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Old 05-12-2013, 09:16   #61
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

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The south coast of Haiti has only two anchorages. Ile a Vache is safe and wonderful; it is at the sw corner of Haiti and I cover it extensively in my cruising guide to Haiti which can be obtained free at Free Cruising Guides
The other anchorage is wonderful and is halfway between the DR and the sw tip of Haiti; it is Jacmel and is an old tourist town. Easy to clear in and out and a wonderful old Victorian town. However, if there is a southerly component in the wind, the anchorage is not tenable.
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Thanks for the cool link! FYI your Haitian guide is a 404 file not found!
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Old 05-12-2013, 17:40   #62
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

From freecruisingguides.com:
"There is an alternative way to get to the Caribbean that is safer and much easier than either of the first two routes discussed above. When I say this, and I have said it repeatedly, many cruisers ask my why it is that most cruisers do not follow such a route. The answer lies in the definition of the Caribbean. So long as you allow the Caribbean to be defined as the Lesser Antilles; the Virgin Islands to Grenada, all the routing will follow. If you study a map and look at the Caribbean carefully and then study the winds and the currents, it becomes very apparent that there is a much better alternative. I make the case for this route in my book: A Thinking Man’s Guide to Voyages South~the many facets of Caribbean Cruising.”

After reading the book, a cruiser wrote in a blog at www.cruisesforum wrote, “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? My response to her is that I had sailed to the Caribbean many times over 40 years but that the test of the route I recommended was in studying the map, winds and current, the answer would become self evident. If you look at the map #1 in this article, you can clearly see that from the mouth of the Chesapeake it is almost 50% more distance to “get to the Caribbean” than it would have been had you routed to the Windward Passage; the cut between eastern Cuba and western Haiti. The Trade Winds normally are East to Northeast and once you decide to take the Windward Passage you can head south and free your sheets. Once through the Windward Passage YOU ARE IN THE CARIBBEAN. Not only are you in the Caribbean but you are no longer on a lee shore; you are on the south shore. From the Windward Passage you can layout your Caribbean adventure. You can head for Jamaica or for the ABC islands or the Dominican Republic. Even if you still want to route to the eastern Caribbean, you can use the south side of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico to make landfall in the Virgin Islands. You can use the Katabatic winds to make your easting while at the same time avoiding a dangerous lee shore on the north side. From the Windward Passage, there are a multitude of wonderful anchorages and harbors in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as you head east.



IF YOU DEFINE THE CARIBBEAN AS THE LESSER ANTILLES YOU WILL ROUTE DIRECTLY TO THE LESSER ANTILLES. IF YOU DEFINE THE CARIBBEAN AS BEING MORE THAN THE LESSER ANTILLES, THEN THE QUICKER YOU GET THERE THE BETTER OFF YOU ARE, ESPECIALLY IF THE DISTANCE TO GET THERE IS LESS AND THE ROUTE SAFER WITH A BETTER ANGLE FOR WIND AND SEAS.



THE BACKDOOR

Take a look at Map #1 again and notice the western part of Cuba. That is where the “backdoor” to the Caribbean is. This entry into the Caribbean is rarely, if ever, discussed. For those that do not want to do any offshore work, it may be considered the counterpart to the Thornless Path into the Caribbean. It is a wonderful way to access the Caribbean; however it does require that you cruise the south coast of Cuba. To cruise the south coast of Cuba you must clear into Cuba and for US flagged boats that can be a problem. Nonetheless if you choose this route, there are frequent and beautiful stops all the way (see The Cruising Guide to Cuba available free at Free Cruising Guides) to Hispaniola. The entire south shores of Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico, can help you make your easting by using the Katatatic winds created by mountains of those countries. They are not lee shores under most conditions and there are numerous anchorages and harbors along the way.'
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:57   #63
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

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To cruise the south coast of Cuba you must clear into Cuba and for US flagged boats that can be a problem.
"Can be a problem" rather understates the issue, for those of us who are American citizens, and who don't really want to risk legal complications.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:23   #64
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There are ways as an American to visit Cuba that don't involve breaking the law. You can go on a cultural exchange or on other no tourist premises.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:29   #65
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

Yes, I know there are ways. None of them are easy, and all involve quite a lot of paperwork. Hence my comment that "can be a problem" rather understates it. It most definitely IS a problem, and not one that is very easy to get around.
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:49   #66
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

The link at the site was down for a few days while the site was being upgraded. It is now fully serviceable and all 12 guides can be downloaded without difficulty. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Frank Virgintino
Author and founder
Free cruising guide
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Old 12-01-2014, 13:51   #67
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

I was discussing taking the Windward passage in late March with an old salt who told me that, at that time of the year, south of Hispaniola is windier than the north. Going via motor only. Am i correctly informed?
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Old 12-01-2014, 14:34   #68
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

What he was saying is that as the trade wind season gets older , the wind moves from ene to ese. March is a bit early to be concerned about that however; more like June to September.
I would still take the south past as I could move east at night using the katana tic winds.
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Old 17-01-2014, 00:20   #69
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

Anyone who even considers doing the island hopping route, rather than go offshore is bonkers. Do the Bahamas on the way back from the West Indies.
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Old 17-01-2014, 03:36   #70
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

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Anyone who even considers doing the island hopping route, rather than go offshore is bonkers. Do the Bahamas on the way back from the West Indies.

Must be a lot of "bonkers" people out there. So many that there is even a book that is updated every couple of years (I think it's on the 10th edition) that sells thousands of copies.

Might not be for you but clearly plenty of people do it and like it.
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Old 17-01-2014, 04:58   #71
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

The offshore route can be a good route if the weather works out. For those that do not want to do the offshore route, the cruising community owes a debt of gratitude to Van Sant for his book on how to route to the Caribbean in small jumps.
I have done it both ways any number of times, but have found over the years that the quickest and safest way into the Caribbean is through the Windward Passage which is readily apparent from any chart that you look at. No offshore route and no island hopping necessary; just free your sheets and run through. Now in the Caribbean and under the lee of the big island of Hispaniola, you head east along a coast with many good stops. The offshore winds at night, Katabatic winds, will allow you to sail east without a heavy beat into the trades.
I review this strategy in depth in my book, "Thinking Man's guide to voyages south" available through Amazon for under $10.00.
Not matter what route you choose to take, safe cruising to all
Frank Virgintino,
Free Cruising Guides
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Old 22-10-2017, 17:50   #72
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

Is there really a "thornless path" to the Carib against the prevailing trades, from points north and west? Sure, take advantage of northerly pointing weather windows and north shore island evening land breezes, sit out strong wind-on-the-nose windows, and resist get-there-itis; but does anyone really altogether avoid at least SOME hard beating against those trades? I'm just asking because that's what "thornless" implies.
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Old 22-10-2017, 17:59   #73
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

Your question is an excellent one. As you suggest there is NO MAGIC CARPET ride through the trades. When the trades are on your bow in full strength, you must decide what action to take.
Actions that are effective are based on a knowledge of sailing and a knowledge of weather, coupled with experience. Put together, more oft than not, you can “trick the trades” and avoid a slog to windward.
There are many ways to trick the trades and many authors that have written on how to do it.
In my book “A thinking man’s guide to voyages south”, i have attempted to present some of my experience and thinking on the subject.
No matter what, always put safety above all; good cruising
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Old 22-10-2017, 18:01   #74
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

yes. hundreds of people do it every year. The basic idea is to get east to longitdue 65 (at least) before turning south and getting into the trade wind zone. Classic strategy is to follow a low pressure as it passes off the coast and head southeast from chesapeake bay or north carolina. I have done it in 10 or 11 days in a slow boat and 7 days ina fast one. No beating upwind against trade winds because you get all your easting to the north of them. Then turn south and reach all the way to your destination
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Old 22-10-2017, 18:09   #75
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Re: Thorny vs Thornless Path

I have written consistently about “easting” as if making it is the holy grail that will take you to the “Caribbean”. The Caribbean is 1 million square miles and covers everything from Mexico and Cuba east to the Lesser Antilles, framed to the north by the Greater Antilles and to the south by the ABC islands etc.
The Donald Street definition of the Caribbean was always the Lesser Antilles because in the 40s and 50s and even later, we saw the Lesser Antilles as “The Caribbean”.
However, Cuba, Haiti, the DR, PR, the ABC islands, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and others are also part of the Caribbean and do not require “easting”. That is why i have always preferred entering the Caribbean through the :”back door”: ie., the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. Once into the Caribbean, i then can decide where i want to cruise and set a route, N, S, E or W as one sees fit.
Frank Virgintino, Author
FREE CRUSING GUIDES
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