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Old 06-09-2015, 14:23   #1
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Looking for information from those in the know

Going to Rio Deluce end of November I think. Have a boat there but are going to take a trip to Panama. What is the best time to sail there? What's the best route? Any info would be great!

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Old 06-09-2015, 14:53   #2
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Hello,

Well, it's not too complicated, this one. You're going to have a beat until you get to Cabo Gracias a Dios, and then it should be a pleasant reach down to Panama. Anytime outside of hurricane season is fine, but the winds will be a bit stronger during the winter months, on average.

A look at the pilot charts will tell you what you need to know. In the winter, a cold front to the north will sometimes diminish the trades enough to get around CGaDios without too much hardship. Steadier winds will be found further offshore after turning south.

There are some decent places to stop along the way, but mainland Honduras and Nicaragua should probably be avoided due to security issues. To each their own, but I'd not venture there on my boat.

Providencia and San Andres are reported to be good options for breaking the trip, but I haven't been to them in a long time, so I don't know how it is now. Certainly, lots of boats stop there. I have also stopped at Roncador bank and anchored for a couple of days to dive there. Pretty cool. Bring a bottle of rum or two for the Colombian garrison there and you should meet with a warm welcome.

Good sailing, TJ
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Old 06-09-2015, 18:54   #3
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Given the problems in recent years along the Honduran coast near Punta Sal, including boats underway off the coast being boarded and robbed, I would give that area a very wide berth (like out of visual range based on mast height). An easy way to do this is cruise up to Belize and then down to the Bay Islands. Ranguana Pass or further N works.

As posted, the PITA part is getting far enough E to then turn & sail S. The usual drill is to hole up in the Bay Islands and wait for a weather window then make for the next island or all the way to Vivarios, depending on the length of your winow. We caught a sailable window all the way to Providencia a few years ago, but thats unusual. Caught NNW winds all the way from Bay Islands to near Vivarios, winds then slowly started to shift back ENE and build (Trades filling back in), we had less than a day of beating before we could turn S for Providencia...then a lovely downwind sail almost to Providencia. But we patiently cruised the Bay Islands for over a month waiting for it...tough gig.

Due to the land effect of the mountainous Honduran coast, the trades weaken steadily and back as you move S from the Bay Islands toward the mainland. You can go from 20 knot NE trades N of Roatan, to light NW winds along the coast due to this effect. Thus a long time tactic has been to hug the coast to move E. Works, but I would not do it these days due to security issues.

Providencia is a great place. Beautiful island, friendly locals, good anchorage. Definately on my list of places to return to. From there its a day sail to San Andreas (good fishing on this run too). San Andreas is beautiful too, but its a bit like the Colombian version of Cancun and the main anchorage is not so great. There are a few other small isolated cayes you can visit on this route too like the Albuquerque Cayes.

If heading S to Boacs from there then winds will likely go light and variable on you S of 11N.

Weather: cold fronts have been running into March in recent years. Thats not all bad as they can bring a NW wind shift, but they can of course bring nasty weather too. Spring months are the most stable, but less likely to get favorable wind shifts. June is a transitional month and evening squalls can increase, but we also caught that nice weather window in June. July technically gets into hurricane season but tropical activity is unlikely in the NW Carib early in the season.
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Old 07-09-2015, 00:19   #4
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Smile Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Thanks you all for replying. I am "for sure" green about this sailing stuff but getting the lingo down. I guess the plan is to meander down to panama before I come back to the states. I am considering relocating if I like the life. Plan on living aboard for now. I am a early retiree with a young heart that is not ready to give up on some dreams yet. Thanks for the great info and it will get me started in my research. My cruising partner has been doing the "winter time from the States to Guatemala for 15 years, spending time on Rio Deluce and the bay islands. He was involved in free trade but slowing down. We'll see where this adventure takes me.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:17   #5
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

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Originally Posted by valerinna View Post
Thanks you all for replying. I am "for sure" green about this sailing stuff but getting the lingo down. I guess the plan is to meander down to panama before I come back to the states. I am considering relocating if I like the life. Plan on living aboard for now. I am a early retiree with a young heart that is not ready to give up on some dreams yet. Thanks for the great info and it will get me started in my research. My cruising partner has been doing the "winter time from the States to Guatemala for 15 years, spending time on Rio Deluce and the bay islands. He was involved in free trade but slowing down. We'll see where this adventure takes me.
De nada.

I retired early too (way early at 40...wow, 15 years ago) and have lived in Belize, Guatemala (Rio Dulce), and now Panama. Have traveled extensively in the rest of CA too. So can offer you my perspective on living in Panama and other CA countries if interested.

Except for getting to windward from the Bay Islands its a pretty easy meander down to Panama. The Bay Islands and Providencia are great stops. A bit off the route, but Cayos Cochinos, Honduras is a special place too. Once S of 11N, it can be a bit tedious due to flaky winds, but at least you dont have much further to go by then.

Alternatively, if you worked your way far enough N, say San Pedro or even into Mexico, and then waited for the right weather window (a Northerly shift), you could sail to Providencia directly.
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Old 07-09-2015, 16:41   #6
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Warning Will Robinson Warning.... We have good friends that lost their boat due to bad info on Garmin charts in that area on top of being tired. Trying to enter SanBlas Islands channel the GPS was quite a bit off and sun in their eyes. Hit the reef going in and lost everything. They were very experienced sailors...
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Old 07-09-2015, 18:32   #7
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

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Warning Will Robinson Warning.... We have good friends that lost their boat due to bad info on Garmin charts in that area on top of being tired. Trying to enter SanBlas Islands channel the GPS was quite a bit off and sun in their eyes. Hit the reef going in and lost everything. They were very experienced sailors...
Huh? Did you post here by accident? The San Blas have not even been mentioned in this thread nor have any of the routes mentioned been in the "area". The closest point mentioned has been Bocas del Toro...which is almost 200nm away. :what:

Yes, sailors often make bad decisions and lose their boats in the San Blas...about a dozen that I know of just in the several seasons we've spent there.
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Old 07-09-2015, 18:53   #8
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Sorry bout that, I haven't looked at a chart of that area and only knew they were headed to Panama when it happened. I guess I thought it was closer..
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Old 07-09-2015, 19:18   #9
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

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Sorry bout that, I haven't looked at a chart of that area and only knew they were headed to Panama when it happened. I guess I thought it was closer..
No problem, the post just puzzled me.

There is another thread here called "Wrecks of the San Blas" that discusses this very subject. Loads of wrecks there and more being added every year...about 7 just this past season. And, we ventured further into the Eastern San Blas this year, which sees much less cruiser traffic, and discovered 2 more recent wrecks. One was entirely intact, perched on the reef.
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Old 07-09-2015, 20:08   #10
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Link to San Blas Wrecks thread:

San Blas Panama Wrecks


Sent from my GT-P5110 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 08-09-2015, 20:37   #11
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

Thanks everyone.

I'm happy I found this site , "kudo's".

I received very helpful replies to my post and in such a timely manner. hmm .. I think I am going to like this sailing thing. I have been told that's it's like have a "big" new family. The one thing that concerns me is leaving my "peeps". I have so many dear friends, kids and grandkids although I may see them more, who knows

There is a lot of information here to put wheels in motion.

Thanks Again!!

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Old 08-09-2015, 20:46   #12
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Re: Looking for information from those in the know

PS

It's great to have people who are experienced seasoned boaters to ask questions!!!

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