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Old 30-09-2011, 15:19   #1
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New York - Caribbean

Ok, so I bought a sailing boat, a life time dream since the teenage years.

The boat is in the New York Area and I want to take it to the Caribbean, and I'm thinking BVI, West Indies and down to Grenada for the hurricane season.

Also, if I'll need to have a refit (paint hull & topsides) would you recommend Colombia (Cartagena) as a good "value" location? or are there better options en-route?

What is the best time to go? I'm thinking spring, around March-April, and arrive at Grenada no later than end of June to avoid the hurricane season, does this sound about right?

Also, should I go via Bermuda, or against the Gulf stream along the east coast?

Sorry about the stupid questions, but I have never sailed in the US, nor the Caribbean, but look forward to...

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Old 30-09-2011, 15:45   #2
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Re: New York - Caribbean

Would help to know what type of boat.

If reasonably sized monohull, gelcoat work in Cartagena is quite good and reasonably priced as long as you get specific people there. Painting is another story - they aren't set up well for it and supplies can be difficult. If you come with everything needed to paint the boat, you might do OK. But you could probably re-gelcoat there for less money.

If you plan on going offshore from NY toward Bermuda and south, March-April is a bit early. Can be done, but you still have fronts coming through at that time and the weather just isn't very nice until you get across the Gulf stream and a bit more south. May-June would be better for that run. Don't worry too much about hurricanes in June-July down in the West Indies, as the season doesn't really start there until later in the year.

If you plan on going the thorny path down the US East coast, Bahamas, PR, etc, you will spend a lot more time on the trip. There, it is advantageous to leave earlier and take advantage of Northerly winds from cold fronts moving through. Otherwise, it is all upwind and a bit nasty.

Either way, you can head straight SSE for Grenada once you reach the PR/VI longitude, so you can plan your timing accordingly.


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Old 30-09-2011, 15:53   #3
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Re: New York - Caribbean

Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Would help to know what type of boat.
Thanks Mark, its a 60 foot fiberglass sloop, 20 years old.
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Old 30-09-2011, 16:35   #4
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Re: New York - Caribbean

If you want the "best" place to refit, it is in the USA, where prices are reasonable for the quality you can get, and everything is available. You can spend a lot less in Cartagena, especially on labor, but you will have to bring your own materials in many cases, and supervise the work like a hawk, and even then it will be hard to get quality work done. Plus, it is very hot and humid there during the summer or the rainy season, so it will be like working in a steam bath, which is not good for quality painting or fiberglass work. I would suggest refitting a new boat in Maine before you leave, then working your way down the coast in the fall eventually going to the Bahamas after the hurricane season, then island hopping down the Caribbean chain. It is never a good idea to take off on a long, arduous, and potentially difficult trip (NY to Grenada) in a boat you are unfamiliar with and you know needs work. An alternative, if the boat is in decent shape, is to cruise Maine and New England in the summer, then work your way south via the Chesapeake, etc. with a plan to haulout and get the work done in Florida before heading to the Caribbean in the winter months. Florida tends to be much cheaper than New England, but with great quality and craftsmen available too.
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Old 30-09-2011, 17:47   #5
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Re: New York - Caribbean

Withjout being dismissive of this OP... it's simply too vague to supply a decent answer to this question.

It's a good idea to spend at least several months sailing the boat to shake it down and get familiar with it. There will ALWAYS things to deal with that may not have been noted in the survey. Since it wasn't indicated where there boat is presently... it is assumed to be in the LIS area and that would be a decent location to cruise and shake down and refit. Depending on how extensive the work is will determine when, where and how it's done. And of course you don't sail a new to you boat offshore unless you are being paid and slightly crazy...

Take the time necessary to get familiar with the boat and its systems and if you have some big projects to do which could be done in a more favorable economic area... and it makes sense to sail 1 few thousand miles to get there... then do so. I would not sail that far to even soda blast the bottom for example.... it's not economically worth it in the end and the risk, wear and tear and even the provisions need to be accounted for.

Good luck. Don't take advice from anyone.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:21   #6
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Re: New York - Caribbean


Over the last 4 yrs we have done everything you mention at least twice over. Some points of interest:

1) General and important maintenance is best done in the US because of the lower price of parts and the higher standard of work. Most Eastern Caribbean labor rates are close to US rates and parts are hard to get with big import duty in places like Cartagena.

2) Painting, fiber glass work and carpentry are good in Cartagena but you need to take your own materials. Plus getting back to the Eastern Caribbean is hard work and you should not give up the hard earned easting until you are finished cruising the Islands.

3) Don't get in a hurry, the Thorny Path can be brutal if you are constrained by the approaching hurricane season and a significant breakdown can be near impossible to fix until you get to Puerto Rico.

4) If you are in 'delivery mode' the off-shore route to the BVI, going east to 65W and then south is generally easier than the Thorny Path but you then miss out some wonderful cruising.

5) Grenada is a nice place to wait out hurricane season, Trinidad is not and if you are scuba divers Bonare and Curacao are better than Grenada so consider going there for your second or third hurricane season. You can then go on to Cartagena to get a paint job.

6) If I was starting in NY in late Spring I would go via Bermuda but I would go via Florida in November.

Kettlewell and Defjef are giving excellent advise.

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