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Old 02-09-2016, 05:38   #1
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St Martin to Sarasota, FL - newbie questions

My wife and I with another couple, are planning to sail our Bavaria 46 from St. Martin to Sarasota, FL at the end of October. We recently purchased the boat there, and are moving it to the States. We haven't cruised the Caribbean.

I came across this thread:
BVI to Miami

but have more questions, including:
  • additional input on the route, and getting across the Gulf Stream
  • how much time to allow? We can't "take out time" but don't need to sail straight thru
  • budget? what do we need to plan for?
  • what will we need for documentation in various places? fees?
  • internet / cell phone - planning for being able to communicate
  • What are some good resources/books/etc we can get?
  • other?

Doug and Mary
s/v Cassiopeia
Bavaria 46E (1997)
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:10   #2
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Re: St Martin to Sarasota, FL - newbie questions

First you are not going to Miami but to Key West and then up to Sarasota and the best route I have sailed is through the Old Bahamas Channel between the southern end of the Bahamas and Cuba. You will be riding what is the northern Caribbean component of what becomes the Gulf Stream.

Initially going north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic might be easier than sailing the Mona Passage. The trip to Key West which is generally with wind and current should take a week to 10 days. It is probably easier to go south of Cay Sal Bank and then cross the Yucatan component of what becomes the Gulf Stream. I have crossed and sailed the Yucatan current several times and the only problem was in the Yucatan Channel, it was very benign near Key West and the Dry Tortuga's.

I am told that there is now a marina at the East End of Cuba but I have no personal knowledge.

Documentation is boat registration, passports and US $'s.

Use,23.748 to see the currents you will be in.

I have always done the trip in Mid-November, October is still hurricane season but with good weather routing you should be OK.

I have never sailed from Key West to Sarasota but I have sailed the Bavaria 46, it should be a fast passage. Do put a preventer on the main when you are running downwind. Last tip we ran a pole on the genoa and a preventer for 4 straight days.


"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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Old 02-09-2016, 13:48   #3
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Re: St Martin to Sarasota, FL - newbie questions

Everything Phil said is spot on correct. That's the fastest and easiest route. As he said, a preventer is essential, you will have prevailing trades as well as the current behind you, we frequently hit 12-14 kt and were surfing down waves.

From St Martin to the DR, you will have many options for stopping. After that, Haiti is generally considered to be unsafe, and if you are a US citizen, Cuba is probably still off limits except in an emergency, so your long leg is DR to FL. You can clear in in Miami or Key West; if you clear into Miami, you can take the ICW the rest of the way around (there are a few places where MLLW controlling depth is about 5.5 feet). But there is no problem crossing the Gulf Stream anywhere between Cuba and FL, it doesn't really start to accelerate until it turns northerly.

Last trip through there it took us 2 days from Tortola to Luperon (where we sat for 4 days waiting for a cold front to pass), then 5 days/4 night to Miami.

Documentation is all the normal stuff... You don't really need a guide book. this is all pretty simple stuff. Just make a list of places you can tuck in along the way (check ActiveCaptain), and make a good dash from DR to FL.

Internet and phone is spotty except in major ports.

It's a fun trip! The only caveat is that a hurricane can form right on top of you with little notice, so some weather routing might be something to consider.

Best wishes! Pete
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Old 02-09-2016, 14:07   #4
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Re: St Martin to Sarasota, FL - newbie questions

You can cut some miles off by heading for Sombrero Key, then through the Moser Channel into Florida Bay, and on up the Gulf Coast to Sarasota.

Also note that if you take the Old Bahamas Channel and encounter a cold front with northerly/northeasterly winds as you reach the Gulf Stream, perhaps requiring you to delay your crossing, do your research on anchoring at Cay Sal Banks before you go. The holding is a bit sparse there.
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sarasota, St Martin

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