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Old 08-30-2017, 06:44 PM   #1
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SoCal to the Caribbean

Crew,

My buddy and I are in the initial planning phase of cruising his Bayliner 5788 from SoCal to Florida via the Caribbean chain beginning November 2018. So many questions! Has anyone here ever done it?

Route- obviously south past Baja Ca. Then along the mainland Mexico coast south to the canal. After the canal the question then becomes North to Cancun east to Cuba and on into the Bahamas. Or, after the canal head west along the north coast of S. America and into Aruba, Grenada and on up through the Caribbean island chain to Cuba then Fla.

Medical needs and prep. Shots?

How to clear customs in countries we plan to stop at, pass or decide to put into?

Weapons?

Charting?

Weather/sea info and forecast?

Com- VHF, SSB, Sat phone, other?

There's so much to plan and prepare for. The above is just a start but hopefully will generate conversation and discussion.
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Old 08-30-2017, 07:54 PM   #2
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Pat Rains has written several books on Mexico and the area. You might look them up.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:30 PM   #3
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I found Pat Rains book to be poor at best. Very dated and not helpful. Freya Rausher for Belize and Mexico, Eric Bauhaus for Panama, and Chris Doyle for Eastern Caribbean much better sources of info. I have covered Panama to Florida and the Eastern Caribbean in the pat two years, so this is a recent opinion.

As suggested to me when I was planning this trip, you may want to consult cruisersforum.com as well. Seems more of there members are cruising tose areas.

Do some more research and try to narrow down your questions, as at this time they are almost to broad a scope to answer.
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Old 01-23-2018, 05:15 PM   #4
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Currently living aboard a cruising fulltime on the pacific side of Mexico and the two best books out there are by Heather& Shawn, great pictures, discriminations, coordinates and suggested cruising routes. It is the current Bible down here.
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Old 01-23-2018, 07:33 PM   #5
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That is an ambitious plan and from my reading of your questions, you have a lot to learn. Some answers and guidance below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Gandee View Post
Crew,

My buddy and I are in the initial planning phase of cruising his Bayliner 5788 from SoCal to Florida via the Caribbean chain beginning November 2018. So many questions! Has anyone here ever done it?

Route- obviously south past Baja Ca. Then along the mainland Mexico coast south to the canal. After the canal the question then becomes North to Cancun east to Cuba and on into the Bahamas. Or, after the canal head west along the north coast of S. America and into Aruba, Grenada and on up through the Caribbean island chain to Cuba then Fla.

Medical needs and prep. Shots?

Read up on the State Department's recommendations for the countries you might visit. Doubt if there is anything unusual, malaria maybe.

How to clear customs in countries we plan to stop at, pass or decide to put into?

Get any long range cruising guide and they will discuss the procedure. See Blue Water below.

Weapons? Forget it. The risk is low that having one will help and the potential for trouble is high with a weapon on board. Some countries will require you to declare and leave them with the authorities. I suspect that often you don't get them back.

Charting? Check with Blue Water Books and Charts- bluewaterweb.com for cruising guides and charts.

Weather/sea info and forecast?

You might want to subscribe to a weather routing service.

Com- VHF, SSB, Sat phone, other?

SSB is of limited value. VHF and sat phone, yes.

There's so much to plan and prepare for. The above is just a start but hopefully will generate conversation and discussion.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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Check noonsite.com for clearance procedures and other useful information.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:58 PM   #7
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We did the trip in 2012. After Panama or Colombia you have to make a choice; North, Northeast or East. We went East from Colombia to the ABC’s then to Blanquilla to Trinidad. Here are the links to threads about our trip from Colombia to Trinidad. It’s your choice on the route but don’t rush and be patient on the weather. It took us 4 years and we loved it!

Colombia to Aruba

Aruba to Curacao

Bonaire to Trinidad

Edit: It took us 4 years from Southern Cal but we got hung up in Mexico I agree with Dswizzler and his recommendations on cruising guides.
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Old 11-18-2019, 08:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Currently living aboard a cruising fulltime on the pacific side of Mexico and the two best books out there are by Heather& Shawn, great pictures, discriminations, coordinates and suggested cruising routes. It is the current Bible down here.
You should look at joining the Pamama Posse. It is an annual run going north and south from Mexico to Panama, so. Traveling with like minded people, great discounts and travel information.
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Old 11-18-2019, 08:29 PM   #9
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Panama Posse? That’s a new one to us, got a web site or other information for this group?

Cheers
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Old 11-19-2019, 04:46 PM   #10
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Panama Posse? Thatís a new one to us, got a web site or other information for this group?

Cheers


https://panamaposse.com
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:36 PM   #11
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Thanks Senor!

Cheers
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
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A quick look and reading that part the allow non-members to read, it appears it is geared more to sail boats.
Maybe they will let power boat attend as a life guard or tow boats? CHUCKLE
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:14 PM   #13
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A quick look and reading that part the allow non-members to read, it appears it is geared more to sail boats.

Maybe they will let power boat attend as a life guard or tow boats? CHUCKLE


I think it is geared more for sailboats but only because there are more sailboats cruising that direction. Motor vessels are certainly present and welcome!
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:16 PM   #14
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Thanks Senor!

Cheers


De nada.

Get on down here. The weather is great and the water temp is around 84í!
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:10 PM   #15
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I did that route from Dana Point, CA, down the coast, through the Canal, through the Caribbean, and to Florida. That was the first half of my trip. However, that was in 2010 so I'm sure things have changed.


None-the-less, you might want to make sure you have an agent lined up in Panama ahead of time. Getting permits to go through the Canal takes several days if you have not made all the correct pre-arrangements. You will have a Pilot with you as you make your way through the Canal itself. The good news is that Panama City is an absolutely beautiful place. You can eat like a king for a fairly reasonable price. Not cheap, but not what you would pay back in the USA.


We had two shotguns onboard. Bought them new for $89 each in California. About 30 miles before the Bay we blew up some waxed milk cartons floating in the water and then about 10 miles before the Bay we threw the shotguns overboard. The Panamanian authorities are not hesitant to confiscate your boat. At least they weren't back in 2010.


Passing Mexico and Central America we stayed about 100 miles offshore. Pirates, 'ya know.


That was then and this is now, so check. But at least be sure to look into the agent in Panama, and current firearms laws.


Enjoy. I sure did. Have some wonderful memories of dolphins swimming off the port and starboard bow for at least half an hour, about 20-25 of them.
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Old 11-20-2019, 07:25 AM   #16
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Few observations:

1. Noonsite.com. Jimmy Cornell, of World Cruising Routes, started this years ago. It remains a go-to for serious cruisers. Sort of more targeted "Active Captain."

2. CruisersForum.com. Definitely want to join this sister site to TF. They are predominately sailors, though there are several are trawler-types. More distance cruisers than this TF site. For example, a few days ago there was a decent thread on what clearance papers to carry. One guy stated he had cleared in/out of 53 countries - passports, USCG documentation, etc.

3. Southbound-group@groups.io. This group has limited activity, but the activity it has is from folks who are pretty experienced cruisers, mostly sail, and mostly on the Pacific side of Central America (mostly Baja). As an example, they ask that you trim your posts to minimize clutter for folks who pull via lousy/sat connections.

4. Weather. You effectively have two choices: IridiumGO ($700-$1000 depending on mounting) with PredictWind subscription (around $150/mo for unlimited data (don't get excited - transfer rate is akin to an overweight snail with congestive heart failure), though you can suspend when you are not moving); or Garmin InReach.

5. Rally's - Panama Posse and Baja Ha-Ha. I did the Ha-Ha in 2005 on a Willard 40 trawler. We were one of four powerboats in a fleet of 160. Great way to get your feet wet and plant a flag on a departure date. Many folks continue south, with a few leaving for South Pacific from southern Mexico, so you can make some friends along the way.

6. SSB. Personal decision on this. Latitude 38, sponsors of Baja Ha Ha, strongly recommend. They are becoming less relevant, especially if you have a Sat Phone (IridiumGO). I decided to forego due to complexity of installing a well grounded antenna.

7. Route planning. I am looking at the same trip starting next year. And I did this route in 2005 from Dana Point to Ft Lauderdale. At that time, I was blissfully ignorant of pirate concerns off Nicaragua/Honduras (or it wasn't a problem back then). Today, it's enough of a problem that it will effect my route planning on the Caribbean. For example, I'd like to visit Rio Dulce which means adding a ton of miles to swing >100 nms offshore (as the Nordhavn owner suggested he did in 2010). I'm pretty sure Isla Providencia to Cayman to Isla Mujeres will figure into my routing - it might be an option for your friend if fuel range is a concern. Also, weather getting north in the Caribbean can be pretty damn bouncy, especially where there is a gulf stream current working against the prevailing northerly winds. Depending on weather, getting east out of the Canal, then angling to Providencia may be an option. I will figure it out when I'm there through the Canal.

Good luck! I enjoyed the trip when I did it in 2005, and look forward to a more leisurely pace next year.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:50 AM   #17
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Y'all do know this thread is from 2017, right?

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Old 11-20-2019, 12:29 PM   #18
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Its a oldie but a goodie! Were interested in the info for next year.
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Old 11-20-2019, 01:56 PM   #19
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If I head out from NC to Bermuda and my 400 gal of fuel runs out, will Towboat bring me another 400 gals of fuel? LOL
OR maybe I should fuel on Ft L and get into the Gulf Stream, easing east to extend my fuel range?

Yes folks, there are so many opportunities to prove Darwin's theory correct.
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