way to treat guests. Sorry to hear yachting visitors to S FL are treated so poorly, especially since I live here and money spent by tourists keeps my state taxes down.

I cannot imagine why the bad attitude in S FL only, unless the management for that region support it. Hope you don't judge the rest of us by what you see from a few petty bureaucrats.

Depending on how late in the season and how the trades looked I might still prefer the Yucatan route, even if I didn't plan on stopping. If the winds aren't too strong and with not too much northerly component you could go for the Windward Passage then have a fair wind and current for the US east coast. Of course no where to stop on that route until Jamaica but you could always bear off towards the Yucatan Passage if plan A got too rough.
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Old 23-01-2010, 18:09   #10
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I think that's a sensible way to do it. I've been considering that myself with a stop in Jamaica if we were getting to tired beating into a strong NE-ly.
We don't mind beating a bit but 5 days might be a bit tough.
I did Virgins to Saba once and then to St-Maarten and that was OK for a day or so.

And with regard to the authorities. We've been in South America for three years. Need I say more??

Thanks everybody!
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Old 23-01-2010, 20:47   #11
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One important issue that has not been mentioned if you plan to travel up the east coast of the US in November or especially December. You are dealing with winter storms off the US and extremely cold conditions as well as Gales and Storm conditions in fronts and systems coming off the coast and they can be spaced every few days in those months. WG
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:38   #12
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About FL customs: you were US flagged... all foreign flagged yachts try not to enter in south FL because of the vast number of horror stories. It's not the grouchy agent unfortunately, it's their aggressive nature and complete disrespect for visiting yachts. There's hope though, the last couple of years we noticed a change for the good at the south FL airports (which were really bad too) so I think someone sent them to some training course in politeness and we can only hope the seaport officials are sent there too.

cheers
Nick.
I clear Customs and Imigration at Port Everglades several times each year , always with foreign flagged or undocumented vessels. I never had any problem since I take the trouble to comply with all the procedures and I never play the complaining smartass "everything is simpler and more sensible in Europe" , "I've been is many countries and never had to do this" ,blah blah blah type.
I have heard of , and seen personally , some of those "horror stories". They happened because the hapless cruisers not only didn't know or follow the procedures in time but think it's a good plan to argue with the authorities and make their case for failing to comply. Customs have a book , they stick to it, you be a proper captain and do the same and you will never have a problem . As to courtesy , they are as likely to be courteous as any Customs officer anywhere in the world and at least here they will not ask for bribes.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:00   #13
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Good to hear it's better now... but between the lines I understand that they still aren't friendly ;-)

I know what you mean about the skipper's attitude and we see that happening everywhere we go... but I can assure you that this wasn't the problem in south FL before. It's just that they acted like they were at war with the visiting yachts and being a friendly skipper was just suspicious in their eyes.

Our last entry in FL was last year by plane in Ft Lauderdale International airport and we were met with smiles on the faces of the immigration officials and we were stunned! The whole atmosphere in that room with all the boots had changed to one of happiness and feeling welcome as tourists.
The year before that we were at the same airport and were met with faces that only showed they were bored and didn't really want the job they had. Everything went slow, the people in the lines were tired of waiting standing and all the faces were sad.
Before that it was 2003 at Miami International airport so a big gap but they were outright hostile; so much so, that my parents who traveled with us, were shaken by the experience and they aren't luxury spoiled because they survived the Nazis and hunger during the war in Holland. But after a couple of days in the FL sun they were okay again... until a guy in a small and fast Key West patrol boat (coast guard??) aimed his tripod mounted 50 caliber machine gun at us while speeding by. We were very happy to leave that area, too many guns and angry faces ;-) I know that it probably just is the wrong place for honest sailors to go but we were still naive then.

Added to that was the often hostile attitude of the people living in houses along the shores of south FL. You find that in all the threads about anchoring rights etc. I remember we were anchored off Key Biscayne and the only two places we were allowed to land with the dinghy were the public marina (far far away from the shops) and a piece of land owned by a church. Everywhere else we were met by red angry shouting faces and/or guns. That piece of land owned by the church was right next to a school with a fenced yard where the children played. We had to walk along that fence (on the other side of it) and that was enough for people to call the police. One was brave enough to approach us and ask if we were there to kidnap children. He was kind enough to tell the police it was "false alarm" and they even waved to us every time we passed after that. These people live in constant fear and/or jealousy. Probably the price they pay for having so much money and their urge to show it.

well, enough ranting for today! ;-)

ciao!
Nick.
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