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Old 11-08-2019, 16:21   #1
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Caribbean - tips and hints

Planning to head south going through the Bahamas and on to the Caribbean next Winter/Spring. Since I've only sailed a few times I figured I would start a "Caribbean - tips and hints" thread. So what useful stuff learned do people have as sometimes a simple little thing makes big differences.
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Old 11-08-2019, 16:41   #2
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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Planning to head south going through the Bahamas and on to the Caribbean next Winter/Spring. Since I've only sailed a few times I figured I would start a "Caribbean - tips and hints" thread. So what useful stuff learned do people have as sometimes a simple little thing makes big differences.

Good question: I sailed the Caribbean 3 years and the Bahamas (North Atlantic) 14 years.
Big difference, deeper waters but more reefs in the Caribbean, shallow and sand in the Bahamas, ( but also reefs if you are lucky)
The natives in the Caribbean can be a bit more nasty as far as killing you and raping the wife, but more so further south towards Venezuela and Columbia: Some blame it on poor starving fishermen, I blame it on primitive psychopaths, lots of those down there.
The whole idea is to have something that nobody else wants., then you are OK.
If you have a fancy boat, a sexy girlfriend or wife, a nice dinghy, whatever: Many a Times the locals want a piece of it and you are screwed.
Sad.
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Old 11-08-2019, 16:46   #3
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Well that’s a buzz kill ^^^

Fair winds,
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Old 11-08-2019, 16:51   #4
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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Well thatís a buzz kill ^^^

Fair winds,
give it time, there will be other sides of the story
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Old 11-08-2019, 17:15   #5
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Smaller headsail, no need for big Genoa's, a nicely cut jib is great for going up and down the windwards.
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Old 11-08-2019, 18:13   #6
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

A good thing there is when you anchor do not just jump into the dinghy and speed ashore.


It is much nicer if you slow down at your nearest neighbours and say hi.


One thing is should your boat go bonkers while you are exploring the shore, people are far more likely to take action when they know your face. "Hey look, is it not Peter's boat drifting away to PANAMA???" ;-)


Another thing is you will be amazed at the ages, styles and shades of people you meet this way. Truly quite an experience.


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Old 11-08-2019, 18:29   #7
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Leaving from the Bahamas is a slog. Basically 900 miles to weather into the trades. Lots of motor assisted sailing.

To actually sail it you need to leave from further north, say Beaufort NC area
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Old 11-08-2019, 18:46   #8
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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Leaving from the Bahamas is a slog. Basically 900 miles to weather into the trades. Lots of motor assisted sailing.

To actually sail it you need to leave from further north, say Beaufort NC area
Plan to go the windward passage route around Hati on way south. Don't have to hit every island on way south. It makes more sense to me to bypass some as too hard to get too on heading south and to pick up later on way back north. But sometimes you have to just suck it up on a crappy leg.

Like always I may be wrong and am still reviewing options.
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Old 11-08-2019, 18:51   #9
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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Well thatís a buzz kill ^^^

Fair winds,
Quote:
buzz kill
when someone or something ruins a special moment which may or may not be drug induced.
Nah, no buzz kill, just a heads up.
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Old 11-08-2019, 22:59   #10
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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Plan to go the windward passage route around Hati on way south. Don't have to hit every island on way south. It makes more sense to me to bypass some as too hard to get too on heading south and to pick up later on way back north. But sometimes you have to just suck it up on a crappy leg.

Like always I may be wrong and am still reviewing options.
So what is the destination from the Windward passage to the Windward Islands? It's still gonna be hard on the tradewinds unless you are headed to Bonaire or Curacao.

I did the Bahamas, DR, PR, VI route once. Too much motoring into rambunctious headwinds, regardless of the mythical thornless passage.

Second time I did the Bahamas in late winter spring. Then US east coast for summer. Left Virginia early Nov and sailed to the BVIs. This was also not a pleasant passage, but at least we sailed most of it.

Pick your poison.

Also, the Bahamas is much nicer in Spring than in the peak of winter.
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Old 12-08-2019, 05:24   #11
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

When I started the thread I was thinking posts like

Shade tarps make a big difference.

You need x gals of gas for the dinghy as it’s hard to find.

The best weather info is X
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Old 12-08-2019, 06:08   #12
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Two responses - one general and one with a few specifics. This is the general one:

If you are going back to US East coast after the season in the Caribbean, then do Bahamas on the way home.

Not sure how Colombia got dragged into the Venezuelan pirates warning above. My experience of Colombia is that, since the peace with the FARC, it is no different than most countries where there are poor people alongside those better off (like most of the Caribbean). But I would not go anywhere near Venezuela.

Use PredictWind and Windy if you have them but SailFlow and Passage Weather are pretty good. However, never rely on them being correct. If they all agree, then odds are the weather will be broadly as they say (but not always). If they all disagree, work on the assumption that it could be anything.

You will only actually NEED two pairs of swimmers, two pairs of shorts, two t-shirts, sunglasses with a lanyard, one more hat than you are careless enough to lose over the side and a shed load of sun cream. If you are going with a significant other, they will pack a great deal more than this. DO NOT draw attention to how little of it they have used by the end of the season! Our general rule is to pack once and then take out half of what we packed and go with what is left.

If you like fresh milk, make sure you buy it before you arrive on one of the French islands - where they normally only sell UHT milk.

It rains for a few seconds every night and a few minutes most nights. Either have wind scoops that provide enough cover that you can leave you hatches open or assume you will wake up once during the night to shut your hatches and once to reopen them when you get too hot.

Don’t bother with Aircon unless you are a dock somewhere - there is almost always enough breeze to cool you at night on the anchor or a mooring.

Will offer a few specifics in another reply
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Old 12-08-2019, 06:26   #13
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

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DO NOT draw attention to how little of it they have used by the end of the season!
That sounds like the voice of experience! LOL

Really great tips.

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Old 12-08-2019, 06:45   #14
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Some more specifics observations:

All of the islands are different and require a little time to enjoy fully. For example, It is not really worth going to Guadeloupe for less than 10 days if you want to enjoy the “Guadeloupe-ness” of it. It will take you that long to sail around the island in a relaxed fashion with seven or eight stops to enjoy the differences of Deshaies, Pointe a Pitre and the West coast anchorages between them before you move to the Eastern half of the island (with a probably stop in Marie Gallant) and make time to go ashore - Of course you can tick things off a list and only spend a couple of days in each but it would be a waste of the effort to get there.

The channels between the islands have thrown up seas bigger than you might encounter on an Atlantic crossing. Do no underestimate the need to prepare for this because weather windows may be a long way apart.

Get a European SIM card for your phone if you can because the French islands are France. Phones work like they are local rather than roaming.

Try to tie your schedule to the racing calendar if you like a bit of atmosphere or decouple to avoid the regatta calendar if you like peace and quiet. However, definitely try to make a stop in Antigua during race week because everyone should do that at least once in their lives.

Do not bring boat trash back into the USVI or Puerto Rico from the BVI or wherever you last stopped unless you want to take the risk of a very expensive and inconvenient garbage dump process.

Check into Cruz Bay, St John for the USVI if possible and Ensenada Honda on Culebra for Puerto Rico if you want the most pleasant experience. Similarly JvD for the BVI. Bitter End Yacht Club in North Sound on Virgin Gorda should be up and running by the end of 2019 but it is still worth visiting as a jumping off point to head south even if they are delayed with the rebuild because Leverick Bay is functional and you can refuel, literally and figuratively, before the first part of your beat south.

It is cheaper to check into Antigua in Jolly Harbor or St John than in English Harbor because you do not have to pay the National Park Fee. Visit Barbuda on your way out of Antigua or during your stay there (because you cannot check in at Coddrington).

That’s enough for now.....
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Old 12-08-2019, 07:23   #15
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Re: Caribbean - tips and hints

Take a decent ascent rucsack and a pair of strong walking shoes.


Inland, many islands offer unbelievable trekking grounds - volcanoes, rain forest, waterfalls, and rhum factories. Even better, you have it all to yourself as walking is today so passe.


Cheers,
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