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Old 05-07-2008, 18:51   #1
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Sailing - Trinidad to Florida - Hurricane Bait ?

Good Evening sailors!

I am trying to decide on the purchase of a boat located in Trinidad and sailing it to home port (Florida.) Unfortunately I am a teacher so I only have a month to do this. I have experience singlehanding my last boat, a hunter 34, in the Keys, Cuba, and Bahamas.

Can anyone share any good hurricane holes or course planning tips for this trip? it is a long one, but It seems to me, that if I hope from island to island, stop in BVI, USVI, PR, DR, Grand Turk, and then a couple of stops in the bahamas.. It would be a relatively safe trips with ample opportunity to stop for supplies, weather updates, hurricane havens and good times..

any thoughts? also.. my wife is a Romanian citizen currently in the US with a green card. Do you think we will get the rubber glove at every customs station on every island?

Thanks in advance! I hope you are all enjoying your holiday weekend!!! Nothing like fireworks on the water!

Jamie _ Desperately missing my boat! /)
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Old 06-07-2008, 04:03   #2
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Originally Posted by jgartland77 View Post
Good Evening sailors!
I am trying to decide on the purchase of a boat located in Trinidad and sailing it to home port (Florida.) Unfortunately I am a teacher so I only have a month to do this...
... it is a long one, but It seems to me, that if I hope from island to island, stop in BVI, USVI, PR, DR, Grand Turk, and then a couple of stops in the bahamas.. It would be a relatively safe trips with ample opportunity to stop for supplies, weather updates, hurricane havens and good times...
I suspect that your subconscious, as revealed in your inadvertent pun (Freudian slip ?) may be trying to tell you something.
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:02   #3
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Hi, Jamie,and welcome to Cruisers Forum. Good to have you here!

The trip you describe is certainly doable, and in fact has been done many, many times. However, it would be much more enjoyable if you took more than a month.

I have some experience with at least part of your planned route. Trinidad to St. Thomas, island hopping, would take about 12 days, with no stops to enjoy the scenery. Just sail all day, anchor for the night, sail all day. Add some lay days if you can, to make the trip more enjoyable. It would be a shame to miss experiencing the islands!

If you're on the east coast of Florida, the Bahamas would be a good destination on your way home. I've done the St. Thomas-Abacos passage--6 days of offshore sailing, if you can make 140 nm/day. Spend a few days in the Bahamas to get your money's worth from the $300 clearance fee.

All the best,
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Old 06-07-2008, 06:28   #4
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you are absolutely right...

It was a slip....and part of me did mean hope... I have always done my cruising in during the first half of hurricane season and I have sat in marina hemingway, and key west while cat 3's brushed by. I have survived 2 direct hits on intercoastal waterways...with out a scratch.. but lost the boat to one... so you can imagine my mixed feelings of confidence and apprehension. I would be 100% confident if I were going to be in my stomping grounds because I konw some good holes, and some good tricks for shallow sandy areas where I can lay out a few anchors. But not knowing the terrain of the southern Caribbean makes me a bit nervous. If I learned anything from my previous hurricane exp its.... find a well protected, anchorage or even pier... and STAY WITH THE BOAT.. I could have prevented my previous boats demise if I had done that winds were 110 plus.. but 90% of the boats were undamaged, and all of the livaboards boats were unscathed. Hell, with their inverters and generators, they were the only ones intown taking hot showers, and drinking hot coffee for the next 2 weeks hahah.

I appreciate everyones advice.. I am hoping to find someone who is down there now who can let me know what its like down there.. if I look at the data, historically.. it seems that the worst thing that can happen in the lower and eastern carib during that july-first half of august period, would be a tropical storm forming in that area.. and that in itself is almost worse to me because it has time to churn the seas for a while.. instead of just traveling through.
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:08   #5
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I agree the trip is doable, and would also agree that you would be much better off allowing more time. The eastern Caribbean is just too nice to race through it! I would be very careful and watchful doing the trip during hurricane season. While there are excellent hurricane holes in various places, it would require really careful planning to be at the right place at the right time. Doing the trip in a 30 day period would make this planning even more challenging. Having spent 9 years cruising the eastern Caribbean, my experience is that your wife shouldn't have any problem with customs.
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:10   #6
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Jamie,
If I were you, I would wait until after hurricane season to purchase the boat. If you are meant to have it it will be there unless the boat is a fantastic financial deal. I would then wait until I ended school June 2009 to sail it back to the states. Four weeks is a short time to sail back to Florida. I respect Hud's advice. At this time Bertha is churning in the Atlantic. The estimated track of Bertha is all over the place. The track should be known later in the week with the effects of the storm being felt by July 12th. Trying to shoot for the middle of July is very short notice for planning for hurrican holes and the route to take. Just some of my thoughts.
John
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Old 06-07-2008, 16:39   #7
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And the locals fill up the hurricane holes pretty quickly. It would be hard to find room as a transient!
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Old 07-07-2008, 02:57   #8
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Originally Posted by jgartland77 View Post
... If I learned anything from my previous hurricane exp its.... find a well protected, anchorage or even pier... and STAY WITH THE BOAT...
My personal experience, and that of many others with whom Iíve spoken, mirrors the axiomatic advice offered in the BoatUS Hurricane Safety brochure at:

BoatUS.com: Hurricane Resource Center - Brochure

<quote>
Axiom: Never Stay Aboard in a Hurricane!

One of the most dangerous mistakes a skipper can make is to stay aboard his or her boat during a hurricane. Several accounts given in claim files indicate that there is little, if anything, a skipper can do to save a boat when winds are blowing 100 mph, tides are surging, and visibility is only a few feet.

What can happen? Consider the case of a 68-year old skipper in Charleston, who together with his grown nephew, took their trawler up the Wando River to ride out Hurricane Hugo in what they thought would be a sheltered hurricane hole. He reported that the boat seemed to be doing fairly well, but later that night the wind picked up to over 100 mph and 15í seas sent the boat crashing completely over.

The two men were trapped briefly in a pocket of air underwater when another wave rolled the boat back upright.The two men scrambled onto the deck and were eventually rescued, but not before almost drowning and being overcome by exposure.

Another skipper who stayed aboard his motorsailor at a marina during Gloria had to jump overboard and swim through breaking waves, drifting boats and debris after another boat broke free and rammed its mast (the boat was on its beam ends) through his boatís pilot house window. Again, he was lucky to reach shore alive. Two Miami men who stayed aboard a Sportfisherman (not insured by BoatUS) during Andrew were not so lucky. Both drowned while trying to escape their sinking boat.

When a hurricane is approaching, you should certainly do everything you can to protect your boat: secure extra lines, set out anchors, add chafe protection, strip the boat above and below decks, etc. Do whatever you think it takes, then head inland. Your boat can be replaced; you canít.
<end quote>

Factoid: About 25% of hurricane fatalities result from boaters trying to secure vessels in deteriorating storm conditions.
Source:
http://www.aicw.org/hurricane/hurricane-manual.pdf
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:19   #9
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Another thing to keep in mind is that buying a new(to you) boat and setting off on a long cruise with a tight schedule is just asking for trouble. How well do you know this boat? How confident are you that the boat is ready for a trip like that? There's a big difference between a broker saying that a boat is in 'sailaway' condition and the boat actually being ready for a trip like that! If this boat is your dream boat and such a good deal that you just can't pass it up, it might be better to buy it, go down there and spend your month sailing around the eastern Carib, getting to know the boat and sorting out any issues it has or may develope, then put it on the hard in Grenada or Trini and then bring it home next year when you have more time for the trip and for planning.
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:26   #10
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Exactly what I was thinking Mick. Well stated.
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Old 31-07-2008, 14:36   #11
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Yup - What Mick said! Making a trip like the one proposed on an unfamiliar vessel with a tight schedule during hurricane season sounds to me like a sure date with disaster!
To answer a couple of your questions, however, the only "real" hurricane hole I know of between Trini and at least the northern end of St. Lucia is in the mangroves off Tyrrel Bay on Carriacou, first large island north of the island of Grenada. There are several reasonably well protected bays along the southern shore of Grenada itself, but boats that were there during Ivan in '04 were severely damaged - even those on the hard. Local boats from miles around head to T'Bay, however, so you'd better be very early.
So far as the green card, it will most definitely cause delays at immigration points. I had a physician and hos family on board two years ago. The wife and daughter were US citizens - no problem. The young son had a green card as did the doctor himself, and though there were no problems there were delays in processing.
My advice - if you MUST have this boat, and you MUST buy it now, get used to it while enjoying the Grenadines, store it on the hard 'till next year and bring it back to the states then on a more reasonable schedule.
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