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Old 28-08-2009, 08:56   #1
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Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
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Question Cruising to Guatamala

Does anyone know the best route to take? Should we sail from Key West toward Cancun then head southeast, or is it advisable to go the long way around passing Cuba's east coast and/or Hispaniola to head east from there?

Who has made this voyage and how did you fare?


Kat~ : )
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Old 29-08-2009, 19:24   #2
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Hi, Kat --

We're thinking about doing the same trip from Ft. Lauderdale, first to Isla Mujeres and then south through Belize, eventually to the Panama Canal and then to the Pacific side. Leaving late November/early December (depending, of course!). I've been researching the route and using Pat Rains, "Cruising Ports: The Central American Route" (2009 update) and Freya Rauscher, "Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast" (Third Ed, 2007). The very nice thing about Rauscher's is that she includes two charts she personally updated for the Mexico/Belize coast, where updated "official" charts really don't exist.

If going to Isla Mujeres, it is 335 nm from Key West on a rhumb line. Rauscher suggests sailing 267 true for 66 nm from Key West until you are 14 miles south of the Dry Tortugas and than sailing direct to Isla Mujeres. You're sailing along just outside of the Cuban territorial waters much of the way.

The Yucatan Channel may well be the most difficult part, since lots of water is flowing south to north and if you get a norther from the US, the seas will get very high, very quickly; steep and short periods. She suggests that the best time to cross is right after a strong norther blows itself out.

Assuming a 6 knot average speed, that's about 60 hours from Key West to Isla Mujeres. We're in a 44' cat and can usually do better than that, but I still tend to use it for planning purposes.

From my look at things, the route around the eastern side of Cuba has its own challenges and there are several shoals on the way that can be challenging, not to mention it is simply much farther to go before you hit the cruising grounds. Of course, you would be able to see Jamaica and Cayman.

Hope this helps!

Intentional Drifter

Observations are gold; hypotheses, silver; and conclusions, bronze.

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.--Ben Franklin

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.--Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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Old 30-08-2009, 03:35   #3
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Head to Isla Mujeres and then bump your way along the coast to Belize. All sorts of bays and an offshore atoll called Chinchorro Bank. Chinchorro bank is interesting to visit in settled weather. Can easily be entered at night at Cayo Norte. Miles and miles of unspoiled snorkelling and spearfishing.
The coast of Mexico can be done in extended day trips. Stay close to the reef to avoid a north seting current which can reach 2 knots. Pay attention to wind strength and direction as it gets very very bumpy and confused due to the current.
In Belize if you draw less than 6 feet you can travel inside the barrier reef all the way to Guatamala. You can check out at Punta Gorda about 25 miles from Livingston Guatamala. Lighthouse, Turneff and Glover Reefs are wonderful places to visit for snorkelling and diving.
Rauscher guidebook is the best.
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cruising, Guatemala, route

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