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Old 27-07-2011, 19:28   #1
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Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

We're South Africans planning on spending a year cruising the Caribbean. Departure is June 2012 most likely from Florida. Family of 4 with kids 8 and 10. We're not experienced cruisers so looking for a comfortable route. Can you give us "big-picture" advice?
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Old 28-07-2011, 07:01   #2
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, savuti.
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Old 28-07-2011, 07:28   #3
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Savuti... thats pretty much into the teeth of Hurricane season in the Caribbean. You may be the only boat heading that way from Florida in June. Unless you get far south straight away like all the way to Grenada you will be playing with mother nature at her worst. Hurricane season last year was very active and scary. Hurricane season lasts form June until November or so.... June usually is pretty safe..but still a bit of a gamble if you ask me.

Also to get from Florida to the islands... most people head for Bermuda then down. If you get too far south you are beating into pretty heavy trade winds and seas all of June/ july and half of August. Not a particularly nice route to learn about your boat, especially at that time of year!
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Old 28-07-2011, 08:31   #4
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

If you are not expereinced cruisers I too would caution you in sailing in the Caribbean from June-November (hurricane season), departing from Florida. If your boat is already in Florida you may consider a cruise up the East coast of the USA during hurricane season, watching weather closely for hurricanes, cruise up to the Chesapeake bay and even further North. then in November set sail for the Carribbean after hurricane risk has subsided.

Regardless of time of year, sailing from the east coast of the USA to the caribbean is best done with some solid sailing skills so you should consider adding experienced crew for the offshore legs of this challenging journey, if you lack expereince. Also, your boat should be in good order prior to leaving.

Your children depend on your good judgement on the ocean and making conservative decisions regarding ocean sailing, especially as you learn to be an expert cruiser will probably be rewarded with a wonderful set of sailing expereinces for you and your family.
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Old 28-07-2011, 12:35   #5
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

ok - thanks all - that's exactly the kind of advice I'm looking for and very much appreciated. I have a UK coaster skipper cert so have some experience, but not cruising with the family. So we will plan to have the second half of the trip in Caribbean area Nov to June. Regarding the first half of the trip, we're currently based in San Francisco and don't yet have the boat. What do you think of the idea of leaving San Francisco in June, and the making our way to the Caribbean over 6 months Via Panama Canal?
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Old 28-07-2011, 12:57   #6
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Getting to the Caribbean from the Panama Canal is VERY difficult to say the least. If you choose this route as your first big adventure, your wife and family may think sailing is not fun and quit before you arrive in paradise, the Caribbean.

I suggest you shop for boats IN the Caribbean. You can pick up a nice used charter boat on one of the more popular Caribbean islands and then you start your journey in paradise, instead of fighting to get there. It is much more fun to learn to sail, in paradise than beating to weather for a week or three to get there. Look for used charter boats in the BVI, USVI, St Martin or Antigua. These islands have lots of boats for sale, are fantasitc cruising grounds and have boatyards and chandleries to fix up your used boat purchase while in paradise.

Enjoy
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Old 28-07-2011, 13:00   #7
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Great advice - thanks Keegan. If we buy boat in Caribbean as you advise, any point being there during Hurricane season (June 11 to Nov 11), or would you restrict it to just a 6 month trip, i.e. Nov 11 - June 12)?
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Old 28-07-2011, 13:16   #8
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

If you buy a boat already in the Caribbean Islands I dont see any reason not to buy one during the hurricane season as long as you dont go to far offshore and are prepared to take the risk of the boat getting hit by a hurricane (insurance can solve this of course) In fact, you may get a better deal in the off season and you would certainly get better deals on making any repairs to a used boat during off season. Sailing is great year round in the Caribbean Islands. If a hurricane suddenly appears your family could take cover on the land and leave the boat tied up at the docks. This would be far safer than crossing oceans during the hurricane season.
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Old 28-07-2011, 15:19   #9
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Great - thanks for the advice. Now you've got me excited. I'll do some extensive online research now and buy some books...and leave you peace
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Old 28-07-2011, 15:52   #10
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Another possibility is to buy a boat in the U.S. in June and cruise up and back down the U.S. East Coast. That's a beautiful stretch of cruising. Then you could work your way down to the Caribbean after hurricane season.

Or, if you really want some out of the box advice, consider doing your second six months in the Bahamas (and maybe Cuba, since it doesn't sound like you're U.S. citizens). The Eastern Caribbean is pretty, but not as pretty or as interesting as the Bahamas, in my book, and it's a tough passage to get all the way out there from the U.S. East Coast.

The trip outlined above would be the cruise of a lifetime for a family, and it wouldn't be too hard, really.
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Old 28-07-2011, 16:00   #11
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Indigo Moon
Video: Australia Part 2 | The Hynes Honeymoon!

You may enjoy these blogs as you do your research. I would read them from the beginning. the honeymoon blog has lots of good videos, some from the Caribbean.
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Old 28-07-2011, 16:20   #12
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Suggest you read A thinking man's guide to voyages south-the many facets of Caribbean cruising which can be downloaded free at www.freecruisingguide.com. Frank
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Old 28-07-2011, 16:20   #13
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

a lot of full time cruisers hang out in Grenada in hurricane season as it rarely gets hit. They keep an eye on the weather reports and head for Trinidad if anything threatens.
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Old 31-07-2011, 18:15   #14
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

[1] What are Leeward Antilles and Windward islands like for cruising?
[2] Am I correct to assume that anything north of Grenada is a no-go during hurricane season)?
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:45   #15
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Re: Twelve Month Caribbean Route Advice

Savuti, the whole Caribbean to me is great cruising.... From The Bahamas South, Turks etc.. all the way south to Venezuela.

Heres a good site to look at the weather.. theres a little storm there now that was scaring us all for a while... but watch this site this season and decide for yourself. Virtually every island has a hurricane hole to hide in... but it isn't really something I would call " enjoyable "

Stormpulse / Hurricanes, severe weather, tracking, mapping
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