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Old 07-07-2018, 15:59   #1
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Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

The plan has always been to do Panama to the Marquesas, but we might have some extra time to kill, and we've been thinking about sailing up the west coast of Central America and Mexico to somewhere like La Paz before setting off to the Marquesas.

There are a few advantages that I can see to this plan. One it would make the passage to the Marquesas shorter (by distance, at least). Two, it would allow us to see a variety of anchorages before spending a whole lot of time at sea. Three, we could get some really good Mexican food.

But there are some disadvantages, and I'm not sure I know what they all are just yet. One is that we'd have to cross a wider stretch of the ITCZ, and the winds in general might be less predictable and favorable.

What are some other considerations I should be taking into account?
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Old 07-07-2018, 16:42   #2
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

Have you considered where you will spend the rainy season, aka hurricane season? If you sit in Panama waiting it out you have to deal with excessive lightning along with some oppressive muggyness. Going up the central American coast puts into similar conditions plus hurricanes.

How about sailing to mainland Ecuador. Nice climate and great place to land your. Then head west early in the season and beat the crowd to Hiva Oa.
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Old 07-07-2018, 17:01   #3
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

Downsides: La Paz is a long way to windward, against the south setting current, and the Gulf of Tehuantepec is known for some unpleasant weather.

We have gone the La Paz route to the Marquesas twice, once in April and once in March. Enjoyed the passage both times, enough wind all the way.

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Old 07-07-2018, 18:07   #4
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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Have you considered where you will spend the rainy season, aka hurricane season?
...
The plan as it stands was to spend time in the Western Caribbean from October onwards, aka, San Blas and Bocas. But we realize this is also the start rainy season for these parts. Instead of doing Bocas (or in addition to), the idea was to cross the canal a bit early.

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How about sailing to mainland Ecuador. Nice climate and great place to land your. Then head west early in the season and beat the crowd to Hiva Oa.
You know, we haven't considered this option yet, and it sounds like a nice alternative!

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Downsides: La Paz is a long way to windward, against the south setting current, and the Gulf of Tehuantepec is known for some unpleasant weather.

We have gone the La Paz route to the Marquesas twice, once in April and once in March. Enjoyed the passage both times, enough wind all the way.
What's the common strategy for crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec? I've heard people getting in as close as reasonable to shore to minimize time spent in the gale.
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Old 07-07-2018, 18:19   #5
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

If you spend Oct in the San Blas you might as well paint a bullseye on your boat for the lightning to strike. The number of boats hit in Panama and CA is pretty astounding. It can really put a dent in your cruising plans.
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Old 07-07-2018, 18:26   #6
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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If you spend Oct in the San Blas you might as well paint a bullseye on your boat for the lightning to strike. The number of boats hit in Panama and CA is pretty astounding. It can really put a dent in your cruising plans.
I guess this is where the small boat really pays off!

But seriously, I've heard this advice from others as well. And from what I understand, things don't really calm down until December onward.
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Old 07-07-2018, 19:34   #7
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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I guess this is where the small boat really pays off!

But seriously, I've heard this advice from others as well. And from what I understand, things don't really calm down until December onward.
Yep, if you are spending time in Bonaire Id try and stay there and Curacao for as long as you can. Then do Colombia and not show up in the San Blas till end of Nov earliest.Bla

Unfortunately it isn't the tallest mast that gets hit.
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Old 07-07-2018, 20:03   #8
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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Have you considered where you will spend the rainy season, aka hurricane season? If you sit in Panama waiting it out you have to deal with excessive lightning along with some oppressive muggyness. Going up the central American coast puts into similar conditions plus hurricanes.

How about sailing to mainland Ecuador. Nice climate and great place to land your. Then head west early in the season and beat the crowd to Hiva Oa.
We are big fans of Ecuador. We went Panama/Ecuador (month of backpacking in Ecuador and Peru)/ Galapagos, the Easter island and into FP from the SW. most people go Galapagos to Marquesas.
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Old 07-07-2018, 20:22   #9
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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.......
What's the common strategy for crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec? I've heard people getting in as close as reasonable to shore to minimize time spent in the gale.
You'll see in the guides the suggestion to keep one foot on the beach. The logic here is that even if you get 50 or 60'knots it will be straight off the beach and you won't have any seas. The Tehaunapeckers can run to 250 miles offshore, so there's no way to run around them.

The forecasting of the TP is pretty good now a days. You can track fronts coming across Texas into the Gulf of Mexico signalling one in the near future. Because the forecasting is so much better, I think it depends where you are heading. If you plan to clear in in Chiapas, then doing the shore route to Hualtuco is not much difference than going direct.
If you are clearing-in in Hualtuco, then it is quite a bit shorter to go direct from El Salvador (or Guatemala). We went direct across the Gulf going southbound with a good forecast, leaving Hualtuco and entering Bahia del.Sol, El Salvador.
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Old 07-07-2018, 20:39   #10
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

A common bit of advice about Tehaunapeckers is to stay far enough off the beach so your boat doesnt get sand blasted yet just close enough so the waves dont have a chance to build too high. That distance will have to be judged by waves and possibly sand. A $20K paint job can be ruined quickly. Just my 20 cents worth. _____Grant.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:58   #11
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

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Yep, if you are spending time in Bonaire Id try and stay there and Curacao for as long as you can. Then do Colombia and not show up in the San Blas till end of Nov earliest.Bla

Unfortunately it isn't the tallest mast that gets hit.
Another factor to consider for Colombia-San Blas is that the weather/sea state associated w the Colombian Low builds during windy season (~Jan-May), but is typically much more settled during summer months (except for now...its honking!). So summer crossing of this notoriously ugly section of ocean are typically easier...but lots of lightening in the San Blas during summer months...a compromise might be to try and cross late in rainy season like Nov-Dec.
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:26   #12
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

No cogent advice about routing to the Marquesas from Panama versus Mexico, but, if manageable with time and priorities, La Paz and the Sea of Cortez would be worth the bash, IMHO. Pristine, spectacular and, for the most part, uncrowded anchorages with crystal clear, warm water. Great diving, snorkeling, fishing and desert/mountain scenery. You could easily spend the better part of a year exploring the islands and anchorages in the Sea. Good luck with your continuing cruise.
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:33   #13
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

Here is a good link for you on the organized even Pacific Puddle jump which is put on once a year. Cruisers take off in mass so you have support if anything goes wrong Check out the link and see what you think Pacific Puddle Jump Official Web Site
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:08   #14
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

The Galapagos might be interesting and break up a long time at sea?
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:50   #15
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Re: Panama or Mexico to the Marquesas?

The Galapagos would be a wonderful stop, but I think it would blow our budget.

I'm researching options up and down the coasts. I certainly don't want to spend a week against the wind, and if that's what I'm looking at going either way, we'll probably scratch the detours off the list. I'll need to look at my pilot charts...

I think our San Blas plans become the determining factor in all of this. If we go to San Blas when the weather is nice, then we probably won't be crossing the Canal until early January or late December. That might give us a month or so to explore up or down the Pacific coast, but not as much time as if we went to San Blas earlier, during the unpleasant season.

Definitely looking into joining the Pacific Puddle Jump. Don't have SSB to talk to people, but at least it would give us a bit of extra knowledge-sharing.
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