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Old 12-08-2018, 14:16   #1
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Caribbean Passage Planning

Dear Cruisers,

Iím looking for some input as I plan a passage from the Chesapeake to the Eastern Caribbean during the first half of November. My wife and I intend to spend the winter season in the islands and return to the Chesapeake in May 2019. We will take an offshore route, either via Bermuda or direct to the islands.

Current plan is to make a passage direct to Grenada, then spend the season meandering our way north from there. I understand that most cruisers sail to the top of the island chain and work south, so I wanted to get some feedback on our approach. Are there factors that favor stopping in BVI or Antigua instead of sailing direct to Grenada? Or anything that favors Barbados over Grenada as the starting point?

For background:

The boat is a Caliber 40, built in the mid 1990s and new to us. She has been repowered with a newer 50hp Yanmar; 60 gallons fuel capacity and 160 gallons fresh water.

Crew will be 3-4 people: a delivery captain/friend with very extensive offshore experience; myself (longest previous offshore passage is Portsmouth VA to Tortola BVI); my wife (coastal sailing experience in California), and possibly a friend as the 4th crew member (similar experience to me). All of us are in our 30s, in good health, and keen for adventure.

Thanks in advance for sharing your insights!
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Old 13-08-2018, 01:00   #2
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Weíve spent our last few winters up and down the EC islands from Grenada to the the BVIís starting and ending the season in St Lucia where our boat spends the summer. There would be lots to see and do taking some time checking out spots from the VIís south.

Even if you skip through quickly on your way south it might give you a better idea where you want to spend more or less time on your way back north. Buy a set of Chris Doyleís guide books too. They are very helpful.
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Old 13-08-2018, 03:10   #3
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Laowai
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Old 13-08-2018, 04:00   #4
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

In addition to Doyle, we found "Caribbean Passagemaking"by Les Weatheritt to be an interesting read.


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Old 13-08-2018, 04:11   #5
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

I think your idea makes considerable sense except that I would stop for a few days in St Martin on the way down. SXM has the best and cheapest marine stores and excellent provisioning opportunities. Further south you will pay more and have less choice. St Martin to Grenada will be a good sail especially if you leave SXM with a forecast showing more NE than E.

Bermuda is wonderful but we were told that if things are going well when you get in the general area don't stop. In November there is too much chance of crappy weather so use the good weather you have. On the other hand if the weather is crappy you can stop until you get a better forecast.
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Old 13-08-2018, 08:28   #6
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

We did a similar trip in 2014. Though we did the Dismal Swamp part of the ICW from Norfolk. Highly recommended if your draft permits. While we stopped in Exumas. You could go direct to St Martin (croissants and expresso) with a short stop to swim with the turtles on Saba, then direct to Grenada with a slow return north. On other trips we really enjoyed the Spanish Virgin Islands between PR and AVI. There are good forecast tools for the currents on the journey and that can really make a difference if you work the eddys well on the way down. Enjoy!!
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Old 13-08-2018, 08:35   #7
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by Perfect Ride View Post
We did a similar trip in 2014. Though we did the Dismal Swamp part of the ICW from Norfolk. Highly recommended if your draft permits. While we stopped in Exumas. You could go direct to St Martin (croissants and expresso) with a short stop to swim with the turtles on Saba, then direct to Grenada with a slow return north. On other trips we really enjoyed the Spanish Virgin Islands between PR and AVI. There are good forecast tools for the currents on the journey and that can really make a difference if you work the eddys well on the way down. Enjoy!!
I forgot Saba, it is wonderful and unlike anything else in the Caribbean. You need lightish winds and more east than northeast there since there is little protection from swells.
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Old 14-08-2018, 12:33   #8
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Thank you for all the tips! I will look at the SXM option, it might be nice to break up the trip a bit.
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Old 14-08-2018, 13:38   #9
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Laowai,

Check out my wife’s blog: caribbeansealife.com While it won’t help with your passage, it is full of info on the individual islands. While I loved Grenada, you might want to consider Panama as a destination. We enjoyed the Western side of the Caribbean better than the Eastern side of the Caribbean Our friends on a small Tayana did the trip from Baltimore to Panama and back, great wind angle.

Have fun, nice boat, Friend of mine has one in Baltimore.
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Old 14-08-2018, 13:46   #10
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

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Laowai,

Check out my wife’s blog: caribbeansealife.com While it won’t help with your passage, it is full of info on the individual islands. While I loved Grenada, you might want to consider Panama as a destination. We enjoyed the Western side of the Caribbean better than the Eastern side of the Caribbean Our friends on a small Tayana did the trip from Baltimore to Panama and back, great wind angle.

Have fun, nice boat, Friend of mine has one in Baltimore.
It might be a good wind/sea angle on the way down but you'd pay for it on the way back. Getting out of Panama on the Carib side is always a challenge.
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Old 14-08-2018, 13:53   #11
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Agreed, it was amazing how many people don’t go to Bocas del Toro (fantastic place) because you have to motor out no matter where you are going. Actually that last 100+ miles to Panama everyone was motoring. Having done both sides just wanted to throw it out there as we enjoyed it so much more, and OP doesn’t sound like he has the time to really enjoy the Eastern side. Places like Saba, Barbuda, Statia, Montserrat, etc. need the right weather which can take some time.
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Old 14-08-2018, 14:07   #12
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laowai View Post
Dear Cruisers,

Iím looking for some input as I plan a passage from the Chesapeake to the Eastern Caribbean during the first half of November. My wife and I intend to spend the winter season in the islands and return to the Chesapeake in May 2019. We will take an offshore route, either via Bermuda or direct to the islands.

Current plan is to make a passage direct to Grenada, then spend the season meandering our way north from there. I understand that most cruisers sail to the top of the island chain and work south, so I wanted to get some feedback on our approach. Are there factors that favor stopping in BVI or Antigua instead of sailing direct to Grenada? Or anything that favors Barbados over Grenada as the starting point?

For background:

The boat is a Caliber 40, built in the mid 1990s and new to us. She has been repowered with a newer 50hp Yanmar; 60 gallons fuel capacity and 160 gallons fresh water.

Crew will be 3-4 people: a delivery captain/friend with very extensive offshore experience; myself (longest previous offshore passage is Portsmouth VA to Tortola BVI); my wife (coastal sailing experience in California), and possibly a friend as the 4th crew member (similar experience to me). All of us are in our 30s, in good health, and keen for adventure.

Thanks in advance for sharing your insights!
OMG. We made this transit two years ago along with good friends on Rockhopper, a Caliber 40. You will find them at the Annapolis boat show working the show as help. Ask for Rheinhart. We all made the transit on Roxy, Camper & Nicholson 58, with the Salty Dawg rally to Virgin Gorda. It was the best decision ever. Sign up on line or talk to the Dawgs at their booth. We will be there too so send me a PM if you like. I think this yearís rally goes Hampton to Antigua. Departure is anytime after November 1 with a good weather window.

Rally is the way to go. We have a dedicated weather rout planning with Chris Parker before and during the cruise. Daily check in, many perks before, during and after arrival. You will receive lots of attention with the Dawgs in Hampton to help you get set. If you need crew, they have a crew list. Members get access to the Antigua YC facilities. The Dawgs are negotiating for more perks, discounts as well. The rally is around 80 Boats so you will have community when you arrive. We found the cost more than offset by advantages and perks. We have had a lot of fun along the way and continue to find our friends all over the eastern Caribbean. Your Dawg flag is your ticket to sundowners in many places.
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Old 14-08-2018, 14:09   #13
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by Sea Life View Post
OP doesnít sound like he has the time to really enjoy the Eastern side. Places like Saba, Barbuda, Statia, Montserrat, etc. need the right weather which can take some time.
How much time would you recommend for the Eastern side? We plan to spend about 6 months, December - May.
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Old 14-08-2018, 14:16   #14
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post

Rally is the way to go.
About how much does the Dawg rally cost? I crewed on a boat in the Caribbean 1500 two years ago, Chesapeake to Tortola. I liked it fine, but was planning to forgo the rally this time and save the cost.

Anybody care to share opinions on rally vs no? I imagine there are strong opinions on both sides.
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Old 14-08-2018, 14:31   #15
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Re: Caribbean Passage Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laowai View Post
About how much does the Dawg rally cost? I crewed on a boat in the Caribbean 1500 two years ago, Chesapeake to Tortola. I liked it fine, but was planning to forgo the rally this time and save the cost.

Anybody care to share opinions on rally vs no? I imagine there are strong opinions on both sides.
The 1500 is too intense. For them itís a race. For the Dawgs itís about making sure everyone gets there and has fun. Pretty sure the cost is much less for the Dawgs. 300 for non members, 200 for members. I think the weather planner is worth about that.

https://www.saltydawgsailing.org/fal...-dawg-rally-2/

Join. $75 what a deal
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