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Old 16-10-2015, 15:05   #1
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Roatan to Panama advice needed

Hi,
Looking for some advice on sailing from Roatan to Panama this winter. Currently in Guatemala, but will be in Roatan by Thanksgiving. My question is this,...how important is it to get south quickly. We have family that would like to visit mid Dec. Anybody have experience with heading south at that time,...should we leave early Dec, or will lingering a few weeks be ill advised? Thanks for any assistance.

Jmj
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Old 16-10-2015, 16:17   #2
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

Made that trip several times. Dec may be too late. The trip from Bay Islands to the corner to turn south is tough. It is a motor boat trip. You not only have wind against you but current. You need to wait in bay Islands until wind is very light. BE careful about getting close to the coast to get out of wind and current. When we were there years ago the fishermen would rob you. Try to get current info. Mike at Brooksy Point can probable help on that. Once around the corner no problem.
Bob
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Old 16-10-2015, 16:49   #3
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

Thanks Bob, will check with Mike at Brooksy Point.
Jmj
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Old 16-10-2015, 16:49   #4
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by svadagio View Post
BE careful about getting close to the coast to get out of wind and current. When we were there years ago the fishermen would rob you. Try to get current info.
Bob
More people need to mention this problem so it's common knowledge. Didn't somebody almost get robbed around there? It happened to a boat when we were going through that area too. Lots of people seem to know about it but some boats still do it. The fishermen stories we heard were about guy's with a rusty gun with no violence but they took everything. The very violent attacks further west sound much worse.
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Old 16-10-2015, 18:38   #5
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

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More people need to mention this problem so it's common knowledge. Didn't somebody almost get robbed around there? It happened to a boat when we were going through that area too. Lots of people seem to know about it but some boats still do it. The fishermen stories we heard were about guy's with a rusty gun with no violence but they took everything. The very violent attacks further west sound much worse.
There have been a number of problems over the years along the Honduran mainland, including several robberies (some while underway) and one murder of a cruiser. Most of these have happened around Punta Sal.

To a lesser degree, there have been issues along the Nicaraguan coast, but possibly less because most cruisers avoid getting in close there. Problems are rare further out on the Nicaraguan Banks, but happen occassionally.

The temptation of the N Honduran coast is that the land effect creates more favorable conditions (than the trades further N) for getting East.

Given the security issues along the N coast, I suggest getting well N in Belize, waiting for a good window, and sailing down to Roatan.

Problems happen in the Bay Islands too, but much less likely than the mainland.
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Old 16-10-2015, 18:43   #6
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

Give the forum a search for this topic too. This route has been discussed on a number of threads. I would give the link, but searching sux on the mobile app.

A copy of a previous response of mine:

"
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 window. 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 16-10-2015, 18:51   #7
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

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Originally Posted by Jandm5132 View Post
Hi,
Looking for some advice on sailing from Roatan to Panama this winter. Currently in Guatemala, but will be in Roatan by Thanksgiving. My question is this,...how important is it to get south quickly. We have family that would like to visit mid Dec. Anybody have experience with heading south at that time,...should we leave early Dec, or will lingering a few weeks be ill advised? Thanks for any assistance.

Jmj
I suggest leaving as early as you can, and picking windows between fronts. Be a shame to rush thru all the great stops on this route. Tropical weather is unlikely in November. Getting East past the Bay Islands is the PITA part which can take a lot of time waiting for windows.
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Old 22-10-2015, 04:11   #8
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Re: Roatan to Panama advice needed

reetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jmj.
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