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Old 22-09-2015, 17:13   #1
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Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

Hi CF

I have been working on putting together an itinerary for my upcoming trip from Port Canaveral, Florida to Roatan, Honduras and was hoping for any constructive comments from those of you that have made all or part of the trip.

I have a 56' ketch with 6'6" draft. I plan on having 4-5 crew, including myself.

I need to start giving my potential crew some timelines so that they can start to plan around work, family, etc. I am on a fairly tight budget because I have some interior work planned while in Roatan.

I was thinking late January, early February to start. Here are my time and distance estimates. I have been using Pat and John Raines "Cruising Ports, Florida to California via Panama Canal" as one of my primary reference documents and reading CF threads for others first hand experience. I am planning on 24 hr sailing days and am using 150 miles per day as an average. I will motor sail if conditions require but would prefer not to.

Leg 1 Port Canaveral to Key West. 400 miles, 3 days sail plus 2 days in the Keys.

Leg 2 Key West to Dry Tortugas. 70 miles, 1 days sail plus 1 day on DT.

Leg 3 Dry Tortugas to Havana, Cuba. 115 miles, 1 days sail plus 2 days in Havana.

Leg 4 Havana to San Pedro, Belize. 600 miles, 4 days sail plus 2 days in SP.

Leg 5 San Pedro to Livingston, Guatemala. 200 miles, 2 days sail plus 1 day in Livingston.

Leg 6 Livingston up the Rio Dulce Gorge to Fronteres. 2 days round trip plus a day in Fronteres.

Leg 7 Livingston to Roatan. 200 miles, 2 days sailing.

The total number of days for this trip is 24. I need to balance time with the opportunity so see places I have never been before with the primary goal of getting the boat to Roatan. None of our crew has an unlimited schedule and I certainly don't have an unlimited budget (time for a NO BOAT YET joke Jon E. ?) I think asking people to spend close to a month away from their work and families is about the max.

Of course weather/weather windows could play a role in the 150 miles per day average and time spent at ports but I need to start with a reasonable baseline to plan from.

You may have noticed I have not included Isla or Cozumel in my plans. After a lot of thought I decided to bypass Mexico unless an emergency arises and spend that time up the Rio Dulce.

So tell me, is this trip doable in 3-4 weeks? Any places that are a must see not on my agenda? Do you see any major concerns with my agenda?

Thanks in advance for any and all input.

I didn't mention that this trip has been 5 years in the making with a lot of time, money and hardships making this a reality. This trip is just the first, with San Francisco my final destination (for now).

Jeff
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Old 23-09-2015, 16:11   #2
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

Ok here is my 2 cents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
I was thinking late January, early February to start and am using 150 miles per day as an average
Jeff
1. This is Norther season, which you may want to try and use to your advantage.
2. In any event, because of the above, you will have to pick your weather windows and ensure your anchorages are good and sheltered
3. You many want to consider using 100 miles a day as it maybe more realistic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Leg 1 Port Canaveral to Key West. 400 miles, 3 days sail plus 2 days in the Keys.
Leg 2 Key West to Dry Tortugas. 70 miles, 1 days sail plus 1 day on DT.
Leg 3 Dry Tortugas to Havana, Cuba. 115 miles, 1 days sail plus 2 days in Havana.
Jeff
Cannot comment on the above as I have only cruised the South of Cuba and Mexico as I have no US Visa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Leg 4 Havana to San Pedro, Belize. 600 miles, 4 days sail plus 2 days in SP.
Jeff
Couple of comments here

1. You will be bucking a 2 to 3 knot current down the Yucatan against you on this stretch so amend your passage times
2. Get hold of the Freya Racher guide for this area, it is not perfect but it is the best that is available
3. With your draft, entering Belize at SP is only possible in good weather and maybe very tight and the draft issue applies all the way down to the big ship channel at Belize City.
4. If you are thinking of going into Belize, I would suggest using the big ship channel at English Caye instead and work out were you want to check in.
5. Checking in at Belize City has a reputation of costing you a lot in officials Taxi fares and because of your draft, you would not be able to get into Cucumber Beach Marina just south of Belize City so you may have to anchor off
6. If you go this way via SP, do not miss out Cay Caulker, IMHO it is much more Belize than SP
7. Also think about Placencia in the south, you can check in and out at Big Creek
8. By going this way you have lost your easting if your destination is Roatan and will have to sail, up wind, hard on the wind and also up current or motor to get there BUT maybe you could use a Norther if you do not mind bumpy weather?
9. Factor in your Belize Check in/out costs USD $50 a day for the first 2 days then $2.50 every day after and also a small departure tax, depending on where you check out
10. Think about heading to Roatan or Utila from the Big ship channel near Belize City/English Caye, the angles are better than further south

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Leg 5 San Pedro to Livingston, Guatemala. 200 miles, 2 days sail plus 1 day in Livingston.
Jeff
1. Same comment as above about losing the easting but worse, you are now directly down wind, about 140 miles, from your destination
2. I would NOT recommend sailing at night inside the reef in Belize, so allow more time
3. Also factor in the costs of checking in and out of Guatemala about $170 to check in and about £86 to check out, These costs are for 2 person for 90 days, no pets
4. With your draft, you will have to pick the time to go in and out of the Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Leg 6 Livingston up the Rio Dulce Gorge to Fronteres. 2 days round trip plus a day in Fronteres.
Jeff
1. If you have paid the money, stay and enjoy it and check out what facilities are here to get the work on your boat done

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Leg 7 Livingston to Roatan. 200 miles, 2 days sailing.
Jeff
2. Same comments as above except it is normally 2 days motoring, many days sailing
3. Also maybe think about stopping at Utila to break the bashing and crashing and check into Honduras here
4. DO NOT GET CLOSE TO THE HONDURAN MAINLAND ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT

I suspect BelizeSailor will be along in a minute as he knows the area very well

Good Luck
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Old 23-09-2015, 16:29   #3
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

You need to allow more time for check in and out. Raul in Livingston or the port captain in San Pedro may slow you up. You could email Raul. It's hard to pass up the shopping in Isla Mujers but the check in is a pain if you don't already have a TIP.
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Old 23-09-2015, 18:34   #4
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

I just sailed that way.... Sail right from Cuba to roatan. Why stop? You'll regret going that far west then have to beat back into wind to get to Roátan.


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Old 23-09-2015, 19:21   #5
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triumphant View Post

...

4.DO NOT GET CLOSE TO THE HONDURAN MAINLAND ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT

I suspect BelizeSailor will be along in a minute as he knows the area very well

Good Luck
+1 on all Triumphant said. Especially the stay W-A-Y off the Honduran coast part...like not in visual range based on mast height off (do the math)...inconvenient to do coming from the Rio...so dont go that way.

You are trying to pack way too much into a short time frame. Slow down and enjoy fewer destinations more...this is "cruising" after all.

The Rio is a cool place and you are going to a lot of trouble to get there for a very brief visit and then over to Roatan, but for your route on a limited time frame I would skip it. You can explore Belize and then sail from Belize to Roatan (from a bit N in Belize as suggested), this route does keep you well off the Honduran coast...or skip Belize too.

I originally sailed into the NW Carib on a FLORIDA-BAHAMAS-JAMAICA-GUANAJA route. Its not a bad choice, and avoids all that Westing before trying to go East again. Guanaja is a cool place too...and its to WINDWARD of Roatan!

With your time constraints and Roatan as a final destination, I suggest skipping Belize and the Rio and having a great trade winds sail down to the Bay Islands. There is plenty to see & do just in the Bay Islands (especially if you include Cayos Cochinos)...I once spent an entire cruising season there!

What are your plans after Roatan? If you plan to base there then its easy enough to get back over to Belize and/or Rio Dulce later when you have more time.
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Old 23-09-2015, 19:59   #6
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
...

I have a 56' ketch with 6'6" draft. I plan on having 4-5 crew, including myself.

...

Leg 1 Port Canaveral to Key West. 400 miles, 3 days sail plus 2 days in the Keys.

Leg 2 Key West to Dry Tortugas. 70 miles, 1 days sail plus 1 day on DT.

Leg 3 Dry Tortugas to Havana, Cuba. 115 miles, 1 days sail plus 2 days in Havana.

Leg 4 Havana to San Pedro, Belize. 600 miles, 4 days sail plus 2 days in SP.

Leg 5 San Pedro to Livingston, Guatemala. 200 miles, 2 days sail plus 1 day in Livingston.

Leg 6 Livingston up the Rio Dulce Gorge to Fronteres. 2 days round trip plus a day in Fronteres.

Leg 7 Livingston to Roatan. 200 miles, 2 days sailing.

The total number of days for this trip is 24. I need to balance time with the opportunity so see places I have never been before with the primary goal of getting the boat to Roatan. ...

Jeff
A few more comments.

I dont recommend the entrance at San Pedro even to boats with less draft. It can be easy in the right conditions, but if you get it wrong...catastrophic loss is the most likely outcome. Also, with a 6'6" draft, you will be very close to the bottom once inside and ON the bottom in many areas of the anchorage. Holding is poor in a lot of San Pedro and many of the better sand holes are too shallow for you.

Man, you are spending very little time in some great places and that time of year your tight schedule is almost certain to get disrupted by a cold front or two. Like 1 day in the DT's!? I spent a month there in January 2001, just waiting for a good weather window to get to Havana. Then 2 days in Havana...why take the risk (I'm assumimg you are a USA with a USA boat?) for just 2 days in this amazing old city? ...and then straight to San Pedro.

Since you are starting from East Florida, I suggest taking a route similar to the Pinneapple Cup ( www.montegobayrace.com) to Jamaica then Jamaica to Roatan.
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Old 24-09-2015, 00:18   #7
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

Thanks everyone for taking the time to put some thought into your responses.

I have to admit that I have never really considered the Bahamas east around Cuba and Jamaica. I have always focused on Havana then West, originally to Isla and then south, seeing as many highlights as limited time and budget permits.

As I said on my original post, the main purpose of this trip is to get Solace to Roatan to finish the refit. After over 5 years I have run out of patience and money dealing with Florida and the yachting service community, so much so that I now refer to Florida as "The Sunny Place For Shady People".

I wish I had more time but unfortunately this is more of a delivery than a cruise but I was hoping to make it a little of both.

My total time budget is just about a month including last minute details in Florida. Already I might have to push into mid March because one of my crew has to travel to Asia for work in mid Feb for three weeks.

I'll break out the cruising guides and study up on a easterly route. Since I have never been to the Bahamas, Jamaica, or the Caymans I might as well make the sailing part as efficient and pleasant as possible while still enjoying new destinations.

Thanks again,

Jeff
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Old 24-09-2015, 06:00   #8
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Re: upcoming trip from Florida to Roatan and a few points in between

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
...

As I said on my original post, the main purpose of this trip is to get Solace to Roatan to finish the refit. ...
Ah, the word "refit" changes everything. If a place to refit is what you are looking for then the Rio Dulce is one of the primo spots for that. Looking back at your post I did notice "interior work", the Rio is a great spot for that...in fact I'm sailing back from Panama in 2016 for just that reason.

I suggest making the Rio your final destination. You could still follow the easterly route to Roatan. From Roatan, I would sail to Belize, or at least towards Belize, so as to keep lots of sea miles between you mainland Honduras (esp the Punta Sal area)...then down to the Rio.

There is at least one thread here that discusses the Rio Dulce as a refit destination (which it is for many).

Link to above thread: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce
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Old 24-09-2015, 06:21   #9
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

I would suggest, as others have, that you go to fewer places but spend more time in them. Also your plan does not have any contingencies (weather, boat problems, the desire to spend a few more days in an interesting spot). Seems to me when we were going from Florida to Panama the discussion in Cornell's book suggested that in certain seasons going west of Cuba was better while in others going east was. We did the eastern route through the Windward Passage. It is a pain paying the $300 for Bahamas entry if you are only going to stop for a few days.
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Old 24-09-2015, 10:25   #10
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

I can't remember where I read this planning rule of thumb, but it actually works, even if it contradicts itself:

100 miles a day,
1000 miles a week.
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Old 24-09-2015, 13:06   #11
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

Several of you have recommended Rio Dulce as a great location to have interior work done, but the reason I am focused on Roatan is that my friend owns a private dock there with good security and has offered me free dock space, and will help manage the project during my absence.

Also, the overwhelming opinion is that it would be a shame to visit most of the locations along the way without spending extra time there. Unfortunately I am not retired with extra time and money to make this more of a cruise. Hopefully some day that can happen, but for now, 4 weeks is what I have to work with.

I am ok with only spending a day or two at places like Dry Tortugas or Havana. As an example, I had never been to Europe before but my Son is now living in Prague, so I visited him last fall and spent three weeks there. During that three weeks we traveled to 8 countries (Czech, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Netherlands and Belgium) and saw museums, churches, and castles....dozens of historical landmarks. We drove thru the Alps, navigated the waterways of Venice, ate pastries in Vienna and drank beer at the hofbraeuhaus in Munich. We drove 150 mph on the Autobahn, we toured the Mercedes and Porsche museums in Stuttgart, saw Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and stood on some remains of the Berlin Wall. I even have a picture of me with my right foot in Germany, my left foot in Belgium and my right hand in Netherlands.

My point here is that was a trip of a lifetime for me and even though I was only there for three weeks, and most cities for a day or less I have now been to Europe and the memories of the sights, the people, the cities and small towns, and the food will last a lifetime. Maybe some day I'll go back and spend several days in Paris and make it to Rome but for now I am more than satisfied that I can check off Europe from my bucket list.

With the help of your feedback I am now looking at leaving in mid March, heading to the Keys, Dry Tortugas, Havana, Isla and Cozumel, and then straight on down to Roatan. This should be a much more comfortable sail and still allow me to get the flavor of the NW Caribbean.

Thanks All,

Jeff
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Old 24-09-2015, 13:26   #12
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

Be sure and up date how your trip works out.
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Old 24-09-2015, 14:34   #13
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

Check out at Cozumel? That's not normal. Where would you leave your boat while you ran around? Those 2 little harbors will laugh at you if you come in so you would need to anchor out. Probably better off using El Cid or Isla.
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Old 24-09-2015, 14:40   #14
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Several of you have recommended Rio Dulce as a great location to have interior work done, but the reason I am focused on Roatan is that my friend owns a private dock there with good security and has offered me free dock space, and will help manage the project during my absence.

Also, the overwhelming opinion is that it would be a shame to visit most of the locations along the way without spending extra time there. Unfortunately I am not retired with extra time and money to make this more of a cruise. Hopefully some day that can happen, but for now, 4 weeks is what I have to work with.

I am ok with only spending a day or two at places like Dry Tortugas or Havana. As an example, I had never been to Europe before but my Son is now living in Prague, so I visited him last fall and spent three weeks there. During that three weeks we traveled to 8 countries (Czech, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Netherlands and Belgium) and saw museums, churches, and castles....dozens of historical landmarks. We drove thru the Alps, navigated the waterways of Venice, ate pastries in Vienna and drank beer at the hofbraeuhaus in Munich. We drove 150 mph on the Autobahn, we toured the Mercedes and Porsche museums in Stuttgart, saw Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and stood on some remains of the Berlin Wall. I even have a picture of me with my right foot in Germany, my left foot in Belgium and my right hand in Netherlands.

My point here is that was a trip of a lifetime for me and even though I was only there for three weeks, and most cities for a day or less I have now been to Europe and the memories of the sights, the people, the cities and small towns, and the food will last a lifetime. Maybe some day I'll go back and spend several days in Paris and make it to Rome but for now I am more than satisfied that I can check off Europe from my bucket list.

With the help of your feedback I am now looking at leaving in mid March, heading to the Keys, Dry Tortugas, Havana, Isla and Cozumel, and then straight on down to Roatan. This should be a much more comfortable sail and still allow me to get the flavor of the NW Caribbean.

Thanks All,

Jeff
Went on a trip like that once through the Med. Saw a lot of architectural culture and observed a lot of people and their customs. Read some books of those same places and learned a lot more of the customs, that I had missed whilst flying through their countries. Then I went cruising through there, and took almost a year and left knowing some of the languages and "understood" more of the cultural customs and most important of all, met a lot of "old friends" I hadn't met yet and that was the real treasure. It's amazing how many friends...not acquaintances ...you'll meet whilst strolling.

Cut the stops down and lengthen the time spent there. If you try to rush a good Rue, it'll come out tasting like charcoal. HaHa...then you might become gator bait for some Cajun ;-) LOL
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Old 28-09-2015, 13:17   #15
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Re: Upcoming Trip From Florida to Roatan and a Few Points in Between

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Check out at Cozumel? That's not normal. Where would you leave your boat while you ran around? Those 2 little harbors will laugh at you if you come in so you would need to anchor out. Probably better off using El Cid or Isla.
Guy,

I had read that there was plenty of 15'-30' over sand sheltered anchorage between Puerto Abrigo and the old ferry pier, a short 100 yard dinghy ride to the concrete pier. Also, I was told the port captain for customs clearance is only 3/4 miles from the pier, and that Club Nautico can clear your papers for an additional charge.

I know things are constantly changing so maybe my information is out of date.

Thanks,

Jeff
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