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Old 04-02-2011, 10:37   #1
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Old / Used Caribbean Route ?

By chance would anyone have a plotted route( even a blog) they have taken in the past through the caribbean ? Circumstances have left me singlehanding from Fl .
I have all the cruising guides etc but looking for more concrete " been there done that" info. I have found my Navionics charts pretty worthless on the west coast of Fl (channels not where they are marked depths way off)and starting to feel the anxiety build on having no clue where/what I'm heading into alone. Any help would be appreciated
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:23   #2
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From where to where? The Caribbean is a pretty big place.

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By chance would anyone have a plotted route( even a blog) they have taken in the past through the caribbean ? Circumstances have left me singlehanding from Fl .
I have all the cruising guides etc but looking for more concrete " been there done that" info. I have found my Navionics charts pretty worthless on the west coast of Fl (channels not where they are marked depths way off)and starting to feel the anxiety build on having no clue where/what I'm heading into alone. Any help would be appreciated
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:38   #3
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any would be appreciated, from the fl keys ,through bahammas,exumas turks n caicos, dominica,puerto rico ,us virgin islands etc.
I have the big route but looking for anchorages etc
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:56   #4
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There are literally hundreds to choose from. Many are described in hundreds of posts, blogs, and a few excellent books (like Bruce Van Sant's The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South, 7th ed.). Just Google "sailing Thorny Path".

At this point, I'd say you have a lot more to worry about than the complete routing from the Keys to the USVI. You're choosing to go on a long and sometimes difficult trip, against the prevailing winds and currents. That's why it's called the "Thorny Path". It can be done, even singlehanded, but success will come only to those who have well-found vessels and LOTS of time. You cannot just go for it. You have to be prepared to lay over awaiting weather for days and even weeks at a time, making hops to the next sanctuary when the weather is less adverse. Don't take this lightly...even very large motorsailers have difficulty going to windward when the winds are honking!

I'd suggest you read the blogs, get a copy of Van Sant's book, prepare your boat as well as possible, and clear your calendar for as long as it takes to get to the VI. That could easily be a month or two.

Then, as you're traveling, talk with other cruisers. There are lots of them out there with experience in the areas you're planning to sail. For example, you'll find literally hundreds of boats at anchor in Marathon, FL and in Georgetown, Exuma. Also, lots of boats in Marsh Harbor, Abacos. You'll meet the crews in the anchorages and in local bars and restaurants, and be exposed to a ton of experienced cruiser-talk!

Good luck and....take your time!

Bill
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Old 04-02-2011, 18:25   #5
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While I often write of the inaccuracies of my Navionics charts...today in Mexico it is out by 800 yds, in the Caribbean it is quite accurate. Not on the Bahama banks where even the much touted Explorer Charts leave much to be desired but mostly the Islands are where advertised.

The point is that you need paper charts and your own eyes to navigate with any degree of safety. We only run at night in very deep water and never run narrow shallow channels unless we can see where we are going.

Best tool is the depth finder...if it show a bottom, less than 600 ft stop, look and think!
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Old 04-02-2011, 19:35   #6
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thanks Bill n Phil. I am trying to follow the thornless path and have read Van sants book. The bahamas have me partcularly worried b/c of currents and singlehanding. Kinda hard to spot and drive at the same time.
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Old 04-02-2011, 20:04   #7
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The Bahamas are not hard. Don't be scared. Explorer Charts of the Bahamas are very good. But many years ago, long before GPS, I sailed all over the Bahamas with just the old cruising guide, with just its black and white sketches. I actually got into less trouble with the cruising guide than with those beautiful Explorer Charts. The trouble with the new charts is that even though there is a big written warning on each page disclosing that they are NOT accurate, they look so pretty you start to think they are.

If you're single handing, I think the easier route to the Bahamas is to cross from Ft. Lauderdale to West End, and then go across the Little Bahamas Bank to the Abacos. There's shelter along that route at several spots, so you could stop, anchor, and sleep.

The eventual passage down from the Abacos to the north end of Eleuthera is easy, And from there down through the Exumas is also easy.

I've never done the Thorny Path, but it does NOT sound easy. But lots of people seem to have done it. Google "Thorny Path", "Luperon", etc., and you'll find several good sailing blogs from people who have done it.

Take it slow and avoid "destinationitis" (the feeling you need to get there soon), and you should have a nice trip.
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Old 04-02-2011, 20:11   #8
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The bahamas have me partcularly worried b/c of currents and singlehanding. Kinda hard to spot and drive at the same time.
I hear that. I'm hoping to singlehand in the Bahamas too. I have 32 footer that draws 4 feet and it's tiller steered. I'm going to add a very long tiller extension so that I can steer from as far forward and as high as I can get while spotting the bottom. But I'm not going to be on any kind of schedule, just want to leisurely make my way east and south and I won't let an occasional bumping the bottom bother me.
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Old 04-02-2011, 20:20   #9
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Reading the bottom as a singlehander is not really going to be a problem. You can see just fine from the cockpit. The problem is going to be overnight passages and fatigue. You've got to take some longish hops to get to and get around in the Bahamas. That's why I suggest the route I did above.
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Old 04-02-2011, 20:37   #10
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In your second post you mention 'Dominica" between Turks&Caicos and Puerto Rico, I belive you mean Dominican Republic which is a different place from Dominica which is further down the chain.
Check out this site which is on the same route you mention and also done by a singlehander, Bill Deitrich. If you contact him I am sure he will give you good advice
Magnolia's Log
You will have to go back several years of previous posts to his departure from Florida. Have a great trip, I envy you, I have been dreaming of doing this for years.
Steve W.
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:16   #11
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Drawing less than 6 ft, the Bahama Banks are not a problem as long as you stay on the GPS route lines in the charts. You can anchor on the banks providing the weather is not bad but do get well off, at least 800 yds, the GPS routes or a powerboat on auto will run you down. I have take a 7ft 6 in draft boat south from Nassau across the banks but it was tight across Yellow Bank.

The Thorny Path can be very hard if you are in a hurry and do not wait for lulls in the trades but if you have a couple of months it is not a problem. However, you do need to be somewhere safe before hurricane season.
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Old 13-02-2011, 10:16   #12
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Explored Charts are very useful in the Bahamas. I use them as a guide, and do dead reckoning plots on it, and plots form the gps ever so often depending on conditions. Don't rely on one thing.

GPS, paper charts, abs your eyes, most important. Be especially careful in high tide.

I have a decent blog on some of the Bahamas.

Www.Radonic.wordpress.com
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:59   #13
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You don't need other peoples routes. Just make your own route. You basically know where you want to go so just run a quick route on your computer or chart plotter then adjust it as you get better information. Thats one of the wonderful benefits of living in the 21st C.

As for the 'thorny path' etc.... Its just being at sea. Better to learn it now and learn quick.

I counsel against using paper charts at all. I think you can be more easily disoriented unless you have grown up with them. People of the computer generation are a bit different - we can't even use a pen as well as type! But I don't want to start another paper:enc discussion.

Lastly: Alone/Bahamas etc. Go in easy stages. Keep 'one foot on the ground' i.e go from one known safe anchorage to the next. Knowing a whole path maybe daunting to the most expert, but knowing just the next is easy for virtually anyone.

The only rocket science in the whole deal is what flies above Florida... not the boats in water sailed by those of normal intelligence.


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Old 13-02-2011, 12:08   #14
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where in florida are ye-- i was gonna go dry tortugas, isla mujeres, down coast to belize. didnt get there--still pending, but the direction will be from other side now--i m ain kali.
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