Monday, March 6, 2017

Bahamas to Puerto Rico to Virgin Islands Southbound

...The Book on sailing south...
Radeen and I have studied Bruce Van Sant's book "Passages South" and we have made the routes on our laptops and on our B and G plotter and Samsung tablet. We are excited to begin this new chapter in our cruising adventures, which means heading south from George Town, Exuma, to the Eastern Caribbean. We have been to Long Island before and that will be our staging point. The route is well planned by Van Sant and the concept is like this. (He calls his route The Thornless Path to Windward, instead of The Thorny Path. Let's hope so!) Leaving Long Island and heading east and south, we will make our first major stop at Provo in the Turks and Caicos where we plan to check into the country at South Side Marina. We will spend time in Provo and then wait for the next weather window to run the 50+ nm Caicos Banks. We will anchor for one night at the end of the Banks. The next day we will run south to Big Sand Cay and then onto the Dominican Republic, known as the DR.


The Luperon Harbor
Many cruisers sail into Luperon, Dominica Republic. This is actually where Bruce Van Sant is building a home and we would like to meet him. We also have heard that it is not a very clean harbor but it is very inexpensive with mooring balls costing $40/month! We prefer our own anchor to any mooring ball as we know the strength our gear whereas we would not know the condition of a mooring ball gear.

The next option east is called OCEAN WORLD where we would need to take a dock. If you look at this map, you can figure out why they call this place "Motion World" as the east trades and swells come into this harbor as they bounce off the rock wall and reflect back into the marina. We also hear that is the swell is running then this can be a dangerous entrance. This is in contrast to Luperon where you can easily sail in and drop an anchor. We will need to study the swells before leaving Turks and Caicos and then make the call as to where to check in.
Ocean World Marina in the DR

Now that we will be in the DR, the next challenge is motoring east into the trade winds and the current. This is accomplished by motoring at night when the trade winds are blocked by the mountain down drafts, called Katabatic winds, off the DR coast. This makes a calm lee that reaches offshore 5-10 miles off the coast. So, we will motor east during the night and then when the trades kick back in around 9am, we will head back into shore and drop the anchor and wait for the nighttime lee. This leads us to Puerto Rico's south shore heading east to the Spanish Virgins and then into the US Virgin Islands and onward to the British Virgin Islands. At this point, either this season or next, we will make a turn southward for St. Maarten and the Leeward Islands and then down the Windward Islands. We will haul out the boat and store it somewhere between Puerto Rico and Grenada for May 15 - November 1.

Here are some maps of these plans...

George Town to Long Island to Calabash Bay to Provo. Day hop to Conception (3) Rum (4) to Provo (5A) .... or make one 200nm run to Provo (5B).


Long Island to Provo (5B) or stop at Samana (6) and/or Mayagauna (7) then to Provo (8)


Provo, Turks and Caicos, to DR with a stop at Big Sand Cay (10) or nonstop to DR (10B)



The DR to Puerto Rico the USVIs and the BVIs (Option Play: store the boat in Puerto Rico in May)


The Virgin Islands and south, island hopping or making a full 2 day run.


 Options on this plan:
  • Store the boat in Puerto Rico, USVIs, BVIs or Antigua, Jolly Harbor
    • This will save time and allow us to explore more northern areas without rushing south
    • This will also allow us to start there next year
  • Or, simply take a WX window and sail over night for Grenada and store the boat there.
These are all in the plans, either way, the goal is to get the boat to the Caribbean Sea and base there for the next 4 seasons. From our view now at George Town, Exumas, here in March, we are thinking that we should store in PR and just do the USVIs, BVIs and Spanish Virgins this season, then start there next Nov/Dec. That is looking like the plan now. The risk with that is placing the boat on the hard in the Hurricane Zone and taking the risk of storm damages. That is what we are thinking of right now and we are not sure we want to take that risk again. We will see how far we get...

The overview map of this plan....

Radeen is one Happy Sailor Girl as we prepare our flags to sail to many new countries.

4 comments:

Greg K said...

Wishing you both a thornless voyage into new cruising grounds.
Once you get to Puerto Rico you are home free with hopefully a nice broad to beam reach to Grenada.

Capt Dan said...

Can't wait for reports of this new adventure!
My first thought was to go "on the hard" in the US Virgin Islands as airfare should be much cheaper and avoid customs
Capt Dan
IP27 Meridian

T Knox said...

I tend to think that leaving Island Spirit in Grenada is the preferable option.You might have to sail a little harder to get her there but from May to November you shouldn't have to angst every tropical storm/hurricane.Six months peace of mind is a precious commodity.You will know the closer that you get.Thanks for the post.TnT

Melissa W Kenshalo said...

As IP owners who have "done" the thorny path and spent 2 1/2 years in the Leewards and Windwards, weather rules! We left USVIs St. Paddy's Day. We had to hustle to make Grenada by June. We skipped islands to make the hurricane season deadline. We have met others who went between the Virgins and Grenada smoothly using a weather window to make the passage. We wish you luck in your new adventures.