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Old 05-01-2015, 12:10   #1
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Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

Hi all,

I need to sail Bojangles from Isla Mujeres Mexico to the Florida Keys at the end of January and would welcome routing advice from folks who have done the trip.

Some of my specific questions:

1. How likely am I to be be able to sail it directly at this time of year? (I sail 45 degrees apparent upwind - no better)

2. If I end up heading north of Key West, can I get into Marathon from the north west? (I draw 6')

3. Any good Gulf Stream sites other than the paid ones? (Jenifer Clark, Commanders, Chris Parker, etc)

4. Any other advice?

Cheers,
Colin
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Toronto
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:25   #2
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

1. This time of year is hit or miss with the weather. Sometimes you'll be ok, others you'll be fighting a strong cold front.

2.???? I can't be of any help

3.Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers - PassageWeather Follow the clicks to the gom and then click on the gulfstream tab.

Heading north this time of year into the gulf means you're playing with rapidly moving cold fronts and an counter current. It can be done, but requires a close eye paid to the weather and the understanding that you'll be knocked about for a bit.
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:35   #3
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

Thanks for that. I've been using Passageweather for 5+ years, but never realized they had a Gulf Stream tab.

Cheers,
Colin
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Old 05-01-2015, 13:32   #4
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

1. If you catch a bad Norther in the Gulf, you'll be in for a real experience. Wait for a good window.
2. Six feet into Marathon is possible but you must make your passage on a 1/2 to 3/4 rising tide with plenty of sunlight to read the bottom. Once you're in the intercoastal at Marathon, you'll be fine to cross over at Moser Channel into Hawk's Channel. Good luck and safe passage.
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Old 06-01-2015, 16:30   #5
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

Sail NNE, pick up the Gulf Stream East then run into Key West or just ride the Stream to Marathon. Once I get into the Stream after pinching to stay on course I find it hard to leave when making an easy 6-8 knots in the Stream. Once again North wind is a no no. You could sail ENE until you get somewhere close to where you want to be.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:04   #6
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

We recently crossed the Gulf on a cruise ship, in the middle of a strong cold front. You absolutely would not want to do that in a small boat. (And by small, I mean much under 150 feet.)
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:32   #7
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

I would love to hear if this passage would be any different in April. I have a passage coming up from Cancun to Fort Meyers and am pondering the same things.

I have been offered a couple of pieces of advice.
1. Suggest I hug the Cuban coast (Canadian boat) for a 100 nautical miles or so, then turn north to make the gulf stream passage as short as possible. If done right, you can cross the gulf stream (actually the Florida current) in about 18 hours.
2. Suggested I watch the weather and head straight(ish) for Fort Meyers when I see a good window. They suggested April-May is a good time for this and finding a window shouldn't be hard. 4 days and we should arrive (100 knot/day planning)

Would love to hear some opinions on this one.
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:24   #8
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I would love to hear if this passage would be any different in April. I have a passage coming up from Cancun to Fort Meyers and am pondering the same things.

I have been offered a couple of pieces of advice.
1. Suggest I hug the Cuban coast (Canadian boat) for a 100 nautical miles or so, then turn north to make the gulf stream passage as short as possible. If done right, you can cross the gulf stream (actually the Florida current) in about 18 hours.
2. Suggested I watch the weather and head straight(ish) for Fort Meyers when I see a good window. They suggested April-May is a good time for this and finding a window shouldn't be hard. 4 days and we should arrive (100 knot/day planning)

Would love to hear some opinions on this one.

Going north in April is easy.....and I have no idea why you'd want to stay out of the stream going north....use it to your advantage for another 40+ miles a day free!!


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Old 07-01-2015, 09:31   #9
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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Going north in April is easy.....and I have no idea why you'd want to stay out of the stream going north....use it to your advantage for another 40+ miles a day free!!


At the edges of the stream are counter-currents, staying out of the stream north-bound, you'll not only lose the advantage of the stream as mentioned, you'll be head into the counter current and lose even more!
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:51   #10
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

Yup.. That is exactly what the person told me. I would probably only make 2 knots over ground for that 100 miles along the Cuban cost... but the trade off was the short duration over the Florida current and reduced exposure.

I'm guessing his advice would be better for a January/February crossing. Sounds like for an April crossing Option 2 would be much preferred. I appreciate the responses.

I'm trying to be conservative with time estimate so I'm using an average of 4 knots over ground. Anything above that is a bonus.
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:43   #11
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Yup.. That is exactly what the person told me. I would probably only make 2 knots over ground for that 100 miles along the Cuban cost... but the trade off was the short duration over the Florida current and reduced exposure.

I'm guessing his advice would be better for a January/February crossing. Sounds like for an April crossing Option 2 would be much preferred. I appreciate the responses.

I'm trying to be conservative with time estimate so I'm using an average of 4 knots over ground. Anything above that is a bonus.
Wait for the right weather window and head straight for Ft. Myers. Only worry about the stream if the wind is opposite the current, otherwise you'll be fine. I did that passage in 58.5 hours/405nm in perfect weather.
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:53   #12
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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We recently crossed the Gulf on a cruise ship, in the middle of a strong cold front. You absolutely would not want to do that in a small boat. (And by small, I mean much under 150 feet.)
I did it in a 90 footer one time, in a norther in December, and I promised myself every day of it, that I would not ever do it again.
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Old 07-01-2015, 13:06   #13
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
2. Six feet into Marathon is possible but you must make your passage on a 1/2 to 3/4 rising tide with plenty of sunlight to read the bottom. Once you're in the intercoastal at Marathon, you'll be fine to cross over at Moser Channel into Hawk's Channel. Good luck and safe passage.
Six feet is "possible" or "good to go" through Florida Bay?
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:39   #14
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

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Six feet is "possible" or "good to go" through Florida Bay?
It's possible as long as you don't mind waiting for the tides in the shallower areas of 5-6 feet at MLW. I don't believe it's realistic without respect to the tides (although you could get lucky). But of course I am not sure of your destination. Best to check the online charts. Pete
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:44   #15
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Re: Route Planning: Isla Mujeres to Florida Keys

Thanks for clarifying Pete. I don't want to chance that. If I end up north of Key West, I'll just have to tack back and keep Key West to port if I want to get to the Atlantic side.

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