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Old 05-11-2010, 11:07   #1
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Foolhardy Trip ? Information Required . . .

Hi all

I need some of your experience/expertise....

I'm working in Haiti and have been since the earthquake.

When I leave Haiti, I'm thinking about some over sea adventure...
I want to get some idea from seaman such as yourselves as to whether my idea is plausible or just plain idiotic.

firstly I have had a little experience. I was aboard a 17m cutter/ketch that sailed form Fiji-Vanuatu-New Caledonia-Brisbane a few years ago, with 2 others on board. One was the owner skipper, me and the other crew member first time sailors. I wasn't much responsible for sailing/navigating, just doing what I was told. I do have a small motor boat license.

the basic plan is to go over sea to Cuba from Haiti (about 40 or so km i think, at the closest point) then from Cuba to Mexico all the while hugging the coast (about 60 or so km i think), they're little gaps in the islands basically but i guess that may suggest rougher colliding seas? is that right? Mind you I'm gonna do this outside of the hurricane period, say March time.

the options for passage are (here's where you tell me I'm an idiot):

I have a 10 foot aluminium dingy with a 15Hp engine on it.

or

I can probably swap this for a 13 foot, open hull, single sail, heavy, wooden mono-hull made here in good old Haiti, which they say, can make Cuba easily (but probably slowly). The boat builder will teach me exactly how to maneuver this craft.


I'm thinking 60km with a 15hp engine would be pretty quick no? on a clear day? but maybe not be so sturdy if the swell picked up at all.

The sail boat...slow, dependent on wind and therefore swell? (maybe more dangerous for a novice like me?)


the other thing is...i'm thinking about doing it alone... well... me and my dog.....It's part of a greater overland plan that brings me to Bolivia.

I have a GPS and life jackets.

What do you think?

Is this an ill conceived plot that could lead to my early demise...or an adventurous mission that's quite possible?

all thoughts very much appreciated.

Declan.
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Old 05-11-2010, 11:17   #2
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What do I think? Folks have crossed the Atlantic on surfboards (or was it the Pacific) but they were very prepared. As for Haitian sailboats, they're pretty good and the Haitians that sail them are even better. Frankly I don't think you'll make it. But what do I know, if you want adventure, go for it! But leave the dog ashore.
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Old 05-11-2010, 11:24   #3
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i think if you get too close to cuba thay will come out and arrest you and impound your boat and your dog.
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Old 05-11-2010, 11:32   #4
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@Vasco- you don't think I'll make it, as in.... it's a stupid idea I'm gonna drown at sea along with my dog? or I need to be better prepared??
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Old 05-11-2010, 11:54   #5
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First question, are you a US citizen or permanent resident? If yes you are not legally allowed to go to Cuba.

Second, if you take the dinghy what will you do if the engine dies. Without some kind of backup you will be on a long slow trip in whichever way the wind and sea takes you. Also your fuel and range will be limited and I understand gas is not easily available all along the Cuban coast so that might be an adventure in itself.

The sailboat might be the better option but that size you will either have to start at night or land at night. Not likely you could make the crossing in one daylight sail.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:02   #6
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Hiya, thanks for the response. I'm a UK/Australian duel national, I plan to get a Cuban visa here in Haiti, not sure where I'd have to land for immigration purposes though.

Yeah, the engine dying is a problem I thought of, I have oars (a long row I know), maybe the sailboat with a backup engine? Do you know anything abou the seas in the windward passage? or what the Cuban government might think about this plan? If I have a visa for entry, it cant be illegal can it?

How long do you think it would take a 15Hp engine to do 50km?
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:18   #7
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I have been through the Windward Passage several times. Twice it was dead flat calm. Usually moderate winds and seas. Once it was pretty darn rough.

If totally calm you could make it from St Nicolas Mole to Punto Maisi in 4-6 hours. But that is land to land, not port to port. No firsthand knowledge of the ports in NE Cuba.

If you have a very calm day and leave early in the morning you would probably have good weather to make the whole crossing by motor. If the motor fails and the wind picks up, rowing will not get you there, the wind and current will overpower whatever you could do with oars.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:23   #8
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I often encourage people to go out and have an adventure and frequently there will be risks involved, some moderately severe. I can't do that with what you propose. My honest opinion is that in the ten foot out board propelled dinghy you are very likely to die. In the sail boat, with your past experience, you may make it but I wouldn't bet any of my money on it. The suggestion by Vasco that you leave your dog behind is a good one. The dog will have a much better survival chance on land, even if you were to just abandon it. You would of course need a pet passport for the dog if you were to take it with you.
If you have a US passport or can get a US visa, why not start looking for a yacht to join as crew?

P.
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:09   #9
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LEMONADE ROM LEMONS.
SAILBOAT.
CUBA IS NOT A PROBLEM FOR YOU. MIGHT BE FOR DOG, BUT ISNT OR YOU. YOU ARE GOING ROM HAITI TO CUBA TO MEXICO. NO SWEAT. USE SEPARATE VISA AND ALL IS COOL ON RE ENTRY TO USA IF THAT IS YOUR GOAL.
YOU HAVE A PUTER NOW-- LOOK WELL AT WEATHER PATTERNS AND STUDY YOUR CURRENTS AND WHERE THEY FLOW AND WIND-- YOU SHOULD BE FINE.
PRACTICE SAILING FOR A COUPLA DAYS OR WEEKS FIRST.
LET SOMEONE KNOW YOUR DESTINATION AND TAKE A SPOT TRACKER IF YOU CAN GET ONE. THEY ARE INEXPENSIVE AND FUNCTION--ALSO TAKE BATTERIES FOR IT.
HAVE FUN. PICTURES OR IT DIDNT HAPPEN.....
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:18   #10
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Yeah that's how I got the original crew work in the Pacific but I was thinking nobody is going to let me on their boat with a dog...
You really think the passage is impossible? I see it's actually 90km away. I'm looking out my window at the island Ilse de Gonave, which is about 50kms away, seems like you could make it there easily, so after that distance you'd be within eye shot of Cuba.
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:28   #11
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@fishwife... you've put the fear of god in me which is probably a good thing...at least it will make me get well prepared ;-)
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:38   #12
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@fishwife... you've put the fear of god in me which is probably a good thing...at least it will make me get well prepared ;-)
One question. How far from the beach have you taken this dinghy with the outboard?

P.
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:41   #13
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One question. How far from the beach have you taken this dinghy with the outboard?

P.
a mile or so :-), just got it though. why's that? meaning it gets choppier?
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:45   #14
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HAVE FUN. PICTURES OR IT DIDNT HAPPEN.....
@ ZEEHAG- haha brilliant. So you think go with the putter or the sailboat? looking across the sea to Ilse De Gonave, 90 Km seems like nothing. Final destination is a friends guesthouse in Bolivia!
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:52   #15
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Have you looked at weather patterns etc.? I just checked a map of todays winds for the area. It shows winds generally from the east, which I understand to be prevailing direction for Haitian waters but for the waters between Cuba and Haiti the wind bends and comes from a little east of north and is blowing 25 knots. Close to Cuba the winds are shown from the west and light. I would expect you could see some confused seas. I wouldn't want to be in 25 knots in either of the boats you mentioned.

Haiti Weather Map - Weather-Forecast.com
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