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Old 13-11-2012, 13:29   #1
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Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Hi everyone,

Not long now till I head off to Panama to pickup my new toy (Gulfstar CSY 50). I'm planning on taking my time and working my way back to Nanny Cay for May to follow the fleet with the ARC back West to East. I plan to spend December getting her ready then setting sail in Jan. I spent all my time planning on buying in the Med and sailing the other way following the trade winds down so really haven't thought much about doing the trip the other way until I fell in love and bought this boat.

I recon I could turn left and head up via Costa Rica towards Mexico then across Cuba or turn right across Venezuela and then up through the islands...?

Given the time or year etc... anyone have any words of wisdom? I'm 30 single and always keen for an adventure (yachtmaster certified, so don't worry I'm not just dreaming and getting myself into a world of trouble).

Lets see where this thread leads...
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Old 13-11-2012, 15:30   #2
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

If you leave past about the middle of Dec you will be heading into the tradewinds. Going E toward Venezuela will be a brutal motor dead into the teeth of it. You would most likely turn back or end up hanging somewhere like Santa Marta till April. Heading NE out of Colon will still be tough, but doable. Leaving earlier to go N would be more pleasant.
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Old 13-11-2012, 15:55   #3
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Yea I thought as much... Just checking out the world cruising routes now and the winds really will be set in by then... Bugger!

What are the points of refuge like along the east cost on the way up north? How frequent and what's the shelter like? I'd prefer to live on the hook as much as possible... Anyone with experience of the route up north?
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Old 13-11-2012, 16:44   #4
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

I would take a course N - NE or as close to the wind as is comfortable. Depending on the course made good you might stop in Jamaica or shoot for the south coast of Hispaniola.

This time of year the trades tend to be NE so once you are off the south coast of Hispaniola you will be in the blanket of the mountains and can benefit a little from the land and sea breezes mornings and evenings.

Still a long way to go but if you have plenty of fuel you can make your easting under power under the lee of the islands; much, much easier than bashing up the South American coast.
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Old 13-11-2012, 19:54   #5
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

frazer,
Paul and Skip have given you pretty good advice....so, I'll be brief...

By happenstance, just last month I was asked for advice (as I have experience with this area / route), by a friend sailing a sistership to my boat, about leaving Panama for the E. Caribbean after transisting the canal....he was hoping to leave Panama by early / mid Nov. (weather and crew permiting)....

So, I'm going to post here most of what I sent him....

But, in general....
a) the earlier you can go (Nov), the better...
b) it aint gonna' be a fun / leisurely passage....be prepared for a hard beat, for quite a ways!!!


Quote:
2) Specifics...
a) Some good news first, early Nov is better than December....and much better than January!!!

b) It all depends on "where" you want to go....
Since those heading for Florida, have it pretty easy....close reaching to
the Caymans, around Cuba and depending on weather/cold fronts they can make S. Florida without too much hassle....
But, those heading for the eastern Caribbean have a long hard slog, upwind into the seas, and against a mild current....
Those heading for the BVI, have it bad...but do-able.....


3) So, now that I've hedged my advice....here goes....
If heading for the E. Carib. most will not wish to try to beat into the
wind/seas for a 1000+ mile passage, so they'll break it up into smaller
segments....
And, you'll have a westerly setting current from 1/2 kt to 1 kt, throughout the whole Caribbean....

--- If your desire is only the NE Caribbean, the BVI, etc...then most will break the passage up into segments....
Plan on leaving from the San Blas area, either stopping in Cartagena or
heading directly for the Dominican Rep (DR), or Puerto Rico.....depending on winds of course....and cruising these areas as they ply there way east to the BVI (a place that I'd pass by, BTW)


--- If you're game for "fun" then head out into the Caribbean from the San Blas area, and beat and tack your way straight to where you want to go....
It's a 1000+ mile rhumb line NE to the Anegada Passage / BVI, into the wind / seas....so, I'd NOT recommend this...but there are some that do it....


4) Wind speeds will be acceptable in early Nov...but usually by end of Dec, they will pick up....
In Nov, expect East to Northeast winds, at 15 kts True....(and "plan for"
15 -20kts True from E to NE..)
That will mean app winds to 20-25 kts, close-hauled.....
And, seas should be 4-6', up to 8'.....

In Dec and Jan, winds in central Carib. will be stronger by 5kts or so (expect 20 - 25 kts TRUE), and the seas will be bigger (6'-10')....that means 25-30 kts+ apparent....

I hope this helps....

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 13-11-2012, 20:47   #6
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
frazer,
Paul and Skip have given you pretty good advice....so, I'll be brief...

By happenstance, just last month I was asked for advice (as I have experience with this area / route), by a friend sailing a sistership to my boat, about leaving Panama for the E. Caribbean after transisting the canal....he was hoping to leave Panama by early / mid Nov. (weather and crew permiting)....

So, I'm going to post here most of what I sent him....

But, in general....
a) the earlier you can go (Nov), the better...
b) it aint gonna' be a fun / leisurely passage....be prepared for a hard beat, for quite a ways!!!





I hope this helps....

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Boy did you get the conditions right on the nose. I made it once in Nov and it was 15-20 kts true, winds mostly ENE. Not too bad.

Did it late Jan and winds were 25+ kts true and more NE, seas definitely 6-10 with an occasional 12 or better rolling through. That was a rough trip. I think more fun to look back on it now than it was at the time but sure was exhilarating.
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Old 14-11-2012, 03:20   #7
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Yea, looking more and more into it it's not looking like the best intro to a new boat as I'd have to jump on and with little time to prepare her and get all my spares and tools in order beat very hard into the winds and current all while very short handed... May be time for a rething and another hard revision of The World Cruising Guide for my options...
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Old 14-11-2012, 05:33   #8
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

You could get the boat ready in Shelter Bay, longer term stays are reasonable. Head to the San Blas for the rest of the season. Then in mid April when the trades lie down you can have a nice sail north.
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Old 14-11-2012, 07:04   #9
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Re: Suggest some routes Panama to Nanny Cay

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Originally Posted by frazerhalliday View Post
Yea, looking more and more into it it's not looking like the best intro to a new boat as I'd have to jump on and with little time to prepare her and get all my spares and tools in order beat very hard into the winds and current all while very short handed... May be time for a rething and another hard revision of The World Cruising Guide for my options...
Another thing to consider. I think the odds of a new to you boat being ready to take off on a long voyage in a few weeks is very unlikely. Even if the owners were living on board and actively cruising for some reason there is just always a long list of stuff that you will have to do to take off.

Add to that the fact that you will be doing this in Panama where everything moves at a slower pace, parts will have to be shipped in from the US or elsewhere and you could easily be there a couple of months or more.

One of the top rules of safe cruising, don't get locked into a schedule. Having the boat ready, good weather, right season, etc should always be the deciding factors on when to go.
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Old 14-11-2012, 07:58   #10
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Yea, I'm cautious not to rush even though the boat looks pretty setup there will always be some things want to do before I head off. I'm thinking now more about a small coastal cruise from Panama east for a bit just to get used to the boat till about Barranquillathen bashing straight up north to Jamaica, possibly Cayman, then Cuba Mexico and then back down to Panama. I'm guessing that's alot more doable? Then meet up with the Milk run and heading west with the wind.
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Old 14-11-2012, 08:21   #11
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

i can only tell you what we did -
each yr is different and winds a bit different - earlier this year we were in the san blas and wanted to head east - we had to wait and wait on a wx window - missed our 1st one as we were not quite ready and then came an unusual period of strong east winds with massive seas - all the winds coming off the windy corner of colombia - so we waited -
eventually got our window and sailed for 5 straight days 42 deg on the wind to within 20nm of jamaica and then turned on the engine into jamaica -
it was a good sail with constant 14-18k winds and the boat cooked - we tried to tack toward the south shore of jamaica several times but just took us too far off the route -
it was a good sail but we waited and waited and checked gribs and chris parker until we got the 5 day window we were looking for -

OH and put on ais as a lot and i mean a lot of big tanker and cargo traffic in the area - we had a tanker that on our ais and his ais (we have class b) said we were going to be very close as we were transiting the area near serranilla banks at 2300 - we told them we were 42 deg on wind and would start our engine and move in to the wind if that was his choice - he was 9 nm out and said he would move 2 deg for us and told us to have a terrific sail - must have been a sailor - we missed by 1 1/2 nm --

what you want to do is doable - the other option is go east along panama and then to caymans and around - a bit longer but again the with the right wx window very doable

just what we did and what worked for us and our opinion
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
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Old 14-11-2012, 08:36   #12
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Quote:
Originally Posted by frazerhalliday View Post
Yea, I'm cautious not to rush even though the boat looks pretty setup there will always be some things want to do before I head off. I'm thinking now more about a small coastal cruise from Panama east for a bit just to get used to the boat till about Barranquillathen bashing straight up north to Jamaica, possibly Cayman, then Cuba Mexico and then back down to Panama. I'm guessing that's alot more doable? Then meet up with the Milk run and heading west with the wind.
You might want to invest in Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Atlas, which gives predicted winds & currents by month among other things. It is based on a twenty year average.

We have been in Panama since July and just crossed the canal. We plan heading north to Mexico in a couple of weeks and then either north to New Orleans or west to the Florida Keys.

All the experts say you want to go in a clockwise direction around the Caribbean. I have also heard several first person stories about people trying to head west from Panama towards the ABC's and they all said they would never do it again. Also a friend just went to Jamacia on a Sport Fisher and said he had head winds and seas the whole way.

If you choose to go west you should pobably think about a weather router. The most popular in the Caribbean seems to be Chris Parker, but there are others.

Where is you boat located? We are currently in Shelter Bay Marina.
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Old 14-11-2012, 09:28   #13
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

Hi Tom,
I'm not there yet, I'm awaiting the survey to be done on "Gypsy Moth" on the 24th and then if that goes to plan I intened to fly out on the w/c 10th December so begin getting her ready. Might see you there if you haven't already headed off!
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Old 14-11-2012, 09:55   #14
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

OH -- forgot -- seas were in the 1-3' range and reasonably spread out -- it was a great run

as for Barranquilla -- well that is right around where the windy corner is where a semi permanent colombia resides -- the seas can get pretty ugly and wind blows a bit and by the way blows harder at night than in the day --

when we left panama we left from porvinor --

good luck
just our thoughts and opinions
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:02   #15
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Re: Suggest Some Routes Panama to Nanny Cay

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OH -- forgot -- seas were in the 1-3' range and reasonably spread out -- it was a great run

as for Barranquilla -- well that is right around where the windy corner is where a semi permanent colombia resides -- the seas can get pretty ugly and wind blows a bit and by the way blows harder at night than in the day --

when we left panama we left from porvinor --

good luck
just our thoughts and opinions
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
Thanks guys, this really is very helpful info. As i said originally I spent all my time planning on cruising the Med first and worrying about researching this part of the journey later but guess that's what happens... Just keen to finally be away from this desk job in the next few weeks and getting back into the sailing and exploring... oh and the odd beer or three.
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