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Old 01-05-2012, 13:38   #1
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Sail Route from Florida to Shenzhen PRC

I'm considering sailing my 35' Ketch from West Palm Beach, Fl to Shenzhen, PRC.

If I go east and take the Suez, I could face pirates. If I go west and take the Panama Canal, I could get ripped off by the transit pilots.

Anyone sail either route that could help me on this? I'm not going for a year or 2 from now, so I have lots of time to plan the trip.

As the departure date nears, I would also invite other experienced sailors to join me on various legs of the journey. I could single-hand my sailboat, but I'm erring on the side of safety.

Any insights, tips, and successful route coords anyone could share with me?

Thanks in advance.

RevTim
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Old 01-05-2012, 14:03   #2
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pirate Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

Well.... the Panamainian Pilots charge a lot less than the Somali ones... and it aint that bad... just use marina's only when neccesary and also use an agent...
Saves a lot of running around and grief...
Shelter Bay is expensive and has a 40foot minimum rate so once measured up head for San Blas to while away the time once you've been measured...Just make sure the boats 100% for when you get here... stuffs hard to get.. mostly has to be shipped in and that can add weeks to your time in Panama..
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Old 01-05-2012, 14:10   #3
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Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

RevTim,
Your concern about being ripped off by transit pilots is completely unjustified. They may not be the friendliest or most considerate people in the world but they are not thieves. Obviously the caveat that "they are people" applies and there may be a bad apple in the barrel but my experience is that they are strictly professional. I do not know if they are bonded our how thoroughly the Canal Authority investigates them before hiring.

A much bigger concern than pirates vs. pilots should be the direction of trade winds. Most people circumnavigate from east to west because that is the direction the wind takes you. Consider taking your time going through the Pacific and see some of the little remaining cruising paradise in the world. You might want to look at Jimmy Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" (Link to Amazon.com: World Cruising Routes: Jimmy Cornell: 9780713687774: Amazon.com: Books)
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Old 01-05-2012, 14:44   #4
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Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

As to direction-you got some good advice already-as to sailing to China-can't say as much. Although many yachts are ow being built there, China has not caught on to the fact yet that people actually sail those boats. In general, China is not so much hostile to cruisers as it just does not know what to do with them. As far as I am aware, unless things changed in the last year or so, there are generally no clear in procedures, no info on wherem how and with whom one should clear in. There are virtually no facilities. You will probably face a Chinese Coastal gunboat with no one who speaks English on it, who have not the vaguest idea what to do with you other than hold you until someone in Beijing can figure it out. Probably not a lot of fun.

That said-none of the above applies to Hong Kong. They know what to do with you and have a lot of experience with cruisers. The only drawback is it is very, very expensive. But, if you are only visiting Shenzen, it is only a short train ride from HK.
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Old 01-05-2012, 16:30   #5
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Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

Just look up the 'Passages' and you should be fine.

One option is to go via South Africa and the Indian.

b.
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Old 01-05-2012, 16:39   #6
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Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

The obvious route is via Panama and the canal is not a problem at all. To go through last year cost us less that $700 in total. Get Cornell for routing and timing. It would be a good idea to go to HK and make further arrangements from there.

We were going to go to China but decided against it even though my wife is Chinese so at least we would not have language problems. There are marinas in some places but in general you are treated as a ship and the costs are enormous for pilots, port charges, you name it - not to mention the odd needed backhander. There was a report in the SSCA Bulletin about one boat that went to Shanghai and it cost either $2000 or $3000 for a fairly short visit.

It would be fascinating but do lots of homework first to get your arrangements worked out.
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Old 01-05-2012, 17:37   #7
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Re: Sail route from Florida to Shenzhen, PRC

Ad China (second hand info, never went there). Get in touch with the Roayal Hong Kong Yacht Club, who will have first hand information and can help arrange your trip to China. Last year there was a Swedish yacht that sailed from Kaohsiung (Taiwan) to Xiamen and it cost them 5k (S/Y Jennifer in China –). Apparently, if you plan ahead, it can be cheaper.
I suppose you want your boat in China, because you are moving there. Make sure you know what you are getting into (berthing, day sailing regulations, foreign boat import duties, etc.). But you probably have that figured out.
As others suggested, Hong Kong is just around the corner from Shenzhen. Difficult to find even a mooring (long term) not to mention berth (very expensive), but if you start now, you should be able to find something.
Good luck!
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Old 10-05-2012, 16:09   #8
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Re: Sail Route from Florida to Shenzhen PRC

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.. I meant no offense regarding pilots of the Panama Canal, I can only go by what others tell me when they make the same or similar trip..

Just for the sake of time, I think I will round the tip of Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal, then catch the winds from California past Hawaii and up from Australia.. there may be a more direct route, but being on a sailboat with a top hull speed of 7kts, I'm happy to err on the side of safety and do a lot of island hopping rather than 2-3 week stretches on the briny blue..

When I was in the Navy, my longest deployment was 7 months and 11 days on the water before making port.. Even though the Rosie (Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71) is a big carrier, it still got small after awhile.. lol

I have at least 12 months to plan the trip before I launch, and I love to plan, plan, plan, and then create contingency plans.. I can never be too prepared for an adventure like this..
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Old 10-05-2012, 16:18   #9
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Re: Sail Route from Florida to Shenzhen PRC

First thing you need to do is change where you get your information.

Have you heard the saying," It ain't what you don't know that will kill you, it's what you know THAT'S WRONG that will...
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Old 10-05-2012, 16:33   #10
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Re: Sail Route from Florida to Shenzhen PRC

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbates View Post
First thing you need to do is change where you get your information.

silly me, I thought I already changed my info source by joining this forum.. lol.. this could pose quite the conundrum..

i'm ok with making mistakes.. it's part of learning.. and if i believed for a moment that i had all the information i needed, i wouldn't have asked for more from people who have completed the trip i haven't begun yet..

however, if the info i have or receive isn't useful, i don't need it.. i leave it behind with other useless junk, and move on in search of feedback that will actually help me accomplish my goal..
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Old 15-07-2012, 12:31   #11
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Re: Sail Route from Florida to Shenzhen PRC

China is nice but definately stick to the trading zones. Hong Kong is the most well known but don't forget Macau. It has a lot to offer and is still close to Shenzen.
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