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mauiboy86 24-08-2008 22:03

Charleston to BVI Oct 1st
We are planning on taking our Beneteau 49 down to the BVI in October and would like some info on the best route to take for that time of year.

Would it be best to meander through the Bahamas on down to PR and then over to BVI or would it be best to sail East 800 or so miles then south.

Our biggest concern of course is the possibility of large storms in the region. We do not have SSB but have Sat phone and Sat TV so we can watch the weather channel and call in to get reports.

We need to be there by November 1st but prefer to be there earlier.

The direct route seems much quicker at around 7 days averaging 8 knots. Would it be possible to do it through the Bahamas in less then 14 days?

What would you do?

Vasco 25-08-2008 07:01

Most of the Beneteau charter boats in the BVI start from Charleston and go direct. The Beneteau dealer in Charleston, St. Barts Yachts handles all the deliveries. They can give you some good advice on the direct route. The boats don't have SSB but all carry a satphone for the trip. A small Sony with SSB receive capability will give you a good backup for weather reports.

As far as the Bahamas, T & C, DR, PR (Thorny Path) route goes, one month is a bit short to do it that way. If you're not going to take a bit of time and enjoy it you might as well go direct.

Due to your time constraints the direct route is the only way, except for Dockwise Transport. :)

btrayfors 25-08-2008 07:19

Your timing is at least a month earlier than the "best time", i.e., the time when it's generally recommended to leave the East Coast headed for the Eastern Caribbean. As you identified, the main problem is the chance of tropical storm activity.

Here's what NOAA has to say on this subject:

"The 2008 hurricane season has already produced 5 named storms, two hurricanes, and one major hurricane. Therefore, for the remainder of the season (August 7th through November 30th), we expect (67% chance) an additional 9-13 Named Storms, 5-8 Hurricanes, and 2-5 Major Hurricanes.
Based on the ACE prediction, and on the expected above-average numbers of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes, there is an 85% chance the 2008 season will be above normal."

You may want to read the full report here:

That said, the direct route is certainly to be preferred, IMO. The "Thorny Path" isn't fun and isn't easy -- unless you're not on a schedule and are prepared to hole up for long periods of time awaiting favorable weather windows. Furthermore, you don't want to be caught out in the Bahama out islands in a hurricane.

The normal route is to "make as much easting as you can out to about I65, then turn due south all the way to the BVI".

IMO, your estimated average of 8 knots is very optimistic....even for a BendyToy 49 :-)


Intentional Drifter 25-08-2008 08:24

What would I do? I'd wait. Not for the arbitrary date of Nov. 1 to pass, but until I was assured that the tropical storm activity had actually diminished, whether that be Oct 15, Nov. 1, or Nov. 15. It is a cliche, but a true one: The most dangerous thing on a sailboat is a calendar.

Having said that, if you decide to go anyway, then I'd want to have my exposure time reduced to the bare minimum. Thus, I'd opt for I-65. I'd also spend the money and sign up with Chris Parker for weather routing. And triple-check everything, especially rigging, storm sails, and safety equipment.

Good Luck, and Fair Winds.


mauiboy86 25-08-2008 14:06

Chris Parker? how do I get a hold of him and what do I pay him for? What is I-65?

btrayfors 25-08-2008 14:16

Chris Parker:

I-65 is 65 degrees west longitude. This is the meridian that, e.g., St. Thomas sits on.


camaraderie 25-08-2008 17:15

Chris Parker is great. His website also offers good forecasts...but his e-mail and SSB custom service is both reasonable and accurate.
You need to head east to "I-65" before heading south to allow you to get the right angle on the trade winds to make landfall in the Virgin Islands.
Here's OCTOBER Cat1-Cat5 hurricanes for the lat 50 years. Your choice.

mauiboy86 25-08-2008 17:47

1 Attachment(s)
I would say that the odds are in a sailors favor to make it without a major storm. This is the past 7 years East Caribbean hurricane tracks for October.Attachment 4829

Tropic Cat 25-08-2008 17:58

I'm not sure that anyone would think that a graphic showing named storms in 5 of the last 7 years which cross your route demonstrates good odds, but if you do... If you play poker could you stop by Central Florida on your way?

mauiboy86 25-08-2008 18:02

So when heading to 65 should we just pick a point at say 25n 65w or do we base it on where the tradewinds start?

mauiboy86 25-08-2008 18:05


Originally Posted by rickm505 (Post 198130)
I'm not sure that anyone would think that a graphic showing named storms in 5 of the last 7 years which cross your route demonstrates good odds, but if you do... If you play poker could you stop by Central Florida on your way?

I guess we could just wait until that one hurricane passes by then scoot on out but then again one may not go that way at all.

Do people do this route in October?

mauiboy86 25-08-2008 18:11

1 Attachment(s)
OK, here is November since 1999 for comparison. Much better odds but we have to be there by nov 4th.

Attachment 4831

speciald@ocens. 25-08-2008 18:18

Start Oct 1st, sit in Charleston for thirty days, then cross the Gulf Stream and head East until you pick up the Trades (~65 degrees West), hang a right, and then proceed to Tortola. Should be a seven day pasage. I will leave on the 2nd of November, weather permitting; be safe.

btrayfors 25-08-2008 19:17

Excellent advice, IMHO :-)


GordMay 26-08-2008 01:49

Picking Your Point of Departure ~ by Don Street
Part III: Caribbean-bound boats have little time to tarry, whichever route they decide to follow
Cruising World - Picking Your Point of Departure

The Caribbean Cruiser's Offshore Kit ~ by Don Street
A seawise look at some oft-overlooked essentials for a safe passage south
Cruising World - The Caribbean Cruiser's Offshore Kit

Caribbean Exit Lines ~ By Don Street
Leaving the West Indies is no joke if you don't get the timing right
Cruising World - Caribbean Exit Lines

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