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Old 12-12-2011, 13:52   #1
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The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Does anyone know how many times Frank Virgintino who has written this guide has sailed the windward passage and south of the DR to Puerto Rico? It sounds like an option; however Bruce Van Sant did the thornless path about 20 times before he wrote his cruising guide?
We would love to hear from anyone who has taken this route as we are looking to go to Grenada from The Bahamas this winter?
Thanks
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Old 13-12-2011, 07:14   #2
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

You might ask Frank directly at fvirgintino@gmail.com.

His CF screen name is “tokarse”
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - View Profile: tokarse

Frank Virgintino is a native New Yorker who has spent over twenty years living and cruising in the Dominican Republic. His sailing background of over forty years covers the Canadian Maritimes, all of the eastern seaboard of the United States and the entire Caribbean, many times over. Aside from cruising he has spent the better part of his career building and administering marinas. In the process of writing this guide all of the harbors listed were visited and each and every town noted. All of the information in the guide is a result of personal research and knowledge of the Dominican Republic. None of it was garnered ‘second party’. It is hoped that the guide will make the Dominican Republic easier to access and understand.
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Old 15-12-2011, 06:53   #3
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Dear Chrissy,
Notwithstanding the many times I have made passage through both the Windward Passage as well as the Mona Passage, I think the question you should ask yourself is one whose answer is self evident once you look at the charts.
Do I want to make my easting in the Atlantic against the Trade Winds where there are few anchorages and harbors on a lee coast or do I want to make my easting in the Caribbean against the Trade Winds where there are many anchorages and harbors on a weather shore where the wind will blow me offshore rather than on shore.
Bruce Van Sant did a genius job in my estimation figuring out how to work against the weather on the dangerous Atlantic Shore of Hispaniola. His understanding of weather patterns and nighttime calms is that of a master. Everyone should make an effort to read his work and understand what he understands; at least those that choose to cruise a boat safely. However, if there is an easier way and a safer way to make the passage, I would think it is preferable. The Caribbean side of the Greater Antilles is safer in every way. Weather wise you clearly are not on a lee shore. You also gain, as you do on the north side as well, the benefit of being able to use Katabatic Winds. Lastly, you have harbor after harbor and anchorage after anchorage that you can use as compared to the north side where there are very few usable stops along the way.
There is also a dividend in that one does not have to cross the Mona Passage, which is in its own right, a very dangerous passage as you will find yourself south of it. Crossing between the DR and PR south of the passage is simply crossing across the cut between the islands as compared to transiting the Mona. There are many times I have crossed the Mona when it has been really unremarkable and there are times when I have crossed it, even with good weather planning, when I have asked myself "What am I doing out here"?
Good Sailing/Safe Cruising
Frank Virgintino
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Old 15-12-2011, 08:31   #4
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Hi Frank,
I read your guide for the DR (great read) and am considering it in order to spend more time in the DR. Aside from checking in and out of Haiti (Port Morgan sounds fantastic) what is the protocol for the DR? After clearing in and out of Luperon is it necessary to check in and out of each port ie. Las Salinas, Santo Domingo etc.? From what I hear the Dominicans are notorious for conjuring up junk fees.
Thanks, Jim
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Old 15-12-2011, 09:01   #5
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Jim,
Thank you for the question and glad you enjoyed it. You must remember that the charge for the boat is $43.00 and there is a charge for each visa which is $15.00 per visa. There are no other required charges. If you check in through a marina, such as in Boca Chica or Casa de Campo they will charge you a fee of about $100.00 over the basic. This is to cover their time to assist you as well as predetermined tips which you will end up paying anyway.
Good Sailing/Safe Cruising
Frank Virgintino
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Old 15-12-2011, 10:16   #6
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Frank,

Thanks for taking the time to write the Thinking Man's Guide and the DR guide!

I'm reading the section on the modified offshore route to the trades, and I'd like to ask a couple of questions. Note that I've sailed offshore only a handful of hours, so bear with my inexperience, please. All I know about navigating a route like this comes from reading.

You say you like to leave from Hilton Head, SC, head due SW (I assume you meant SE) for about 100 miles to cross the stream, and then head directly south, to the Windward Passage. I'm looking at it on Google Maps and the numbers just don't add up. 100 miles SE of Hilton Head, SC puts you in latitude 34 degrees N. If the trades make their presence knowns at roughly 22 S, you still have a few hundred miles to go before finding them. Right?

Also, 100 miles SE of Hilton Head is roughly longitude 79 degrees W (is that even past the stream?), and if you head south from there you'll be west of the Bahamas, not east, and still a good (upwind) distance from the Windward Passage.

The map that's on the guide shows this route starting from Morehead City, NC. And this one makes more sense with the context of your description of the route.

Is there something I'm misunderstanding or misreading?

Thanks!
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Old 15-12-2011, 12:22   #7
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South
Dear Enovillo
I personally like to leave from Hilton Head and do not mind rounding Cape Hatteras. I rest up in Hilton Head and wait for the right time to leave. The CHART in the guide refers to leaving from Morehead as you surmised and as most sailors prefer as it is north of Cape Hatteras.
Whether you leave from Morehead or Hilton Head, the two challenges are to cross the Gulf Stream and to pick up the trades.
I agree with Jimmy Cornell in "World Cruising Routes" Fifth edition, on page 176 where he says "One should proceed for at least 100 miles ESE direction so as to cross the Gulf Stream at right angles"
Once you reach that position offshore, you will cross the Gulf Stream and that should put you almost due north of San Salvador which will be at that point about 560 miles to your south.
I do not believe you will be "upwind of the Windward passage" at that point as the Trade Winds will be E or north of E and you should be able to reach all the way down on a SSE heading to the Windward Passage.

I could have made this clearer in the book and will do so in the next edition.
From what you say about your limited offshore experience, I recommend you consider the Windward Passage as it allows for less offshore time and when you come to the Caribbean you will be on the Caribbean side of the islands and not on a lee coast.

I appreciate your interest and look forward to hearing from you again.

Regards,
Frank Virgintino


Also, 100 miles SE of Hilton Head is roughly longitude 79 degrees W (is that even past the stream?), and if you head south from there you'll be west of the Bahamas, not east, and still a good (upwind) distance from the Windward Passage.

The map that's on the guide shows this route starting from Morehead City, NC. And this one makes more sense with the context of your description of the route.

Is there something I'm misunderstanding or misreading?
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Old 15-12-2011, 13:02   #8
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Thanks Frank. Right now I'm just doing my homework. The decision to take Van Sant's thornless path or your suggested route south of Hispaniola is over 2 years away for us. Today I'm leaning for your recommendation

And just for correctness' sake, Morehead City is *south* of Cape Hatteras.
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Old 15-12-2011, 13:06   #9
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

I agree with you, Morehead City is south of Cape Hatteras. I was thinking of the departure point from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay which is favored by those who do not want to round Cape Hatteras.
All the best
Frank
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Old 15-12-2011, 13:15   #10
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Quote:
Originally Posted by tokarse View Post
Jim,
Thank you for the question and glad you enjoyed it. You must remember that the charge for the boat is $43.00 and there is a charge for each visa which is $15.00 per visa. There are no other required charges. If you check in through a marina, such as in Boca Chica or Casa de Campo they will charge you a fee of about $100.00 over the basic. This is to cover their time to assist you as well as predetermined tips which you will end up paying anyway.
Good Sailing/Safe Cruising
Frank Virgintino
I forgot to mention. You do have to get a "despacho" to leave the harbor and you do need to note the next harbor you want to go to. Thus you do have to clear in and clear out of each harbor. However, coming from or going to another country is a different type of clearance than port to port in the DR which does not require much.
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Old 15-12-2011, 17:26   #11
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Frank, thanks for the quick reply
I would probably check in at Luperon where as you say a $43 immigration fee and $15 visa fee is due and skip the marina. In your experience have you been boarded in ports on the South side (Boca Chica, Casa de Campo) and asked for additional port fees or anchorage fees or is the "Despacho" all that is needed to travel the Southern route?
Jim
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Old 15-12-2011, 17:31   #12
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

There is no difference between the north side and the south side or the east side for that matter. All "puertos habilitados" have Coast Guard and Immigration. If you arrive from a different country you will have to clear in. If you arrive from another port in the DR all you need do is turn in your "despacho"; nothing more. When you leave you must get another despacho to your next port or country. The customary tip for a despacho is $15.00 US

Frank
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Old 15-12-2011, 18:30   #13
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Thanks for your time Frank, appreciate all the help!
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Old 20-06-2012, 19:55   #14
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Thumbs up Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

Came across this old thread, searching for windward passage experiences ....

Just want to say THANK YOU Frank for The Thinking Man's Guide. It has been my primary source for learning about the Caribbean. I've also downloaded all your free guides and - gasp! -I even paid for the Haiti guide (Kindle version)!

Anyway, I am very grateful for your expertise and common-sensical approach. New cruisers are fortunate to have the likes of you. When I am an OLD cruiser - errr, sorry, MORE EXPERIENCED cruiser - I promise I will "pay it forward."
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Old 20-06-2012, 20:14   #15
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Re: The Thinking Man's Guide to Voyages South

his guides can be had here,great stuff

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