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Old 21-07-2015, 21:02   #1
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Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

Curious if anyone has sailed southern coast of Cuba from west to east. I want to make it over to the BVI's eventually.

Would you stay south or come through the Windward or Mona Pass?

Thinking of doing this in Novemeber or December.

DW
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Old 21-07-2015, 21:09   #2
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

A Canadian couple did this (well sort of) in a Whitby 42 a year or so ago. Had a blog (maybe on sailblog) called Pilgrim's Passages. Google it. They went from Key West to Havana then counter-clockwise around the island and along the southern coast, then from Santiago to the Bahamas.

Seems to me that there was also an article in Cruising World in the last year on the same topic.
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Old 22-07-2015, 07:08   #3
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

We did the S coast of Cuba in 2014. Left from Belize, up to Cozumel, E to Cuba. 6 wks later we sailed S to Jamaica. Now we're in Grenada.
Posted on our blog.
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Old 22-07-2015, 07:09   #4
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

We did the S coast of Cuba in 2014. Left from Belize, up to Cozumel, E to Cuba. 6 wks later we sailed S to Jamaica. Now we're in Grenada.
Posted on our blog.
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Old 22-07-2015, 08:32   #5
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

I went the opposite way earlier this year. I think it would be a pretty uncomfortable ride west to east. I know people have done it, but I think I would pass.
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Old 22-07-2015, 08:51   #6
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

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I went the opposite way earlier this year. I think it would be a pretty uncomfortable ride west to east. I know people have done it, but I think I would pass.

Anything besides the upwind to consider?

DW
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Old 22-07-2015, 08:53   #7
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

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I went the opposite way earlier this year. I think it would be a pretty uncomfortable ride west to east. I know people have done it, but I think I would pass.
Not so bad. Hispaniola and PR were generally the worse. We followed Van Sant's suggestion to use the early morning catabatic conditions in your favor and, of course, watch your weather windows. But I agree East to West is nicer and we're looking forward to our return to Belize from the E Caribbean next year (or the next). S coast of Cuba was wonderful as was the part of Jamaica that we visited.
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Old 22-07-2015, 09:16   #8
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

You should consider sailing eastward the early morning hours. And be ready for the Christmas winds they start early sometimes late November.
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Old 22-07-2015, 09:49   #9
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

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Anything besides the upwind to consider?

DW
Be very carefull around the south west cayos (all the way to Ceinfuegos). There have been a ton of wrecked boats around there. We were just moving a boat so we didn't stop at any of the cayos. However, you will want to research and explore there. Its one of the last untouched ocean santuaries in the world.

I think your trip will be mostly motoring. As is typical in that part of the carib, the day starts with nonexistent winds and that lasts till about 3 or so, then the winds build to 15-20 knots out of the east/south east (this was in April). If I was planning that run, I would plan for early morning departure (like 5:00am) and be tucked in by 1:00pm at the latest. It will take 6-9 days to finish the south coast, plus any time to stop and explore. You can reprovision in Ceinfuegos as most items can be found there (its one of my favorite cities). Then again in Trinidad if required.

I have been told that things can be "unsettled" in November/December months. You may need to keep a keen eye on the sky as winter storms blow up fast. A cruiser I met was caught in a micro burst in December and blew out thier genny.

One other thing.. Ensure you have your trolling lines out. We caught Mahi-Mahi every day!
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Old 22-07-2015, 10:02   #10
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

Definitely need to learn about and play the nighttime calms and katabatic winds. Frank Virgintino's book - Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South - is a must-read, in addition to Van Sant's.

I've not done south coast of Cuba, but followed Frank's advice in a midwinter passage from the Bahamas to the BVI, and was very happy with the fast (despite longer distance) & easy passage and the interesting stops along the way. There's another, older CF blog that might be worth reviewing also: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South and you might email Frank directly - he was very friendly, responsive and helpful, both during our trip planning and once we had the pleasure of his friendship in person when we found ourselves in the next slip over at ZarPar in Boca Chica.

The eastern end of the south side of Cuba is a very inhospitable coast, so you'll want to plan your route and weather windows very carefully. The Windward Passage was great to reach thru heading south, but wouldn't have been any fun at all heading east from Cuba. Island hopping from Caymans to Jamaica and on up to Haiti while playing the lees and calms probably is a much better idea.
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Old 22-07-2015, 10:16   #11
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Re: Sailing southern coast of Cuba east to Puerto Rico

We sailed from Havana around the western end, along the south coast and out through the Windward passage a few months ago; report/details here:
A Passage around the ‘Wild-West’ end of Cuba – January 2015 — Noonsite
Last winter had a combination of a prolonged period of strong trade winds, interspersed with a lot of Northers dropping down out og the Mexican Gulf - I was surprised by just how big an influence those had on Cuba's south coast - making it particularly rough going; but that aside, with the benefit of hindsight, I would still anticipate it being an easier trip (you'll still motor a huge proportion of it) later in the season. Even then, I still think it'd be a lot of effort for very little in return; the cities and countryside of mainland Cuba were interesting/fun, but if you want isolated cays, then go to the Bahamian out-islands instead, they're much easier sailing and way more attractive than anything we saw in southern Cuba.
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