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Old 28-09-2017, 11:49   #1
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Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

First of all, a little about us. We live in California, and our current "plan A" is to buy a boat in the Caribbean or on the East Coast next year when I retire, then start our cruising life in the Caribbean during the 2018/2019 season. Btw, at least at for the first few years we're planning on doing more seasonal "commuter" style cruising not live-aboard. And given we're in California we don't have much local knowledge about the real extent of the damage in the Caribbean caused by the hurricanes other than what we get from news and a few friends. So some questions for the East Coasters and Caribbean sailors.

How has the devastation caused by the hurricanes affected your cruising plans for the 2017/2018 season? Has it changed your long term plans for cruising in the Caribbean given that it may be years before some islands are back to normal? Do you fore see things being back to normal is a year or two, or is it likely to be 5 to 10 years before normality returns? Also,has this changed your view on what's a safe hurricane hole? Finally our "plan B" is to buy a boat in the Med and start our cruising life there for a few seasons. Is that a better plan given the current state of the Caribbean? TIA

-Jim
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Old 28-09-2017, 12:19   #2
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

I foresee it being more than just a year for things to return to "normal" in the affected areas. But that still leaves a lot of area to cruise.

The part of your plan I would reconsider is the where of buying the boat. You should consider getting a boat up in the Northeast instead of one in the Caribbean. You get a lot more to chose from and get a boat that has only been used 5 months a year, was stored ashore the rest of the time, and has lived in lower salinity and UV conditions.
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Old 28-09-2017, 18:07   #3
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Caribbean is a big place, not much of it got hammered thankfully, still a lot left.
However I can see how maybe buying in the Med might be more interesting, depends on your situation, being from California, I think I'd go to the Med.
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Old 28-09-2017, 19:01   #4
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Changed nothing for us. We fly back on October 13 and will spend the next season enjoying the "intact" islands, and lending a hand to the other ones.

As to what has changed.. The price to store south of the hurricane belt has already rose SIGNIFICANTLY. Storing next hurricane season in Grenada or Trinidad will cost more (than it did last year), period! For us, that means we will live aboard through next hurricane somwhere south.
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Old 29-09-2017, 09:50   #5
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Several points to consider
1. Where to. buy. Although the NE or Florida may be good value getting the boat to the Carribean may be an issue with destruction of many of the usual stopping places. I would suggest buying south of St Maarten and staying for a season or two at and below Antigua.Its the best area anyway.
2. Haul your boat in South Grenada or Trinidad
After 10 years of seasonal cruising we have just lost our Tartan 3700 to Irma in St Maarten after leaving her there for the first time (for refit lol).
3. Don't underestimate the damage. St Maarten is devastated, Barbuda destroyed,the US and Spanish virgins also bad.
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Old 29-09-2017, 10:00   #6
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

First - TartanBlue... so sorry for your loss. And to all others with significant damage or loss, we are thinking of you all!

As to cruising 2018, support for affected islands will be critical, but the reality of where and when islands will be able to support significant visitors remains to be seen.

Jim, you may wish to consider purchasing in the states (East coast if you wish to cruise Caribbean) and spend your first year or so in the Bahamas. It's close enough to the US that you can return if/when needed for upgrades/repairs/etc. It's a good shakedown plan and resources are more plentiful, especially given the damage from IRMA/MARIA and having a new boat.

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Old 29-09-2017, 10:08   #7
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

My boat made it thru Irma out of the water in Marsh Harbor, Abacos. The Abacos and Exumas Bahamas were nearly untouched. You could easily start there and spend more than a year exploring it.
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Old 29-09-2017, 10:54   #8
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

The Caribbean has been overcrowded in all the great anchorages for years. I suspect that the anchorages will be thinned out significantly after this storm, but the available services will be less in the affected islands.

The southern Bahamas are awesome and not crowded.

There are plenty of places to cruise that have not been devastated by the storms. But if marinas are your thing, then it might not be up to your expectations.
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Old 29-09-2017, 11:47   #9
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

We bought our boat in Singapore, sailed (and worked)the Philippines for 12+ years, shipped from Phuket to Marmais, Turkey and sailed the Medd for 3 seasons, and now we're in the Caribb. We "summered over" in Puerto Rico, and our boat is unharmed, thanks to the marina and the local care it received. Having seen the BVI and USVI before, and now the pics/videos after.....normalcy is several years away I fear. True, the southern half is still in tact, but the northern half and over to PR has been hit hard!
The anchorages will still be there, maybe the mooring fields, but not likely the shore facilities for a while to come. Having sailed the western Medd(Turkey, Greece, the Adriatic, and Italy)....thats were I'd head! The scenery and ruins are spectacular, the cruising grounds are awesum, the people are generally friendly, and it will never be cheaper! But you need to watch the Schengen treaties and limits. And don't forget the seasons are different in the 2 areas. We found it best in Turkey(good for 1 or 2 seasons at least), Greece is good(another 2-3 seasons) you can spend a whole year in the Adriatic (don't miss Croatia and Montenegro, and Venice is only a 1-day sail from northern Croatia), and Italy is....well, its Italy. Sailing or shipping from Genoa is easy, and then come to the Caribb for winter seasons. An EZ decision for me!
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Old 29-09-2017, 12:31   #10
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I foresee it being more than just a year for things to return to "normal" in the affected areas. But that still leaves a lot of area to cruise.

The part of your plan I would reconsider is the where of buying the boat. You should consider getting a boat up in the Northeast instead of one in the Caribbean. You get a lot more to chose from and get a boat that has only been used 5 months a year, was stored ashore the rest of the time, and has lived in lower salinity and UV conditions.
Sailorboy1 is 100% CORRECT.

I purchased my 19 year old boat on the Chesapeake two years ago. It took 21 days to get it to Florida and had a great time doing it. The boat has been almost trouble free.
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Old 29-09-2017, 14:01   #11
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Very difficult question. The Carib & Med are two very different animals. Love both but prefer the Med. Better food & more diverse. I would look at Croatia.
Of course the weather in the Carib is great when it's not trying to kill you.
Is this year indicative of future weather patterns? I hope not but many experts would disagree.
Winters in the Med, in preferred cruising areas, are not warm.

The BVI will be very different for some time to come. I have a feeling that tourists will be much more appreciated. At least the Tamarind Club has survived.
My advice would to be to charter or lease in both. Summer in the Med. Winter in the caribbean. See how it goes. Variety is the spice of life.
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Old 29-09-2017, 15:07   #12
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Why wouldn't you stay on west coast a lot better sailing go down into Mexico and on into central and South America then head north. up to Canada and alsaka I'm on the east coast and dream of making to the west coast. Just a thought
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Old 30-09-2017, 09:19   #13
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

Great questions.
For boat buying, love the northeast for the choices. You can enjoy Americana down the ICW if your mast is < 65'. We have also done the straight down the coast from the Chesapeake Bay- 3/4 days to Charleston and 3 more to central Florida.
For cruising, I agree with the suggestions to enjoy the Bahamas starting in the Abacos and heading south. It's easier sailing with provisions never too far. And beautiful!
I think we all will be much more weather sensitive in the future...
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Old 30-09-2017, 10:43   #14
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

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Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
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Has it changed your long term plans for cruising in the Caribbean given that it may be years before some islands are back to normal? Do you fore see things being back to normal is a year or two, or is it likely to be 5 to 10 years before normality returns? Also,has this changed your view on what's a safe hurricane hole? Finally our "plan B" is to buy a boat in the Med and start our cruising life there for a few seasons. Is that a better plan given the current state of the Caribbean? TIA

-Jim
Disclaimer: My post is very Bahamas related but much of it will be true of other areas.

Keep in mind that not everyone has the same definition of normal. There are places in the Bahamas that have not fully recovered from last year's hurricanes. But there are a lot more places that were fully recovered by my definition, and probably most folks' definition.

The things that will take longer to recover are stuff like marina docks, bars, and what I call tourist stuff. When folks ask me if I have been to the Bahamas I say yes, but. The but being that I probably have been to 30 islands/cays in the Bahamas and there are over 3,000 of them. A lot of the islands are uninhabited, or have very few people living there with very little to recover. And conventional wisdom is that a hurricane can "clean out" a lot of stuff.

The point I am trying to make is if you are expecting to tie up at a dock, connect to shore power, and eat out every night your definition of recovery is different than if you expect to anchor out in a place where there is not another boat in sight.

As an aside as an American buying a boat in America has advantages. Doing so in other countries means different laws and taxes. Not saying buying out of the country is always a bad idea, just that you will have to deal with different issues and possibly in a different language.

I would suggest you look some place on the East Coast, and especially in Florida. Lots of boats there with well known laws. In addition you will have access to things like SeaTow and good weather reports while you do your shake down cruises. These are good reasons to stay in places like the Florida Keys till you get your feet wet.

Once you feel comfortable you can head to the Bahamas. A friendly place where the king's good English is spoken and no worries about laws/what ever than may be a little shock. Then head to George town and South. All of this is doable in a season and you can easily head to the Rio for hurricane season for a safe harbor. On the other hand if your boat, or skill level, is not what you are expecting you are still close to the East Coast where you can haul out for the hurricane season and reassess your plans.

Not saying there are not plenty of other places like the Med or Pacific, just that this is an easy way to do it.
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Old 30-12-2017, 14:34   #15
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Re: Caribbean Cruising 2018/2019 season - good or bad idea?

We purchased a 50ft Beneteau in Italy in 2014. We have sailed 3 seasons in Italy, Greece, Turkey & Cyprus. I would thoroughly recommend Turkey & Greece as being easy and cheap places to sail. No Tides to speak of. Food is cheap. People are friendly. Hundreds of Greek & Romans ruins. Scenery is brilliant! If you want you can spend most of your time at anchor for no cost at all. These are wonderful cruising grounds. Yachts are cheap to buy.


In Nov 2018 we are sailing across Atlantic to Caribbean & then on towards home in New Zealand after a season or 2 in the south Pacific. Hopefully the Caribbean is just as nice as the MED.
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