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Old 14-10-2012, 14:56   #1
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Route from Florida to BVI

Hi to all !

We are planning a sailing trip with our little family, 6 & 7 years old kids on our 36 foot sailboat for next year. We will coming from the Intracoastal waterway. That is actual our first long trip. The first idea was, from Florida, to go to the Bahamas. Then, as we have more time, we would love to got to BVI. Now the question is : Is this possible to sail to the BVI form the the Bahamas, sailing island to island? As we don't real want meet rought sea, and long trip with the kids, and we don't have at my point of view, enough experience. I have heard that if we are coming from the US coastal shore, we absolutly need to cross from South Carolina untill BVI whish is aprox 10 days trip. Is that true?

Please feel free to give us your suggestions and your opinion to guide us.

Best Regards,
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Old 14-10-2012, 15:13   #2
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Hi,
I have not gone to the VIs, but studied it carefully when I was hoping to go.
You can island/coastal hop there, but there are a few longish, say 30 hour crossings which can't be avoided.
First island hopping through the southern outer Bahamas is not trivial. The passages are open to the Atlantic so can be rough.
Second, after Bahamas, you will find yourself in the Turks and Caicos. From there the closest approach is a minimum 30 hrs to the Dominican Republic, across a channel which can be rough if you don't read the weather right.
Third, you have to sneak along the north coast of the DR against current and wind, then cross the notorious Mona passage to get to the south coast of Puerto Rico. (See "Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South")
An easier, but much longer route would take you from Great Inagua through the windward passage, to the southern coast of the DR. Security concerns might keep you from anchoring off Haiti, though I have heard the Ile de Vache is both welcoming and safe
So you can see that any route you take will be challenging and include some long passages. So you might want to wait until you and the kids have more experience under your belts. There's plenty to see in the Florida keys, and the Bahamas to keep you happy for years!
Margo
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Old 14-10-2012, 15:17   #3
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

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Originally Posted by flysci View Post
.............................. (See "Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South").................There's plenty to see in the Florida keys, and the Bahamas to keep you happy for years!
Margo
I like all of Margo's post, but these two bits of advice are gems!
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Old 14-10-2012, 16:05   #4
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Thank you for the info!
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Old 14-10-2012, 17:39   #5
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Flysci has hit upon the essence of the trip. The best way to get to the BVI's is to head for Bermuda and then south along 65 deg. W to the islands. It will be a shorter and easier trip than taking multiple beatings going through the Bahamas. The mate and I did the Gentleman's Passage South and found that though one may be a gentleman at the beginning, one becomes a raving lunatic by the end.
Wear out the Keys and Bahamas first and then fly to the Islands.
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Old 14-10-2012, 17:46   #6
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Get the book: The Gentleman's Passage South. Yes, go through the Bahamas and yes, most trips are day sails, maybe two or three are overnighters....: Southern/eastern Bahamas to the DR and DR to Puerto Rico. Take this path and you will likely find the BVI to definitely not be the highlight of your trip! Weather planning wil give you good passages in most cases. It's a great trip... and why most do it that way.
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Old 14-10-2012, 17:55   #7
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

My advice is if you want to go to the BVI, go to the BVI from South Carolina. You didn't say what month you are going to start your trip, but if you go down to the Bahamas, and head East, you are going to be sailing into unfavorable winds during the season. If you have never made the passage, you might consider tying in to the Carib 1500 which leaves out of Hampton in November. If you sail in the rally, you will have the benefit of some experienced advice, and people to talk to during the passage.

Otherwise, you can do what I did. Since I live in Charleston, I left from Charleston. Get a weather window, make some serious due Easting until you cross the stream. Get south of Bermuda by two hundred or so miles, and then head South East when you get favorable trades. The trades practically give you a freeway drive to Tortola.

This is, however, open ocean sailing, not hamburgers in paradise getting there. It is Atlantic Ocean, and can get rough at times, even dangerous at times. People have made the passage in 36 foot boats, but you are on the small side for that type of passage depending on the boat manufactuer, model and your experience.

If you have never made a major passage, by that I mean something over a 1,000 miles nonstop, you might want to make you first trip over to the Bahamas and hang out there to get in some cruising, and go for the BVI on some other trip. However, if you really want to go to the BVIs, you can check out the Carib 1500 here: Welcome to World Cruising Club: Caribbean 1500
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Old 14-10-2012, 18:46   #8
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Here is some good advice. DO NOT DO "The Gentleman's Passage South" with two small children and a wife who has never gone on a long sailing trip before. Either you will not make it or they will hate you and the boat by the time you get there. Bashing 600 miles upwind is no fun and fun is what you are after right?

Go to the Bahamas. They are beautiful, safe, and have the best snorkelling and diving you could wish for. You can also treat the trip there as a series of coastal cruises rather than getting fitted out for offshore.

If you are determined to sail in the BVI's do one of two things if you want to do it with two small children:

Fly there and charter
Fly there and buy a boat there (or St. maarten which is tax free!)

Trust me. This is good advice!
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Old 14-10-2012, 19:48   #9
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

From the ICW, go to Florida (nice to visit, but no place for sailboats, IMHO!).

Pick your weather for an overnite crossing to the Bahamas. The Bahama Islands are spread out for hundreds of miles. Plenty of places to visit. Lovely. You'll pick up lots of experience along the way.

Plan to spend the winter in the Abacos (esp. Marsh Harbour) and the Exumas, especially Georgetown. There will be 200-300 cruising boats there. You'll have plenty of time to interact with other sailors and gain the benefit of their experience and wisdom.

Then, after a few months cruising under your belt you can decide whether you want to return to the US East Coast for the summer along with most of the Bahamas crowd (tremendous places to visit, all the way up to Maine) or whether you want to continue on to the Eastern Caribbean islands.

Don't rush it with a fixed schedule. Take your time and enjoy. And.....learn!

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Old 15-10-2012, 06:37   #10
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

The main thing, if you choose to try the "Gentleman's Passage South" is to be willing to wait... and wait... and wait... and then wait some more for the right weather window.

I have not made that journey myself, but I have a friend who has done it twice, and would happily do it again. He enjoyed the trip very much. But he had no schedule at all, and there were times when he sat waiting and waiting for a really good window while others decided they had to take whatever window they could get. His opinion is that those who don't enjoy the journey are the ones who get restless and impatient, and go when the weather window is "good enough," rather than waiting until the weather looks just about perfect.
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Old 15-10-2012, 11:15   #11
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

I love this forum; one person tells a newbie with kids to "My advice is if you want to go to the BVI, go to the BVI from South Carolina." on a 1200 mile 10 day offshore trip. and another tells them: "DO NOT DO "The Gentleman's Passage South" with two small children and a wife who has never gone on a long sailing trip before."
The Gentleman's Passage is probably some of the easiest "world sailboat traveling" you're going to find. No it's not simple, Yes, you need to be careful, and yes you will learn many of the realities of sailing and living together. But compared with say leaving Seattle for Mexico on an around the world cruise.... or Norfolk for Bermuda.... it's "easy".
I like the part about just going to the Bahamas, enjoy yourself and get acclimatized to cruising.. The Gentleman's Guide allows you to do just that and not go further if you want.
Four days out offshore to the BVI's... you dont have that option!
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Old 15-10-2012, 12:04   #12
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
. No it's not simple, Yes, you need to be careful, and yes you will learn many of the realities of sailing and living together. ...
I like the part about just going to the Bahamas, enjoy yourself and get acclimatized to cruising. ...
I'd hoped to try to say this. It is doable, if you are prepared and careful about weather. Cruising should be fun, not an endurance trial, especially with kids.
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Old 15-10-2012, 12:39   #13
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

First let me say HI Margo , Your advice is right!! stay 1-2 years in the bahamas, kids will love it. I have done deliveries since the sixties many from florida to virgin islands. the route through the bahamas to VI is not called THE THORNY PATCH. for nothing, i am a lazy sailor and i go through bermuda and south much easier.but I would not take children .Ole &Susan
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Old 15-10-2012, 13:09   #14
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

6 & 7 years old kids
36 foot sailboat
from the Intracoastal waterway
our first long trip - we don't real want meet rought sea, and long trip with the kids, and we don't have at my point of view, enough experience.




Based on the above, I might suggest a different tack. Consider taking the ICW down to Ft Lauderdale – This will be fun for the kids and you can pull over and anchor at night. Plus, there is a lot to look at. From Ft. Lauderdale you can cross to South Bimini in less than a day. I would leave about 2am to ensure a daylight landing at no later than about 2pm. Keep an eye on the Gulf Stream and do not cross with any aspect of a northerly wind in your size boat. Any aspect of a northerly wind will push wave heights to 15’. We use www.passageweather.com to help us with a weather window. Wait for a good weather window and be safe. Clear customs in South Bimini. From South Bimini, you can easily hop from anchorage to anchorage inside the Bahamas without much more than a day sail. You can use a guide or Active Captain www.activecaptain.com to help plan out the trip. Sail on the good days and hold up in a cove on the windy days. Keep an eye on the weather so not to get caught in a passage with winds against currents. It’ll make life onboard rough.
This approach will give the kids an experience they will look back upon with fond memories and it is probable they want to go again. They will have ample opportunity to swim and snorkle. Else, you stand the chance of turning off your family against sailing. It only takes one bad storm.
Mark

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Old 15-10-2012, 16:22   #15
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Re: Route from Florida to BVI

Hi,
We have just purchased our boat and are in Florida and will be heading to Bahamas. We have a 12 year old son. We would like to meet up when you reach Florida. Contact at zeeisme1 at gmail dot com.
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