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Old 12-09-2010, 06:43   #1
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Sailing to Puerto Rico from Florida ?

Would like to attempt this in Jan/Feb 2011 but don't seem much written about journeys to PR. The route guides are not very specific but it seems possible if not optimal but again the text is sparse and rather vague. Comments, advice, previous experiences sailing to PR?

(I did find one fascinating account of a double-handed voyage to PR from FL in 1978 in a home-built proa .....)

Thanks,
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:08   #2
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My wife & I did a passage from Georgetown Bahamas nonstop to PR a few years ago on our Searunner 34 tri, Delphys. It was about the same time of year, and we didn't have the time (or desire) for the Van Sant route. We wound our way through the islands at night, never seeing land, then 3 days out in the Atlantic & 2 days down to Boqueron PR. It all went well except for broaching in the Mona, when surfing huge swells and crossing a very shallow hump, in otherwise DEEP water. The swell just broke out from under us! If we hadn't been on a Searunner, it could have been a bad day! (Don't sail over humps... go around).

This trip from Fl would be the same for you, except add one day to it. Especially if you have "Chris Parker" keeping you out of the really bad weather, It is a reasonable thing to do. Bon Voyage, Mark
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:17   #3
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There are many threads containing this information in great detail - but - basically you have to chose between what is called the "I-66" route or the "Thornless Path".
- - "I-66" is an offshore direct route east or east-north-east to stay in the westerlies until you get to longitude 66 west (or close to it) and then turn south directly to Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands. The first half of the route keep the wind behind the beam and the last southerly portion puts the trade winds on your port beam. Average time from the east coast varies from one week to two weeks at sea. Normally you can expect at least one good "blow" enroute although some lucky folks have had none.
- - The "Thornless Path" is from Bruce Van Sant's book and takes you through the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos then to Luperon and Samama in the Dominican Republic and finally to the south coast of Puerto Rico. This route affords opportunities to spend significant time in some fabulous islands and anchorages and can take from a month to three months mostly dependent upon how many good weather windows you get and how long you want to play in the various stopping places. There is also a potential for some nasty water along this route particularly in the T&C to Luperon leg and the Luperon to Puerto Rico run.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:38   #4
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Hi Osirissail,

Am a bit confused about the I-66 route. The OP asks about sailing from FL to PR but from my experience it usually isn't possible to sail or even NE from FL with with abaft the beam. Maybe if you start from St Augustine or Jacksonville but much further south and you are in the easterly trades.

Past experience a lot of sailors heading south would head offshore from NC which avoids giving up too much easting and would put you in an area with more westerly winds. Would that be the I-66 route?

Thanks
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:53   #5
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Thanks for the replies so far. To clarify: I COULD depart from further north (than FL), so please advise accordingly. (I should be starting out from the Norfolk area and perhaps carelessly focussed on FL in my original post as I thought I might be that far south for other reasons)

Busy searching through past posts/threads here.....
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:20   #6
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Heading straight east from Georgetown Bahamas was similar to heading east from south Fl. (you have to be willing to get beat up a bit) We sort of "rode a norther" at first... It was either hard to windward or definetly forward of the beam, for the 3 days out. Then after turning south, the 2 days down were a sleigh ride! (5 days total to Boqueron)

If you head south east from a more northerly point, it would be further, but less to windward. "choose your poison". Mark
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:32   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Hi Osirissail,

Am a bit confused about the I-66 route. The OP asks about sailing from FL to PR but from my experience it usually isn't possible to sail or even NE from FL with with abaft the beam. Maybe if you start from St Augustine or Jacksonville but much further south and you are in the easterly trades.

Past experience a lot of sailors heading south would head offshore from NC which avoids giving up too much easting and would put you in an area with more westerly winds. Would that be the I-66 route?

Thanks
Skip
It is possible to leave from anywhere from mid Bahamas/Florida in a westerly or north westerly wind pattern connected with a front and make your way northward to about 28 to 30 degrees north latitude where you will out of the easterly trade winds. The idea is to get north of the trade wind belt and sail east until you reach approx 66 West.
- - Of course, leaving further north up the east coast of the US will save having to "back-track" to the north from Fl/Bahamas when you really want to go going south.
- - With a favorable cold front you can make it east from the Bahamas but they are few and far between. It is more reliable to work you way north first and then east. This is somewhat similar to the folks sailing back from the northern Caribbean islands to Europe. They head north-north-west towards Bermuda before turning east to the Azores.
- - Don't forget we are talking true winds here and not apparent winds. A true wind behind the beam might end up with a hard beating to windward when you factor in boat speed vs true wind speed.
- - The annual Caribbean 1500 (??) starts in Norfolk and goes almost straight to the Virgins. Looking at a chart it appears to be shorter nautical mile wise to head from Norfolk to the Virgins than leave from Florida and then have to backtrack north before you can head south.
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Old 13-09-2010, 06:32   #8
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With a complete lack of knowledge on this subject, let me show my ignorance.
Why is leaving from the Florida keys and traveling along Cuba and Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico not an option?
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Old 13-09-2010, 08:00   #9
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The route along the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola and onwards would be directly into the prevailing strong tradewinds and waves (which have had the breath of the Atlantic to build up in) and is known as the "Thorny Path" for a reason.
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Old 13-09-2010, 11:44   #10
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To add to Zashin concise reply - traveling in a sailboat is not done "upwind." You have to be considerably "off the wind" or have the wind off the bow (pointy end of the boat) by normally 30-60 degrees. Add in the effects of a strong current and you would be either going nowhere or back the way you came. Sailboats are slow. However, in a powerful power boat you could do that route but such a boat would most certainly attract the attention of the DEA and NARCS who patrol those waters looking for drug runners in fast power boats.
- - Traveling along the coastline of Cuba can be hazardous to your financial and political health. Same with traveling along the Haitian coastline can be hazardous to your personal health.
- - It is possible from the lower keys to head west around the south of Cuba and then east to Jamaica and the D.R. and P.R. but that is a rather very long way around. Most folks head up the keys to Marathon or Miami and then cross to near Bimini and then join the normal route down the Bahamas to T&C to D.R. to P.R. This keeps you out of most of the adverse currents and winds.
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Old 13-09-2010, 19:45   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
It is possible to leave from anywhere from mid Bahamas/Florida in a westerly or north westerly wind pattern connected with a front and make your way northward to about 28 to 30 degrees north latitude where you will out of the easterly trade winds. The idea is to get north of the trade wind belt and sail east until you reach approx 66 West.
- - Of course, leaving further north up the east coast of the US will save having to "back-track" to the north from Fl/Bahamas when you really want to go going south.
- - With a favorable cold front you can make it east from the Bahamas but they are few and far between. It is more reliable to work you way north first and then east. This is somewhat similar to the folks sailing back from the northern Caribbean islands to Europe. They head north-north-west towards Bermuda before turning east to the Azores.
- - Don't forget we are talking true winds here and not apparent winds. A true wind behind the beam might end up with a hard beating to windward when you factor in boat speed vs true wind speed.
- - The annual Caribbean 1500 (??) starts in Norfolk and goes almost straight to the Virgins. Looking at a chart it appears to be shorter nautical mile wise to head from Norfolk to the Virgins than leave from Florida and then have to backtrack north before you can head south.
Hi Osirissail,

Thanks for the response. That is pretty much what I assumed and confirms my personal experience. Basically you are beating or trying to play a weather pattern or you start further north.

I have tried to play the fronts to make easting from S FL with very limited success. Either the front closely offset the force of the trades and I ended up with a calm (at least motoring was easy) or I misjudged the front and got my posterior soundly kicked. Most of the trips I made from S FL all the way down island were deliveries so just had to get out there and do the bash and crash. Once on my own boat had the luxury of taking it easy so make the trip from Ft L to St Thomas in 2 months. Definitely the way to go if you have the time.

In those days Haiti was a safer place so we had more stops on the way to the VI. I checked all possible stops once and figured the longest hop between islands was not much more than 115nm if you took advantage of every possible country or harbor. Toyed with the idea of doing the trip in a 25' power boat with 175 mile range but never got around to it.
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Old 17-09-2010, 12:28   #12
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I hope to go to puerto rico too. I can't pass south of hatteras till 31st oct 2010, due to insurance, and i have only a little experience in over night passages. I need to fly from san juan on or before 30th nov 2010,
I had thought to hop down to lake worth, out to bimini, through to providence islands, over to puerto plato, dom rep, then san juan. any advice, comments or company, ie buddy boat or non paid experienced crew would be appreciated.
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Old 17-09-2010, 14:08   #13
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We went to Bimini from Lake Worth by going close along the coast in the counter current, as far as Ft Lauderdale, then crossing the stream from there. Previous crossings have been from further south, like Miami or Byscane Bay. They are easier as you can point east, and the stream will take you N east toward Bimini. The thing about leaving from Lake Worth is you have to crab at an extreem SE angle to counter the Gulf Stream. We were sailing @ 8 knots, but making about half that toward our destination! (attched is clearing in at Bimini)

We worked our way down to Georgetown, and then did a 5 day straight to PR, by catching a front for our easting. (story at top of page...) It worked fine!
Good luck... Mark
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Old 17-09-2010, 15:01   #14
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I hope to go to puerto rico too. I can't pass south of hatteras till 31st oct 2010, due to insurance, and i have only a little experience in over night passages. I need to fly from san juan on or before 30th nov 2010,
I had thought to hop down to lake worth, out to bimini, through to providence islands, over to puerto plato, dom rep, then san juan. any advice, comments or company, ie buddy boat or non paid experienced crew would be appreciated.
kathrine,
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- - With less than one month to do the trip I don't think you can use the "Thornless Path" down through the Bahamas; T&C; D.R. and then P.R. It would require a "direct link to Mother Nature" to get weather windows back to back allowing you to move in less than some real nasty winds and seas.
- - I did make it from Cape Canaveral to Luperon in 18 days once but got bashed and smashed several times more than I liked. And then I was only halfway to the Virgins.
- - If you cannot do the I-66 route then wait until you have 2 to 3 months available. Or hire somebody to take the boat down and fly down to meet them after your end of Nov commitments are over.
- - You cannot enter Puerto Plata harbor in a private recreational yacht and you would not want to do it anyway. There is the Ocean World Marina/resort just west of Puerto Plata outside the main harbor. You can stop there but it is not cheap for a fuel/rest stop. Entering/exiting the D.R. is not cheap anywhere.
- - The main problem with the Dominican Republic is the constant trade winds and current during the daytime. If you read Van Sant's books you can see how he uses the "night lee" effect to counter the trades. But you will be motor-sailing at night along some potentially nasty shoreline cliffs. Waiting for a good weather window to proceed east can take 2 days or 2 months as these windows appear based on the cold fronts that roll off the SE US weekly. Usually every 4th or 5th cold front will present a reasonably good weather window for the leg to Puerto Rico.
- - If you are lucky or charmed like Mark Johnson you can bypass the D.R. and go from the Bahamas direct to Puerto Rico. And he had a "tri" - that's cheating. Every stop along the way introduces more delays and eats at your schedule.
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Old 18-09-2010, 06:48   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
- - With less than one month to do the trip I don't think you can use the "Thornless Path" down through the Bahamas; T&C; D.R. and then P.R. It would require a "direct link to Mother Nature" to get weather windows back to back allowing you to move in less than some real nasty winds and seas.
- - I did make it from Cape Canaveral to Luperon in 18 days once but got bashed and smashed several times more than I liked. And then I was only halfway to the Virgins.
- - If you cannot do the I-66 route then wait until you have 2 to 3 months available. Or hire somebody to take the boat down and fly down to meet them after your end of Nov commitments are over.
- - You cannot enter Puerto Plata harbor in a private recreational yacht and you would not want to do it anyway. There is the Ocean World Marina/resort just west of Puerto Plata outside the main harbor. You can stop there but it is not cheap for a fuel/rest stop. Entering/exiting the D.R. is not cheap anywhere.
- - The main problem with the Dominican Republic is the constant trade winds and current during the daytime. If you read Van Sant's books you can see how he uses the "night lee" effect to counter the trades. But you will be motor-sailing at night along some potentially nasty shoreline cliffs. Waiting for a good weather window to proceed east can take 2 days or 2 months as these windows appear based on the cold fronts that roll off the SE US weekly. Usually every 4th or 5th cold front will present a reasonably good weather window for the leg to Puerto Rico.
- - If you are lucky or charmed like Mark Johnson you can bypass the D.R. and go from the Bahamas direct to Puerto Rico. And he had a "tri" - that's cheating. Every stop along the way introduces more delays and eats at your schedule.
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
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