So if I have this right, you have no sailing experience, want to buy a boat you and two or three friends can afford, and want to sail through the Caribbean Islands down to Venezuela
and back. Have I got that right?
If so, you have a lot of work to do. Since buying
a boat is easy, as long as you have the money
, why not start off with a good book? Pick up Inspecting The Aging Sailboat by Don Casey
and memorize it. Or at least bring it with you when you inspect any boat you intend to buy and then follow it cover to cover as you walk the boat. That could save you from buying a boat you might not be coming back in.
There's also a lot to learn about sailing too. Most who decide to do a venture like you are planning will spend as much as a year learning
to sail and getting familiar with their boat, the last few months would be preparing the boat for the journey.
I'm not saying that's what you need to do, just that it takes time to learn how not to get yourself in a bad situation. You could easily leave Florida
over to the Bahamas
without a lot of sailing experience if you choose a good weather
window. Don't go
when the winds are blowing from the north. The Gulf Stream
pushing north and the winds pushing south will make for a very nasty ride.
Once you arrive at West End or Lucaya or wherever you decide to make your first stop, check in with the local harbormaster. You gotta do things like that when you're sailing to different countries. It's also not a bad thing to let them know where you're heading next, just in case. ALWAYS let someone know
when you're heading out and where you'll be going and expect to arrive. BTW, I hope you packed your EPIRB
and a tested liferaft
before you left FL. If you want to see how life on a raft can be, read Adrift by Stephen Callahan
. He left the Canaries
in a 26' sailboat, heading for the Caribbean, when his boat mysteriously was holed and sunk in about 5 minutes.
While island hopping in the Bahamas
, you'll have plenty of time to learn about shoals, navigation
(all their aids may not be where the charts
show them), sail trim, sail choice, reefing, etc. You'll learn sailing quickly and you'll also find out who should have stayed ashore. Will you be using charts
and dead reckoning or will you have a chartplotter
or some other form of electronic navigational aid?
By the time you're heading for the Turks and Caicos
you should have a pretty good idea how committed you are to forging ahead. From there you've got DR, PR, BVI all the way down to Grenada
before leaving the island chain that can take you to Trinidad and Tobago
or some other port on the Venezuelan coast. Of course you'll know the American friendly stops along the way and what to expect of the locals. There's a number of good books
on this as well as great advice on the web. Check out Cap'n Fatty Goodlander
. He's been almost everywhere over the last 50 years and writes for several publications and has some good books
Once you've made it this far, you'll be a whole new person. And make sure you hit the San Blas Islands on the way back. Sounds like a fun trip.