Originally Posted by Springbok
Question re T&c to PR. Can one sail in a direct line ie 40 degee into wind or must one tack back and forth across the wind? In your experiences how long has this part of the passage taken? Can one sail or is it a motorsail?
Simple answer - No. The complicated reason is that winds are published in Degrees True which when converted to Degrees Magnetic which is displayed on your binacle compass
ends up being from the east-southeast during the winter "down-island" season. Add in that as the sailboat increases its own speed the apparent wind is pulled significantly towards the bow of the boat.
- - There are rare occasions when the winds will be from a different direction than the normal easterlies and then such a direct route of about 290 nm or about 2.5 days is possible. But they are rare. If you do happen to encounter such a weather window then go for it. But I would not bet on finding one.
- - What is more feasible when not wanting to stop in the D.R. is to follow the "normal" route of T&C south to the north coast of the D.R. around Luperon/Puerto Plata and planning to arrive near sunset. Then following the "normal" route eastward along the D.R. coastline at night to take advantage of the "night lee" effect. Then from Cabo Samana taking the plunge and crossing the Mona Passage. However, the best "normal" times to cross the Mona Passage is again during the night so you have a potential problem in doing a non-stop of arriving during midday for a Mona Passage crossing.
- - The passage from the T&C to Puerto Rico's east coast
is, IMHO, a real "ball-buster" if you do not have the time and inclination to wait for the optimum weather windows. A good weather window may last 2 days and rarely 3 days, so doing a T&C to P.R. non-stop is really crowding your luck.
- - Power yachts have the great advantage of speed which can cut their exposure to seas and winds down significantly. But their routing is much longer than the usual sailboat routes due to refueling considerations.
- - Eastbound most normal cruising sailboats can hold maybe 5 knots SOG average into waves and winds. Depending upon your personal tolerance for being continually beaten like a rag doll against the foredeck for several days, you may opt for the non-stop either direct -weather permitting, or dog-leg non-stop. I have learned the hard way to patiently wait at each "nexus," recuperate, down some Presidentes, and leave with the next good weather window.
- - I joke with new cruisers doing the route that impatience makes San Juan
one of the busiest airports as it is crowded with wives and significant others flying back to North America vowing never to get back on the boat again.