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Old 16-03-2015, 21:35   #1
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pirate Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Hi Sailors, first post here!

I'm looking at sailing out of Galveston in May, possibly making a stop in Cuba, then heading to Rio Dulce. Anyone have experience crossing the Gulf Stream between Cuba and Mexico? The pilot charts show a 2 knot current. I'm thinking of heading straight to Cuba and checking in at Marina Cabo San Antonio then hugging the coastline around and exploring Pinar del Río for a few days. From there a straight shot to Rio Dulce should be a nice sail. This is my first long trip. Anything I should be weary of? Preparations for sailing into Cuba?
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Old 17-03-2015, 05:42   #2
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, smallpockets.
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Old 17-03-2015, 06:10   #3
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Have you searched noonsite??? Cuba Coastal Cruising — Noonsite

Also I have heard there is a counter current as you get closer to the island. I am hoping to hit Cuba in Oct. But I am planning on doing the ICW to Mobile before hitting the gulf. Mainly to see Louisiana some.
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Old 17-03-2015, 06:44   #4
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by smallpockets View Post
Hi Sailors, first post here!

I'm looking at sailing out of Galveston in May,
The area between Galveston and Cuba is frequently affected by lows coming from the north off the Texas mainland. It's unlikely you'll avoid them all. Conditions in the Gulf can be treacherous when a low comes through packing gale force wind and stirring up big waves...

Quote:
possibly making a stop in Cuba,...
The closer you get go Cuba Wind and current will give you a fast ride to destinations on the northeast end... Never, ever attempt to round the West end of Cuba on a southerly. You may encounter standing waves.

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...then heading to Rio Dulce. Anyone have experience crossing the Gulf Stream between Cuba and Mexico? The pilot charts show a 2 knot current. I'm thinking of heading straight to Cuba and checking in at Marina Cabo San Antonio then hugging the coastline around and exploring Pinar del Río for a few days. From there a straight shot to Rio Dulce should be a nice sail. This is my first long trip. Anything I should be weary of? Preparations for sailing into Cuba?
Otherwise, "...hugging the coast line..." is something you'll want to do with extreme caution.
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:04   #5
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

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Originally Posted by smallpockets View Post
Hi Sailors, first post here!

I'm looking at sailing out of Galveston in May, possibly making a stop in Cuba, then heading to Rio Dulce. Anyone have experience crossing the Gulf Stream between Cuba and Mexico? The pilot charts show a 2 knot current. I'm thinking of heading straight to Cuba and checking in at Marina Cabo San Antonio then hugging the coastline around and exploring Pinar del Río for a few days. From there a straight shot to Rio Dulce should be a nice sail. This is my first long trip. Anything I should be weary of? Preparations for sailing into Cuba?
From Galveston you are going way out of the way by crossing gulf stream twice heading to Rio Dulce. There is nothing at Fat marias @ Marina Cabo San Antonio for a cruising sailboat- just gravity fed very expensive fuel. Best you closely round tipoff Yucatan and stop at Isla Mujeres--then on down to Rio.
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Old 17-03-2015, 10:01   #6
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

I think Georgetheleo has it right. Since your willing to sail 180 + miles (2 days) out of your way and cross the Gulf Stream twice to get to Cuba, you want to go to Cuba. Unless your Cuban or have Cuban family there in Cuba to visit, it's still not open to the general public and US Customs will be interested in you, if you come back to the US. I live in Key West and the US knows everyone that goes over there. Between Fat Albert blimp out of Boca Chico Navy Air Base plus all there fighter jet training runs along the straights looking for Cubans escaping and flights to and from Gitmo. Might think about sailing to Key West first (clear customs to Cuba or Mexico) and then stop by the Dry Tortugas Fort and then Cuba. We try to do 50 miles at a time when possible and keep the over nights to a minimum. From the Dry Tortugas we would sail towards Cuba staying off shore enough to not be a problem for Cuba in International Waters but the current is less the closer you get to land. We estimate Isle of Mujeres Mexico is a three day sail from the Fort. I would not want to miss Ambergris Belize Island.
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Old 17-03-2015, 10:11   #7
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Not to be picky but it is still illegal, without US Gov approval, for Americans to sail to Cuba. That said a whole bunch of folks are doing it. I plan to sail down in April.


Some leave from Dry Tortugas to get Gulf Stream help and others from Key West. A good place to wait for a decent weather window, provision, drink too much, enjoy a unique city is Key West. Its only 90 miles, give or take. Crossing the Gulf is a bigger threat to your comfort. I have done Pensacola to Clearwater then down the coast. I prefer day sails and comfortable anchorages and there are plenty of them on the West coast of Florida. Contrary to a lot of bad press there are few places that will hassle you in Florida when at anchor.
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Old 17-03-2015, 13:17   #8
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Thanks for all the replies!

It looks like I might be skipping Cuba this go round, heading straight for Isla Mujeres. Then I'll hug the coast and head south towards Rio Dulce.

Ambergris Caye, looks like a definite stop. Anybody else have any suggestions of where to lay over, or some inland exploring around these parts?

Xeon_TSD: I was recommended by another sailor that if I did want to sail to Cuba, to head straight for Havana, that the current would assist in the passage. From Havana head west staying inside the reef towards the Golfo de Guahanacabibes all the way to Moro, and clear out there for Isla Mujeres. From there continue south to Rio Dulce.

I'm debating between a few routes to get me to Isla Mujeres. Would it be best to head direct from Galveston, head south along the ICW, then cut over, or would it be favorable to head towards New Orleans first then directly South?

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Old 17-03-2015, 13:52   #9
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

You might be interested in this, they just went to Cuba

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Old 17-03-2015, 14:33   #10
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Consider stopping in Chetumal, MX and Placencia, Belize. Small, local, fun.
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Old 17-03-2015, 14:47   #11
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Here's a link to a NOAA website with Gulf of Mexico current predicitions. Might help you decide on your route...

NCOM Hi-Res Currents in the Gulf of Mexico
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Old 17-03-2015, 14:47   #12
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

Stu - you beat me to it by minutes.
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Old 17-03-2015, 14:56   #13
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

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Originally Posted by smallpockets View Post
...heading straight for Isla Mujeres. Then I'll hug the coast and head south towards Rio Dulce.

Ambergris Caye, looks like a definite stop. Anybody else have any suggestions of where to lay over, or some inland exploring around these parts?
...
That's the more common route.

Personally I don't like Ambergris, but it is a popular choice.

You've mentioned a straight shot south to the Rio. Assuming you mean outside the Belizean barrier reef that's not ideal (though many do it) because you can find yourself fighting a strong current (Yucatan Current). Inside the reef you get a favorable current, more protected waters, and loads of cruising/anchoring options.

Troublesome officials aside, Belize is a great cruising ground. Some mostly skip it and head for the Rio, but I think that's really missing out on an incredible coastline. Just like never leaving a bar stool on the Rio, as many do, is missing out on the amazing country of Guatemala.
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Old 17-03-2015, 22:35   #14
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

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You might be interested in this, they just went to Cuba

Tate, Dani and the Great Flush | Sundowner Sails Again
Thanks for the link, a very nice resource to have. Looks like they had some trouble crossing the stream from Cuba to to Isla Mujeres. Not too bad though!

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It would seem that heading towards Louisiana coast is not in my favor.

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Troublesome officials aside, Belize is a great cruising ground.
Care to expand on the "Troublesome Officials?"
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Old 18-03-2015, 01:38   #15
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Re: Texas Coast to Cuba to Rio Dulce

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Originally Posted by smallpockets View Post
Hi Sailors, first post here!

I'm looking at sailing out of Galveston in May, possibly making a stop in Cuba, then heading to Rio Dulce. Anyone have experience crossing the Gulf Stream between Cuba and Mexico? The pilot charts show a 2 knot current. I'm thinking of heading straight to Cuba and checking in at Marina Cabo San Antonio then hugging the coastline around and exploring Pinar del Río for a few days. From there a straight shot to Rio Dulce should be a nice sail. This is my first long trip. Anything I should be weary of? Preparations for sailing into Cuba?
hi, I would stop in at key west to wait for a weather window, if the wind is kicking up the east trades that is.you don't want to cross the straights in high east winds. I would only go at 10/15 max east wind.
good luck
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