Bruce Van Sant's book is A Gentleman's Guide to Passage
South which is available in most major boat stores. The nickname for the book is Thornless Path South. It is sort of a "bible" for sailing from Florida
down to Puerto Rico
via the Bahamas
and the Dominican Republic
. The book is written for a small sailboat with minimal engine
motoring capability. - I call it the "worst case scenerio." The information is gathered over decades of traveling on that route
. The book does not deal with current
weather, obviously since is is many years old.
What the book contains is the strategy and chartlets for the possible interesting stopping places along the route. Also of most importance is that it discusses the typical weather patterns and weather strategy to use when heading south and east into the Trade
Winds. Also it contains local information
about major stopping points along the way. Kind of like a omnibus guide book. All of the information in the book is slanted towards the small sailboat without a motor
. So the routing techniques in the book are very useful for bigger boats who experience engine failure and must "revert back" to the core
sailing principles. Kind of like a "baseline" of information and tactics.
Van Sant also puts out a smaller version of the book that only contains the weather tactics and does not include the place and harbor guides. This might be a better choice for an experienced sailing cruiser. Heading east into the Trade
Winds and current
is not fun and knowing how to do it in the most painless fashion is quite useful.
I have a rather large motor-sailor yacht and can "bash" my way east if necessary, but the ride is not comfortable or enjoyable - so I meld in some of VanSant's techniques to lessen the bashing and minimizing the uncomfortable parts
. So you would thoroughly read the Thornless Path to get a base of information and then modify it for your own boat and degree of comfort you want getting from Florida
to Puerto Rico
. If things start to quit, break or complicate a passage I want to have the basic knowledge of how to do it the basic old fashioned way.
**Warning** Chris Parker provides a weather source service
. He provides to you his interpretation of weather conditions along your projected routing. He does not and can not tell you when or where to go. Only the Captain
of the vessel can make the decisions of when to go and where to actually go. Chris Parker does NOT know when it is "safe and good" to go anywhere. Weather forecasting is an art form of trying to predict what Mother Nature is going to do in some future time and location. Nobody on this planet can tell you what the weather "will be." They can only tell you what the weather "might be" or "could be." It is up to you to decide if the weather forecasts make sense and the probabilities are acceptable to you. Basically there is a legal
and moral liability issue here. Do not leave harbor because somebody has told you the weather is "safe and good" to sail. Leave harbor when you think the available weather information looks reasonable and safe in your mind based on gathering information from many sources, not just one.
There are multiple weather sources available to the cruising sailor on the HF SSB radio
nets and fax charts
; from the internet
from NOAA in both chart form and text formats; and from just learning
how to read the sky and being aware of the seasonal history
of weather systems in your region of interest. All of the information Chris Parker puts out is available for free from sources I listed above. Chris does a great service
of distilling and organizing the available information for cruising sailors over specific areas of interest. You can also just listen in to his broadcasts for free and there will be plenty of other "members" requesting information about an area of your interest. Look up the Caribbean Compass - Caribbean Yachting News Magazine
website and download the Caribbean
Weather Nets page to get all the SSB times and frequencies for weather services/information.