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Old 02-12-2021, 07:24   #1
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I think I'm lost

Hello wonderful people, and thanks for opening this topic !

My name is Raphaëlle, I'm French, 29y old, corporate tax lawyer gone rogue and travelling the world. After close to a year in Eastern Africa, I'll be spending the end of the year in Argentina. After that I'd like to work my way:
- by land to Brazil, or
- by plane to Colombia
and hitch a (boat) ride to ... any island in the Caribbean / Antilles.

So I'm on this forum looking for information on what would be the best route (looking to avoid the commercial Cartagena - San Blas - Panama route and would rather work my way through the ABC/Guadeloupe/Martinique or Jamaica/Cuba/whatever other cool islands are over there) for my project. By best route I mean the one where I have the best chance at hitching a boat.

I have no real experience (use to sail as a pre-teen, I know I don't get sea sick) but I'm an okay cook, good at cleaning, enthusiastic to learn and I can survive (and smile) in very basic conditions (small space, rare shower, etc.).

I'm not sure what is the appropriate section for me to post so I thought I'd squeeze all this in my presentation and see where this goes.

Thanks to you all for your help, and see you soon !
Raphaëlle
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:39   #2
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Re: I think I'm lost

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Raphaëlle.
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:47   #3
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Re: I think I'm lost

Raphaëlle, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, your travel plans do not align very well with most sailing paths. Boats head to the Antilles from the US East Coast, the Canaries and Cap Verdes, and from South Africa. Few work their way up from Brazil (although some do, but it is a far less traveled route). Columbia and Panama are at the downwind end of the Caribbean, few boats work their way back upwind from there the the Antilles. Again, it does happen, but is not the common path.

The best I can think of, at least pre-pandemic, would be to make your way to Trinidad. Many people take their boats there from the Caribbean to avoid hurricane season, and then return the next year. That, however, is a timing thing, the boats that are going anywhere largely leave in November, although a few may leave later.

The sailing season in the Antilles is November to June (so now until June), many boats will have already headed to the Caribbean to make the most of the season (with caveats for Covid). The latest stream will be the boats from South Africa, they generally leave about the end of the year. Some of them do head for the north coast of South America and make their way up, but I can not recommend any particular port as that path is not frequently used, so I am not aware of specific ‘favorite’ places, maybe someone else can provide better information.

The vast bulk of the cruising fleet follows a somewhat rigid schedule and path that is driven by not having to sail upwind and not running into bad weather. You find yourself off that path. There you will meet the most interesting and intrepid sailors, but fewer than in other locations.

Best of luck in your search, and maybe someone here will know of a specific boat or port that may be promising.
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:57   #4
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Re: I think I'm lost

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Raphaëlle, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, your travel plans do not align very well with most sailing paths. Boats head to the Antilles from the US East Coast, the Canaries and Cap Verdes, and from South Africa. Few work their way up from Brazil (although some do, but it is a far less traveled route). Columbia and Panama are at the downwind end of the Caribbean, few boats work their way back upwind from there the the Antilles. Again, it does happen, but is not the common path.

The best I can think of, at least pre-pandemic, would be to make your way to Trinidad. Many people take their boats there from the Caribbean to avoid hurricane season, and then return the next year. That, however, is a timing thing, the boats that are going anywhere largely leave in November, although a few may leave later.

The sailing season in the Antilles is November to June (so now until June), many boats will have already headed to the Caribbean to make the most of the season (with caveats for Covid). The latest stream will be the boats from South Africa, they generally leave about the end of the year. Some of them do head for the north coast of South America and make their way up, but I can not recommend any particular port as that path is not frequently used, so I am not aware of specific ‘favorite’ places, maybe someone else can provide better information.

The vast bulk of the cruising fleet follows a somewhat rigid schedule and path that is driven by not having to sail upwind and not running into bad weather. You find yourself off that path. There you will meet the most interesting and intrepid sailors, but fewer than in other locations.

Best of luck in your search, and maybe someone here will know of a specific boat or port that may be promising.
Thank you Pippa, for your answer. So quick and so accurate ! Yes I have become aware that I am somewhat off the normal route for this sort of thing but thanks for explaining it this clearly. I now understand better. Still want to give it a go though haha. Probably through Brazil, so i don't have to fly. I hate flying unless I'm actually going to a whole new continent.

As transatlantics of from December to March, if I make it by March to the Brazilian coast, I should be able to meet up with some boats arriving from Europe, even if there's few of them. Would you say that assessment is correct ?

Also, I've been told to contact marinas beforehand, especially the Jacare Marina in Brazil (French held, I'm French... convenient). Do you know if boats book their spots in marinas ahead of time ? Will the marina be able to tell me if they're full or empty at that season ? Or is the practice just to show up (and then, with covid, they'll probably say they have no idea) ?

Thank again for your time and your help !
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Old 02-12-2021, 08:03   #5
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Re: I think I'm lost

You should be able to hitch a ride on a Brazilian boat going up the coast to the northeast. Once in the northeast, you'll find boats going up to the Caribbean from take-off points like Fortaleza. I don't think you'll find many foreign boats moving north between southern Brazil and the northeast.
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Old 02-12-2021, 08:43   #6
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Re: I think I'm lost

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You should be able to hitch a ride on a Brazilian boat going up the coast to the northeast. Once in the northeast, you'll find boats going up to the Caribbean from take-off points like Fortaleza. I don't think you'll find many foreign boats moving north between southern Brazil and the northeast.
Hey thanks for that ! You sound very reassuring! Is Fortaleza bigger then Belem ? I thought I might show up in Belem straight up but Fortaleza may be a better choice ?!
Thanks for answering!
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Old 02-12-2021, 08:47   #7
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Re: I think I'm lost

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Hey thanks for that ! You sound very reassuring! Is Fortaleza bigger then Belem ? I thought I might show up in Belem straight up but Fortaleza may be a better choice ?!
Thanks for answering!
Both are large cities, but Fortaleza is more of a departure point for the Caribbean (a straight run to Grenada in the trades and current). Take your time going up the coast. The most beautiful part, in my opinion, is the coast of São Paulo and Rio. Full of islands and protected bays, coves and beaches. Still very wild as well.
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:07   #8
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Re: I think I'm lost

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Both are large cities, but Fortaleza is more of a departure point for the Caribbean (a straight run to Grenada in the trades and current). Take your time going up the coast. The most beautiful part, in my opinion, is the coast of São Paulo and Rio. Full of islands and protected bays, coves and beaches. Still very wild as well.
Man you’re killing me! I was thinking of working my way from Bolivia to Belém through to Amazon and then going to Fortaleza. I gotta study this … it’s a problem I look forward to solving though !
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:12   #9
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Re: I think I'm lost

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Man you’re killing me! I was thinking of working my way from Bolivia to Belém through to Amazon and then going to Fortaleza. I gotta study this … it’s a problem I look forward to solving though !
That's also a great plan, going through the Pantanal and up through the Amazon. It's all a question of priorities- land or sea. Brazil is a big country, so give yourself plenty of time.
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Old 02-12-2021, 11:26   #10
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Re: I think I'm lost

If you want/are able to overland further north, a few - most often French - yachts crossing from Europe go via French Guiana and/or (mainly Netherlands yachts) to Suriname before the Caribbean Islands; that was our route and I'm surprised that more don't detour south to at least Suriname or British Guiana.

good luck.
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Old 10-12-2021, 19:58   #11
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Re: I think I'm lost

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Old 12-12-2021, 14:12   #12
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Re: I think I'm lost

Welcome to Cruisers forum..
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Old 12-12-2021, 15:32   #13
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Re: I think I'm lost

Welcome Raphaelle! You might also post in the crew section saying "crew available" once you get back to salt water. Good luck!
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