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Old 17-10-2017, 05:10   #1
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West Indies Passage Plan

The plan is to have the boat shipped to Guadalupe arriving February / March, and arrangements in hand. Unfortunately there is not choice as to where the shipping line off loads yachts.

So the plan is then to cruise through the ABC islands to avoid the hurricane season from June onwards, and potentially on up towards the ditch or the Sand Blas.

The question is therefore getting from Guadalupe to the ABCs.

One idea is to work down to Trinidad (partly because I know Trinidad well, and would like to spend a little time there) and then west bound to the ABCs which I think works very well with the prevailing winds and tides at that time of year?

The alternative is to cut off some of the corner so to speak. The reason for this is I seem to recall East bound from Guadalupe will all be against the prevailing winds and can be a bit of a slog. How much of a slog is it?

Any thoughts generally much appreciated.

Yacht is an Island Packet 485, so a reasonable sea going one, albeit she does prefer off the wind than hard on the wind as any gentlemen will know.

Timings as I say are Guadalope February / March, ABC by the start of hurricane season, and no fixed time for leaving the ABCs moving further west eventually arriving for a Panama at some point!
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Old 17-10-2017, 05:41   #2
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

either way you go you will have NE or E winds predominately so .. down wind either way, direct gwada-abc or trini-abc.
the only close reach would be grenada to trinidad,mainly due to the strong current.

if you are talking going abc to trinidad this would be a direct to windward
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Old 17-10-2017, 05:57   #3
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

Thank you - no definitely not ABC to Trinidad, just the other way around.

Thank you for information.

Any other thoughts on my passage plan generally from anyone please?
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Old 17-10-2017, 06:40   #4
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

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Originally Posted by Ip485 View Post
Thank you - no definitely not ABC to Trinidad, just the other way around.

Thank you for information.

Any other thoughts on my passage plan generally from anyone please?
no worries i have done both passages,and the windward passage from the venezuelan offshore islands to trinidad.

the downwind passages are generally fast with 25knot winds common and current in your favour.

watch out when passing baranquilla peninsula enroute from the abc's to columbia or san blas, gales are common,and a counter current can make freak waves and confused seas quite dangerous.

a 15 knot forecast leaving ABC's generally will bring 25-35 knots up to 100miles offshore from the columbian coast
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Old 17-10-2017, 06:55   #5
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

Atoll

Thanks so much again.

My initial reading of the cruising guides talk about staying well offshore of Venezuala maybe more so with the unrest but the islands between Trinidad and the ABCs do look interesting. Do you have any further thoughts on the passage between Trinidad and Ven.

Given what you say I like even more the plan of going to Trini. (because I lived there for many years and have a few friends) and can put up with one close reach Grenada to Trini! So I think again given your helpful comments it will be down to Trini and then over to the ABCs.

Appreciate any thoughts on the ABCs - how long would you stay there and is there plenty to see and do? Anchorages look ok. What about time in any of the marinas?

What are your thoughts on timing for the passage? Other than arrival we have no fixed time constraints after and the intention is to work our way into the Pacific. All very liesurely and no clock watching! I love diving (have the compressor now on board), windsurfing, but also liming and looking around.
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Old 17-10-2017, 07:32   #6
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

As Atoll advised, its an easy downwind sail to the ABCs once you head W.

From ABCs the usual route takes you near Islas Monjes, VZ. Never heard of any trouble near there. I just rounded them last year.

Then onto Santa Marta...a very pleasant stop.

More of my 2c below:

"ABC's Route

From the Eastern Caribbean most will make first for the ABC's to wait for a good window to slip through the especially nasty bit of ocean off the Colombian coast. It is common to stop over in Santa Marta and/or Cartagena, Colombia. This avoids the worst of the area of rough seas, breaks the trip into shorter hops, and they are both pleasant stops.

It is very viable to transit this area during hurricane season since it is rare for tropical weather to impact this area. Another advantage to a summer months transit is that the area of high seas off Colombia is much more settled.

If you look at Pilot Charts for the area then the bigger seas don't build until December in the area off Colombia.

December is also when the Trades start to fill back in E Panama and blow until about April. The area of high seas off Colombia stays active during these seasonal trade winds, but is no longer shown on Pilot Charts by April.

This area of bigger seas can vary a LOT in size and intensity. Rarely it can extend as far W as the San Blas and even affect Providencia & San Andreas.

In the Pilot Chart excerpt for December below the area of higher seas is outlined in red.

Another feature to contend with on this route is Rio Magdelana. This river drains a huge area of Colombia and its discharge of muddy water and debris extends for miles off the coast. It is best to transit this area during day light so you can keep watch for debris. One option for doing this is to leave Santa Marta in time to cross during the day, then take a break in the pleasant and protected anchorage of Puerto Valero. This allows you to time your approach into Cartagena for day light hours too. Google Earth is a good tool for viewing the outflow to get a feel for its extent off the coast."

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Old 17-10-2017, 07:59   #7
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ip485 View Post
Atoll

Thanks so much again.

My initial reading of the cruising guides talk about staying well offshore of Venezuala maybe more so with the unrest but the islands between Trinidad and the ABCs do look interesting. Do you have any further thoughts on the passage between Trinidad and Ven.

Given what you say I like even more the plan of going to Trini. (because I lived there for many years and have a few friends) and can put up with one close reach Grenada to Trini! So I think again given your helpful comments it will be down to Trini and then over to the ABCs.

Appreciate any thoughts on the ABCs - how long would you stay there and is there plenty to see and do? Anchorages look ok. What about time in any of the marinas?

What are your thoughts on timing for the passage? Other than arrival we have no fixed time constraints after and the intention is to work our way into the Pacific. All very liesurely and no clock watching! I love diving (have the compressor now on board), windsurfing, but also liming and looking around.
i have stopped at most of the venezuelan offshore islands and reefs,also ABC's,columbia ,san blas in the past, though not been back since 2003.
so i cant really comment on the current political or security issues.
i have heard that boats are stopping in aves and las roqas.

belizesailor is in the area,and i value his reports highly ,so i would listen to him.,i can comment on the weather and routing/navigation issues as these don't change much year to year

here is are a few site's that work well for monitoring up to date reports on security and weather etc

Noonsite.com —

https://safetyandsecuritynet.org/

Caribbean Hurricane Network - stormCARIB.com - Local Reports on Tropical Systems threatening the Caribbean Islands
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Old 17-10-2017, 09:58   #8
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

thanks for sharing, Belize!
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Old 17-10-2017, 12:29   #9
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

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thanks for sharing, Belize!
De nada.
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Old 17-10-2017, 12:34   #10
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

Non-USA friends, one is Venezuelan, stopped in at Los Roques last year. No problems, but as a USA I would be very concerned.

Venezuelan friends tell me its better out in the islands than the mainland, but still not without issues.
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Old 17-10-2017, 12:55   #11
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

from noonsite by
Erwin Pönitz & Ingrid Schindler, SY Crocodile, Bonaire

We visited Gran Roques from the 25 June to 3 July (2017) and would like to make a few comments:


We arrived in front of El Gran Roque at position 11°56′55″N, 66°51′08″W. The holding is good, depths decrease to approximately 2.5m in a reasonable distance to the shore. It can be rolly.


The description of the clearing in process in Noonsite is most valuable and you are lost without it. You can do it yourself (no agent), and it takes approximately three hours and some walking; however, you need Bolivars before you start.


Most important: before you start you need Bolivars and plenty of them. Ask for big notes and bring a rucksack or two (since US$ are not accepted as a payment).


There is a pharmacy in the center of the village where you can change. It is open approximately after 5pm. The word “gambio” is understood by locals and they will give you directions. This is somewhat illegal; however, the only way accepted by everybody, even the officials. The cash machine at the local bank does not give you Bolivars. When we tried to do it at the bank counter, there was a line of some 20 locals in front of us for whatever reason. The black market exchange rate is presently approx. 6500 Bolivars for US$1. We paid a mere 10,000 Bolivars at immigration and 495,000 Bolivars for the marine park (we are on a 40 foot catamaran with two people).


We could pay in US$ in bodegas and the supermarket and got US$ back. Bring small notes, the US$100 notes we have had are too big.


English is not spoken and without knowledge of Spanish communication is very difficult.


Inflation in Venezuela is around 700% in 2017. This has an impact and don’t be surprised if asked for money by officials. If you can, give something: these are people in need.


All the people we have met were most friendly and helpful, we never felt in any way endangered or threatened.


There is no internet and surprisingly there is no booklet or a map about the archipelago to be found at the local stores. Also fuel is hard to get by, except somewhat illegal with the help form locals.


September is high season for mosquitos.


We highly recommend Bodega Tsunami in El Gran Roque: the charming hostess speaks very good English, the food is excellent and not expensive.


We also highly recommend the island Crasqui (11°52′76″N, 66°44′01″W) and Carolas Restaurant there: simple, good food, charming hostess, lovely kids and very kind dogs.


Eyeball navigation is absolutely necessary. The electronic chart we have used (Garmin) is often surprisingly accurate; however, we have found on several occasions that we might have ran aground without proper lookout.


A beautiful and peaceful place to drop the hook is Carenero (11°52′93″N, 66°50′98″W). The archipelago is absolutely quiet. Quite often we were the only yacht in an anchorage.


When we arrived end of June the place was overflowing with hundreds of pelicans and seagulls. We very much liked it and have never seen something like this before. When we returned two weeks later all birds were gone, with a few exceptions. This is an annual happening and if you are a bird lover it would be worthwhile to study the migration patterns of birds in this region, most likely linked to the seasonal fish populations.


This place is absolutely worth visiting and we do not understand why somebody might want to convey a bad impression about it.

Kind regards,

Erwin Pönitz & Ingrid Schindler, SY Crocodile, Bonaire

Venezuela: A cruiser's experience in the Gran Roques archipelago —
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Old 17-10-2017, 17:13   #12
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

Havent stopped in the Venezuelan islands, but they sure look appealing...as the above report confirms. Maybe by the next time I pass them things will be better.

I assume they meant "cambio" (change) not "gambio" (no meaning) above.
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Old 17-10-2017, 17:53   #13
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Havent stopped in the Venezuelan islands, but they sure look appealing...as the above report confirms. Maybe by the next time I pass them things will be better.

I assume they meant "cambio" (change) not "gambio" (no meaning) above.
venezuelan spanish pronounciation is a lot more gutteral than european spanish pronounciation which is softer and more anounceated.

very sad to see such a great , wealthy country and it's people brought to its knees by politics , greed and corruption.

another report from long time venezuela cruisers earlier this year
http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Ve...isla-margarita

We still have Friends on Isla Margarita Venezuela that we keep in touch with. They favoured us with the following report of the situation there that we would like to share with Noonsite.

At times it is a bit uncomfortable. There are no cruisers in Margarita and they doubt you would find a dozen in the whole country. Revolutions, real ones like the one they lived through in Iran, or pseudos like the one they are living in now, are not much fun. Since the Venezuelan pseudo revolution does not consist of armed clashes or house to house fighting (that is left to the criminal element) their movements are not greatly restricted although prudence and awareness are handy companions.

Lying Juan has disappeared. The Concorde is now operated as a hotel by a group called Wyndom. The yachties are all gone. There are still a few landlubber expats hanging out since the unreal rate on the parallel market makes living here really cheap if you have Dollars or Euros. For the locals it is brutally expensive between the double flagellation of 700% inflation and the extreme shortages of food, medicines and personal hygiene products. Our Friends do not know how they manage it.

We did some investigations of our own as best we could from away. Google Earth showed only fishing boats in Porlamar Harbour - no sailboats - confirming our Friends' assertion that there are no cruisers left there.

There was some footage on the Internet of Rattan's downtown store with the windows papered over. We assume that it has closed. It was unclear on some other video that we saw on the Internet that the Sigo Mall might also be closed.

Google Earth showed a lot of fishing boats and perhaps three sailboats in the Chacachacare Boatyard (Astillero y Varadero del Caribe). We hauled there one year and it was busy.

From its website it appears that Medregal Village Marina is still in business. We spent a Christmas and a New Years there one year with a good group of cruisers. There were a lot of photos and videos on the website. We have no idea when they were taken.

There were a couple of Caucasian guests photographed with the rest of the people appearing to be Hispanic. Some photos of the anchorage showed no boats. Some photos of the anchorage showed perhaps three / four boats. The boatyard showed a dozen or so boats. We checked out Google Earth but it was a waste of time as this area is not detailed. Perhaps Medregal Village is now all local business focusing more on hotel / restaurant.

We wonder how the former Puerto La Cruz Marina (now we believe renamed Marina Bahia Redondo Internacional), the historic center for American / European cruisers in Venezuela is doing? Their website does not show much. Google Earth showed a number of sailboats in the marina and some in the boatyard. In its heyday the marina and the boatyard would both have been packed with cruising boats.

From the Mainland comes the truly scary reporting of food riots, the highest inflation rate in the world, Nicolas Maduro voted out of office but refusing to leave, long lineups for and shortages of government supported staples, the incredible rise in violent crime, armed gangs controlling the streets, the incredibly high cost of food if you can get it and people starving in the countryside.

Perhaps as reported by our landlubber friends, Isla Margarita has escaped the worst of it. We were boarded and robbed by pirates in Porlamar Harbour in what would have been better times. Going there now may well be suicide.

Even though we are no longer cruisers we will continue to monitor Noonsite for news of the places that we visited and relished. Thank you so much for being there for us and for all cruisers.

Kris & Sandra Hartford
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Old 17-10-2017, 19:14   #14
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

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venezuelan spanish pronounciation is a lot more gutteral than european spanish pronounciation which is softer and more anounceated.
...
Yeah, Ive got a Venezualan guy helping with boat work now...Im often having a little trouble understanding his Spanish.

LOTS of Venezualans have moved to Panamá.
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Old 18-10-2017, 17:40   #15
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Re: West Indies Passage Plan

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Originally Posted by Ip485 View Post
One idea is to work down to Trinidad (partly because I know Trinidad well, and would like to spend a little time there) and then west bound to the ABCs which I think works very well with the prevailing winds and tides at that time of year?

The alternative is to cut off some of the corner so to speak. The reason for this is I seem to recall East bound from Guadalupe will all be against the prevailing winds and can be a bit of a slog. How much of a slog is it?
The Antilles are my playground.
Why do you talk about going eastbound from Gwada? Sailing from Gwada south to Trinidad is very pleasant. Yes, you do have a little east component to your direction, but in Feb-March-April you will have a little north component in the wind, making it quite easy and pleasant to do down the Antilles chain. You should plan to spend time in Martinique and in the Grenadines, it is beautiful. Also, Trinidad is not exactly on my favorites list, but we all have our preferences. So instead I would spend some time in Grenada and head towards the ABCs from there. If you sail from Grenada to Trinidad, stay clear of the oil rigs, they are used by not so recommendable people as nav aids to navigate from Venezuela to Grenada. Check noonsite for the piracy risk, it varies season to season.
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