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Old 03-11-2007, 13:01   #1
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Question Going -MA>Caribbean>Med - Lots of ???s

My wife and I plan to sail our Bristol 45.5 from MA to the Caribbean (fall 08) and spend 1 to 2 winters there and then go sail in the Med. I would appreciate feedback from people with experience with any of the below topics, or pointers to reference materials on these topics.
1. Route to Caribbean- Caribbean 1500 or/vs. NARC rallies? Ditch vs. offshore?
2. Experience with having a dog on board in the Caribbean (customs, acceptance ashore etc.)
3. Route to Med. - Experience shipping boat? Experience with transatlantic passage (route, time of year, cost etc.)
4. Value of a spinnaker for the above kind of cruising?

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Old 04-11-2007, 03:30   #2
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The traditional time to leave the East coast of the United States is early November, after the height of the hurricane season, and before the winter gales begin to blow in December. If you want to leave later than November, you should wait until at least late March to begin your journey, to avoid the winter gales.

Most yachts depart the Caribbean, en-route to Europe (Medí) in April or May.

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Old 04-11-2007, 03:49   #3
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As for your route, it depends on what you want out of the Caribbean. If you leave in November, you have plenty of time to get south before hurricane season. Having said that, going with the Caribbean 1500 or just doing the I65 route gets you down island faster but you miss a lot of wonderful islands along the way, esp. the DR. Since you plan to go from the Caribbean to the Med, you will not get the opportunity on the way back to visit these places. So I would recommend a slow island hop through the DR, Puerto Rico, the US and British VI, before hitting St. Martin.

We don't have a dog aboard, but in Trinidad they do not allow them off the boat for any reason. Not all islands are this severe, but I would check it out carefully.

Although the trade winds blow most of the time, there are times you could sail if you had a spinnaker but would have to motor without it. Having said that, I'm not sure I would take on the expense of buying one for down here. If you have it, however, keep it.
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Old 04-11-2007, 04:46   #4
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Hi, Kent & Carol.

I've done the Caribbean 1500 three times, and can highly recommend it. This year there are 75 or so boats in the fleet, which gives you a chance to meet a lot of folks, many of whom have been to the islands before and can offer a ton of information. There's a lot of comraderie and a party atmosphere, but they also provide a lot of good information for first-timers to the Caribbean. You'll run into folks that you've met time after time as you cruise the chain. The included weather briefings and enroute updates have been very accurate and helpful in recent years (there have been some accuracy issues in the past).

The advantage of the offshore route is that you get to the Lesser Antilles quickly--a week and a half or so. Harriett pointed out the disadvantage--you miss the ICW, the Bahamas, T&Cs and the DR on the way down. Of course, you miss that upwind beat from Florida, too.

We cruise with a cat who never goes ashore, so we had no difficulties when clearing in to any of the islands. You are always required to declare any pets aboard. Some islands (the ones that have managed to avoid rabies) forbid the landing of pets, on other islands it's allowed. The rabies-free islands take it very seriously. A cruiser we met in Bequia told us that he took his dog ashore there for a potty stop, and was challenged by a customs officer who said if he ever brought the dog ashore again, it would be shot on the spot.

We sail with a cruising spinnaker, and I was able to use it for a day on two of the southbound passages. I've used it a few times in the islands, Guadeloupe to Antigua, for example. I agree with Harriett--don't buy one just for the islands, but if you already have one, take it with you.
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Old 04-11-2007, 14:39   #5
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Welcome Guys,
When you get round to the Med Q's happy to help where we can. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 04-11-2007, 18:05   #6
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Could anyone please tell me how to hook up with those who have Island Traders? I just purchased one and despreatly need drawings and plans as to wher the tanks and soforth are. It's a 41' Freeport modle. Thank you. Peter
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Old 05-11-2007, 01:04   #7
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Kent and Carol

We have a Mariner 40 Ketch here in CT, we are in the final stages of preparing for our trip south in the fall of 08 as well. Hope to see more of you on this forum, which by the way has been very very helpful for me. We plan on taking the ICW to FL then hanging a left and then.... Good luck with your plans.

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