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Old 15-02-2008, 08:17   #1
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Yacht Delivery Florida to BVI

Hi, I have a lot of experience in the Pacific but none in the Atlantic. I was recently asked to deliver a yacht from Florida to the BVI in mid to late November. I know where to go for weather risks but need some advice on which route to take. The boat is in Fort Lauderdale but I believe I will need to go north first to be able to get north of the Bahamas and offshore. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 15-02-2008, 08:38   #2
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What kind of boat are you taking?
The route I always took was through NW Providence which runs south of Grand Bahama and north of the Berry Islands, and takes you into the Atlantic between Hole in the Wall, which is the south tip of Great Abaco, and the northern tip of Eleuthra. From there make as much easterly progress as you can (it is usually to windward) and don't turn south until you can easily make your destination.
Hope this helps.
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Old 15-02-2008, 08:52   #3
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The route from Florida to the Eastern Caribbean islands is often known as, "The Thorny Path". With the mostly easterly winds and currents, and with the islands lying about 65W or further East, it can be a real bear getting to windward, even for big motorsailers.

The type of boat will matter greatly, as the previous poster said.

There are basically two strategies:

1. If you have lots and lots of time, pick a weather window to leave, go as far as you can, then be prepared to hole up for awhile awaiting another favorable window. The waiting time can be days or even weeks at this time of year.

2. Bite the bullet, pick a good window and go like hell as far East as you can go. Many boats choose to go north of the Bahamas, hoping to avoid the Easterly Tradewinds and currents for as long as possible. When you get to I-65, turn right and you're home free!

The main thing to watch for at this time of year is the occasional northerly. You don't wanna be in the Gulf Stream in a north wind; it's brutal. However, for a well-found boat that catches a northerly East of the Gulf Stream, it can be helpful in getting you swiftly over to 65 West which is where you wanna get ASAP.

Bill
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Old 15-02-2008, 17:45   #4
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Thanks, sounds like a typical delivery trip. If it was easy or comfortable the owner would do it.
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Old 17-02-2008, 10:10   #5
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Hi Bill, thanks for the info. After looking at it a bit more, we will likely do the offshore route N of the Bahamas and not the Thorny Path. I would prefer the latter and would do it if I had the cruising time. Any suggested launching off points? Would it be worthwhile leaving due west of the Bahamas, catch the Gulf Stream, crossing at an angle and then pass to the north before close hauled to the East to your suggested 65W? Scott
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Old 17-02-2008, 10:21   #6
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Scott,

Really doesn't matter where you leave from in S. Florida, since the Gulf Stream is running fast enough to get you to any desired latitude pretty fast :-)

Optimum? Well, depending on time and your proclivities, you might consider a stopover in, say, Marsh Harbour at the East End of the Abacos. Great destination, and a great place to hole up awaiting the right window for a dash to the East.

Then, when things look right, drag yourself out of the bars, get through the reef at Man-O-War Cay to about 2638N 7701W, then go like hell to make easting as fast as you can towards I65. It's just over 600nm distant, so about 4 days @ 150nm per day should get you there.

Then, you hang a right and it's about another 600nm to St. Thomas. Whoopee!

Depending on WX and your boat you can, of course, shave some time/distance off by "cutting the corner". The rhumb line distance from Man-O-War to STT is just under 800nm.

Bill
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Old 20-02-2008, 13:37   #7
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I'm sure you know the Christmas Winds typically kick up in November for the BVI area and these can often have swells in the same or crossing directions. This year in the area we have small craft advisories almost every day for off shore and near shore waters. Makes for interesting sailing if you don't have someplace specific you need to be heading for.... but most of the time if you need to go someplace the wind is on the nose and the swells will take turns from the noise to dead on your beam. You will probably have a wet adventure in most boats!!
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Old 21-02-2008, 19:47   #8
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Having done this several times the logical route is ft Liquordale to Great Issac, Hole in the wall then east for as much as you can stand. You will get some fronts comming through that will give you some help against the easterly trades (West, NE, NW winds) but you just cannot count on them showing up in a freindly way. Wait for a window for the inital Gulf stream crossing or you will have a bad start to a long trip.

It is generally a long uncomfortable slog and you should have enough fuel to punch east for at least 600 + miles if possible. Deck jugs or bladder tanks (See Turtle Pac)

All the pain goes away fast when you get there.

The best advice? Nothing goes to weather like a 747!
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Old 22-02-2008, 02:53   #9
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Originally Posted by S/V Antares View Post
... You will get some fronts coming through that will give you some help against the easterly trades (West, NE, NW winds) but you just cannot count on them showing up in a friendly way. Wait for a window for the initial Gulf stream crossing or you will have a bad start to a long trip.
It is generally a long uncomfortable slog and you should have enough fuel to punch east for at least 600 + miles if possible. Deck jugs or bladder tanks (See Turtle Pac)
All the pain goes away fast when you get there.
The best advice? Nothing goes to weather like a 747!
As Shakespear’s Falstaff says (King Henry IV):
“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life."

Riding weather fronts is a long-standing tradition with hardy & intrepid passagemakers; but I’ve usually recommended discretion (prudent caution before audacity) when passage-planning.
To my discredit and discomfort, I’ve not always followed my own dictums.
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Old 22-02-2008, 05:31   #10
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The best advice? Nothing goes to weather like a 747!
AMEN!!!!!
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Old 22-02-2008, 09:41   #11
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This is one of the major reasons I bought my boat IN in the BVI rather than moving it to the BVI. Even on a weather helm... those 747's seem to be... well... like riding on air!!!?? Which give you a great chance for a nap so you will be ready for the fantastic sailing the area has to offer. Guess that is why owners usually select delivery guys for the nasty trips!!! After all that is your business and wish you well in doing it safely.
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Old 23-02-2008, 10:55   #12
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Agree, if the trip was a nice one the owner would do it. I can only take so much time off work so (ugh) we will have a bit of a schedule. Actually, the owner wants to do the trip with me to get some offshore experience and learn his boat. As far as electronic charts go, in the Pacific I used C-Map and Max-Sea is this a popular charting system in the Caribbean? I'll have paper as well. How have you guys found the accuracy of the GPS datum around the Bahamas and BVIs?
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Old 23-02-2008, 12:00   #13
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In the Bahamas, I've used paper only--the Explorer charts--and they were great. I use CMAP NT in the Caribbean, and find it accurate in the USVI, but the datum seems to be shifted in the rest of the chain, and by varying amounts. It was maybe 1,000 feet off in Antigua and 50' off in Mayreau, so you see what I mean. I use the chartplotter as a guide only, and navigate by eye around the islands. A couple of Imre Iolaire charts that I used were off, too, so maybe CMAP uses the same input data. Someone told me that many of the charts are based on original British Admiralty charts from centuries ago. The cruising guides' sketch charts are adequate for inter-island passages and entering anchorages.
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Old 23-02-2008, 12:12   #14
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Hud, thanks. We had the same varying datum in Mexico. We used the same technique of getting to the area via chart and then using mark one eyeball when in the Tuamotus and other reefs.
Scott
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Old 23-02-2008, 17:42   #15
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I would ditto Hud on the Explorer charts for the Bahamas as the only really reliable charts. These are also avialable electronically on Garmin Bluecharts, CMap and Nobeltec. You take your chances with anything else.
For the Caribe we had Excellent results with the CYC paper chart packs which were beautiful and accurate and are now sold by MapTech complete with a CD for charting programs.
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