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Old 17-06-2010, 10:37   #1
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Question Florida to Cancun

I just sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Cancun , going to the Dry Tortugas , crossing the Gulfstream and then pretty much keeping to the rhumbline. The current in the Yucatan Channel was very strong , and we were in Neap tides , I was doing 3.5 kts over the ground with 6 of boat speed.
I'm pretty sure there is a better way to do this passage and avoid most of the current and take advantage of couter currents and eddies in the area.Any suggestions?
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Old 17-06-2010, 12:04   #2
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Here is how we did it,
http://tinyurl.com/qr2759
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Old 18-06-2010, 11:11   #3
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Going to close to 88W and 24N like you did looks like the way to avoid the Yucatan Current , but would add some 150 miles to the trip...Always a compromise....
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Old 18-06-2010, 11:16   #4
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Actually it adds very little in the way of additional mileage since almost no one takes a direct rhumb line to Isla. You would sail south to the Cuban coast, sail west, then south along the western tip of Cuba, then south again until you are east of Isla. So the difference is small and the payoff is bigger. It all depends on where the currents are and other factors.
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:01   #5
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Quote:
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You would sail south to the Cuban coast, sail west, then south along the western tip of Cuba, then south again until you are east of Isla. s.
That is more or less what I have done , South from the Dry Tortugas then the Cuban coast ( or some 20miles off) then SW ( which is roughly the rhumbline) following the coastline .
Unless I misread you blog you went to 88W 24N , where you are well West of Isla so actually would have to sail SSE to Isla and it does add about 150 miles...maybe I'm confused....
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:06   #6
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You are not too confused but using a compass direction on a chart does little. The course puts one just slightly west of the longitude for Isla so you sail slightly east of south. The mileage is no where near 150 miles further.
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:16   #7
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OK, so I tried to answer your question as to whether there is an alternative to your route. There is an alternative as I posted. Our log shows 376 miles. You can check that against your log for the difference in distance traveled. I believe the rhumb line from Key West is 330 miles or so. Hope this clarifies it.
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:33   #8
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Hello Chuck. So I guess your route-the last leg- would work coming from Texas? I had been wondering about the current, and the best way to get to Isla?

If not, I can look for (or start) another thread.

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Old 18-06-2010, 12:54   #9
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Ralph, The Navy has the best Gulf Stream current information and the most current, excuse the pun, charts to show the location of the Stream. This will determine where the best course and waypoints will be. But this is the area you would work towards coming from Texas.
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Old 18-06-2010, 12:57   #10
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In the end the overall difference on actually sailed miles may not be as big as I figured first but it's still considerable . Of course these images are approximate .
If I get to do this trip again with enough time and favorable sailing weather ( I motored all the way this time , hardly a breeze ) I would take your route.
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:10   #11
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And there in lies your problem. By taking a course along the Cuba Coast directly to Isla you run right into the teeth of the current and in any conditions this will be a very, very unpleasant and slow ride. You actually lucked out in calm conditions. Once the sea starts to build in the Yucatan Channel you would have made zero headway. Taking that route, one still needs to sail south once the west tip of Cuba is reached and then head west when you are actually south of Isla. So our route is about the same or even a little less mileage wise than the more traditional route. Using our route, depending on the boat, one can average 6 to 7 knots instead of 3, making it a much faster run. A straight line is not always the most direct route.
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:16   #12
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Here is the Gulf Stream info
NLOM 32 degree page
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:22   #13
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In the end the overall difference on actually sailed miles may not be as big as I figured first but it's still considerable . Of course these images are approximate .
If I get to do this trip again with enough time and favorable sailing weather ( I motored all the way this time , hardly a breeze ) I would take your route.
You really have to evaluate the currents when you plan to make the trip. At that time the Stream was very close to the Cuba coast and the big loop current that went into the Gulf was farther south and weaker, making our course a better one at that time. Coming back we did the more traditional course along Cuba because it made more sense. We use Herb Hilgenberg as our weather router and he always kept us straight and analyzed our routes for both weather and currents.
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:36   #14
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Here is the Gulf Stream info
NLOM 32 degree page
Thank you for the link and info on Mr. Hilgenberg.
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Old 18-06-2010, 13:37   #15
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here is Herb's web site.
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