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Old 18-09-2010, 16:03   #16
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Bruce Van Sant's "Thornless Passage" is a must read for this trip.

However, there are three possible routes: (1) through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (depending on where in PF you're ending up); (2) Bahamas out to 60W, then South to Puerto Rico; (3) down the Old Bahama Channel to Puerto Rico.

(1) most common but slowest
(2) fastest especially leaving around the time frame you mentioned
(3) a motor or short tacking with wind on the nose
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Old 18-09-2010, 17:49   #17
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Originally Posted by kathrine33 View Post
I looked at going from Norfolk to bermuda, then south to p.r, 10 days @ 6 knots plus layover at hamilton, now thats the wish over, whats the reality?
and how would I get reliable weather window forecasts?
kat
That's the way I would do it - haven't measured the distance, but the winds look right - http://164.214.12.45/MSISiteContent/...106/106nov.pdf
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Old 21-09-2010, 17:15   #18
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Me too!

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Originally Posted by capt_douglas View Post
... there are three possible routes: (1) through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (depending on where in PF you're ending up); (2) Bahamas out to 60W, then South to Puerto Rico; (3) down the Old Bahama Channel to Puerto Rico.

(1) most common but slowest
(2) fastest especially leaving around the time frame you mentioned
(3) a motor or short tacking with wind on the nose
Hi Capt,

I'm doing this trip this winter and need some help! I don't quite understand this advice.

As to #2, how far north in the Bahamas would I have to go to use this option? From the Pilot chart it looks like I'd have to go up at least to Marsh Harbor, and that's a lot of back-tracking!

And #1, how do you handle getting from DR, say Luperon, to PR? It looks like that would be directly into the trades and the currents. Do people do a big tack NE the SE?

Thanks,
Margo
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Old 21-09-2010, 17:54   #19
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(1) Van Sant recommends hugging the coast and night sailing along the north coast of the DR. The katabatic winds meet the lighter E-ESE winds and you can sail a better course towards the east (the easterlys meet the winds flowing off the mountains to move the apparent wind more NE). The katabatic winds don't last that long so you're looking for an anchorage around dawn. Tuck in, rest, and wait for nightfall before doing it again.

Some folks tack out and back and that may be faster, but not necessarily more pleasant. One cruiser decided to do 12-hour tacks; i.e. from dusk to dawn, they tacked offshore and from dawn to dusk, inshore. Depending on the winds and pointing ability of your vessel you may find it advantageous.

If you're going to San Juan or Fajardo, then riding the north side of the islands is probably the best bet. If you're heading for Boqueron or ports on the south side of Puerto Rico then you've got to do the Mona Passage (which imo is more a right of passage than crossing the Gulf Stream), and the south side of Puerto Rico. The DR and PR's mountainous terrain make the katabatic effect fairly predictable although if the winds are blowing out of the east, you may have to hug the coast a bit more.

As with any near coastal sailing, you've got to find where the wind isn't and where the wind isn't from the direction you want. Then you tack back and forth between those limits.

(2) The first time I did the "I-65" trip, I headed to the Bahamas and hung out around Great Issac Light. You could do the same or go to Grand Bahama. My idea was to hang out in the Bahamas and wait for a good norther to develop. As it slides south from the US, you'll have a good idea of the speed, strength and time of arrival at your location. Depending on your port of call, you may turn south sooner but I'd recommend going east a couple degrees earlier to avoid leeway and give you the chance to enjoy some beam reach sailing.

The second time I did this, I left from Georgetown, Exumas, which is pretty far south. I headed out from Stocking Island about 12 hours before the front was scheduled to pass over Georgetown and motored east. The front was a bit weaker than forecast and a blt slower moving so I had to beat a bit more to make St. Thomas, USVI.

The idea is to be east of the Bahamas in clear water before the winds clock and build. Then you ride it as far east as you can, trying to make as much easting as possible. It'll pass you and the winds will start to come around. If you sail tight and follow the winds you should be in a good position to have either a beat or close reach to the Caribbean.

The fronts come pretty regularly that time of year and chances are you'll have more than one overtake you. Use the wind shift to your advantage. Also, the further south you go the weaker the fronts become and some fronts are stronger than others.

I've know cruisers who'll take off from a holding point and motor 12-16 hours in order to get as much easting as they can before the front overtakes them (and unless your boat does 15+ knots, you will be overtaken). The further east you can get before turning south the better the sail (beam reach or close hauled as opposed to a beat).

The ride can be spectacular. There's little traffic out there, the water's pristine, the fishing very good with some big hits on the fishing gear and you bypass all the beating from the lower Bahamas to Puerto Rico. There is something magical about setting the sails and running at about hull speed for days at a time.

I hope this answers your questions.
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Old 21-09-2010, 18:11   #20
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Leaving from Norfolk is lots easier than from FL. I did Oxford MD to Tortola in 9 days in a Swan 47. The trick for good passage times is to aim for Bermuda and miss. Once you see the temperature indicate you are over the South wall of the Gulf Stream the current should start to drop and you can play the ocean currents and make reasonable time. It's a pretty nice passage much of the year.

I'd think the Hunter CC would be only a little slower than the Swan. The 33 should allow half-again as much time at least.
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Old 21-09-2010, 20:35   #21
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Capt Douglas,

Thanks so much! Things are much clearer now. #1 is the route I have been planning, but I will think seriously about #2; if I can find crew!. My plan is to head to Panama after the VIs, via the S. coasts of PR, DR, then to Jamaica. So I can visit them on the way west.

Cheers,
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Old 28-09-2010, 17:09   #22
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Keys to St Martin

Thanks for all of the great info - I was trying to understand the I66 routing as well as we are hoping to transfer our boat from the Keys to St martin next spring. looks like the direct route would take weeks waiting for the appropriate weather windows. Would you be able to offer any advice on a routing to St Martin? How much further east would we go? And how long would you expect? Thanks for all the help!
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Old 28-09-2010, 17:57   #23
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Our little 34'er, with middle aged husband & wife crew, found the 5 day trip from Georgetown Bahamas to PR to be totally do-able. We left Georgetown the day after we got there, and didn't wait at all for "the perfect weather window". We just headed out for two days, and took a right, then down for three more. Yes, we got beat up the first night (30 knots), followed by a hard beat the next day. Then it wasn't too bad the rest of the trip. It may not be a "milk run", but is totally do-able if you really want to get on down there. Cheers, Mark
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Old 28-09-2010, 20:05   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capt_douglas View Post
. . . However, there are three possible routes: (1) through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (depending on where in PF you're ending up); (2) Bahamas out to 60W, then South to Puerto Rico; (3) down the Old Bahama Channel to Puerto Rico. . . .
There must be a typographical error in your #2 - 60W is about 300 nm east of the Virgins/Puerto Rico. 65W takes you to the Virgins and 66W takes you to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- - Anyway you need to play the weather systems present during the time you are actually doing the "I-65/66" route. With favorable winds from anywhere other than east you can stay further south than 28N-30N. Under normal weather conditions you need to get north of the trade winds in order to get any hope of being able to sail to the east. That is why leaving from further up the US east coast is better as you are now trying to go southeast rather than purely east. And depending upon how well you boat goes to weather you can turn southbound sometimes earlier than waiting for 65W or 66W.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:53   #25
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Thanks all. This has turned out to be a very informative thread. BUT a recent "disaster" has forced me to cancel my immediate plans. Days before moving the boat to Norfolk, I suffered a chainplate failure and this has prompted me to shift my attention to a total refit of (most if not all) the standing rigging and chainplates. I have to leave the country for business reasons soon and feel its just rushing things too much to try to stay with the Norfolk staging plan. If for some reason global warming results in a balmy, fair seas January here in New England perhaps I'll make the PR journey but it looks like its on hold for now. That's just boating, right?
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:14   #26
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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
There must be a typographical error in your #2 - 60W is about 300 nm east of the Virgins/Puerto Rico. 65W takes you to the Virgins and 66W takes you to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- - Anyway you need to play the weather systems present during the time you are actually doing the "I-65/66" route. With favorable winds from anywhere other than east you can stay further south than 28N-30N. Under normal weather conditions you need to get north of the trade winds in order to get any hope of being able to sail to the east. That is why leaving from further up the US east coast is better as you are now trying to go southeast rather than purely east. And depending upon how well you boat goes to weather you can turn southbound sometimes earlier than waiting for 65W or 66W.
Thanks for the clarification. I was trying to explain the concept and thought more folks had heard of "I-65" than the others. My main goal was to indicate that going East from the Bahamas or East Coast is quite doable and can be a portend of great sailing to come. If I were committed to a port I'd sail a couple degrees East of that ports longitude before turning South to compensate for winds S of E and vessel leeway.

Sometimes these fronts stall or fizzle out so you need to keep that in the back of your mind. Sometimes you'll get two or three cold fronts in the course of a week. You use the wind direction to your advantage, again making as much East as you can before turning South.

If I were leaving from the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast I'd leave Bermuda well to starboard and find the best angle and winds to head south.

There have been those who opine that the South coasts of Haiti, the DR and Puerto Rico can be a better sail. While I don't doubt that, I'm not sure I want to sail that close to Haiti and down the Windward Passage. Everyone has their preferences and mine are no more correct or wrong than yours. Just different.

There are those that consider a week away from land long enough and others, not long enough. If you're passing this way once, then stopping to smell the roses, BBQ, and potlucks is encouraged. Not only does it break up the possibly stressful sea time but you get into "Island Time".

Offshore sailing (out of sight of land, cell phone towers, TV stations, or the internet) can be intimidating, which is probably why many folks island hop before crossing that off the bucket list. It is more stressful because you're essentially on your own. If you can find other cruisers heading offshore the stress can be reduced by sailing as a group (although I'm not sure that's stress free either). If you have confidence in your vessel, crew, and are careful, you may arrive and wonder what the insecurity was about.

My first delivery was on a barely repaired 60' sailboat from South Florida to St. Thomas as a watch leader and navigator. We sailed offshore, caught two fronts and a day of dead air, changed course according to the wind, and turned South for good when Tortola was abeam. Since I'd not done any island hopping or offshore sailing, I didn't know any other way. We had lots of problems and some fantastic experiences on that trip. Ten days from dock to anchorage.

My second trip to the Caribbean was aboard my 37' sloop. I chose to do Van Sants route as I'd never seen the islands. Florida to St. Thomas took nine months.

I've done the Caribbean many more times from about as many directions as you can (including a 12 day beat from the Western Caribbean to the USVI on an engineless yawl). IMO, If I want some relaxing sailing will go offshore. If I want a bit more civilization, I'll island hop and put up with the limitations for the anchorages and people. If my crew hasn't seen the wonders of the Caribbean or is uncomfortable with offshore passages, then it's island hopping.
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Old 02-10-2010, 16:07   #27
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. . . I suffered a chainplate failure and this has prompted me to shift my attention to a total refit of (most if not all) the standing rigging and chainplates. . . .
Having been in the same situation, I would strongly suggest that all the chainplates be removed and examined/tested. If one failed then most probably there will another that will also fail. I have 12 chainplates and two of them tested bad and had to be replaced. And they were in different locations on different masts (I have a ketch).
- - It is not a small task to remove all the chainplates but a future failure of another one while at sea would be rather disastrous in the least.
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Old 29-11-2010, 18:08   #28
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I sailed BVI to PR to WPB, Florida last year - not sure if I can be of any help though?
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:20   #29
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Bahamas to VIs

Hi all,

I want to try to revive this thread a bit.

I am now in Georgetown, and I am starting to rethink my plan to take Van Sant's path, from south Bahamas to N. DR to Mona passage to S. PR to VIs.

One other possible route that has not gotten much discussion here is a route outlined in Virgintino's free Guide to DR. This route goes from south Bahamas, say Great Inagua, to Montecristi DR, then through the Windward passage keeping Haiti to port, to Ile a Vache on south coast of Haiti (considered safe and can be done without checking in) then to south coast of DR.

This route avoids the "dangerous" north coast of DR and the unpredictable Mona passage, taking you directly to the south coast of PR. He says since the trades at this time of year tend to the NE through E you can actually get a lot of wind protection on the south coast.

So the [U]question[U] is: has anyone here done this alternate route? Do you recommend it or not? If not why not.

Thanks for any feedback or advice.
Margo
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Old 26-01-2011, 13:00   #30
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Hi Margo,

I have made that trip once. Left from Venezuela for the VI in winter. Trades were +/- ENE the whole crossing of the Caribbean, pretty steady 25 kts and 6-10' seas. I decided to make for the south coast of Hispaniola and then make my easting under the lee of the islands instead of trying to tack against the prevailing and it worked out very well.

Been thirty years so don't remember the exact distance off but think about 10 miles offshore we were in calm water and light air. What a relief from the pounding but actually we ended up on the other end of the weather scale and motored a lot of the way east. We did pick up a bit of land/sea breeze effect but it was pretty light. I think if you played a bit with the distance off the coast you might pick up more of that closer in or further off enough trade winds to sail. Regardless I'm glad we made that choice.

Can't help you with harbors and such since we did non stop to St Thomas.

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