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Old 06-07-2012, 06:31   #1
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Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Looking at a change of plans.
We need to get out of the hurricane belt, but need to get to a buddies place in the Chesapeake to get some work done. We will be motorsailing or motoring.

At this time of year would it be better to head north west around the western end of Cuba, catch the current around Florida and then head north?
Or would going east via Jamaica and the eastern end of Cuba, up through the Bahamas etc be better?

Looking for experienced opinions here.

Thanks,
Vic
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:44   #2
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

I did this trip singlehanded two Marches ago. I close-reached from Grand Cayman to the western tip of Cuba, then beat through the Straits of Florida to Key West, and on up to NC.

Rounding Cuba was a washing machine, I guess due to the collision of the trades and two currents. Currents opposing the trades in the Straits made for a steep 5-6 foot chop, sometimes bigger.

Either way, you must make 300-400 miles east against prevailing winds. You do save about 300 miles total by going through the Windward Passage, just because the route is more direct. It also appears one has more choices for ducking in someplace to wait out bad weather, taking the windward passage route.
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Old 06-07-2012, 08:16   #3
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

From the Caymans I would also go west. As A A points out, you can see some disturbed seas where the currents are counter the trade winds but you will still benefit from +/- 2 kt current to help you along.

Also summer trades tend to be south of east so heading east from the Caymans would likely be a beat as well as against the current. Going west, once you round Cuba you might get lucky and be able to hold a course close hauled towards Key West.

By the way, have done it both ways myself so based on experience, not just internet expertise.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:03   #4
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Thanks guys. Just the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:10   #5
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

On second thought I want to qualify my post a bit. Since my base was always S Florida I was thinking primarily in those terms. However with a final destination of the Chesapeake the option of heading east from the Caymans does have the benefit of being the shorter route.

Depends also on whether you want to go offshore from the N Bahamas straight up to the Chesapeake or work your way up the coast. If going coastal or ICW I still recommend the Yucatan but if you're going offshore the Windward might make sense. A little more pain at the start but might save time in the long run.
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Old 07-07-2012, 05:14   #6
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
On second thought I want to qualify my post a bit. Since my base was always S Florida I was thinking primarily in those terms. However with a final destination of the Chesapeake the option of heading east from the Caymans does have the benefit of being the shorter route.

Depends also on whether you want to go offshore from the N Bahamas straight up to the Chesapeake or work your way up the coast. If going coastal or ICW I still recommend the Yucatan but if you're going offshore the Windward might make sense. A little more pain at the start but might save time in the long run.
I think time is a big factor here, so we will probably power on offshore.
Looking like east first will be the best.
Vic
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Old 07-07-2012, 05:22   #7
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

give us a shout if you come through Providenciales and need anything.
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Old 29-07-2012, 08:22   #8
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

An update for those interested.

A few days before we were due to leave the Caymans, a solo sailor arrived there in a 40' Jeaneaux, having motor sailed from Key West via the west end of Cuba. His experience was that it wasn't too bad, but he had burned a lot of fuel.

We decided to go that route too, mainly because we had a good weather window, the really bad bit wouldn't be for very far and we could motor or motor sail, or get out of the current if it was too unpleasant.

We had a dream run to Cuba with 15-20 kts over the starboard quarter, rolling swell for most of it. When the wind dropped and we could only manage a couple of kts we decided to motor sail for a while.
It was early hours of the morning, and a great time to find that 1500 rpm on the Lehman was making absolutely no difference at all.

First thoughts... we've lost the prop.
The choices were to sail to Hemmingways Marina in Cuba and get a prop sent in from the US, probably via the Caymans due to the embargo.
Or we could try beating to windward with a bit of a push from the current, to Key West.
These boats are not known for their windward performance... I'd planned on using the engine.
A lot was hanging on the weather forecast, but we only have VHF.
We managed to get an updated forecast from a passing ship which indicated we were fine for the present, but there was a low starting to form in the Atlantic which could get nasty in 4 or 5 days without a high to fend it off.

During a becalmed moment we started checking all possibilities. The shaft was still turning under sail so we must have a prop. All linkages were still in place, and no really obvious places for adjustment. We undid it at the transmission end, started the engine, and soon established that reverse would engage with lever pushed by hand directly at the transmission, but 'forward' gave us nothing.
I think losing a prop may have been preferable!

Over the next 3 days we had calms, a midnight squall with gusts to 35 kts and lightning and thunder simultaneously overhead, rain bucketing down, and this old behemoth racing to windward at 8 kts!

We made the total trip in 5 days, sailing only, but with main, mizzen, yankee and stays'l all up the whole way.
I have a new respect for how these boats handle, and particularly how they sail to windward if there is enough puff in the wind.

We managed to get to the outer channel markers for Key West early on thursday morning, where we got Tow Boat US to get us into a boatyard. Marinas were full for the Lobster Festival, and besides their rates would have killed us.
Transmission comes out on monday and hopefully we can be on our way around to the east coast of Florida, and up to the Chesapeake as quickly as weather permitts.

C'est la vie.

Vic
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Old 29-07-2012, 08:42   #9
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Sounds like a great trip. Glad you made it safe. Chris.
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Old 29-07-2012, 11:41   #10
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

glad you made it safe!
i have been following your blog with interest.
will the whole engine have to be lifted to get at the tranny?
cheers alex
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Old 29-07-2012, 12:29   #11
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Thanks Chris.

Hi Alex, I'll be writing it up in the blog in the next day or so.
Tranny access is much better than the boat we saw in Holland. You can actually get to change the transmission fluid in this one!
So, the tranny comes off with the engine staying in place, and it's a Borg Warner, which is like Ford here. Should be no trouble getting spares.

Vic
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Old 29-07-2012, 13:18   #12
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

if it is a borg warner velvet drive, it may be a case of low oil level,or contaminated oil.

might be best to do a full oil change before pulling the box,unless there are obvious oil leaks. on the rear seal or from the flywheel housing side of things.

it still operating in reverse indicates that it is not a major malfunction.

but could be the fwd clutch/drive plate,this will entail the removal of the box.

cheers alex
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Old 29-07-2012, 16:16   #13
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
if it is a borg warner velvet drive, it may be a case of low oil level,or contaminated oil.

might be best to do a full oil change before pulling the box,unless there are obvious oil leaks. on the rear seal or from the flywheel housing side of things.

it still operating in reverse indicates that it is not a major malfunction.

but could be the fwd clutch/drive plate,this will entail the removal of the box.

cheers alex
Hi Alex,
It is a velvet drive, but it's actually a bit overfull rather than low.
It's dark and hasn't been changed in while by the look of it.
There are no leaks you can see from just looking at it.
The BW guy's sidekick was here on friday and did a pressure test with a guage. It has pressure, whatever that might mean. He looked like he was expecting there to be a pressure problem but there appears not to be.
His boss told him that if it's selecting reverse and not forward, an oil change wouldn't do anything.

It was working fine in the Caymans with going to refueling docks etc.

I'll raise the question of the clutch/drive plate tomorrow whe he gets here.
Cheers,
Vic
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Old 29-07-2012, 19:00   #14
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

yes it sounds like the fwd clutch plate has failed.

the velvet drive has 2 plates on the transmission side of things,a fwd and a reverse plate.
it also has a damper plate off the fly wheel,lack of pressure would indicate damperplate failure or the seals have failed.

a common fault is the gear selector,ballbearing/spring assmbly,but the pressure test indicates otherwise.
the pressure check also indicates satisfactory oil level and quality.

good news is the box is very common in the usa......bad news is it is about $3000 for a full recondition and rebuild.

most specialists will reccomend a full rebuild,once the box is out,rather than just the drive plate.

more info here
Simplicity Marine Drives - Velvet Drive & Borg Warner

and some tips etc
Borg/Velvet questions - Boat Design Forums

service manuals can be downloaded free here
http://www.engine-cemberci.com/engin...VET/VELVET.HTM
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Old 29-07-2012, 19:50   #15
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Re: Which route - Cayman Islands to East Coast USA

Glad to hear you made it to Key West. $3K for a transmission rebuild ouch!
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