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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Near Andover, Hampshire and Portland, Dorset
    Posts
    476

    Default Advice sought for Atlantic / Caribbean cruise

    So here is the plan

    Mel and I are off next year

    We have 2 years booked as leave and want to head out from the UK around end May next year.

    The plan is to head down to the Canaries via France, Spain, Portugal and Madeira and then head across.
    So we should be in the Caribbean by mid Jan latest.
    It would then be nice to spend as long as poss cruising the Caribbean ( any ideas about avoiding the Hurricanes? ) before heading north and crossing back to Europe via Bermuda and the Azores.

    The boat is nearly ready ( well, I reckon another 6 months work and it will be! ) so we feel its time to look at the route in detail.

    We would appreciate all advice but especially advice on routing once in the Carib, where to avoid, where to go etc.

    Advice on the timeframe ( we only have 2 years ) would be especially welcome.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    Mel and Nick
    Visit us at http://melandnick.com and flickr

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Based from the UK, try to get away on a boat for at least two months a year.
    Posts
    1,444

    Default

    Hi Mel and Nick,

    We've only done it the once and I am sure lots of others with further experience will provide better advice.
    The route you propose is absolutely normal but one common error (us too) is rushing past Brittany to make N Spain and missing lots. So one bit of advice would be to take some time both N and S of Ushant.
    Spanish Rias same same. Easy to slip past some lovely places and regret it later.

    When you make the Caribbean, you'll need to get south of Trinidad and into the Chesapeak to max your avoidance of most hurricanes from May to November.

    So if it is a 24 month trip you might want to consider spenmding the second year summer up the US east coast..........

    Otherwise, the windward and leewards are surprisingly close together so sliding up and down and up is not really a chore for anyone.

    Good luck - well done - enjoy
    JOHN

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    940

    Default

    If you plan to return after two years, I would maximise the time in the harder to get to places. So, you could leave Brittany until later. Your Atlantic crossing will take you not too far north of the Cape Verdes islands and I would recommend including them in your itinerary. We did not spend long in the Canaries and would have enjoyed more time there. The Rias in Northern Spain are nice, but the islands in the Atlantic have more going for them in terms of scenery, culture difference and music. Southern Portugal is very hot and expensive if you go into marinas (not necessary, but ...)

    We still have to visit the Leeward Is and the northern Windwards, but here is my two pennorth. Tobago is delightful and harder to get to once in the main chain of islands, but very highly recommended - we are going there for Christmas. Trinidad is best done during the hurricane season when you stay south - also convenient for seeing the leatherback turtles laying their eggs. Many people hang out in Grenada during the hurricane season, despite Ivan in 2004.

    If you like doing more than just swimming and hanging out on the boat etc, buy a guide book that gives info about walks etc e.g Insight Guides. So, such as Dominica is good for that. We are francophiles and intend to spend a lot of time in Martinique and Guadaloupe.

    We have found the US influence very strong on the ex-Brit islands and that's OK if your idea of a "special" is hamburger.

    We have been informed that the islands get more expensive as you head north and commonsense says such as the BVIs (lots of charters and holidaymakers) will be more costly and busier compared to, for example, Tobago and Carriacou.

    The safe period for hurricanes is indeterminate but you can probably bank on sailing until mid/late July and as early as November. Some people head for the ABC islands during the hurricane season, but then there's Venezuela nearby (a potential threat but to be regarded with caution not terror).

    Then, of course there's Cuba which could be done in a second season before return to UK in May.

    Hope this helps - buy a cruising guide e.g Imray for the Lesser Antilles and enjoy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Caribbean at the moment
    Posts
    23,960

    Default

    Stay south in the carib to avoid hurricanes, or go west to azores then canaries again and back to carib the second year.

    I would say that the med isn't the learner's paddling pool lots of people seem to pretend it is - not cheap, the spanish marinas often don't like you anchoring, and nasty short seas that can stop the boat dead when you thought you had everything sorted. Cote d'azur just had gales in august.

    Important to get out of the med and off to the canaries sooner rather than later - lots of people going transat set off in late sept or even october or nov and get a massive kicking.

    I go westbound with the arc - do the sums and you'll find that las palmas is the cheapest canaries marina by up to 50% - but you can't stay long if you aren't in the ARC. If you've got the kit then arc is cheap. If you haven't got the kit it's a load of gear to buy, but most if not all of it you should have already.

    There are loads of chandleries etc in abroad land yerknow - the boat doesn't have to be totally srted to set off in good weather. Al those ratheap boats biscay marinas can make it to the next marina.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Carribbean currently Grenada
    Posts
    6,454

    Default

    Skip Brittany you can always do that in a summer cruise from the UK.

    We regretted not being able to spend more time in the Spanish Portugese Rias. But leave late for the Canaries and your the chances of a gale en route are higher. We had to heave to for 24 hours.

    IMHO the ARC often leaves to early. It certainly did in the year I had paid to do it and we watched from the mole as the fleet set off into a strengthening SW wind. After 3 days some of the smaller boats had only made 100 miles. Cruise the other islands of the Canaries and prep for the crossing after tha ARC leave.

    What you do in hurricane season may depend on your insurance. have you checked the small print on what you can do and where you can be? Some I know will insist on you not being anywhere between Trinidad and the Chesapeake, 1st June till November.

    I have cruised and am currently cruising The Windward Islands during hurricane season and feel OK about doing this as I am prepared to leave with a few hours notice and sail to Grenada or Trinidad or Venuzuela. For the last 2 weeks in August and the first 2 in September I would be in Bequia or further south.

    Caribbean Itinerary Hmmm

    Jan Arrive from the Transatlantic in Barbados short stay say Hi to Bajansailor
    Tobeago longer stay
    Trinidad I am a little biased against Trini as I like to swim and the waters of Chaguramas can be disgusting BUT it is a great place if your boat needs work and CARNIVAL starts Feb 20 in 2012. If you only do one Caribbean Carnival it has got to be Trinidad.
    Grenada do an Island tour and the Friday night Fish Fry at Goave ask on the cruisers net for times and current prices. They will also know who to go with.
    Bequia for Easter regatta.

    I reckon the above is pretty definite because Barbados and Tobeago are hard to get to once you are in the windies.

    After Bequia up to Antigua then back down for hurricane season hanging around south of Martinique.

    OR up to Antigua then St Maarten BVIs USVIs Puerto Rico Dominican Republic ?? Haiti ?? ?? Cuba ??

    Depending on when and where you want to be during hurricane season.

    Luperon in the DR is many peoples northern Caribbean hurricane hidey hole and Bruce Van Sant, the guru for that area, has summered there for many years.

    OR from wherever you finish up along PR, DR or Cuba just head south across the Caribbean for Venezuela or Columbia.

    Now you will hear lots of negative stuff said about both Venezuela or Columbia but lots of people cruise through there with no problems. I can not speak from recent first hand experience so you need to exercise your own judgement and check noonsite for security updates closer to the time.

    Things that people can miss, the Saints visit the Fort Napoleon museum, Guadeloupe allow several days to explore the Island. If your draft allows go though the canal and gunkhole the Cul de Sac du Marin.

    gotta go pt 2 coming soon.
    Monkey patching programmer [retired ]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    528

    Default

    I'm writing from North Brittany and 2 weeks away from ending our own Atlantic circle. We took 15 months and left the UK in late May as well. We took our time in the Spanish Rias and Portugal and then rushed past the Spanish Costas to enjoy our summer in the Western Med (Balearic, Sardinia, Corsica and S. France). We did not see Madeira but wish we had. Didn't see Cape Verde as we were in the ARC but would have otherwise. Saw the Caribbean from the Granadines all the way up to Florida and including Cuba, Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. I think next time we would stay in the southern Carib and depart from the Virgin Islands. We stopped in both Bermuda and Azores and enjoyed both (especially Azores).
    More and more people with 2 years for a cruise are doing an enlarged Atlantic circuit that takes in Cape Verde to Brasil with the second winter spent in the Carib. Have you considered that?
    I know people say the ARC leaves too early but last year was an exception. We took 17 days while friends that left later on a similar boat took 26 days and had to spend Christmas at sea! We found the ARC a lot of fun by the way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Caribbean at the moment
    Posts
    23,960

    Default

    Another thing - take care making plans. this doesn't mean don't resarch in advance, but lots of people get wrapped into a schedule of meeting these friends from st lucia, then some others from antigua and it all sounds hard work.

    My fave places in windwad/leewad chain are Les Saintes for cuteness, Barbuda for being a completely differently flat beach, and st martin cos loads of mates end up there and there's lots to do.

    Actually i also oughta mention st lucia where my boat is actually a navigation mark. Yeah! Chris Doyle's book has close-up a pic of my boat in rodney bay and it says "rodney bay", so i spect lots of boaties there are a bit lost at the moment, looking round for my boat at anchor but nowhere to be seen...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cheshire, England.
    Posts
    7,173

    Default

    Why O Why does everybody make so much of going across the pond to the Caribbean. Do the eastern seaboard if you have too.
    But for some real treats and no risks go into the St Laurence and up the great Lakes if you want a total lifetimes experience.
    OK it may be a little more expensive and fraught with red tape, but they all speak and understand English.
    It will probably take you two to three years to do it properly and you will have total iced up winters of 4 months to coupe with but they have the facilities to cope with all that and are well used to it.
    How do I know Well I have done it all for six years from Florida to Duluth and Prince Edward Isl and Churchill in Hudson's Bay.
    PS and crossing the pond (Atlantic) is only a watch Keeping exercise. At the best 4 on 8 off.
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Caribbean at the moment
    Posts
    23,960

    Default

    well, they make a big deal of it cos they've got sunshine in carib in january, and not in canada/great lakes. Brrr!

    Atlantic is a teensy bit more than a "watchkeeping exercise", and it's not too helpful that you attempt to belittle other people's grand plans, i think? ok, it seemed like that, perhaps i'm wrong. Atlantic is quite a big deal, really - I bet it was for you before you did it, hm? Well, i bet you didn't think oh, it's just a bit of watchkeeping?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlantic
    Posts
    17,182

    Default

    Old salty

    Well Its not a 'pond' Its a full on big oh bit of yer life. Hard yakka.

    Have done a bit of watchkeping for, well, most of me life.

    Please do not taka tha pissa.

    Why would anyone swap sandy beach for what you propose.......

    Keep your bilges dry!

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