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Old 02-07-2013, 10:58   #1
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Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

Contemplating retirement sail down west coast of Mexico and Central America, through the Panama, and then up to Texas. Anyone done that trip in a 30' sailboat? I've got a pretty good handle on the west coast but as we think and plan this trip, I don't know a lot about the eastern Caribbean, its weather patterns, wind and waves. This trip isn't going to start for 3 years but it's time to start planning. Any thoughts?
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:48   #2
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

Presumably you'll be going up the western carib, not the eastern carib. Getting out of Panama takes some timing. Decent weather windows usually show up in April/May and in Nov.
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Old 02-07-2013, 13:04   #3
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

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Presumably you'll be going up the western carib, not the eastern carib. Getting out of Panama takes some timing. Decent weather windows usually show up in April/May and in Nov.
Not long after Nov you start to get Northers and they can last till early Hurricane season. On a good note there are places to stop. There can be just one long passage from Panama to Cancun if you like and it's only a couple of hundred miles out to San Andres.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:57   #4
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

It is our intention make this trip in late April. Leaving Shelter Bay for Houston 49 ft cat. Initial plan is to stop in Isla Mujeres for a few days. Will post a report when we start.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:10   #5
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

I've steamed from Galveston to Panama a number of times and the Yucatan Channel was ALWAYS rough and the trades further south can make things a but bumpy.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:28   #6
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

You should probably give yourself more time... We did the trip last Winter-Spring (Feb-May).

We had a two week weather hold in Providencia and Roatan. Another 3 week hold at Isla Murjeres.

We went east from there and ended up in Florida, instead of Texas, but the people heading to Texas took a beating in May.

The weather along the western Caribbean and Gulf can be beautiful or absolutely nasty.

I would suggest you purchase Pat Raines Guide to Central America, which is the only one for the area, unless you plan to spend sometime in Panama.

For Caribbean Weather routing there is no one better than Chris Parker at: Marine Weather Center - Bahamas & Caribbean Marine Weather Services You can receive reports, by email, SSB or Telephone.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:53   #7
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

I live in Costa Rica, and have sailed from TX to Panama. That was a great trip, but the Western Caribbean is not to be trifled with. This time of year the Northerly trades are up every day and create an uncomfortable sea state along a lee shore. Seas average 14 ft with 7 second period, so it can be quite uncomfortable to be at sea. The route chosen for north bound vessels according to my information on sailing the Caribbean routes from Panama to Providencia. Timing would be important on this segment of your journey. This part of the Caribbean can be active for tropical storms early hurricane season, and big tropical systems move through here. Winter weather system lasts from around Christmas to the end of March usually with North winds generated daily. There are areas not to miss though like San Blas islands, Portabello, Bocas del Toro, Rio Dulce Guatemala, Bay Islands of Honduras, as well as the decent anchorage of Isla Mujeres before trekking the 800 miles to Texas... Window to travel would be October, November or wait til April, May. That's my opinion. It is odd that this area can either be flat as a lake with waves gently lapping on the shore.... or a truly hectic, potentially dangerous short period beating against the wind... Be safe!
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:05   #8
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

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It is our intention make this trip in late April. Leaving Shelter Bay for Houston 49 ft cat. Initial plan is to stop in Isla Mujeres for a few days. Will post a report when we start.
Regards
Paul
We left Cristobal (Shelter Bay) the first week of May. We took a tack E toward the San Blas islands. Then tacked N from there. Had a nice sail in light winds and light seas to the Caymans. Then continued on to Key West. Each year the trades shut down sometime in April to May. You just need to be able to wait it out.
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Old 04-01-2014, 13:31   #9
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Did this trip the other way round (Texas to Panama) starting in 2004....just made it to Panama last year! ;-)
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Old 04-01-2014, 21:48   #10
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

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Seas average 14 ft with 7 second period, so it can be quite uncomfortable to be at sea.
Seas don't average 14 Feet in the Western Caribbean, but could get stacked up and big in high winds and/or storms.

Realistically, you should expect 4-6 waves at short intervals of 6-8 seconds. Anything more than that and you will want to wait for a better window.
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:06   #11
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

As far as panama to Texas. They have the two routes. You can duck up into the intracoastal waterway where shortly after MS meets LA along the rigolets (spelling?). From there you pass by New Orleans. And do a short stint on the MS river!
The other option is to go around "the boot" of Louisiana. Now this is where you'll want to watch your weather forecast as you are pretty much on your own until you get past chandeliers to the Venice area.
I have done the ICW in a 30' C&C from lake pontchartrain to Vermillion Bay Area with no problem. Hardest part being 3 lochs and calling bridges. 38hrs non stop taking shifts at helm.
It should be even easier from vermillion bay to Galveston with a maybe a few lochs and bridges.
You could take the ICW from pontchutrain to the calcasieu river then head south and cross the gulf to Galveston if weather permits.
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Old 15-01-2014, 20:09   #12
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

My bad, for some reason I thought Panama City Florida. New to sailboat ownership I guess Panama is for the moment out of my imagination. But I'd probly try late march the weather in the Gulf of Mexico is rainy but not as bad as may. And not near as hot.
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Old 09-04-2014, 15:05   #13
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

Currently sitting coco bandero , San blass Panama, will start heading to Texas as soon as this front clears. Probably this Monday.

Route is
San blas to providencia
Providencia to caymans
Cayman To Isla Mujeres
Then on to Kemah texas
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Old 17-04-2014, 15:57   #14
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

Left San Blas around 9.00 Tuesday , hard on the wind for a cat 15 it's wind 50-60 app
8.5 to 9 kts on the log 7 to 8 on the gps. Counter current 1 to 1.5 kts.
Not a pleasant ride. Out haul snapped.
As wind came round to east about 100 miles from Panama boat speed up tto 10 - 11 kts but counter current stayed with us. 50 miles out Providencia main halyard snapped.
Limped in providencia under jib alone around midnight Wednesday 40 hrs 269 nm
On the refit had rigger check the running rigging and had replace all he recomended. Should have done the lot.
Found a guy in providencia to go up the mast this morning and reran the halyard, end for ended it
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Old 19-04-2014, 16:47   #15
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Re: Anyone sailed from Panama to Texas

Hope you had time for some R&R in Provedencia. Great place.

Currents around Panama are a bitch. Always seem to be from whichever way we are going....even if its a reciprocal course!

Funny how something always comes up kill good boat speed on a long run. Guess that's how the old tall ships had records that stood for so long. Even the go-fast multis that eventually broke them had to make a few attempts due to gear failures etc.
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