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Old 18-10-2010, 16:20   #1
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Should We Go N or S of Cuba ?

This December, 2010, we're sailing from the Rio Dulce (Guatemala) to the Turks&Caicos (SE Bahamas). We're a 47' Catamaran with dagger-boards, so we can go reasonably well to windward.

WHICH IS THE BEST/EASIER ROUTE?
  • Should we go N of Cuba (Gulf Stream, possible northerlies, and a long beat E from Florida)?
  • Or should we go S of Cuba, in the Caribbean, through the Windward Passage?

Thanks, Lee Adamson
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Old 18-10-2010, 18:40   #2
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I have not done this passage but it would seem much easier to go thru the caribbean and south of Cuba. Depending on the winds, its possible that you might make Jamaica and then go northeast in the lee of Haiti. If the winds are not good you might be able to go as close to windward as possible until you meet the south coast of Cuba and use the land effects to go east.

My 2c - Let us know how it goes!
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Old 18-10-2010, 19:13   #3
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I went from Placencia, Belize to the BVI, via Caymans and Jamaica in Sept 06 on my 38' keeled cat with blown out sails. Upwind against the current but following the shore lines made it reasonable. December may throw some brisk Northerlies at you, might be more pleasant in the lee of the greater islands. I'm thinking South of Cuba.

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Old 20-10-2010, 17:35   #4
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Interesting. We have been planning to do a similar route early next year - We are currently in Grenada, and were thinking of going down to Central America and then back up to the bahamas - but people have been putting us off because of the slog to windward.

We are in a Leopard 42 cat - no daggerboards, so not great upwind. So what is the crossing from the Yucatan to Cuba like? Seems the current sets NNW through the Yucatan Strait, which would put it at 90deg to the wind, so at least it is not on the nose. But then we also have to travel upwind along the coast of Cuba. So does one short tack inshore to avoid the current? Or travel at night to get some land breeze? Or how much of a slog would this journey be?

We have two time considerations - I have a seminar in Washington in March, so I need to be somewhere other than Cuba in order to fly there, and we want to set off across the Atlantic in May, so need to be up in the vicinity of the Bahamas, BVI etc by then.

Also, while they are strong, presumably the northerlies would actually help by providing a better wind direction than the easterlies? But I guess on the north side with the gulf stream plus the northerlies it could get pretty rough.

So, are we crazy attempting this? Should we just stay here in the islands, or is this reasonably doable?

Thanks

Noel
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Old 20-10-2010, 18:46   #5
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That time of year? South, no question IMHO.
You will be protected from the Northers and it is possible to sail almost directly from Guatemala to the west end of Cuba on one tack-yes we have done it!

Ideally cross the bar at Livingston and head east as far as Roatan then turn left! If you time it right with a decent weather window its a great reach up to Cuba. Heading east along the coast you can avoid the trades by keeping close in, have a look at 'Gentlemans; Passages South' excellent hints and tips on using on/off shore breezes and night sailing in that part of the Caribbean.

have fun
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Old 22-10-2010, 14:28   #6
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Thanks Annk,

That book sounds interesting. Wonder if I can get out here in Grenada? Hmmm.

Noel
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Old 22-10-2010, 16:23   #7
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Originally Posted by LifePart2 View Post
Thanks Annk,

That book sounds interesting. Wonder if I can get out here in Grenada? Hmmm.

Noel

Island water world has it listed for $26.00 - Lagoon Road $17 at Amazon

If they don't, I'll be arriving Grenada sometime around mid-Nov and can bring a copy. PM me if need be albertaw at telus dot net.

Cheers

Dave
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Old 27-10-2010, 15:03   #8
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Thanks, Dave,

Yes, found it at Island Water World. Very interesting book

Noel
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Old 27-10-2010, 15:40   #9
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Annk,
Rereading your post where you say "That time of year? South, no question IMHO". Then you go on to talk about the "Gentleman's Guide". I am confused. Do you recommend going along the south side of Cuba to the Windward Passage?
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Old 27-10-2010, 17:16   #10
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Sorry if I have confused you.

Yes I do mean taking the southern route and my comment about gentleman's passages south is reference to a book by Bruce Van Sant that gives some good, if quirky advice about using on/off shore winds to sail against the prevailing trades in the Caribbean.Whilst he is not specific about Cuba his advice on using wind effects to full advantage we found to be educational and instructive.

We found no problem cruising the southern coast of Cuba from West to east against the trades. We left early in the mornings and anchored by lunchtime to avoid the afternoon easterly blow. It worked very well for us...
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Old 28-10-2010, 08:17   #11
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ASSUMING YOUR GOING TO SAIL ONLY:
RIO DULCE >>> WEST END CUBA >>> GULF STREAM TO ABOVE GREAT ABACO >>> SAN SALVADOR >>> TURKS & CAICOS.
(you can stop here for a rest before slipping into the gulf stream)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Adamson View Post
This December, 2010, we're sailing from the Rio Dulce (Guatemala) to the Turks&Caicos (SE Bahamas). We're a 47' Catamaran with dagger-boards, so we can go reasonably well to windward.


WHICH IS THE BEST/EASIER ROUTE?
  • Should we go N of Cuba (Gulf Stream, possible northerlies, and a long beat E from Florida)?
  • Or should we go S of Cuba, in the Caribbean, through the Windward Passage?

Thanks, Lee Adamson
s/v Worldwide Traveler
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Old 10-11-2010, 17:36   #12
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annk,
We plan to sail from Grand Cayman along the south shore of Cuba to the Windward Passage, and then on to Turks & Caicos.
Based on your experience, how many miles eastward can we reasonably expect to make each day, assuming an aggressive schedule of starting early and anchoring when the winds pick up in the afternoon?
Lee
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:33   #13
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Lee,
If you are in Grand Cayman and want to sail to the Turks & Caicos in a cat. I would consider >>>> to west end of Cuba (300 mi) >>>> Gulfstream to Bahamas (500 mi) >>>> Turks & Caicos (500 mi). Otherwise I would sail to Isle of Pines,Cuba get on the beach and daysail/motor to the Windward Passage motor 250 miles to Puerto Plata,DR and sail to Turks.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:51   #14
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I also currently have my boat (a Swan 36) at Grand Cayman and am considering a long fairly complete tour of the Caribbean in the next 18 months. We are currently planning to depart Grand Cayman mid January 2011.

One option we are considering is to depart Grand Cayman to Belize, Bay Islands and so on to Costa Rica by Mid February. Then I have to return home to do some work expecting to return again Mid March and sail along the Columbia coast to Aruba and so on to the Leeward islands.

Any comments on this plan, My partner is concerned about safety as we visit various locations along the way especially in Belize, Panama & Columbia. I'm looking at the winds and wave patterns and this looks to me like a passage that will have favorable winds most of the way except the last part of the passage to Aruba.

I would appreciate any feedback from experienced cruiser that have traveled in these areas.

Thanks

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Old 11-11-2010, 13:02   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanssouci View Post
ASSUMING YOUR GOING TO SAIL ONLY:
RIO DULCE >>> WEST END CUBA >>> GULF STREAM TO ABOVE GREAT ABACO >>> SAN SALVADOR >>> TURKS & CAICOS.
(you can stop here for a rest before slipping into the gulf stream)
I'd suggest this route also. You'll be on a beam reach with a nice current adding to the SOG. You'll be on the nose once you turn East and Cuba can be a loooong sail, but you've got the Gulf Stream pushing you along until it turns North.

The southern route will put the wind on your nose until you turn North either in the Windward Passage (E Cuba/Haiti) or the Mona (E D.R./W P.R.) which can be a tough passage. About the only good thing about the Mona is that once you clear it, you're on a nice reach to the T&K.
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