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Old 28-07-2012, 17:15   #1
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Location: Niagara on the Lake - Canada
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Route to Panama from RI

I am new to Ocean Sailing. I plan to cruise the Pacific Ocean and to get there from Rhode Island I need first go to Panama and cross the canal. My plan is to cast off late October or early November 2012. Since I do not want to make the milk run through the ICW, which is time consuming, I plan to get out to the ocean.

I would appreciate suggestions and experience, what route to take and more or less how much time I need for this first leg of my cruising plan. The boat I am sailing is a Mariner 40, two men on board.

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Old 28-07-2012, 17:47   #2
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Re: Route to Panama from RI

the farther out you go the less the gulf stream will hinder you. I use to go 150 miles out than head south. that was on a 120 foot sailboat but see no reason you could not do it with a smaller one. Sooner out of the gulf stream the better

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Old 28-07-2012, 18:25   #3
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Re: Route to Panama from RI

Go around East end of Cuba
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Old 28-07-2012, 18:30   #4
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Re: Route to Panama from RI

bmilkos -- you got a few options --
first we do not like the icw either except getting around hatteras which can be a bit of a wait - you can run down and get around hatteras and cape fear either inside or outside and if you check where the gs is you can lie inside of it and go all the way to miami - we have done it a few times and there are 2 of us so if we feel like a break there are a few places to duck in for wx or rest
but once past sc we go stright to miami on the outside

from miami you can either go to the bahamas then thru the windward passage past jamaica and straight to panama - we did a reverse route from panama to jamaica going 42% on the wind the entire way so for you it would be a down wind sail
the other option is what we did and go from miami west to mexico, belieze, rio dulce, bay islands and then around the corner - a bit longer but you get to see a lot and do a lot - only problem is getting a wx window to get around the corner - from there it is a good run to panama with a stop or two on the way

just watch your wx windows

just our opinion
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
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Old 28-07-2012, 19:36   #5
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Re: Route to Panama from RI

The Bahamas-Windward Passage-Jamaica is not a bad option. That's how I came to the NW Carib in 2004-2005. Conditions can get pretty sporty in the Windward Passage (WP) so chose your window carefully. When we came through, systemic winds were about 25 knots or so between the Bahamas (Acklins) and the approach to the WP. In the WP it amped up to a good steady 35 knots with 8-12 foot seas. But it was all from NW so it was a fun ride (if you like that sort of thing -- which I do).

I think the route selection depends on how much you want to really "cruise" and how much you want to get there. You could just run straight from Jamaica to Panama at that point or do a more "cruiser-ly" route.

In our case, from Jamaica we went to Bay Islands Honduras and then about a 5 year detour to Belize & Guatemala. This year finally made it "around the corner" to Panama. If getting to Panama is your objective then I might skip the Bay Islands, because the stretch from Bay Islands "around the corner" to Providencia, Colombia (a common cruisers stop on this route) can be a challenge (against normal prevailing winds). You could just run straight from Jamaica to Providencia and take a break there (great place). From Providencia it is all down wind or no wind to Panama. Once you get south of about 11N then you will probably have little or no wind depending upon the location of the ITCZ at the time. We spent several weeks cruising the Bocas del Toro area this season and never had enough wind long enough to justify raising sails.

Note that late October you are still technically in hurricane season and Nov - Feb (at least) you can still get strong cold fronts pushing down as for as the NW Caribbean. This year, we did not leave Guatemala until April because the cold front season was so active so late into the season.
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Panama, route

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