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Old 14-09-2013, 20:00   #1
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Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

We own a Hylas 46 "Kaian" and have been putting her through a partial refit over the past year and a half. Kain draws 7 feet and is therefor nick-named Hylas' "California Model" - as we are told. Having done a lot of cruising on the West Coast in a smaller sloop, we plan to sail the Hylas from Fort Lauderdale into the Bahamas in January and are torn between three routes:

1. The Thorny Path
2. I 65 to the BVI's
and a very different choice:
3. Through the Bahamas ( leaving Fort Lauderdale for Freeport ) and then east for the Greater Antilles and eventually Panama

We know choices are multiple and we are not under temporal pressures, i.e. we have no deadlines other than those the weather provides/may provide
but doubt if we are fortunate enough to have Bruce Van Sant's apparently endless patience. Our most important consideration/requirement is comfortable sailing ( sparing ourselves and the boat - as much as possible - from unnecessary bashing and pounding ) We know a few couples who, had they chosen different routes, would have avoided some major repairs, panic attacks, and too many uncomfortable moments that more planning would have escaped. Considering our draft, we wondered if there are others out there that might want to comment directly on these choices and suggest - from experience or theoretical savvy -possible routes/micro routes that take our draft into account. Eventhough we have traipsed through a wealth of literature and web sites and plan to work with Chris Parker we thought a "forum" approach to the topic might be interesting.
Hope the question is not too general for potential respondents/participants.
Best Wishes,
HV
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Old 14-09-2013, 20:19   #2
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

We have done the trip 4 times. While 7ft can be worked through the Bahamas it is not fun.

Easiest route, which we have done twice, is out to 65W, actually 67W is usually far enough, and then down to the Islands.

The Antilles, where we are now in Bonaire, is more easily reached by going to 65W to St Thomas and then south
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Old 21-09-2013, 20:52   #3
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

Thanks Phil,
The words "not fun" come through with ample volume. Though others have been advocates of an antithetical stance, we tend to go with your summary....as do a large
majority of delivery skippers.
Best,
HV
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Old 22-09-2013, 07:05   #4
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

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...... Our most important consideration/requirement is comfortable sailing ( sparing ourselves and the boat - as much as possible - from unnecessary bashing and pounding )...
OK, you want to go 900 miles to weather in the trades and want it to be comfortable. It ain't gonna happen. Think lots of weather waiting, lots of motoring and bashing. Where do you want to end up for the next hurricane season?
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Old 22-09-2013, 12:26   #5
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

Thanks for your reply Paul,
Yes, it probably isn't going to happen and you have a lot of company holding the position.....a lot of company with considerable experience.
Our choice will probably end up I 65 (or 67 ) following Chris Parker's leads. Though there
are many stories of cruisers happily sailing to /through the Antilles after heading south from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, dig far enough and complaints of bashing and pounding inevitably show up. Unless you can follow Bruce Van Sant's advice - observing every detail or are among those who have a sense of adventure that includes the thrill of thrashing ahead, other options are to be considered (e.g. I 65.) To answer your question, we will head for Grenada or Puerto Rico, leave Kaian there through Hurricane season since their "haven's" are common knowledge then head north ( if in Granada) or toward the Panama Canal ( if in Puerto Rico).
Best,
HV
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Old 22-09-2013, 12:43   #6
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HV-
Glad to see another Hylas owner on the forum! If you do end up taking the Bahamas route maybe we will cross paths. We plan to depart FL in January and take the thorny path route. Ours is the shoal draft version, so it opens up more Bahamas cruising ground. Cheers!
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Old 22-09-2013, 12:57   #7
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Ft Laud to Panama does not of course have to include the Eastern Carib. If Eastern Carib is not too important to you then you can follow a similair route to the Pineapple Cup..FL, Bahamas, Windward Passage, Jamaica...and then on to Panama, I recommend a stop in Providencia...great place.
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Old 22-09-2013, 13:02   #8
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

I have tried the I-65 and the thorny path. My thoughts about I-65, from south FL doesn't seem to offer much advantage. You are already in the trade winds so to make 65 west you will be still hard on the wind and bashing, at least at the start. You would have to take a NE course or more until you far enough north to get beyond the trades and catch winds with more westerlies.
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Old 22-09-2013, 16:36   #9
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

HV,
Are you sure you want to do this in January?

I’ve made several trips to the Leeward’s and Windward’s from as far north as New Bern N.C. and as far south as Ft. Lauderdale. By plan, we always staged departure mid November, just after hurricane season and before the cold fronts started popping of the east coast with a vengeance.
You’ve got two situations going here.
The first is to cross the stream with anything BUT winds with a north component.
Second, you’re really not in the trade winds till typically south of lat 22
Twice we’ve crossed after a front and had a great ride across the stream only to find that our intended I-65 route was going to be in vane. The trade winds took a vacation.

If you change your minds and want to do this mid November send me a Personal Message and maybe I can help.

Be safe,
Rick
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Old 22-09-2013, 16:52   #10
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pirate Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

I'd hang out at Ft Pierce and wait for a 4-5 day window of S'lies then run NE to clear the Bahamas and then hang E...
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Old 22-09-2013, 16:56   #11
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Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

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I'd hang out at Ft Pierce and wait for a 4-5 day window of S'lies then run NE to clear the Bahamas and then hang E...
In January? Could be a long wait.
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Old 22-09-2013, 17:05   #12
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pirate Re: Route Decision: BVI's or Greater Antilles/Panama

Worked fine for me in Feb... and they do come along in January..
Gets you a couple of degrees N where you can ride N'lies Eastwards...
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