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Old 12-10-2014, 11:50   #1
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Location: Corpus Christi TX
Boat: 1970 Morgan M38
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Corpus/Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres in Late November

Hello all!

We've been planning and preparing for this trip for about a year now, so I like to think we're ready. Still, as this is our first distance cruise and it starts with our first Gulf passage, I find myself turning to CF for last minute advice anyway!

The long term plan is for my roomomate and I to move onto my 1970 Morgan 38 next month (November '14) and spend the next 6-12 months cruising from Corpus Christi Texas to Isla Mujeres, then Key West and the rest of the Keys, then the Bahamas by New Years, and further SE through the Exhumas, Turks and Caicaos, then the Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean. Then, depending on how far we can go, we'll either sail across the Caribbean to the Caymans, or retrace our steps all the way back to the Keys.

The main thing I'm looking for here is a critique of our plan to leave from Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres approximately 3rd or 4th week of November depending on weather. We will try and leave just after a northern front head E/SE as far as we can until we can head directly for Isla.

Crew and Rig: We're both 25 years old, experienced sailors for our age, in good shape, and we're very familiar with the boat having lived on and sailed around Corpus and to Port Mansfield over the last 2 years. I'm a licensed USCG near-coastal captain. Most of the equipment listed below was installed by us and we're familiar with it. We've never sailed in any storms, but are learning a lot. We plan on taking a rough weather shakedown 3 day trip before we leave for good. The boat is a 1970 CM-38 salvaged and rebuilt from 1980-85 and subsequently raced (winning some of them) from Port Aransas to Veracruz for about 3 decades. We've restepped the mast, completely repaired a large crack that had been partially repaired in 1980 and actually held up all that time.

Brief Equipment List: Multiple cruising guides and charts for all related areas (cant wait to use my explorer charts!). Six 6v batteries for a house bank, one 12v dedicated starting and backup battery. We will have between 200-400w in solar panels. Radar, multiple GPS, multiple EPIRBs, a liferaft, etc for safety. Extra tiller (hope never to need it!), sea anchor, 2 auto-tillers. Approx 60 gallons in Diesel total (18 in the onboard tank), 80 gal water (just 2 people on board). The engine is a 1985 Yanmar 3QM30F in good condition and im going to put a 70A alternator on it (ordered) later this month. We're likely going to have a new UK Sails headsail (135%) on our Harken roller furling, as well as an older but good condition backup sail (light wind 140 genoa). The main does not have lazy jacks or a stack pack, and this is likely the last long cruise it has left in it, but its solid. We have 1 2000gph bilge pump and a backup pump, but im thinking about getting a handheld emergency pump in addition to the installed emergency manual pump.

My 2 main concerns are timing with weather and just having 2 people on a boat w/o a buddy boat. Should we be concerned with getting a SSB/HF radio or a Sat Phone in addition to VHF? we will have a SPOT tracker or an inReach. We do not have a fully enclosed cockpit, but we do have good shade coverage and a dodger.

Thanks for anyones input! We're young but ambitious cruisers and we need all the advice, wisdom, and critique we can get! I think once we get to Isla Mujeres, the rest will be far less... intimidating...

"When in danger or in doubt, raise the sails and get the hell out!"
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Old 12-10-2014, 12:19   #2
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Re: Corpus/Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres in Late November

Send bob77903 a pm, or maybe he'll see the thread and reply. He's done this trip a couple of times, leaving early Nov. It is a serious bash, unless a cold front hits you. You don't want that.

I also would like to go to Isla on our boat. If I recall, Bob would prefer to leave from the Keys, and head across to the Yucatan. I know this seriously interferes with your plan, but listen to someone experienced and decide for yourself.

All the best with your adventure. Should definitely be fun!

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Old 12-10-2014, 13:05   #3
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Re: Corpus/Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres in Late November

It is essential that you have a stamped copy of form 1300 when you enter Isla Mujeres

A boat was confiscated there when the US owners failed to have the US equivalent of a Zarpe.

No guns or drugs they put a gun/drug sniffing dog on our boat.

You also need to know where the Gulf Stream is in the Yucatan Straights or you will make little southern progress. Northerlies into the current make very big waves.

Heading USA to Mexico? Important Information €” Noonsite

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Old 13-10-2014, 16:30   #4
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Re: Corpus/Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres in Late November

Thanks Moondancer and RTP for the responses!

I figure there isnt really a dependable weather window on the sail down to Isla since Northers hit about every week and it should take around that much time or more to get there. I cant help but think my autotiller is going to become our best friend doing either 4 or 6 hour shifts between 2 people all the way to Isla.

Ill definitely get the 1300 form taken care of I had no idea. Ill also need to get the transfer of title worked out, as well as Parks and Wildlife and state registration. As far as I know those are the main things as far as documentation goes.

Does anyone know a reference for sailing techniques or crossing routines or tacking/route suggestions for the passage between CC and Isla?
"When in danger or in doubt, raise the sails and get the hell out!"
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Old 14-10-2014, 18:03   #5
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Re: Corpus/Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres in Late November

The end of November is a pretty rough time in the Gulf for a trip from Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres. It is doable, just know at that time of the year you will get Northers rolling of the coast every 5-7 days. The wind and waves will be right in your face, or a close reach at best. So pounding into 5'-7' sea's is pretty common then.

Heading east as far as you can is a good idea, then turning south to put the wind and waves more on the beam.

Besides the CBP form 1300, used as a zarpe, you also need to have a fumigation certificate done by a licensed fumigation company along with your other documents and passports of course.

I have done this crossing several times, so am familiar with the November conditions in the Gulf. You might get lucky and get perfect winds and sea's, or it might be worse than stated above, but more than likely an invigorating crossing at that time of year.

If you get half way across and find you can't point high enough to make the corner, there is a good port called Progresso, Yucatan, on the north shore of the Yucatan peninsula that you can put into. Hope this info helps, and good luck to you
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