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Old 23-10-2014, 16:35   #1
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Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Hi all - I am toying with the idea of purchasing a 40ft Tri in the US and sailing her back through Caribbean-Panama-South Pacific.

It is a fairly big step for me and I will undoubtedly have more questions, but my first is with crossing times. I am a desk based worker and realistically am not ready to take 6 mths or a year off to do this. What I can do though is take 2x 8 week blocks off (with a bit of flexibility if needed), so my plan would be to split the journey up by leaving the yacht in French Polynesia for a few mths and coming back for the second leg. I can time my blocks to get pretty favorable weather/wind conditions. I am factoring in a cruising speed of 5-8knts.

So first trip is from nth to south of Caribbean, through panama canal, Galapagos then to the Marquesas with a planned departure of February. I have been looking at winds, currents and plotting a route on Google Earth. My fairly rough guess would be about 4-7 weeks of sailing dependent of average cruising speeds leaving a few weeks buffer/enjoying a few stops.

Second block would start in September and hop back through Fiji/Vanuatu/New Caledonia.

Is this wildly unrealistic?? I should mention the yacht is 40 ft Crowther. Not a racer, but much better performance than a Cross or Piver Tri.
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Old 23-10-2014, 17:46   #2
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Welcome aboard Sprucey.

I met a couple in Singapore that journeyed from Seattle to Singapore over the course a a couple of years leaving the boat in various place to go home and work.

Perfectly doable - you might consider a slower pace although airfare, morring and logistics costs start to add up.
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Old 23-10-2014, 20:24   #3
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Thanks for the reply and welcome Ex-Calif,

Agree a slower journey would be preferable, but it has to fit in with other life commitments. I was mostly interested in feedback on the timeframe I was allowing. The 8 week blocks would not be set in stone, but that is my goal so want to make sure it is not being unrealistic from the start.
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Old 24-10-2014, 04:51   #4
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Sprucey.
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Old 24-10-2014, 05:24   #5
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Welcome to CF, Sprucey.

A friend of ours who is a Captain on one of the Royal Caribbean ocean liners did that sort of thing with his wife during his time off between captaining duty. They made it from the PNW all the way to New Zealand, in stages. It would seem that it's entirely doable with some careful planning regarding where to leave the boat.

Getting back the the States would be more of an issue. My friends put their boat up for sale in NZ.
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Old 24-10-2014, 05:33   #6
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

That's a crazy fast trip, aka delivery. Take the first chunk you laid out.
1 wk to Panama from most anywhere in the N Carib
7-10 days to organize and cross canal
1 wk to provision and fix the boat
1 wk to Galapogos
1 wk in Gal.
3 wk to Marqueasas
1 wk recovery
1 wk to Tahiti
Lay the boat up.
That's over 10 weeks and you haven't seen much but blue water and you haven't figured in time for waiting for weather.
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Old 24-10-2014, 05:54   #7
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Paul L is correct. Your schedule is way too aggressive. Have you done any cruising yet? You did get right an average speed underway, maybe even a knot too slow. It's the waiting and fixing that takes most of the time...

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Old 24-10-2014, 06:02   #8
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Thanks all for your input... more appreciated!

Hud3 - I am actually in Oz, so more bringing her home that venturing forth!

Paul L - that is really close to the advice I am seeking: thanks. From your numbers 6-7 weeks water sailing">blue water sailing. On the upper end of what I was hoping/aiming at, but probably more realistic.

Still a ways from getting this out of my system, but this kind of advise is really appreciated.
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Old 24-10-2014, 06:13   #9
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

2Hulls - I admit my cruising experience is limited.. approaching it one hurdle at a time though. I f I can convince myself of the basics, will ask advice on my experience and risks associated with the trip. hurdle one may be looking wobbly already...

re the waiting and fixing, I guess my assumption was to get her ready for the trip from the start and had not factored in lay up and repair time (inexperience??) at panama. With sufficient prep (journey would be 14 mths away) is it a reasonable assumption to factor a 1 week transit through panama? Paul L's numbers are 2 weeks - is that more realistic?
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Old 24-10-2014, 09:51   #10
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

If a boat is in very good shape, the fixing isn't as much as the waiting. But routine and preventive maintenance is a daily chore while cruising. Most of the waiting is for weather.

I have not been thru the canal, but lots of cruisers have and there is a lot of first hand info available.

Recommend you try to get a crew position on a passage to see what it's like.

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Old 24-10-2014, 10:25   #11
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

your weather and trip times are good. you need enough fule for th range and to meet your schedule.

whats going to eat up you $$ is leaving the boat for long periods of time throughout the south pacific
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Old 24-10-2014, 10:48   #12
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

I'll try not to take offense at the comment on the speed of a Cross

I think what you're proposing is probably doable as a delivery, but will involve very little stopping and lots of sailing. FWIW I mostly agree with Paul L, with the following warnings based on personal experience:
  • The Panama-Galapagos leg could be one week, or it could be three. If you're trying to keep to a schedule you won't be able to time your departure to weather, and there can be some long periods of no wind on that route.
  • Similar for Galapagos-Societies - It all depends on when you get way from the Galapagos. At the right time you'll be well under three weeks, at the wrong time... The last time we did that leg we averaged a little over 7 knots, with our best day being 219 miles for a 24-hour run. But I've also spent a week floating around in no wind in the same area.
  • From Marquesas to Tahiti you may or may not have to deal with the South Pacific Convergence Zone. We got hammered in the Tuamotus one trip (as did a large number of other boats traveling with us), other times a walk in the park.

I suspect the second half is much more reliable in terms of planning, but the first half I think will be a little difficult in terms of keeping to a schedule ("schedule" is just about the ugliest word in the sailing world). If the weather cooperates you'll have time to spare, if it doesn't you'll be e-mailing you boss requesting a 2-4 week extension of your leave.
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Old 24-10-2014, 16:49   #13
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
"schedule" is just about the ugliest word in the sailing world
SOOOO true!

...as are the rest of Dsanduril's remarks.

To the OP, our experience suggests a couple of further remarks...

Your plan appears to be more of a 'delivery', rather than a cruise, and as such it's very doable indeed...with the proviso that the doldrums (and weather in general) can be relied upon only to mess around with your average speeds! On the last leg of our delivery voyage from Sardinia to OZ, we covered Panama City to Sydney in 52 days, broken up as PC-Tahiti (27 days) & Tahiti-Sydney (24 days) with a day's stop at Tahiti; that's clearly a delivery timetable, motivated at the final stage by the need to arrive in Sydney within the time allotted by the 2 hired crew for the whole voyage.

We were fortunate to pass through the doldrums with very little motoring required...and in fact for the entire voyage (just under 14000nm) we used less than 1400L of fuel. We always, however, carried extra fuel as an appropriate precaution...and you should too!

Therefore (and as confirmed by others here) your passage times seem fine. Passage times were never a problem for us -- we were always well ahead of our allowed 5kn average -- but our timetable became strained by stops along the way (Gibraltar and St Martin) for 'fixing' stuff...and then by delays around the Panama Canal. Whatever you may be told about waiting times at the Panama Canal, our experience suggests you should anticipate more! Perhaps the new Canal -- Is it working yet?!? -- may improve things. In any event, you should definitely expect both of those strains (repairs and Canal delays) in your voyage plans...and it'll be a bonus for you (more cruising time!) if you manage to avoid them.

We wish you well!
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Old 24-10-2014, 17:45   #14
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
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I'll try not to take offense at the comment on the speed of a Cross
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LOL. Me either.
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Old 24-10-2014, 18:26   #15
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Re: Caribbean and Pacific Crossing questions

The Panama-Marquesas is going to be the problem if winds don't cooperate. 3 weeks would seem a bit optimistic. The winds to the Galapagos are notoriously fickle. Would recommend not stopping there but since you'll probably have to get close missing it would be something you'd probably regret. The Galapagos-Marquesas run is a looonnggg haul. We found the southern SE tradewinds to be not nearly as reliable as the northern hemisphere NE trades. In fact, we had SW winds for 5 days into the Marquesas and never really saw strong tradewinds in the 5 months we were there. Think I'd plan on. Been quite awhile since we were in the Marquesas but wonder whether you'd be able to find a safe place to leave your boat there for a long period of time. Think you'd have to make it to Tahiti or the Isle Sous Le Vent to find safe storage. Wouldn't consider leaving the boat on the hook there during the Southern Hemisphere Cyclone season unless it was in a deep sheltered bay like Papetoai Bay on Moorea.

Have no experience further west other than a brief visit to Fiji. Making it from Tahiti to NZ or OZ in 8 weeks would be almost at cruise pace after the first leg of the voyage. Fiji did have what looked like safe stowage on the hard in a number of Marinas. Blasting holes in the coral for the boat keels so the hulls were at ground level was a unique way to limit the effects of the cyclone winds that almost surely will hit there. Not that it would benefit a multi hull.
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