PNW to Mexico, Panama Canal, and Florida, on our way at last!

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Peter, we're always open to ideas! I've already looked at this though. It really won't help us all that much, and would put us much closer to the coast of Nicaragua than we'd like to be. It's in our back pocket if the Wx doesn't significantly improve by the end of April/first part of May though. The 18/19th is looking marginally better . . . if the trend continues, and gives us a long enough windows 4+ days, we'll give it a go.
 
Scot - what's the thinking of avoiding Nicuragua? I was concerned due to some troubling piracy events but I see from CSSN reports that it's been quiet for years now. Are you hearing something different? Also possible that everyone avoids the coast so there is no one to report but it's still troubling.

Running 600 nms up the Caribbean would be difficult for the occupants of Weebles so looking for [safe] alternatives. Thoughts?

CSSN 2022 annual report

Peter
 
Maybe by the time you get Weebles in the Caribbean, Jamaica will have calmed down, and you can go the counterclockwise route, Cartagena, Windward Passage. Cartegena to Kingston would still be 440 miles though.
Nicaragua is still on State Dept Level 3 (Reconsider Travel), but I've not heard anything recent from the water side. Still, why temp fate? Especially when there is no advantage that I can see from a navigational perspective.
 
Well I can't believe I am saying this, but I'm ready to move on. Not really because I'm ready to leave here, because I am kinda of enjoying the forced relaxation, but because I want to get to Florida and see what the hell we bought and clean out the place in KY and get it sold. Closure. Just want it done. Plus I really and looking forward to clearing out the boat and taking off stuff we don't need on her and having space. Every inch of her is full with stuff, because we were planning on being on her a lot longer.
I have discovered a little flaw in living full time on a boat that drives me a little crazy... (okay, Scot will say I'm all ready crazy and he's probably not wrong there, but this one is my "makes me squirming I have to talk myself off of the ledge" thing.) Being Trapped! Whether it's by a bar because of waves or because of weather and we can't leave when want to at some point it gets to me. I can talk myself out of being bothered about it for awhile, but eventually it gets to me. Shades of never having roots put down as a kid or something... I don't know.. but I'm ready to go, so I'm really hoping that the weather will continue to look good for the 20th and we will be on our way to the Caymans and then Florida.
In the meantime..
 

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Been there. Very understandable feelings when you can't be moving, and can't even reliably predict when you will be able to move. OTOH, your kitty looks to have adapted with minimal effort . . .:cool:
 
Been there. Very understandable feelings when you can't be moving, and can't even reliably predict when you will be able to move. OTOH, your kitty looks to have adapted with minimal effort . . .:cool:
Yeah Cato definitely has adjusted to the forced relaxation...
 
I think that the “Being Trapped” syndrome is a real problem for cruising couples, particularly the female who has the homemaking instincts.

The first time we moved aboard to go cruising, we sold our house, gave away most of our junk and put the rest in Pod storage units.

After 4-5 months of east coast cruising (and no real cruising incidents to speak of) my wife called it quits. So we returned to Annapolis, put the boat up for sale ( it was a “performance cruising sailboat”, a Saga 43) and bought a condo.

After living in the condo for 4-5 mo with me working as a broker and her working in finance in Bethesda, I came home one day and asked if she would be willing to try it again if we kept the condo as a home base and bought a slow but steady Island Packet 37.

She agreed, we did as above and enjoyed crusing the east coast and the Abacos for a few years while coming back to Annapolis every 6 mo or so.

Having the condo as our home base avoided the Being Trapped syndrome. So I always advise potential cruising couples to consider how to avoid Being Trapped.

David
 
I think that the “Being Trapped” syndrome is a real problem for cruising couples, particularly the female who has the homemaking instincts.

The first time we moved aboard to go cruising, we sold our house, gave away most of our junk and put the rest in Pod storage units.

After 4-5 months of east coast cruising (and no real cruising incidents to speak of) my wife called it quits. So we returned to Annapolis, put the boat up for sale ( it was a “performance cruising sailboat”, a Saga 43) and bought a condo.

After living in the condo for 4-5 mo with me working as a broker and her working in finance in Bethesda, I came home one day and asked if she would be willing to try it again if we kept the condo as a home base and bought a slow but steady Island Packet 37.

She agreed, we did as above and enjoyed crusing the east coast and the Abacos for a few years while coming back to Annapolis every 6 mo or so.

Having the condo as our home base avoided the Being Trapped syndrome. So I always advise potential cruising couples to consider how to avoid Being Trapped.

David
I'm glad you found a work around for you. Fortunately this boat has a huge galley so I can still cook when the mood strikes, that helps. Honestly it's only when we get pinned in by weather for extended periods that I go a little crazy. Don't think I'd be getting so anxious except for the whole new house getting rid of old house thing...closure.
I think poor Scot gets more stir crazy quicker than I do because he needs more socialization. Me I'd be a hermit the majority of the time if I could. So I think having the house/dock with access to the ocean is definitely going to be an amazing thing for both of us.
Funny thing, I don't miss the shopping, restaurants or things like that. I thought I would. I love it when we are in anchorages where we can just go swimming right off the boat and I adore the sunsets/sunrises on the water. I truly worry a little bit on how I will sleep without the rocking of the waves. Honestly if I could make it so the weather didn't trap us in anywhere longer than about 3 weeks I'd be good to live on a boat full time forever. Or at least until I can't crawl up the side like a monkey when running lines to dock....
 
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I can see the lack of a choice being the problem. Wanting to get going but must wait for weather, no choice will wear on anyone.
 
Part of the problem for me is being out of reach of parts. To run our auxiliary engine to run the generator, requires a water pump to run to provide raw water to the hydraulic oil cooler heat exchanger. Ours died three days ago. I tried to cobble up something using a spare HVAC raw water pump, but the flow rate isn't high enough, which allows the hydraulic oil to reach a temperature that is really REALLY high, like boil water high. Pump is readily available on Amazon for $368.00 . . . . but I can't get it here in the San Blas Islands for about a month.
So to charge the batteries lately, with it being so cloudy, and affecting the solar charge rate, we now have run the main engine . . . . Arrrrgh! At quite a bit higher fuel burn rate . . . .
Two of the pumps are sitting in my Amazon cart right now. One to install, and one to put in spares . . . . Along with a bunch of other items, mostly just small stuff.
I think after starting in the PNW, going to Glacier Bay, Alaska, then bringing the boat South, through the Panama Canal, and now departing this Thursday (hopefully) for the Cayman Islands, then around Cuba and up to Florida to our new house, I'm going to be just fine for a few years going up the East Coast, to the Florida Keys, and over to the Bahamas.
We actually did REAL well at identified items we may need as spares, and having adequate stockage, but this morning one of the heads died as well. I think I need a couple of parts I don't have . . . . I'll call the manufacturer tomorrow to troubleshoot, but probably won't get fixed until we reach Florida. Good thing we have two heads!
 
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Steve, yes I have a raw water washdown pump, as well as a spare. I thought of that as well, but it is only 5.5 gpm capacity. The Jabsco 50840:


is 29.7 gpm flow rate. Even with the 7 gpm HVAC raw water pump I jury rigged, the hyd oil temp was way too high. But thanks for the thought!
 
Tomorrow we leave the San Blas islands and start our journey towards Florida. We are still on the fence on whether or not we want to go straight through or make a short stop in the Caymans. Eight days most likely if we don't take that stop.. but other than the first day and a half the weather looks okay to go through. I think we both are ready to get to Florida just to see what we bought and unload the boat. I'm pretty excited about that part of only having stuff on the boat that is needed for the trip we are taking rather then living on her 24/7. Kind of a whole different world... Imagine being able to use the bunks in the fo'c'sle for guests instead of storage!! Mind Blowing!!
Anyway.. .send wishes for fair seas and some following seas because right now we are getting all the waves on the beam... ugh!
If you ever get the chance I would recommend a visit to the San Blas islands we've enjoyed our time here so much. I still can't believe we've been traveling for around 8 months now. Time has no concept when you live on a boat. It will be weird to get back to land where we will have appointments and have to track the days again... responsibility, UGH!!. Don't know if I can handle that anymore. Still excited about some of it. And excited about getting things done so we can get back out on the water and start cruising again.. Bahamas in November and over the winter... maybe the East coast in the spring. Where should we go?? Thoughts??
Sanblassuns.jpg
 
Looks like first 24-hours or so will be 4.5'-5.0' @ 5.5-6.0-secs on the beam but should lay down after that. Would be a bit tough in our little Willard 36 but manageable in your boat if we we are in your situation next year (though weather looks a bit better in the western edge near Bocas del Toro).

You've probably already seen FastSeas, but for others - here's the course optimized for the GS coming up the Caribbean. FastSeas uses Windy's current model to optimize a course (not sure how accurate - the $500/yr PredictWind model is better.....but at $500/yr, a bit beyond my comfort zone). FastSeas gives 5 free predictions per month - it took two to get around Cuba. See the orange track on the attached screenshot.

Good luck - very exciting time for you and Scot.

Peter
 

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Peter, that orange track looks pretty much like what we are planning. Heading direct to the Caymans for the first 2.5 to 3 days, then bending a little West over to the Yucatan Channel, then a short boost from the Gulf Stream before crossing North onto the banks and then to Ft. Myers. Your model estimates average speed of 8.41 kts, I am assuming that is figuring in Gulf Stream current! That's less than 6 days!
 
Well, here it is, 0400, Friday 19 April. I just came on shift. Since departing the San Blas Islands, Panama yesterday at 0500, we've traveled 153 nm, for an average of 6.65 kts. 1,003 nm left to go to Coral Gables/Ft Myers where we intend on clearing customs, unless we can clear in via CB Roam adjacent to the Dry Tortugas that is. San Blas to Florida, 1,156 miles should use about 500 gallons, give or take, depending on the current. We left San Blas with 1,085 gallons remaining, so a nice comfortable reserve!:thumb:

The currents are really squirrelly, initially against us, and now slightly with us. We're headed pretty much straight toward the Cayman Islands. We'll make a decision 50 or 100 miles form the Caymans whether to stop or continue on to Yucatan Passage, around the West end of Cuba on the way to Florida. Overall, the current should give us a boost of between 0.25 to 1.8 kts. Wx has been pretty much as predicted, although the waves have been a little higher than the 4', 6 sec predicted, they have been for the most part off the starboard bow instead of off the starboard beam, which, although it adds a little fore and aft, reduces the lateral roll considerably. We do have both paravanes out though. The cats insisted on that.

An Evergreen container ship overtook us, traveling from the Panama Canal, headed up the East Coast, and changed course 3 times trying to hit is. Seriously, we were the stand on vessel, he was the give way, coming up on our port quarter, at 12.5kts. Originally predicted to pass behind us by 0.5nm, he changed course 4 deg to port in order to pass in front of us, than when he got abeam of us, he changed course 14 deg to starboard, and crossed our bow, close aboard at about 0.25nm. And it was that far only because I slowed down considerably to give us more room. It was daylight, our AIS is broadcasting, and we have radar reflectors. As soon as he crossed our bow, he turned back to port about 15 degrees . . . .:nonono:
Had he maintained his original course, he would have passed astern of us.
Had he maintained his next course, he would have passed off our bow, with over a mile to spare, port to starboard . . . . . Boy, you'd think they'd require training and licenses to operate those things . . . :whistling:

Anyway, fingers crossed, (do you have any idea how difficult it is to type with your fingers crossed?!?) Everything is running fine. Cats are ready to jump ship at the first opportunity . . .

Courage, a sailboat we left San Blas with was planning on doing the same thing we are, shooting up pretty much straight toward the Cayman Islands on a course of about 350, passing to he West of the Rancador Reef/shoals, then making the call whether to go in to the Caymans, or continue on to Florida, just as we are planning. Unfortunately, under sail, they are only able to come up into the wind to about 340 degrees . . . . That is putting them closer to Nicaragua than they'd like, so they ended up motoring a lot on a heading of 360, but they'll still pass to the West of Rancador, instead of to the East as they'd planned, and as we are doing.

We decided not to make water with the water maker. We've got about half tanks, but our largest tank (360 gallons) is in the bow and with us taking the waves off our stbd bow, I don't want any more weight up there than we have to, and adding another 1,800 lbs or so doesn't make any sense! Besides, we have enough to get us to Florida without making any anyway.:dance:
If I haven't said it recently, we absolutely LOVE our SeaWaterPro watermaker. Kudo's to Mike for selling and supporting a great product! We haven't used dock water since we left Port Orchard, WA! Two years since we put in the H2O maker now, 8,432 gallons made so far, up to Alaska, then down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and now crossing the Caribbean, we're down to a cost of about $0.56/gallon, including the two spare membranes we bought, and we've had all the fresh water we could possibly want. Washing machine loads, dishes, drinking water, fresh water washdown to clean the salt spray off the windows, fresh water flush of the dinghy engine, and best of all, fresh water wash offs, every time we came out of the salt water! Which was 8 - 10 times a day in the San Blas Islands! Sometimes it was because we went snorkeling, but mostly because we just went swimming to cool off!

I'll post another update when we decide whether to go into the Cayman Islands, or head on to the Yucatan Channel. Cheers
Now all of your couch surfers, get off you couch, or out of your chair, and take your boats out!
1713518754634.png
 
Well, here it is, 0400, Friday 19 April. I just came on shift. Since departing the San Blas Islands, Panama yesterday at 0500, we've traveled 153 nm, for an average of 6.65 kts. 1,003 nm left to go to Coral Gables/Ft Myers where we intend on clearing customs, unless we can clear in via CB Roam adjacent to the Dry Tortugas that is. San Blas to Florida, 1,156 miles should use about 500 gallons, give or take, depending on the current. We left San Blas with 1,085 gallons remaining, so a nice comfortable reserve!:thumb:

The currents are really squirrelly, initially against us, and now slightly with us. We're headed pretty much straight toward the Cayman Islands. We'll make a decision 50 or 100 miles form the Caymans whether to stop or continue on to Yucatan Passage, around the West end of Cuba on the way to Florida. Overall, the current should give us a boost of between 0.25 to 1.8 kts. Wx has been pretty much as predicted, although the waves have been a little higher than the 4', 6 sec predicted, they have been for the most part off the starboard bow instead of off the starboard beam, which, although it adds a little fore and aft, reduces the lateral roll considerably. We do have both paravanes out though. The cats insisted on that.

An Evergreen container ship overtook us, traveling from the Panama Canal, headed up the East Coast, and changed course 3 times trying to hit is. Seriously, we were the stand on vessel, he was the give way, coming up on our port quarter, at 12.5kts. Originally predicted to pass behind us by 0.5nm, he changed course 4 deg to port in order to pass in front of us, than when he got abeam of us, he changed course 14 deg to starboard, and crossed our bow, close aboard at about 0.25nm. And it was that far only because I slowed down considerably to give us more room. It was daylight, our AIS is broadcasting, and we have radar reflectors. As soon as he crossed our bow, he turned back to port about 15 degrees . . . .:nonono:
Had he maintained his original course, he would have passed astern of us.
Had he maintained his next course, he would have passed off our bow, with over a mile to spare, port to starboard . . . . . Boy, you'd think they'd require training and licenses to operate those things . . . :whistling:

Anyway, fingers crossed, (do you have any idea how difficult it is to type with your fingers crossed?!?) Everything is running fine. Cats are ready to jump ship at the first opportunity . . .

Courage, a sailboat we left San Blas with was planning on doing the same thing we are, shooting up pretty much straight toward the Cayman Islands on a course of about 350, passing to he West of the Rancador Reef/shoals, then making the call whether to go in to the Caymans, or continue on to Florida, just as we are planning. Unfortunately, under sail, they are only able to come up into the wind to about 340 degrees . . . . That is putting them closer to Nicaragua than they'd like, so they ended up motoring a lot on a heading of 360, but they'll still pass to the West of Rancador, instead of to the East as they'd planned, and as we are doing.

We decided not to make water with the water maker. We've got about half tanks, but our largest tank (360 gallons) is in the bow and with us taking the waves off our stbd bow, I don't want any more weight up there than we have to, and adding another 1,800 lbs or so doesn't make any sense! Besides, we have enough to get us to Florida without making any anyway.:dance:
If I haven't said it recently, we absolutely LOVE our SeaWaterPro watermaker. Kudo's to Mike for selling and supporting a great product! We haven't used dock water since we left Port Orchard, WA! Two years since we put in the H2O maker now, 8,432 gallons made so far, up to Alaska, then down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and now crossing the Caribbean, we're down to a cost of about $0.56/gallon, including the two spare membranes we bought, and we've had all the fresh water we could possibly want. Washing machine loads, dishes, drinking water, fresh water washdown to clean the salt spray off the windows, fresh water flush of the dinghy engine, and best of all, fresh water wash offs, every time we came out of the salt water! Which was 8 - 10 times a day in the San Blas Islands! Sometimes it was because we went snorkeling, but mostly because we just went swimming to cool off!

I'll post another update when we decide whether to go into the Cayman Islands, or head on to the Yucatan Channel. Cheers
Now all of your couch surfers, get off you couch, or out of your chair, and take your boats out!View attachment 154047
Another great post guys. Casual readers of this thread should be aware of the thought, experience and high cruising knowledge that Scott and Laura have put into their mission, Then the purchase of FF ‘s Florida home, these guys are pros and worth paying attention to.
 
Scott, great following along.
Can you say more on your decision not to fill the water tanks. Guessing lighter bow, less green water, less see saw. Like to hear your on scene reasoning.
 
Steve, we have two fresh water tanks, one forward, just aft of the chain locker which holds 360 gallons, and one aft of amidships, just on the starboard side that holds 150 gallons. We currently have about 100 gallons aft, and about 170 gallons left forward. So although out normal MO is to make water when we get offshore, since we have about 320 gallons already, it didn't make sense to make water now as, hopefully, we will get to our new house in about 7 days. We use roughly 25 gallons/day, so 175 gallons over 7 days will still give us a reserve of 145 gallons. But honestly, I will probably make water the last day to fill the tanks to the top, but no reason to haul all that extra weight around with us in the meantime! Hope this all makes sense.

Seas have moderated some, to about 3' height, but still around 6 seconds, and they've come around to more off the starboard beam, but not bad at all with the paravanes out. The cats are somewhat less unhappy. . . . .
 
Well, Day 6 of our trip from San Blas Panama is winding down. It's 1930, Eastern time, and we've traveled 917.2 miles since leaving the San Blas Islands in Panama 6 days ago. 242 miles left to go to Ft. Myer, then 55 miles up the Caloosahatchee Canal to our new to us dock and house! We're getting beat up a little, going around the West side of Cuba, and now crossing the Gulf Stream, but not too bad. We expect to be to the house Thursday, or Friday. All's well.
Lesson learned today. When switching fuel tanks, it is best not to chose one that is totally filled with AIR! It brought Laura out of a sound sleep, and certainly got my attention as well!
We should arrive at the house with a comfortable reserve of 550 gallons of diesel remaining.
 
No fresh fish. It's been too rough to land/clean them for awhile. Besides, we just haven't had much luck since we got South of about Acapulco on the Pacific side. . . . . .
 
Looks like you made it home. What a trip.
 
We completed the run from San Blas Islands, Panama to Fort Myers, Florida, then up the Caloosahatchee Canal to our new to us dock, I mean house, outside of Labelle, Florida.
  • The run from Panama to the US was 1,240 miles, and took us just under 7 days and 12 hours for an average speed of 6.89 nm/hour. The first day and the last two we got killed by opposing currents, and high waves. Otherwise we would have averaged about 7.4 nmph.
  • The entire trip from the PNW to Labelle, Florida was 6,438 miles, using 2,799 gallons of diesel, including generator runs, for a nmpg of 2.3. That's not too shabby!
  • We had a total of 80 days of engine running over 7 months and 23 days
  • The last run up the Caloosahatchee Canal, a distance of 55 nm took just under 8 hours, averaging 6.875 kts. That included 4 bridge openings, and passing through two locks.
I had trouble sleeping last night, waking after only about 5 hours because the boat was so quiet and still!
Overall, it was a helluva trip! We're pretty proud of ourselves for completing it. We ran into many people on the trip who'd planned long distance cruising and ended leaving the boat after becoming disillusioned with cruising life. Some for a break, others permanently. We saw lots more boats for sale, or just wasting away at moorings, left by people whose dream didn't come to fruition, and who didn't know where to go from there, or what to do with the boat.

The cats were troopers through the whole trip, but they've made it clear that if we plan on any more long distance cruising, it'd better be on a cruise ship, with catnip, sunny dosing vistas, and large cat boxes readily available!

For us, we've got our work cut our for us, as we have a long list of items to complete on the boat, mostly small repairs, but a few larger items, as well as getting started on renovating our new to us house over the next 6 or so months, and moving out of our house in Kentucky, and potentially selling that as well. Ah, as in the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times!"

More later, but for now, we need to take stock, and catch up on sleep.
 
We completed the run from San Blas Islands, Panama to Fort Myers, Florida, then up the Caloosahatchee Canal to our new to us dock, I mean house, outside of Labelle, Florida.
  • The run from Panama to the US was 1,240 miles, and took us just under 7 days and 12 hours for an average speed of 6.89 nm/hour. The first day and the last two we got killed by opposing currents, and high waves. Otherwise we would have averaged about 7.4 nmph.
  • The entire trip from the PNW to Labelle, Florida was 6,438 miles, using 2,799 gallons of diesel, including generator runs, for a nmpg of 2.3. That's not too shabby!
  • We had a total of 80 days of engine running over 7 months and 23 days
  • The last run up the Caloosahatchee Canal, a distance of 55 nm took just under 8 hours, averaging 6.875 kts. That included 4 bridge openings, and passing through two locks.
I had trouble sleeping last night, waking after only about 5 hours because the boat was so quiet and still!
Overall, it was a helluva trip! We're pretty proud of ourselves for completing it. We ran into many people on the trip who'd planned long distance cruising and ended leaving the boat after becoming disillusioned with cruising life. Some for a break, others permanently. We saw lots more boats for sale, or just wasting away at moorings, left by people whose dream didn't come to fruition, and who didn't know where to go from there, or what to do with the boat.

The cats were troopers through the whole trip, but they've made it clear that if we plan on any more long distance cruising, it'd better be on a cruise ship, with catnip, sunny dosing vistas, and large cat boxes readily available!

For us, we've got our work cut our for us, as we have a long list of items to complete on the boat, mostly small repairs, but a few larger items, as well as getting started on renovating our new to us house over the next 6 or so months, and moving out of our house in Kentucky, and potentially selling that as well. Ah, as in the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times!"

More later, but for now, we need to take stock, and catch up on sleep.
Amazing voyage, I enjoyed your writing. Thank you for sharing.
 
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