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Old 11-11-2015, 20:36   #1
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References for route from USVI to Fla.

I am seeking recommended resources in the way of books, software, and hardware, for navigating a safe and fast route from St. Thomas to St. Petersburg, Florida, in early December. Id like to know what people might consider minimally necessary for knowledge of the course, currents, and hazards. Assuming the budget is limited to around a thousand dollars for all materials, but hopefully will cost far less, what would be in your navigation survival kit for this trip?
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Old 11-11-2015, 21:24   #2
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Nonstop in a hurry or stopping along the way? Huge difference in resources.

Nonstop it's really simple, direct route along the north coasts of PR, Hispaniola and Cuba, around Key West and north. You will have a boost from the Gulf Stream until you reach the Straights of FL where you'll hit a current from ahead. At that point I would hug the coast of the Keys to stay out of the current.

You can take a shortcut through the Keys and save a little time.

Minimum, buy a hand held GPS (I like the Garmin) and paper charts. A large scale navigation chart will get you there but charts of the islands along the way might be needed if you have to stop off for repairs or whatever.

Link below is for the Pilot Chart for Dec. Shows winds and currents.

http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...106/106dec.pdf
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Old 11-11-2015, 21:32   #3
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Thanks! Singlehanding so will most likely make some stops, but could do long stretches.
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Old 11-11-2015, 21:46   #4
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

From the nature of your questions and one previous post I get the impression you don't have a whole lot of experience sailing. Maybe I'm wrong but if I'm not have you considered getting someone to go along with you?
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Old 12-11-2015, 05:55   #5
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

You are correct, not a lot of experience. I am considering getting someone else, which would might be a safer condition, depending upon their experience and capability and how much I trust them - I'd hate to have someone on watch who falls asleep at the wheel. That might be a different thread, though - to keep the focus on this one I just want to know what the essential materials are for planning the route and sailing it.
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:54   #6
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

SKIPMAC has good advice in your situation it is what I would do.
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Old 12-11-2015, 09:20   #7
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CHuber View Post
I just want to know what the essential materials are for planning the route and sailing it.
The fact that you have to ask this question is what concerns me. This is the most basic Planning and Navigation 101 kind of information.

To kind of summarize the situation.

1. Some way to fix your position. Since the route I propose will be in sight of land most of the time basic Piloting and DR would work. I've made that route in the old days before GPS doing just that. Today GPS will make it easier but if you are totally dependent on GPS better have at least one backup.

2. Charts. Paper or electronic. There are arguments for either or both. I use GPS/electronic charts as a primary but keep basic paper charts for backup. You could end up blowing most of your budget on charts to cover all possibilities.

3. Planning. You will also have to carefully think about when and where you may or may not stop. Singlehanded, with limited sailing experience and I believe also a boat that's new to you, you should consider bailout options or emergency stops.

4. Routing. Direct route - shorter, faster but fewer options for stopping points. You can go further north through the Bahamas but there's lots of reefs, few if any lights or navigation aids and tricky navigation on that route.

5. Preparation. Is the boat totally ready?
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Old 12-11-2015, 09:26   #8
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

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Originally Posted by wesevans View Post
SKIPMAC has good advice in your situation it is what I would do.
===

I second that motion. Try to find another one or two people with experience. You not only need navigation and routing skills, but also weather management and international cruising protocols/procedures. Has the boat been thoroughly shaken down and does it have an inventory of tools and spare parts? There are a lot of ways to get into trouble on that trip and you need good preparation. The bible for that route is Bruce Van Sant's "Gentlemans Guide to the Thorny Path". Don't leave without reading it first.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:27   #9
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Asleep at the wheel does not just apply to the crew. If you don't have a good autopilot you are going to be asleep at the wheel the first night.

As far as navigation, a used netbook with a BU353 GPS and Opencpn will give you all you need for under $250.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:28   #10
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

I did this many years ago. It is from the book The Thornless Path, only in reverse.

There is a small harbour half way along the top of Puerto Rico, tied up there for the night. Then anchored off the west coast of the island and had a fairly bumpy ride to Samana. Then moved on and anchored in a bay on the top of the island for the night. Some soldiers came out and told me that it was not allowed, told them I had engine problems and gave them a couple of cans of coke. Then on to Puerto Plata, Turks and Caicos and day sailed all the way up to Miami. Maybe you could adapt this to your destination.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:31   #11
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

OP: much of the caution you are getting is warranted. It doesn't sound like you have a huge amount of experience (no problem with that, just stating what your questions seem to suggest). This is a strategically challenging trip, and while it's far from impossible for an inexperienced cruiser to do it, you could also get in a lot of trouble. On paper, it appears to be a simple trip, and, in fact, it could be if Cuba wasn't off limits (for now). So after Hispaniola, there is nowhere on your port side that you can stop, and it's a long way from there to either Key West or Miami (these are your only two options, since you must clear in, and Miami is off your course by a fair distance). Regarding your starboard side, unless you plan on sailing the deepwater passages to standard ports of call through the Exumas, etc., again, well off your course, you're going to have to navigate and stop on the Bahamas Banks. Charts or GPS or not, this is visual navigation, which is a heck of a challenge single handed, even when you haven't been underway for days.

I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying that this is a tactical trip, the challenges of which are not obvious from looking at a chart, and you should carefully consider what the others are saying.

Good luck! Pete
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Old 12-11-2015, 14:10   #12
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

BTW, to answer your initial question, at the very least in my opinion, a notebook or smartphone with nav software (OpenCPN is free, Navionics is very very cheap), a backup waterproof GPS (with or without marine charts) that can give you your position, small scale charts of the entire route, and large scale charts of anywhere you're going where the bottom might rise up enough to get familiar with your boat. For sure, you can do all of this for less than $1000. Pete
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Old 12-11-2015, 20:24   #13
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Responses and concerns very much appreciated and taken seriously; I am definitely rethinking idea of going solo, as well as being in a rush to make the trip immediately. I will look for alternatives.

I do have certification through ASA 106, and my nav 101 plan would be to get the relevant charts and do it the way I was taught, and I have had excellent teachers.

Basic research has also shown a variety of books, Van Sant the common denominator, but I'm hoping for some guidance to cut through the swarms of available references and tools, and establish a consensus on the best minimal set (I can't consume all of it), if such a thing exists. So far the responses have been consistent and useful.

I've used both paper charts and chart plotters around the VI's, but found Pavlidis, Doyle, and others valuable references, often more so than the charts, especially for anchoring.

What charts and GPS tools do not provide is the more esoteric expertise regarding certain places or strategies to avoid on this particular passage, especially human and other less tangible dangers. I'm also still very weak on the weather aspect of planning, and ASA training, in my judgment, has been somewhat insufficient there, so would appreciate pointers to any good educational and practical references, resources, and tools on that front, if you will.

Thanks again for responses, and anything else people can add. I am preparing for a solo RTW trip in a couple of years - will start some other threads along those lines!
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Old 13-11-2015, 11:11   #14
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

OK, here's mine.

I've never been there, but Haiti is generally avoided due to crime and corruption (apparently these are not the same, otherwise all of our politicians would be in jail). The DR is fine, the corruption is just a matter of $20 here and there. Cofresi and Luperon are the most popular stops on that route, I've been to both, and won't be going back to Luperon. Cuba, if you are a US citizen (I assume you are), is off limits unless you want to run the risk that DHS is in the mood to chase after you. That is everything on your port side. To starboard, again, you just have to take your chances with visual navigation. Don't be fooled because you have charts of the Bahamas banks, it's not like the US coastal waters where every significant rock is charted. In areas where there is 20' depth or greater, I think you can safely assume that most obstructions that would be relevant to your draft are charted, but much of the banks is much less than that, and you just don't know what isn't charted. I can't tell you much about the banks in that area from personal experience, I haven't stopped on the banks south of Nassau, just passed by. Hopefully you will get some input on potential good anchorage points and/or harbors from someone else for that part of the Bahamas. Good luck!!!
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Old 13-11-2015, 11:15   #15
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Re: References for route from USVI to Fla.

Oh, one more thing: you'll have both the current and prevailing winds at your back, perhaps dead aft, which is certainly better than 1000 miles of pinching the wind, but it can get rolly. Do not go without a boom preventer, and it would be best to have a whisker pole as well, ideally a drogue because we did a lot of surfing in the Old Bahamas Channel (and not on a surf board) and it caused me a few anxious days... Pete
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