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Old 16-11-2007, 20:28   #1
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Where should we go ??

Hello everyone, a noob here looking to hear some opinions from the old salts.

My girlfriend and I are looking to do some coastal cruising for a few months-- Leaving from Clear Lake, TX. Original plan was to cruise along the mexican coast-- around the yucatan, central america, colombia, venezuela, etc. Then maybe put the boat on the hard somewhere down there (port of spain?) --fly back to atlanta, then return the next year to island hop up to florida, then up the coast to the georgia shore (we live in GA at the moment)

Now I am thinking twice about this, as people keep telling me the atlantic side of mexico is lousy cruising.

What are your thoughts on this? any other completely different route suggestions ?? the only thing that is 100 % is that we will be sailing from Clear Lake (galveston)-- it doesn't matter where we end up !!

We have about 4 months to do this trip, and will be leaving the 2nd or 3rd of Jan. How far would it be possible (or realistic) to make it in the 4 months ??

Thanks for all of your info. I have been searching this site and reading tons--- there is so much great info here !!
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Old 17-11-2007, 07:40   #2
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Old 17-11-2007, 11:36   #3
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Cruisers Forum member Pura Vida is an active sailor in that part of the world, and he can surely offer you lots of valuable information. If he doesn't reply to this thread directly, why don't you PM him?

Have you considered heading for the Caymans, then Yucatan and on down the Central American coast? If you really want to skip the Mexican east coast, that would be one option.

Best of luck to you wherever you cruise.

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Old 17-11-2007, 13:56   #4
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Don't miss the off shore islands of Belize. We spent 10 days there in 2003 and have been very eager to get back ever since. Don't bother going to Belize City, though, as it is reported to be very dirty and crime ridden. Placencia in the south part of that very poor country is a quant little place and is the southern port for TMM.
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Old 17-11-2007, 20:04   #5
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Forget Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is working hard to destroy it. Google some recent articles on cruising there. I think it was the recent or last months Latitude 38 that had a real negative letter written about how things have changed for the worst as Chavez works his way up to head dictator.
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Old 18-11-2007, 05:58   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
Forget Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is working hard to destroy it.
... about how things have changed for the worst as Chavez works his way up to head dictator.
I doubt that these comments on the elected president of Venezuela are of any more value to the discussion than would be mine regarding the current U.S. administration.

Given that the southern boundary of the hurricane belt is around 12̊40'N, Venezuela remains anm attractive summer destination for many cruisers.

What are sailors saying about Venezuela?
Caribbean Cruising Logs and Web Sites 2007

Notwithstanding there have been several recent reports of crime* against cruisers in Venezuela.
*See: http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Venezuela
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Old 18-11-2007, 06:56   #7
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This is supposed to be a forum on sailing and cruising so I will skip right over the political comments and try to help tedright with some useful information.
My wife and I also sail out of Clear Lake. We spend summers here and sail South for the winter.
Last year we went across the Gulf to Florida, then to the Bahamas and turned around at Georgetown and followed the same route back. 2006 2007 Cruise
This year we are headed down to Mexico and Belize for a couple of months. We will be leaving late December.
Cruising around the Bay of Campeche to get to the Yucatan is not plausible. It would be over 1400 nautical miles to Isla Mujeres with very few safe harbors or anchorages. Sailing straight across the Gulf to Isla is about 650 nautical miles.
This is a major crossing. If you will be doing it with 2 crew you will need dependable self steering. Also I have never made it across in the winter without getting my butt kicked by at least one strong cold front. You can expect winds of 40 knots + and waves of 10ft + with frontal passages and the associated thunderstorms. This usually lasts an hour or two then moderates to 20-25 knots for the next 12-24 hours.
I would not want to do this passage in a Starwind 27 but I'm sure many would say the same about my boat so we all have to make our own choices.
If you are looking to do a coastal cruise either stop at S Padre Island or head the other way to Florida and the Bahamas.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Dave
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Old 21-12-2007, 12:18   #8
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Cruising the islands off the coast of Venezuela is a no-miss opportunity. An article by an American couple in last January's cruising world magazine called it their favourite cruising grounds in all of the Caribbean. Crime on the islands is totally unlike the built-up areas on the mainland - yes, there is some petty theft, but little beyond that. They also spoke of the fact that they noticed none of the simmering animosity that one senses on many of the other islands in the Caribbean, and posited that perhaps it was because there is no history of slavery on Margarita. I don't know the reason for the graciousness and generosity of the Margaritianos, but can confirm all of those comments and more.

I attended an I.A.P. (internation association of prosecustors) conference on Margarita Island in July which was attended by prosecutors from around the world , including - I know, hard to believe, the USA! The Americans had been told that there is a travel advisory and frankly, were shocked to see the reality of the Island as opposed to the Bush government propaganda. Again, they felt safe and were amazed at the infrastructure.

On the other hand, one can understand the reluctance of some in going to Venezuela if they read only, or primarily the propaganda available in the U.S. The president, Hugo Chavez, won by landslides in the last two elections and the CIA-backed coup attempt against him on 2002 failed after the locals broke him out of jail within 48 hours. No, this isn't a Chavez spouting off at the mouth; rather, there is one book by an American lawyer, and another by an Oxford professor of South American studies which confirm the money and email trail. It is also noteworthy that the US was the only country on the planet to recognize the military junta as the new leaders of the country - and did so only 5 hours after the first bloodshed (and before there was any semblance of actual control, let alone stability).

I know, I know, Bush and Rice have claimed the elections were rigged (and he and his brother may have some experience considering Fla. and hanging chads), but actually they were monitored by the UN and by the private organization for world democracy led by former President Jimmy Carter. Indeed, two weeks ago Chavez lost his referendum on constitutional reforms including the elimination of a maximum of 2 terms for the president. Democracy is definitely alive and well in Venezuela despite the efforts of the CIA to overthrow him.

Chavez has also repeatedly indicated that he will only nationalize monopolies or resources (such as oil). Even there, he has renegotioated with all of the oil companies, who are now in partnership with the people of Venezuela; significantly, they are all still making bucketfulls (or should I say barrelfuls) of money.

The infrastructure has seen huge improvements. Yes, I know he has promoted an idea that appears communistic to many Americans (universal health care); but in Venezuela unlike England, Canada, France, Germany, Holland etc., etc. there is still a 2 tier health care system, allowing private hospitals/clinics as well as the public ones!

Yes, he brought in 1500 doctors from Cuba in a deal for oil, but he is providing health care in areas on mainland Venezuela where people had never seen a Doctor. He has also provided scholarships to 1500 Venezuelan students to study medicine around the world in order to be able to replace them. I know, I know, rampant communism! On the other hand, as in health care, there are both public and private universities in Venezuela.

The highways, water plants, airports, hospitals, schools have all seen gigantic investments and, here's the kicker, the people seem happier and have an optimisitic view about the future! Compare that with North America! Personally, I am happier travelling to and staying at a place where the people have a sense of progress being made and who are not ripe for revolution!

I could go on at some length but urge sailors to consider other sources for information on the subject, if it worries them, than the US media. For example, a year ago an item on CNN referred to 'Chavez, in his continuing move towards Cuban-style communism, yesterday seized the nations largest producer of electricity'! The next day the BBC and papers such as the Toronto Globe and Mail confirmed that he had indeed nationalized the electrical industry ( a monopoly), but had purchased it from the previous owners. The American president of the american company that sold the controlling interest to the Venezuelan government confirmed that the deal "respected shareholder's rights". Again, while to some it may seem like communism, many European countries (and until recently, Canadian provinces) had nationalized electricity.

There are many reasons to cruise the islands off the coast of Venezuela and very few not to. I can assure you that fear of the political climate is not a vaild reason. Instead, you will be travelling to a place where there is terrific inexpensive health care, marina facilities with quality repairs at extremely low cost, diesel fuel for 4 cents a litre (about 16 a gallon), beautiful beaches and bays including a number that are still virtyally unspoiled and uninhabited. And despite incipient communism, crazy entrepeneurs from around the world are continuing to invest. Toyota opened a large assembly plant on the mainland only 2 years ago. More importantly to the cruising sailor, a local in Porlamar (the capital of Margarita Island) has set up a wireless high-speed internet service in the largest anchorage and has made it available to anchored boats at reasonable daily, weekly and monthly rates. Boy, service has sure dropped off under Chavez - I mean, how third world is that!

Further, one bar near the harbour in Pedro Gonazles provides free wireless internet service to customers. Yes free. Of course, you have pay about a dollar with tip for a drink at the establishment.

Please don't be scared off. Leave your politics at home. Respect the rights of the people of other countries to elect leaders who are not puppets of another country and who value their own people over the interests of international corporations.

Brad
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Old 21-12-2007, 12:56   #9
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I too am interested in the Gulf Basin. Thanks for the info
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Old 21-12-2007, 13:06   #10
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What a pleasure it is to read your thoughtful, well-reasoned posts, Brad. Just as your cautionary words to Anne in Texas might help her to understand than she shouldn't rush into purchasing a vessel, I believe your reasonable thoughts on Venezuela can help readers here to see the benefit of getting their "news" from other than mainstream media. Sadly, MSM is often a mere conduit for publishing a sitting administration's propaganda.

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Old 21-12-2007, 13:15   #11
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Echo Southern Star on VZ or at least some of it. We haven't been there in about 6 years, but by all accounts from cruisers we know, Puerto La Cruz on the NE mainland and Margarita (both very cosmopolitan), and Mochima National park and the various island parks remain cruiser friendly regardless of national flag. Also PLC is a great and inexpensive place to keep/refit a yacht (or stay on it) during hurricane season, but you probably need to reserve now. I have heard that the price of diesel fuel has skyrocketed to $.30/gal.

However, you would not normally sail to Margarita or PLC from Central America or Cartegena - the wind and current will be against you. Cruisers generally sail to VZ from the Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. Go Here:

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Old 21-12-2007, 13:23   #12
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So Brad, may I understand that you can generally recommend Venezuela (particularily Margarita Isl.) as a decent cruising destination?
Thanks for the valuable input.
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Old 21-12-2007, 16:25   #13
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Funny, the negative letter I read about the new Venezuela under Chavez was in Latitude 38. I guess they have become a right wing Bush supporting propagandist magazine? (sarcasm intended). Tao, how is what Bush is doing relevant to a cruiser who is intending on visiting Venezuela?

I think people need to know if a country has changed with respect to cruisers in this forum, whether you like the current President of that countries left leaning policies or not. It's relevant to cruisers who visit that country. Not everything is roses over there since the leadership change...and that is fact. Things have changed and I am not off topic.

Politics and world situations do affect cruisers...for the better or worse. No, I don't want to see this forum dragged down to the level of politics, but sometimes it is very relevant.

I was paraphrasing information I read in a sailing magazine. Is that so bad?
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Old 21-12-2007, 16:57   #14
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The purpose of my comments was not to slam any President in particular but to warn people, given what I had read, about the negatives caused by a leader.

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has been to Venezuela very recently to see if this letter that I read holds any water.
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Old 21-12-2007, 17:19   #15
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My friends just got back from cruising Orinoco's delta . The best time they had in three years of cruising Caribbeans . Every family that lives on the river recently got from Chavez a 50 HP Yamaha outboard . What did you get from the US government ? another war
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