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Old 18-08-2018, 13:49   #1
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Panama to Curacao "the wrong way"

Having just bought a boat in Panama my intention is to reach the ABCs. To date my research indicates heading to Cartagena and onward from there might be doable in late Spring. Any information out there?
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Old 18-08-2018, 14:19   #2
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Re: Panama to Curacao "the wrong way"

I have not yet made a voyage in that area, but I have studied it as preparation, because I would like to sail from Panama (as crew on a boat, going either direction). Since I have not yet sailed that route, you can take my opinion with a splash of saltwater. However, I value the opinion and experience of others who have sailed there before.

Consensus among reports I have read is that going East from Panama to Trinidad (or the ABC) is a VERY difficult slog upwind and upcurrent if you take the southern route (along South America). Something called the trade winds causes the problem.

It can be difficult or hard on the crew and the boat.
Reports I read indicated that several boats turned back after trying, because of the difficulty and slow going.

One 40 footer wrote they only made 25 miles a day for progress toward Trinidad.

Other reports mentioned damage to boats, due to pounding and stress.

With a new-to-you boat, I would avoid causing unnecessary stress on unproven rig and engine etc. And on the crew too.

So, I think the prudent thing to do is “go with the flow” and head North on the usual Clockwise loop rather than going anti-clockwise against the flow.

Good luck on your decision.

By the way, I recently finished a 1700nm voyage from Grand Cayman. At times we had to motor, due to lack of wind. At other times we went with the flow, and at some times the current was against us. With a counter current, it can be frustrating to make little progress towards one’s goal. And pounding to windward is no fun on either a monohull or catamaran. Better to go with the flow.

I would be happy to join a boat going North from Panama or clockwise in Caribbean or “with the flow.”

If that was not enough reading for you,

I suggest you read the following (from my notes).

Go to:

Skip down the long list of letters to find: 'West to East Across the Caribbean' in June 2006 'Latitude 38'
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Old 18-08-2018, 14:46   #3
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Re: Panama to Curacao "the wrong way"

We did it by waiting in Cartegena until there were three hurricanes at one time coming through the upper Caribbean blocking the trades. We loaded up with fuel and motored like crazy and almost made it to Aruba before they came back. It would have been very different if the weather systems wouldn’t have been there blocking the trade winds.
Having said that we had a great time going from there to Trinidad but that was when you could still go to Venezuela without too much worry. I wouldn’t have done it if we couldn’t have cruised along the coast east to Trinidad it would have been too much for us.
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Curacao, Panama

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