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sanssouci 11-11-2010 16:04

Flipping a coin.
Grand Cayman >>> Belize = down wind.
Coming out of Belize, you will probably experiance 400 miles to windward before you turn South.
Are you sailing to Costa Rica or Bocas Del Toro?
Costa Rica to Aruba will brobably be 900 miles to windward.
I would suggest a different route unless you just like to sail to windward.


Originally Posted by taildragerdrive (Post 558274)
I also currently have my boat (a Swan 36) at Grand Cayman and am considering a long fairly complete tour of the Caribbean in the next 18 months. We are currently planning to depart Grand Cayman mid January 2011.

One option we are considering is to depart Grand Cayman to Belize, Bay Islands and so on to Costa Rica by Mid February. Then I have to return home to do some work expecting to return again Mid March and sail along the Columbia coast to Aruba and so on to the Leeward islands.

Any comments on this plan, My partner is concerned about safety as we visit various locations along the way especially in Belize, Panama & Columbia. I'm looking at the winds and wave patterns and this looks to me like a passage that will have favorable winds most of the way except the last part of the passage to Aruba.

I would appreciate any feedback from experienced cruiser that have traveled in these areas.



taildragerdrive 11-11-2010 17:33


I'm not familiar with the area and the winds as you describe them are what my original thoughts were for that route.

I have been watching wind directions for the last 6 months or so in that area. If I look at the winds today on Windfinder - wind, wave & weather reports, forecasts & statistics / webcams, satellite images, isobar maps, tides.

Grand Cayman to Belize - Easterly = Down Wind
Belize to Panama - Northerly = Down Wind
Panama to Eastern Columbia within 50 mi the coast - Westerly to Northerly = Down wind or cross wind.
Eastern Columbia to Aruba - Easterly = Windward

I have noticed this to be a pretty darn common situation. The easterly winds once they come up against the land mass from Hondurans south starts a circulation that causes winds to go in the direction as described above most of the time.

But with further study it looks like when I got into the Pilot charts on windfinder that during the period of January through April the winds average monthly directions are not the same as during the fall months. They seem to be about the same as documented above but during that period the winds from Panama to Aruba average easterly.

Am I reading this right?

I'm sailing with a very experienced partner and part of my training is looking at various routes.

With further study it looks like given this information as seen above the better route would be to follow the route describe for Lee. We could sail the entire Caribbean going to the east north of Cuba and down the Leewards & Windwards, then West across the Northern coast of South America and Centeral America and back to say the Bahamas as we eventually want to end up in the Chesapeake in about 18 months.

It appears that route would allow much more downwind passage.



sanssouci 12-11-2010 09:45

The best cruising is when you do not set destinations or schedules.

taildragerdrive 12-11-2010 10:46


I agree that cruising unscheduled would seem to be the best. I have done a lot of traveling like that with my aircraft stopping at little airports and messing around as long as I wanted and then traveling on. I also would fly out of my way to see specific areas of interest. Traveling that way was great so I'm sure the same is true of sailing.

We purchased this Swan in the Grand Cayman and this first trip is a bit of a shakedown cruise to make sure we have it all set up well for long term cruising. We expect to find some issues during this first cruise. I'm also taking the first steps breaking my commitments on land.

So this first trip is kind of blocked out for that reason. The remainder of the schedule is much more general and theoretical.

I was just wanting to explore the possibility of my first post as a possible route as compared with the one that you had already suggested. Hopefully after this first cruise we will be able to cruise as you suggest.

Thanks for your help. Your response has been very helpful.


sanssouci 13-11-2010 07:40

Making Contact
Have you read any of Richard Bach's books?

taildragerdrive 13-11-2010 10:20

I have read several but can't remember the names off hand. I like the basic flying concepts that he imparts that are kind of our of vogue in the current high tech world. Fits my kind of back country and mountain flying.

We do lots of out of contact flying in our world. Not a lot of radio contact and repeaters we just talk to other pilots in the air and do broadcast into the blind so we all know where each other are. Lot of fun and great places to go and see.


sanssouci 14-11-2010 08:49

If you are flying out of Halfway Oregon, you are really flying in the Boondocks. Have you done any flying in Alaska?

taildragerdrive 14-11-2010 15:44

Quality of Life

I'm really enjoying this dialogue maybe a bit too much about me at this point. Let me know if it gets boring glad to tell the story if anybody wants to listen. Gotten pretty far off the sailing track.

Where I live we have approximately 20,000,000 acres of wilderness to my N, NE & E with lots of airstrips that predate the wilderness act. They are still there. I can hop in my plane in the summer fly 20 minutes and catch 2 pound trout for breakfast and be back home before most people are out of bed.

My house is 100 yards from work and I can see my plane from my office window. I sometime don't start a car for 2 weeks.

I have flown my plane in almost all of the lower 48 states. I have done 2 cross countries (literally). One from Halfway to the Keys, One from Halfway to Portland, Maine and several to Iowa and Minnesota. So I have seen lots of great country from 1000' agl or below. Great fun and you can't see it better.

I have not flown my own plane to Alaska but I have worked in South East a lot. In the Forest Service the rule in Alaska is "Jets or Floats" so we traveled all over in Beavers on floats mostly. I used to hang out on the float plane docs and mooch rides with anybody going flying when I was up there we often had 20 hr daylight days so lots of time to play. I have flown Cessna 180's and 185's and Piper Cubs and Super Cubs on floats in Alaska. I never got my float plane ticket so couldn't land and take off.

I still love my job and do all kinds of volunteer time. I also got lots of helicopter work over the years (started on a Helitack fire crew) too but no ticket for that either. Expensive to get that one.

My life has been about quality of life (not money) from beginning to end and has been mostly one big fun time for the most part (I'm just mostly a complete adrenalin junkie) I grew up in the Forest Service and spent all my time in the woods growing up. Sailing is the next big adventure, not giving up the old ones though still have my 170 and still fighting fire but not as much as I used to.

I love hot line fire fighting, storm skiing, and mountain flying, and want to get my skills up with sailing.

Then I can get out there and be capable of storm sailing as well, seems like it would be a rock and role experience. I no way qualify as a gentleman sailor. I have no problem with sailing to windward. One reason we got a Swan from all I read is it can take most of what can be thrown at it. Obviously I need to build skills before I dive off into bad conditions but that is what I have done all my life so it doesn't concern me. I'm not going to go looking for storms but I'm sure not going to avoid passages where we might run into them after I get some experience under my belt.

Well that's enough for now, we are probably going to take your advice and sail initially to Belize, and then to the Keys on this first trip and fix anything we find needed on Black Rose and then off to wherever our nose leads us after we think we have our bases covered.



sanssouci 15-11-2010 09:04

Tie down location
This is q quick reply because I have to get back to work replacing plexiglass hatch material on my boat. Lots of similar experiances in Alaska thumbing rides, after a sail to Japan from Honolulu I arrived back in US in Kodiak and spent 2 years in SE Alaska '86-'90. I grew up on the Rogue River (Grants Pass HS) and have always wanted to spend some time on the Snake River in your area.
Tell me about your Swan, did you find her in Grand Cayman? Is she equipt for cruising? Does she draw 6'6"? Belize will be down wind and sailing to the Keys is easy. You can plan on a tie-down here in Geiger Key @ 24-34-29 / 81-39-28.

taildragerdrive 15-11-2010 17:14

Sounds like a good plan.

Looks like it might be a good place to end our first trip.

Yes we bought the Swan in the Caymans after the previous owner had been cruising with it for 4 years. It has a bit of minor work needed to bring it up to stuff completely but it is in really good shape.

The swan is all set up for cruising all electronics less than 5 years old, both auto pilot and wind vane auto steering. Also includes boom mainsail roller furling as well as jib/genoa roller furling. It has a water purifier. The main issue with swan's seems to be tank storage both water and fuel. This one has some of that problem but we can make do. Lots of fuel cans mounted on board but we plan to sail as much as possible but will have a good motoring range if needed. Draft is 6'6" as you suggest. Pretty stock Swan 36.

It has work needed on non working refrigerator cold machine digital control. The engine is low time but the oil pressure and temp guages are not working. We will get those fixed before we leave Grand Cayman. Also some supplies the previous owner removed are needed, I have managed to get many of them replaced already to take down with us.

Looks like you are located with both a marina and and airport in the same location. That could be a good fit for me.

Interesting you are from Grants Pass. I spent a good part of my early childhood in that area. My father was the District Ranger for the Union Creek RD we actually lived at Union Creek and I went to school at Prospect grade school then we moved to Klamath Falls and went to school at Sacred Heart High School. I am a 5th generation Oregonian on both sides of the family and my father may have some Siletz tribe. If I wasn't living in NE Oregon I would definitely live in SW I love it there almost as much as where I live in Halfway. Difficult choice. I go to Ashland 2 times a year to see Shakespeare, it is always fun to be down there.

Looking forward to meeting you, I can tell we have lots in common. Are you a pilot as well as a sailor?


sanssouci 15-11-2010 18:55

Sailor yes, Pilot no
In 1965 I completed flying lessons with the Honolulu Cesna Flight School, solo'd to Maui, Lanai, Kauai and Hawaii. That was the extent of my left hand seat flying. Never did learn to land. My Alaska contractors liability insurance costs and bonding were more than I could afford if I had a license.

The only experiance I have had with taildraggers was in Alaska with a DC3, we were delivering construction building materials to bush construction sites. I am familar with your 170.

I'm not at a marina, the dock is a 135 foot seawall and the airport is the BOCA CHICA NAVAL AIR STATION. The square looking building is my elevated home w/flat concrete roof. My boat is currently at the dock and she draws 7 feet. Access is at high tide only.

I have done a lot of cruising and have owned four boats. 39' Choy Lee, 34' Dufour, 54' Gaff Rigged Ketch, 45' Dufour 12000CT. I lost the Gaff Rigged Ketch on the beach just south of Cresent City in the Redwood Nation Park.

taildragerdrive 16-11-2010 06:52

Well I'm sure you can help me get going. I have a lot to learn and am really looking forward to getting out there and sailing a lot? Seems like you have really had a number of boats.

I think we can also give you an opportunity to see the Snake River country if you want. I have a small bunk house on my place that is always available to anybody who wants to use it.

So did you do all your cruising by working construction for a while and building up a cruising fund and then cruising till it was gone and back to working construction. Seems like you have managed to fit a lot in. I manged to kind of do a similar thing flying in the continental US but you can do a pretty great trip in 3 weeks in a plane. I'm moving on to sailing because flying travel is limited when you run out of land.

I'm not familiar with the Dufour 12000CT. I did a lot of reading and basically decided that the S&S designed boats were a good starting place when I was looking for a boat. It is not like buying a car there are a massive number of boat designs out there so that helped me narrow the search a bit. I had heard a Swan was a pretty top of the line boat but never though I could afford one. Due to the recession I lucked out and eventually got this 36 a month or so ago.

I'm really looking forward to getting out in the Swan. The small amount of sailing I did in it I liked it seems to be a great boat to sail and it is well set up to make it easy to sail single handed or small crew with the roller furling sails and auto pilots.

What was the situation where you lost your boat on the California Coast?



sanssouci 16-11-2010 08:02

Sailing the Snake River
My mast height is 52' and I motor/sailed from Mobil to Knoxville,Tenn. (about 900 miles), I would really like to motor/sail the Columbia River to the Snake, I think I would be able to get to Lewiston/Clarkston. What do you think?

Cruising/Working: I bid construction construction contracts and then mobilized my boat to that location to perform the work. (Micronesia, PNG, Samoa, Hawaii, Alaska, Florida). Cruising in a boat is sort of like traveling/living in a RV.

I had my Dufour 12000ct built by Dufour in France and sailed her back to the US in 1982. At the time, I was considering either a Swan or Dufour.
My first boat in 1969 was a S&S built by Choy Lee (YoHoHo). Your Swan should be a good windward boat.

I don't like roller furling sails but autopilot is absolutly necessary. You should have spares for your autopilot and AIS. What kind of autopilot do you have?

sanssouci 16-11-2010 10:59

What was the situation where you lost your boat on the California Coast?


ViaMaria was a ferro cement, gaff rigged ketch that I bought in 1986 in Honolulu as a live aboard for GF-Elaine and a slip keeper for SanSouci. She had a sound hull, pretty, with a frozen atomic four motor. Elaine fell in love with another guy and moved off the boat and called me in Key West to dispose of the boat. So Paul Hooker and I flew out to Honolulu and had her towed out of the Ala Wai Marina in Honolulu. We sailed for 45 days and ended up shipwrecked on the beach just below Cresent City. During the sail we missed landfall in SE Alaska by 10 hours, we were blown back out and South. I'll tell you the whole story if I see you.

taildragerdrive 16-11-2010 13:12

I would think you could easily make it up to the Mouth of the Snake with your boat. I am not real familiar with the lower Snake. The barges make it to Louiston and I would think you could get there as well. The river is large there and I would think could handle your draft and all the bridges I'm aware of are high enough for you to get under.

The shipwreck sounds like a wild experience. Especially to be blown that far. Onto a lea shore I would guess.

All the electronics on Black Rose are Raymarine. The boat has a tiller so has the simple auto pilot shaft drive. Pretty simple but I would want to have a backup as well. There is a non working one and a new on board right now. I have to get the proper parts info and decide if I can get the one fixed or just buy another. Also Moniter wind vane will be backup steering as well.

I have heard lots of down side to mast furling main sails. Other than that most people like ruler furling headsails and boom furling mains. What are the issues you have with them?

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