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Old 30-03-2009, 08:35   #1
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Relocating from Chesapeake to St. Thomas, VI

We are permanently relocating our boat (Jeanneau Prestige 46) from the Chesapeake to St. Thomas, VI. Planning on leaving the Bay in the first week of June and taking about 4 weeks to get to St. Thomas.
Taking ICW to Florida, Bahamas, Turks Caicos, Dominican, Puerto Rico, St Thomas as the rough route outline.

Just would like to draw on the boards experience on stops from the Bahamas to St. Thomas. Readsing a lot of posts and forums, cruising guides etc to plan stops along the way, however would prefer hands on recommendations on must make destinations and "safe" (quality) fuel stops. We have a 300 mile plus range but will try to keep "long" range stints to 150-200 miles to not over burden the crew. Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Dominic
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Old 30-03-2009, 09:14   #2
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Hello, Dominic.

I've done the passage from the Bay to the Virgin Islands three times, but always preferred to "get it over with", and so took the offshore direct route, which took 9 to 11 days. I understand that long upwind and up-current trip from the Bahamas to the VI can be punishing to both boat and crew. But many have done it, and the winds should be much lighter in June than the Fall and Winter, when most head out for the islands.

I'm sure you'll get some responses to your questions here, but you might also want to dredge around in our archives. Try the Google search feature in the small pull-down menu up top, on the right. Typing in "Thorny Path" will get you a lot of returns, for starters.
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Old 30-03-2009, 10:02   #3
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I believe your 4 week timetable is wildly optimistic. The ICW to Miami will take you 3 weeks minimum from Norfolk. Miami thought the Bahamas to Turks and Caicos is another week minimum and T&C to BVI is at least one more week minimum. This assumes NO waiting for weather, or repairs or layover rests, which is highly unrealistic. Even pushing hard, I would bet on your time being closer to 2 months than 1 month.

In the Bahamas you would generally check in at Bimini then go on to Nassau. From Nassau you can jump to Georgetown (perhaps stopping at Staniel Cay, Exuma Land/Sea Park or another Cay on the way down.
We did Georgetown to T&C (Provo) direct in 3 days...so any stops would lengthen that. From T&C you have another day hard on the wind to make Luperon or PuertoPlata (new marina) in the DR.
From Luperon, if you get a good weather window you can make Puerto Rico in 3 days of 24x7 cruising. Otherwise you need to find a good weather window and some very unprotected north shore anchorages in the DR until you get to Samana which is a rough place but good anchorage to rest and wait for a weather window to cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. I recommend heading straight for the south shore rather than Boqueron in PR...and instead pullling into Ponce which is just a 1/2 day further on and provides easy customs and immigration and is a great city.
From Ponce...you can make the BVI's in 24 hours of sailing with a good forcast but you also have the option to stop off in the Spanish Virgins, (Culebra) and/or St. Thomas.
The one point I would make is that at ANY time of year you will be hard on the wind and straight into the seas for 600 miles once you turn the corner at the T&C's. You may THINK, "no big deal...I have a big boat and a good engine" but my 52 footer had to hunker down for 4 weeks from Provo to BVI as it was impossible to go to windward under sail or power given the wind AND the waves. A GOOD day will be 15-20 knots and 6 footers on your nose. In March those come along infrequently. In June they will be more frequent but don't underestimate the need to just stay put along the way due to weather.
If you only have a month I would recommend going offshore as Hud suggests.

If you go the Thorny Path..get the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas. Pavlidas's Guides for Bahamas/Turks and Caicos...which have charts to cross the T&C banks and for Luperon...and also his guide for PR.
The Maptech/NOAA charts for PR are fine and we used the Wavy Line chart for the DR which I didn't like much but which was the best available. Not sure if there is anything better today. VanSants "Gentleman's Guide" gives good sketch charts for some of the north shore DR anchorages as well as for some of the stops between Georgetown and T&C if you do not sail directly.
Oh...and listen to Chris Parker or get a subscription with him for your personalized weather along the way. He will save you a lot of wear and tear! (www.caribwx.com)
Good luck.
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Old 30-03-2009, 10:44   #4
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I agree with Cam. Four weeks from the Chesapeake to STT via the ICW and the Bahamas is simply not doable, at least not in your boat.

Offshore, Norfolk to STT is doable in 9-11 days, as noted above. However, June isn't the best time, as it's the start of hurricane season.

The ICW will take longer than you think and, even if you were to start from Florida and head thru the Bahamas, you'd be very unlikely to reach the Antilles in less than 4 weeks -- unless the Weather Gods were really, really smiling on you. That would be uncharacteristic behavior for them, 'cuz they really don't like sailboats heading East in those parts :-)

FWIW,

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Old 30-03-2009, 13:49   #5
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A little confused here, surely experience will vary but 9-11 days to two months is a wide spread. Just to further halt conusion our boat is a sedan bridge that will do 32+ kts and 28kts+ all day as a comfortable cruise and still do 20kts+ in weather that I personally consider bad (ie rough) bad not too bad to go out. However, I never heard of anybody needing more then a week to Florida unless weather was extremely bad or something went wrong. I am sure more will chime to give me a more acurate expectation but I am expecting to do at leqast 20kts+ cruise or not go out if that is not possible and wait it out in a save harbor. If it takes longer so be it, no rush.
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Old 30-03-2009, 14:30   #6
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That's funny! I'm sure when you said you owned a Jeanneau, we all automatically thought "sailboat"--I know I did.

Jeanneau Prestige 46. I had to look it up (photo below). Darn nice boat, and a different story entirely. By the way, the 9-11 days for a direct passage from the Bay to the USVI was for a sailboat averaging about 6-6.5 knots, sailing close to the rhumbline offshore, with no stops. Not something you'd be interested in, since you'll need to fuel up.

OK, re-focusing now. I think the ICW from Norfolk to Palm Beach is about 1,000 statute miles, if memory serves me. You might be able to do 20 kts in some limited parts of it, but there are speed restrictions (official and just good seamanship) on most of it. In many parts, if you do more than six knots, people will come chasing you in their runabouts, shaking their fists and yelling.

I did that trip (Norfolk to Palm Beach) many moons ago in a 36' Chris Craft motor yacht, and it took us six days. That was before a lot of the speed limits were set up. We went sun up to sunset every day, and pushed as hard as we could. We only had two people yell at us. I don't think you can do it in less without going outside.

You'll need to catch a bit of decent weather to cross the Gulf Stream, so your wait in Lake Worth or wherever you choose to lay over could be a day or a week, who knows. From there, it's a matter of having good weather forecasting resources and picking your battles, so to speak. The limiting factor will be how much pounding your boat and your crew can take on the windward run.

The books that Camaraderie recommended are excellent resources. Hiring a weather routing service, like Chris Parker or Commander's Weather is a good idea, too.
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Old 30-03-2009, 14:41   #7
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Dominic,

That's what you get for asking a bunch of sailors -- sailboaters -- a question :-)

I, too, just assumed a Jeanneau 46 was a sailboat...never seen a Jeanneau powerboat. My bad.

I agree with Hud's posting. Chesapeake to Florida to the Bahamas should be easy. Bahamas to STT is something else. You'll still be fighting winds and currents and headseas much of the way, but if you pick your battles as Hud suggested it should be doable in a reasonable time.

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 30-03-2009, 14:56   #8
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Thanks for your replies. I know that most of the ICW is no wake but still figured that I should be able to do it in 7-10 days at the most. As for the rest of the passage I expect it to have bad days and take it slow and hopefully have the in between days that are good where we can just open it up a bit. Whenever I was down in the VIs for a cruise it ended up being the "one" week all season with constant 20kts+ winds. Certainly not fun but when you have only a week you head into it anyway. No on our trip I will just hang out wait for winds to sunside or turn perfer venturing on. Certainly the main issue for us will be fuel, once past Nassau, in terms of charting the rest of the way.
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Old 30-03-2009, 15:01   #9
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Dominic,

You may be familiar with the website www.noonsite.com. If not, it's worth a look. The "Countries" section has a lot of good information about customs and immigration procedures, fees, etc. for all the countries you'll be visiting along the way.
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Old 31-03-2009, 06:37   #10
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Thanks Hud, I make sure to check that out.
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Old 31-03-2009, 07:10   #11
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Have a safe trip.
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Old 31-03-2009, 08:59   #12
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Concerning Puerto Rico. As someone mentioned, if you stay in the Ponce area of Puerto Rico you could, with good weather, make it to St Thomas. But it's 120 miles with usually the wind on your nose most of the way, so an alternative is to make it either to the east coast of PR, Vieques, or Culebra.

If you need repairs, the east coast of PR just south of Fajardo has Puerto del Rey marina, one of the largest in the Caribbean with a full service boatyard. And, if you're not in a hurry, you could spend some time at anchorages in Vieques, Culebra, and Culebrita -- an uninhabited small island just east of Culebra, 15 miles from St Thomas. If the wind is not from the N, Culebrita has a great sheltered anchorage on a beautiful beach on the north side.

Good sailing.
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Old 28-04-2009, 19:50   #13
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making plans

I'm looking to cruise to the leeward islands in june sometime from south florida. Ihave a 420 sedanbridge. I just started my preliminary research. Maybe we could get in touch if your interested. I'm still unsure whether i will be doing the trip , but if i do it will definetly be in june.
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Old 04-05-2009, 02:37   #14
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GO for it put the throtels down and plow your way there sounds like a blast!Let me know what the fuel burn is. I always get a good feeling when I hear that I can cruise another few years on what the average cost of the trip costs a powerboat. Seriously no kidding they can deliver your boat to you on a ship there are several companies now doing the delivery som starting in Forida and others in The north east id concider it if you havent done any long distance offshore work and sounds like you havent I would save the wear and tear and the fuel burn and ship it>
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Old 04-05-2009, 20:16   #15
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"rookie cruiser"

Why pay someone 15k to transport your boat to the islands when I could run it down there for 12k and get me a free 6 week vacation with slip fees, food and fuel included. And as far as long trips go, there is a first time for everything.
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