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cruising maine to hawaii. need some guidance on central america and baja.


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Hey all. so I'm going to relocate by boat and also my life back home to hawaii from maine. the plan as it stands is to leave maine in mid to late october of this year, run down the eastern seaboard as quick as weather will allow, spend some time in the bahamas, then around to jamaica. from there down to columbia, then over to the san blas islands. sit in the shithole of colon panama until we make our transit through the canal. 

after that I have a rough itinerary put together but I'd like some input from people who have spent some time along the pacific coast of central america and in baja. places to stop, places to avoid or be careful of. oh and I've already been warned by many people to be very careful transiting the gulf of tulantepec. 

the run from socal to hawaii I've done a few times so no real questions there. I'm budgeting 5ish months to make the trip. 

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Could be a great trip. Aren't one or more of the Central American countries no-go places right now? Or are they just denigrated like my beloved PI? Is taking the coast far north really an advantage for crossing to Hawaii? I would guess, without benefit of research, that one would head offshore at Puerto Vallarta, or sooner? Great cruising area, though. Mexico S of PV/Baja is largely windless. Five months seems quick unless you are diligent about spurning all the distractions along that route.

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3 minutes ago, El Borracho said:

Could be a great trip. Aren't one or more of the Central American countries no-go places right now? Or are they just denigrated like my beloved PI? Is taking the coast far north really an advantage for crossing to Hawaii? I would guess, without benefit of research, that one would head offshore at Puerto Vallarta, or sooner? Great cruising area, though. Mexico S of PV/Baja is largely windless. Five months seems quick unless you are diligent about spurning all the distractions along that route.

to be honest, I don't know about on the water issues. one of the crew who's coming along has traveling extensively in central and south America but that was on land so it's different as far as I'm concerned. we're running all the way up to CA because I want to cruise up the coast of baja and also because I just want to sail into socal where I have a ton of friends. I carry 500 gallons of diesel so I'm not overly concerned about needing to motor. 5 months is a ballpark, but honestly I don't have to be in hawaii by any specific time. 

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3 minutes ago, ChuteFirst said:

500 gallons? what kind of boat?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone cruising up the coast of Baja., Its always a delivery.

alden boothbay challenger 58. I mean theoretically it's a delivery but it's my own boat, I'm not really in a rush, so also theoretically cruising? 

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Sounds like a great boat for a great trip!  (I presume you have your Hawaiian moorage options all sorted...? )

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Sounds fun :)

Do keep in mind October is not too late for hurricanes. Actually now November isn't really either, so keep an eye out. Here in the Chesapeake we accumulate a lot of cruisers during September and October that don't want to be south of The Bay before November 1, either by preference or because their insurance holds them back until 11/1. Depending on your timing and hurry factor, you might end up more or less in  the mix with the Caribbean 1500 rally that leaves from Norfolk.

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Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica is a great place to check out. Golfo de Nicoya is more populated, but also worth checking out. 

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Sounds fun :)

Do keep in mind October is not too late for hurricanes. Actually now November isn't really either, so keep an eye out. Here in the Chesapeake we accumulate a lot of cruisers during September and October that don't want to be south of The Bay before November 1, either by preference or because their insurance holds them back until 11/1. Depending on your timing and hurry factor, you might end up more or less in  the mix with the Caribbean 1500 rally that leaves from Norfolk.

yep, sadly well aware of the ever lengthening hurricane season. the only reason I have a hurry up attitude with the eastern seaboard is that I've done that run dozens of times over the years and I'm more interested in taking having time in other locations to. my insurance holds me to north of hatteras before 11/1 as well, mid-late October is a ballpark departure time, basically come October 15th I'll start looking for a good weather window to start moving south. may end up sitting in cape charles for a little bit waiting for 11/1 so we can keep moving south. I'll have to look into the caribbean 1500's timeline. thanks for the info!

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4 hours ago, Veeger said:

Sounds like a great boat for a great trip!  (I presume you have your Hawaiian moorage options all sorted...? )

a little tricky to nail it down a year out. I got on the waiting list for kewalo but really its not my first choice. ko olina assures me they plenty of room for a boat my size, I'll probably go ahead and put a deposit down in the next few days. in my conversations with them they tell me they have few resident boats in my size range so a slip shouldn't be an issue. and hey, failing that there's always a mooring in keehi lagoon if I want to play pirate/waterworld and cook meth. 

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1 minute ago, kent_island_sailor said:

If you are in a hurry and don't care about scenery, maybe just hang in Newport and then get to Bermuda and on from there?

if I was heading down into the windward or leeward islands of the caribbean that would be my plan. but heading to panama the bermuda route takes me a lot father east than I need to go. granted distances are similar but in this case I'm more apt for the coastal route, and I do like cap charles and I do like Charleston. 

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2 minutes ago, frozenhawaiian said:

I do like cap charles

clams, oysters, mosquitoes...well at least 2 of the 3 things that are there make sense :)

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2 minutes ago, Israel Hands said:

clams, oysters, mosquitoes...well at least 2 of the 3 things that are there make sense :)

between waiting in cape charles and waiting in norfolk for a weather window to make the run around hatteras I'd take cape charles every time. I despise norfolk. 

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Based on memory, Shelter Bay marina in Panama is nice. Get an agent to get you through the canal - They'll provide the line handlers that you need. Golfito Costa Rica has a marine or anchor out, There are a couple of other nice anchorages in Costa Rica but I can't remember them.

Puesta del Oro in Nicaragua has a nice, but small marina. Puerta Vallarta has a nice marina. San Blas has a so-so marina, but it works, just be careful going over the bar to get in. In Tapachula, Chiapas, there is a nice protected marina with a yard. Marina El Cid is very nice (that's where my boat is now). And there's a thread here on going south down Baja. Just reverse the order of the stops.

Hope that was helpful.

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6 minutes ago, Borax Johnson said:

Based on memory, Shelter Bay marina in Panama is nice. Get an agent to get you through the canal - They'll provide the line handlers that you need. Golfito Costa Rica has a marine or anchor out, There are a couple of other nice anchorages in Costa Rica but I can't remember them.

Puesta del Oro in Nicaragua has a nice, but small marina. Puerta Vallarta has a nice marina. San Blas has a so-so marina, but it works, just be careful going over the bar to get in. In Tapachula, Chiapas, there is a nice protected marina with a yard. Marina El Cid is very nice (that's where my boat is now). And there's a thread here on going south down Baja. Just reverse the order of the stops.

Hope that was helpful.

very helpful, I tend to prefer a protected anchorage over marinas unless the weather  is really snarky but knowing all my available options is good for sure. I'll give the baja thread a read. 

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20 hours ago, frozenhawaiian said:

Hey all. so I'm going to relocate by boat and also my life back home to hawaii from maine. the plan as it stands is to leave maine in mid to late october of this year, run down the eastern seaboard as quick as weather will allow, spend some time in the bahamas, then around to jamaica. from there down to columbia, then over to the san blas islands. sit in the shithole of colon panama until we make our transit through the canal. 

after that I have a rough itinerary put together but I'd like some input from people who have spent some time along the pacific coast of central america and in baja. places to stop, places to avoid or be careful of. oh and I've already been warned by many people to be very careful transiting the gulf of tulantepec. 

the run from socal to hawaii I've done a few times so no real questions there. I'm budgeting 5ish months to make the trip. 

You could go first to Colon and book your transit time at your convenience and then go to the San Blas for a time. We also like Isla Linton which is half way between Colon and San Blas. We did not use an agent and it was quite easy. You need a local SIM card for your phone. I think a card and airtime was about $10 and available on the Main Street to Colon. We found other cruisers for crew and between us had enough long lines. If you are going mid-lock (recommended) regular fenders are fine. Panama City is outstanding for provisioning.

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9 minutes ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

You could go first to Colon and book your transit time at your convenience and then go to the San Blas for a time. We also like Isla Linton which is half way between Colon and San Blas. We did not use an agent and it was quite easy. You need a local SIM card for your phone. I think a card and airtime was about $10 and available on the Main Street to Colon. We found other cruisers for crew and between us had enough long lines. If you are going mid-lock (recommended) regular fenders are fine. Panama City is outstanding for provisioning.

I'm going to use an agent to book my passage time through but I've learned from doing the canal a few time you need to be in either colon or panama city several days prior to your scheduled transit day because they have a tendency to change for smaller cruising boats. 

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Traffic is way down so it's more or less same day as requested for transits. They do everything in SB Ancorage, measure and take on pilots and advisers.  Only delay was most of colon based canal people got covid so big backlog for a bit.  You are allowed to come into SB by dingy from the Ancorage I think two or three people per boat at one time. Car Pac way is usually much busier.

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39 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Traffic is way down so it's more or less same day as requested for transits. They do everything in SB Ancorage, measure and take on pilots and advisers.  Only delay was most of colon based canal people got covid so big backlog for a bit.  You are allowed to come into SB by dingy from the Ancorage I think two or three people per boat at one time. Car Pac way is usually much busier.

 worth it to have swallow the extra cost of a pilot? I'm hoping panama will have eased their covid regs by this coming november.  glad to know that transits tend to be happening on the scheduled day. 

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No reason to get a pilot at all. Of you are 65' loa or over you get pilots anyway.  As far as covid nothing has changed for canal other than less traffic.  You need to get a PCR on arrival if you are entering in SB but it's super easy.  They put you on a Q dock have the people come to you and are usually released within 24hrs can go to slip or anchor. Getting measured might take a little more time as I said they were short staffed but after that you can pretty much go very quickly.  Line handlers are all available and there was a pretty big Q of cruising boats wanting to do the line handler trade. It's about $100 to get a car load back so for a couple people can be a way to save some money.  We have done it several times so didn't want to mess with it.  Plus Rogelios guys have 20 plus years.  Got to hear about the time the guy bow planted a viking on top of a red can at 25 knots...and all kinds of other crazy stories.

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Shelter Bay is somewhat costly I believe but we didn't go there. We went through in November 2016. Cruised San Blas for a while before hand.

Some good resources:  http://madaboutpanama.com/transit-the-canal/linehandlers/

We got Russ and Di who run that site as line handlers. They're nice folks and like meeting yachties. Having done the transit dozens of times they're super experienced and only ask for taxi costs and to be fed well and have a decent bed for the overnight stop in Gatun Lake. Them + our daughter and me made 4 line handlers with my wife driving the boat.

Did not use an agent, super easy to DIY.  Colon is still a war zone and dangerous (having been there passing through the other way in 1997). Felt dumb walking the 2 blocks from one bank to another office with > $1000 in cash in my pocket.  Anchored in the yacht anchorage near the Tank Farm, south of the port.

Did rent extra ropes and car tires from a local guy. He had a contact in Balboa to pick them up. 

Picked up them at Club Nautico Colon and dropped them off via launch at Balboa Yacht club before proceeding to the anchorage east of the Amador causeway where the WORST DINGHY DOCK IN THE WORLD TM  is located.  Uber is reasonable to get to the good grocery stores/malls which is a very good place to provision before heading up the Pacific Coast.

Cartegena, San Blas and the Canal on our blog starting here :  http://maiaaboard.blogspot.com/2016/10/landfall-colombia.html

Do not underestimate the Papagayo winds either. You can see them here. We're the green boat symbol anchored in Bahia Culebra waiting for a gap. (beautiful anchorage). We sailed much of the coast of Guatemala and well into Mexico but our boat thrives in light winds on the beam. Spent a fair bit of time under spinnaker heading north from Hualtuclco. There is sailing to be had, but it is fitful. 

CA+Coast.png

 

 

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1 hour ago, Zonker said:

Shelter Bay is somewhat costly I believe but we didn't go there. We went through in November 2016. Cruised San Blas for a while before hand.

Some good resources:  http://madaboutpanama.com/transit-the-canal/linehandlers/

We got Russ and Di who run that site as line handlers. They're nice folks and like meeting yachties. Having done the transit dozens of times they're super experienced and only ask for taxi costs and to be fed well and have a decent bed for the overnight stop in Gatun Lake. Them + our daughter and me made 4 line handlers with my wife driving the boat.

Did not use an agent, super easy to DIY.  Colon is still a war zone and dangerous (having been there passing through the other way in 1997). Felt dumb walking the 2 blocks from one bank to another office with > $1000 in cash in my pocket.  Anchored in the yacht anchorage near the Tank Farm, south of the port.

Did rent extra ropes and car tires from a local guy. He had a contact in Balboa to pick them up. 

Picked up them at Club Nautico Colon and dropped them off via launch at Balboa Yacht club before proceeding to the anchorage east of the Amador causeway where the WORST DINGHY DOCK IN THE WORLD TM  is located.  Uber is reasonable to get to the good grocery stores/malls which is a very good place to provision before heading up the Pacific Coast.

Cartegena, San Blas and the Canal on our blog starting here :  http://maiaaboard.blogspot.com/2016/10/landfall-colombia.html

Do not underestimate the Papagayo winds either. You can see them here. We're the green boat symbol anchored in Bahia Culebra waiting for a gap. (beautiful anchorage). We sailed much of the coast of Guatemala and well into Mexico but our boat thrives in light winds on the beam. Spent a fair bit of time under spinnaker heading north from Hualtuclco. There is sailing to be had, but it is fitful. 

CA+Coast.png

 

 

thanks for the info! I'll give those links a read tomorrow. I'm lucky in tat my boat is just as comfortable in 35 kts reefed right down as she is in light winds with the the big genoa or asymmetric cruising kite. bahia culebra is absolutely on our itinerary. how did you like cartegena? did you stop on Nicaragua, Guatemala, honduras or el salvador?  

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Make sure you get current info ahead of time on the canal, most of what Zonker exp pre covid was not a option when we went through in Dec. It changes all the time with restrictions on movement etc. You couldn't DIY due to MINSA movement restrictions and Gov office closures etc. The two popular cruiser agents are down to a couple hundred including lines and fenders so pretty affordable. Exit Zarpe and checkout are also included for free if you want. Entry exit for countries north is also changing.  When we went up CR was entry via marina and agent only, Nic and El Salvador were entry only at single ports.  E access only for Pac Guatemalab at the big port.  The Kuna people in the San blas have a cultural issue with masks so they are not allowed. People are going now but, personally I think it is a bad idea to go till the pandemic is over and you pose zero risk to them. 

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11 hours ago, frozenhawaiian said:

 worth it to have swallow the extra cost of a pilot? I'm hoping panama will have eased their covid regs by this coming november.  glad to know that transits tend to be happening on the scheduled day. 

Our transit was booked a few weeks ahead, right after Christmas. We went to Isla Linton in between times (some wonderful restaurants there). Went back to Colon two days before transit to be measured in the small boat anchorage. The admeasurer said it wasn't safe to overnight there so we anchored at the boat club around the corner. 

Not sure what you mean about a pilot, thy will assign an advisor but at best they only offer suggestions. When we did it we started early evening - 3 boats advisors were a couple of hours late - and only went as far as the lake. Next day a different set of advisors came, also a few hours later than expected so we missed our freighter and locked down with just the sailboats. The first advisor was quite helpful, the second guy asked how the first day went. When we said fine he said do the same things again and settled down with his pile of newspapers. He wanted us to catch up to our freighter so we ended up motor sailing but we had a tired 33 footer with us that did not go very fast. The actually boat handling is not an issue so don't see any need for a pilot.

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^ If you are in a hurry and have lots of $$ you can use a agent and pay for a pilot on a small boat to get in the que same as ships. A friend did it several years ago when there was a couple week wait.  Used to be in high season you could end up waiting for a bit. Seems like with the second lock they can accommodate the small boats better so less of a wait.

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There is a difference between pilot and agent. I believe a pilot is required and part of the transit cost. An agent is optional but can help make arrangements. At least this was true two years ago.

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4 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Not sure what you mean about a pilot, thy will assign an advisor but at best they only offer suggestions.

< 65' you get an advisor. Above that you get a pilot. Pilots also guide the big ships and are paid more.

6 hours ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Make sure you get current info ahead of time on the canal,

Absolutely. I'm sure you'll do that of course.

We only stopped in C.R. to take on fuel and do a bit of white water rafting. We were treating it more like a delivery trip to P.V. because our plan was to get the boat there and put it up for sale.

In 1996 we were headed the opposite direction and stopped in La Union, El Salvador. It was early after the civil wars so this was not a common stop for cruising boats. The port officials hadn't seen too many sailboats for years. If you need a break then the Gulf of Fonseca has a bunch of small islands to shelter behind an anchor. Just raise your Q flag.

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Agents just do all the paperwork for you and cover the bond for the crossing, also can supply lines fenders and facilitate line handlers, which you pay independently.  Boats under 65' use advisers, pilots in training. They are not limited on hrs like pilots and can do single transits.  Boats over 65' require pilots and are limited to 12hrs so require two pilots for single day crossing unless you are super quick.  For that reason they usually want you to do over two days.  You can as above pay a premium regardless of size to use a pilot. About $800 more.  Most times as Z said if you have time you can do it all from anchor and is not super complicated, however with Covid restrictions it has come and went on if you can or can't. Both Colon and PTY were in full lockdown when we went so was not possible. In lockdown you needed special permission to travel so cruiser line handlers were also tough to make work.

 

They just changed all the rules last year on sizes etc.

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4 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Agents just do all the paperwork for you and cover the bond for the crossing, also can supply lines fenders and facilitate line handlers, which you pay independently.  Boats under 65' use advisers, pilots in training. They are not limited on hrs like pilots and can do single transits.  Boats over 65' require pilots and are limited to 12hrs so require two pilots for single day crossing unless you are super quick.  For that reason they usually want you to do over two days.  You can as above pay a premium regardless of size to use a pilot. About $800 more.  Most times as Z said if you have time you can do it all from anchor and is not super complicated, however with Covid restrictions it has come and went on if you can or can't. Both Colon and PTY were in full lockdown when we went so was not possible. In lockdown you needed special permission to travel so cruiser line handlers were also tough to make work.

 

They just changed all the rules last year on sizes etc.

truthfully the canal is the least of my concerns. done it a few times and I'm going to use an agent to get things lined up and I'll have enough crew aboard to not need to take on line handlers. 

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17 minutes ago, Zonker said:

 

In 1996 we were headed the opposite direction and stopped in La Union, El Salvador. It was early after the civil wars so this was not a common stop for cruising boats. The port officials hadn't seen too many sailboats for years. If you need a break then the Gulf of Fonseca has a bunch of small islands to shelter behind an anchor. Just raise your Q flag.

We had a great time in Fonseca, but it was a little sketchy, had a boat load of tweakers try to board in front of the port captain on El tiger.  Would probably still go back with a bigger layer caution.  The island is a time warp and super cool to hike to the old CIA base on top.  Right now Honduras is a no go and El Salvador is only open in Bahia Del Sol, which I don't like at all.  It sounds like things are changing quickly though so if possible could check in at El Tiger then go to La Union for El Salvador.  The bay is worth seeing if it's open, just lots of poverty and drugs so need to be extra vigilant.

 

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Personal security 

this corona mess has impoverished millions 

plenty of folks need that 20 dollar bill that you have in your pocket 

be alert and reinforce you boats security 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

We had a great time in Fonseca, bit it was a little sketchy, had a boat load of teeekers try to board in front of the port captain on El tiger.  Would probably still go back with a bigger layer caution.  The island is a time warp and super cool to hike to the old CIA base on top.  Right now Honduras is a no go and El Salvador is only open in Bahia Del Sol, which I don't like at all.  It sounds like things are changing quickly though so if possible could check in at El Tiger then go to La Union for El Salvador.  The bay is worth seeing if it's open, just lots of poverty and drugs so need to be extra vigilant.

 

I'll keep that in mind! after spending some time in the middle east an some of the much less desirable part of africa and Se asia my threshold for sketchy if fairly high. 

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2 minutes ago, slug zitski said:

Personal security 

this corona mess has impoverished millions 

plenty of folks need that 20 dollar bill that you have in your pocket 

be alert and reinforce you boats security 

 

 

sadly this is what I'm expecting, not bad people, but desperate people. 

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I would say CR & Mexico is best suited for tourism along the way. Huatulco is a very nice area. I can't say enough good things about Baja but if you're planning to get to Hawaii you might need to speed up the coast to get there before a passage to Hawaii. PV and La Paz are probably the best places to provision/get boat work done etc. before a longer passage.

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9 minutes ago, Zonker said:

I would say CR & Mexico is best suited for tourism along the way. Huatulco is a very nice area. I can't say enough good things about Baja but if you're planning to get to Hawaii you might need to speed up the coast to get there before a passage to Hawaii. PV and La Paz are probably the best places to provision/get boat work done etc. before a longer passage.

again I don't have to be in hawaii by any specific time so if it takes 6 months instead of 5 I'm not really that bothered. I absolutely want to spend so time in baja, I want to have my charter operation up and running by summer but if I get back to hawaii in april instead of march it doesn't really matter to me. 

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^ if you aren't on a timetable I would highly recommend breaking it up into two seasons.  Can take your time coming up CA and really get to enjoy it.  Your only timeline will be getting to a hurricane hole by June.  We are big fans of PV, lots of opinions but MX is cheap in water and on the hard for the summer.  You can keep going and summer in the northern Sea too, otherwise hang in PV, La Paz San Carlos etc. Then you will have the next season to do the snow bird route Sea of Cortez in fall then mainland down as far as you want to go and when it starts getting cold red tide etc work back up to PV or La Paz and get ready to cross with the herd. Mexico is really pretty awesome.  Super cheap amazing food and easy conditions.

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For surfers the whole coast is worth seeing it's pretty well covered in the Sarana guide. Right now the only place set up to accept boats is Puesta Del Sol at the marina.  All of that might change by the time you get their.  The coast is kind of a catch 22.  The whole stretch is in the Papagayos so not easy to deal with unless you have lots of time. You can take a window and go straight to Puesta and base out of there for land travel with the boat safe at the marina, but you are not allowed to anchor. There are several surf breaks right by the marina as well.  About the only two you can roam around now with good all weather anchorages are Panama and CR.

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On 3/12/2021 at 1:00 PM, SASSAFRASS said:

For surfers the whole coast is worth seeing it's pretty well covered in the Sarana guide. Right now the only place set up to accept boats is Puesta Del Sol at the marina.  All of that might change by the time you get their.  The coast is kind of a catch 22.  The whole stretch is in the Papagayos so not easy to deal with unless you have lots of time. You can take a window and go straight to Puesta and base out of there for land travel with the boat safe at the marina, but you are not allowed to anchor. There are several surf breaks right by the marina as well.  About the only two you can roam around now with good all weather anchorages are Panama and CR.

gotcha. 

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On 3/9/2021 at 8:41 PM, frozenhawaiian said:

to be honest, I don't know about on the water issues. one of the crew who's coming along has traveling extensively in central and south America but that was on land so it's different as far as I'm concerned. we're running all the way up to CA because I want to cruise up the coast of baja and also because I just want to sail into socal where I have a ton of friends. I carry 500 gallons of diesel so I'm not overly concerned about needing to motor. 5 months is a ballpark, but honestly I don't have to be in hawaii by any specific time. 

Here’s a little overview of “tactics” to get to windward up the Baja coast.  Could be brutal, or not, depending...delivery skipper guy (perhaps someone here?) calls it the Outside, or Clipper, route)

https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/2021/03/15/#the-outside-route-a-better-way-to-bash

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1 hour ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Here’s a little overview of “tactics” to get to windward up the Baja coast.  Could be brutal, or not, depending...delivery skipper guy (perhaps someone here?) calls it the Outside, or Clipper, route)

https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/2021/03/15/#the-outside-route-a-better-way-to-bash

Mark me down as skeptical. The writer/sailor is not wrong, but the conditions out there are mostly brutal. Cold and splashy. Check you favorite weather plotter for the grim picture.. As much as I admire people who sail whenever possible rather than motor I don't think I would choose to commit myself to that slog. Motor sailing, with the mainsail full and driving, tacking up under each cape in the counter current is what I'm going to stick with.

Tape up the hatches, windlass, and any suspect forward ports. Thank me later. Boat should not be taking any water. On race boats deliveries that reliably leak at the partners we make a trash bag sleeve taped to the overhead to direct the drips to the bilge.

Actually, in the instant case, I'd consider sailing direct Puerto Vallarta, or Cabo San Lucas if the Sea of Cortez was explored, to Hawaii. Fly back to SoCal to visit the friends there. Nothing goes to weather like a 777.

 

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2 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Here’s a little overview of “tactics” to get to windward up the Baja coast.  Could be brutal, or not, depending...delivery skipper guy (perhaps someone here?) calls it the Outside, or Clipper, route)

https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/2021/03/15/#the-outside-route-a-better-way-to-bash

I know Stephen. He's done it more than most. My take; First choice would be dockwise (clearly not for the OP). Second choice, truck (again not for the OP). Third and forth choice depend on the yacht. With a good sailing yacht, the outside route is "easier" that is, if you consider sailing close hauled, reefed down, for a week fun. The bash less fun, lots of work anchoring, tons of current, watching out for traffic, pots, kelp, the lee shore always there. 

Alden 58? Thats a Baja boat and very capable to do a bash. Thats' probably what I'd do. It's an amazing coast to see. Just got to have the right boat, lots of time.

 

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1 hour ago, no shoes said:

I know Stephen. He's done it more than most. My take; First choice would be dockwise (clearly not for the OP). Second choice, truck (again not for the OP). Third and forth choice depend on the yacht. With a good sailing yacht, the outside route is "easier" that is, if you consider sailing close hauled, reefed down, for a week fun. The bash less fun, lots of work anchoring, tons of current, watching out for traffic, pots, kelp, the lee shore always there. 

Alden 58? Thats a Baja boat and very capable to do a bash. Thats' probably what I'd do. It's an amazing coast to see. Just got to have the right boat, lots of time.

 

My (very inexperienced) gut feel as well.  Lots of time to wait for conditions, and a big boat.  Otherwise sounds fairly brutal.  (The trip down, exploring the Baja sounds great —I mean exploring the coast sounds great.  But I might choose instead a van with surfboards and snorkel gear, and maybe mountain gear to check some of the local high terrain en route - Picacho del Diablo is a 3,000m/10,000 ft mountain.)

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2 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

My (very inexperienced) gut feel as well.  Lots of time to wait for conditions, and a big boat.  Otherwise sounds fairly brutal.  (The trip down, exploring the Baja sounds great —I mean exploring the coast sounds great.  But I might choose instead a van with surfboards and snorkel gear, and maybe mountain gear to check some of the local high terrain en route - Picacho del Diablo is a 3,000m/10,000 ft mountain.)

I would recommend a 4WD van with beefed up suspension. I've driven a lot of those roads in Mexico and Costa Rica. 

The cool think about sailing the coast is that you can get to a lot of places where you can't with a 4WD. 

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15 minutes ago, Kolibri said:

I would recommend a 4WD van with beefed up suspension. I've driven a lot of those roads in Mexico and Costa Rica. 

The cool think about sailing the coast is that you can get to a lot of places where you can't with a 4WD. 

Ideally, a big friggin yacht with a couple of fully equipped BMW off road motorbikes stored in the aft garage, and a drop down transom to roll them on to the landing-craft drop down bow dinghy to get them ashore :-)

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I'm not going to add any advice about the Mexico/CA cruising because I've never done it.  But I did do a Panama-Acapulco trip and we stopped at Cocos Island.  That was pretty magical.  It's a bit off the beaten path if you plan to do coastal hopping but it's not terribly far out of the way if you are doing a big hop to southern Mexico.  The whalers used to stop there to fill their water barrels.  Supposedly there is some treasure buried there somewhere if you are feeling lucky but you'll need to bring your own shovel.

The winds were light and fluky but I called the layline from about 20 miles out and didn't have to touch the sheets until dousing for landfall.  There were not many witnesses though and I didn't get a pickle dish.  I still have a ways to go before I catch Slocum though.

It was really cool because the year before we stopped at Mystic Seaport for vacation and saw the C.W. Morgan, then when we got to Cocos we got to see where her crew had scratched their name into the rocks some 100+ years earlier.

 

 

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20 hours ago, El Borracho said:

Actually, in the instant case, I'd consider sailing direct Puerto Vallarta, or Cabo San Lucas if the Sea of Cortez was explored, to Hawaii. Fly back to SoCal to visit the friends there. Nothing goes to weather like a 777.

 

This sounds like a great plan actually unless you just HAVE TO get up to LA on the outside. Is there a decent marina that is safe to leave a boat in on the north end of Cortez? It isn't very far by rental car from there to LA.

The OP has the gas though for a bash if so desired. I know Cabo is kind of a collecting point for cruisers that don't want to bash home and are chicken to keep going south, so there they sit.

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

This sounds like a great plan actually unless you just HAVE TO get up to LA on the outside. Is there a decent marina that is safe to leave a boat in on the north end of Cortez? It isn't very far by rental car from there to LA.

The OP has the gas though for a bash if so desired. I know Cabo is kind of a collecting point for cruisers that don't want to bash home and are chicken to keep going south, so there they sit.

Yes, parking the boat in the Sea of Cortez is also a good alternative. Puerto Peñasco is closest to SoCal but not as popular with sailors as the Guaymas area farther south. About 12 hours drive from there to San Diego. 

Yes, timid cruisers get stuck in Cabo. Always a surprise that just 5 miles out of placid warm Cabo the conditions change very much for the worse. At Cabo Falso temperature plummets, seas, fog, wind. One immediately questions the wisdom of returning north. Those that press on though often find conditions soon improve from dismal to merely depressing. The dozen capes on Baja are the problem. Best rounded at midnight. Waiting in port is for fools. Just go. If one gets turned back so be it.

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On 3/12/2021 at 3:00 PM, SASSAFRASS said:

For surfers the whole coast is worth seeing it's pretty well covered in the Sarana guide. Right now the only place set up to accept boats is Puesta Del Sol at the marina.  All of that might change by the time you get their.  The coast is kind of a catch 22.  The whole stretch is in the Papagayos so not easy to deal with unless you have lots of time. You can take a window and go straight to Puesta and base out of there for land travel with the boat safe at the marina, but you are not allowed to anchor. There are several surf breaks right by the marina as well.  About the only two you can roam around now with good all weather anchorages are Panama and CR.

Not only te surf breaks, but if I remember, the buoys are small and pretty far apart. Best to do a mid-day arrival.

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On 3/18/2021 at 11:59 AM, Borax Johnson said:

Not only te surf breaks, but if I remember, the buoys are small and pretty far apart. Best to do a mid-day arrival.

You definitely don't want to try and go into Puesta unless it's slack high.  There is a shit load of current and the bouys are more suggestions....

Sounds like things are changing daily and it's getting easier.  CR is much cheaper now and people have been able to get into southern Nic to check in.

 

Just a FYI for some reason some places are requiring a certificate of some sort for entry and getting exit Zarpes.  IE captains license, yachtmasters cert or ASA cert.  Some of the US state boaters certs have worked as well.  It's all pretty new.

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12 hours ago, SASSAFRASS said:

You definitely don't want to try and go into Puesta unless it's slack high.  There is a shit load of current and the bouys are more suggestions....

Sounds like things are changing daily and it's getting easier.  CR is much cheaper now and people have been able to get into southern Nic to check in.

 

Just a FYI for some reason some places are requiring a certificate of some sort for entry and getting exit Zarpes.  IE captains license, yachtmasters cert or ASA cert.  Some of the US state boaters certs have worked as well.  It's all pretty new.

guess I'm lucky that I'm USCG licensed and the vessel is federally documented. 

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so looking upon further research/ looking at pilot charts I don't really feel like beating all the way up the coast of baja. so it looks like we'll use either PV or cabo as our departure point from to head to hawaii. I'm thinking I'll skip honduras and el salvador entirely.  wait for a good weather window and then run 100 miles or so offshore with the idea being to avoid any pirate issues and then come back inshore to check out Guatemala and then go the coastal route up the coast of mexico. thoughts on this. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/20/2021 at 11:51 PM, frozenhawaiian said:

so looking upon further research/ looking at pilot charts I don't really feel like beating all the way up the coast of baja. so it looks like we'll use either PV or cabo as our departure point from to head to hawaii. 

Another option, instead of beating north up Baja is apparently the “clipper route”.

See here. Scroll down to the entry for “Dolphin - Islander 44”(text copied here from that site appears giant...can’t control it):

Dolphin — Islander 44
Skip and Dantel White
The Clipper Route Home
(Arroyo Grande)

I'm writing to perhaps inspire others to consider the offshore or clipper route from Cabo up to San Diego as an alternative to the traditional Baja Bash along the coast. After three seasons based out of Banderas Bay, but with future plans to cruise the South Pacific, I wanted to learn how to improve my boat by sailing north via the offshore route. Before my wife and I left on May 29, I studied the pilot charts and made what I thought were reasonable waypoints based on not exceeding a presumed 45% beat.
While still at anchor in Cabo, I dinghied over to the beautiful yellow hulled ketch Kalona, and learned that Bob, her owner, had made three previous clipper route trips back to California, and was planning to do another as soon as the weather looked good. Bob had kept his previous tracks on the same chart in different colors, so his passages were easy to analyze. In addition to giving me confidence, Bob's previous tracks pretty much confirmed the waypoints I had selected earlier. In any event, I knew that I would not tack back to port until I neared 27N, 123W.

We watched the weather for days before our departure, making certain there were no tropical storm threats offshore of Mazanillo, since our offshore route meant we'd actually be putting in some south before tacking back over to go north. This would put us within 150 nautical miles of 'hurricane alley', an imaginary line between Isla Socorro and Hawaii. We were also looking for fair weather along the Baja coast.

The evening before we departed, Terry from Ishikayaked over to tell us a little of her and her husband Gary’s experiences, as they had done eight clipper route trips back to California — and were going to start another the day after we left. I learned they had run out of wind and had to motor nearly half the times they had taken the offshore route.
We left for the first time on May 27 with Koho, which was headed for Hawaii, and three other boats that would be doing the traditional Baja Bash. After Koho reported 50 knots of wind just 13 miles outside of Cabo, we all turned back. We all left again on the 29th.
It took us 13 days and 1,355 miles to reach Ensenada on our second attempt, even though we lost the use of our Perkins diesel on Day 4. Our best 24-hour run was 170 miles, which was on the second day out. Our worst day was 60 miles on Day 5. The farthest offshore we got was 420 miles. We saw 27 knots of wind when leaving Cabo Falso, but no more than Force 4 after that. We were becalmed a total of 18 hours. We made our final tack back to port at 26.15N;122.29W. Having only done this passage once, I have no idea if these are average times and distances.

We arrived in Ensenada prior to several boats that had left Cabo the same time as we did to do the Bash.
 

 

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4 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Another option, instead of beating north up Baja is apparently the “clipper route”.

See here. Scroll down to the entry for “Dolphin - Islander 44”(text copied here from that site appears giant...can’t control it):

Dolphin — Islander 44
Skip and Dantel White
The Clipper Route Home
(Arroyo Grande)

I'm writing to perhaps inspire others to consider the offshore or clipper route from Cabo up to San Diego as an alternative to the traditional Baja Bash along the coast. After three seasons based out of Banderas Bay, but with future plans to cruise the South Pacific, I wanted to learn how to improve my boat by sailing north via the offshore route. Before my wife and I left on May 29, I studied the pilot charts and made what I thought were reasonable waypoints based on not exceeding a presumed 45% beat.
While still at anchor in Cabo, I dinghied over to the beautiful yellow hulled ketch Kalona, and learned that Bob, her owner, had made three previous clipper route trips back to California, and was planning to do another as soon as the weather looked good. Bob had kept his previous tracks on the same chart in different colors, so his passages were easy to analyze. In addition to giving me confidence, Bob's previous tracks pretty much confirmed the waypoints I had selected earlier. In any event, I knew that I would not tack back to port until I neared 27N, 123W.

We watched the weather for days before our departure, making certain there were no tropical storm threats offshore of Mazanillo, since our offshore route meant we'd actually be putting in some south before tacking back over to go north. This would put us within 150 nautical miles of 'hurricane alley', an imaginary line between Isla Socorro and Hawaii. We were also looking for fair weather along the Baja coast.

The evening before we departed, Terry from Ishikayaked over to tell us a little of her and her husband Gary’s experiences, as they had done eight clipper route trips back to California — and were going to start another the day after we left. I learned they had run out of wind and had to motor nearly half the times they had taken the offshore route.
We left for the first time on May 27 with Koho, which was headed for Hawaii, and three other boats that would be doing the traditional Baja Bash. After Koho reported 50 knots of wind just 13 miles outside of Cabo, we all turned back. We all left again on the 29th.
It took us 13 days and 1,355 miles to reach Ensenada on our second attempt, even though we lost the use of our Perkins diesel on Day 4. Our best 24-hour run was 170 miles, which was on the second day out. Our worst day was 60 miles on Day 5. The farthest offshore we got was 420 miles. We saw 27 knots of wind when leaving Cabo Falso, but no more than Force 4 after that. We were becalmed a total of 18 hours. We made our final tack back to port at 26.15N;122.29W. Having only done this passage once, I have no idea if these are average times and distances.

We arrived in Ensenada prior to several boats that had left Cabo the same time as we did to do the Bash.
 

 

thanks for that. the truth is that I don't NEED to go as far north as california. 

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19 hours ago, frozenhawaiian said:

thanks for that. the truth is that I don't NEED to go as far north as california. 

Hell no, the place is full of lunatics.

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They have been jumping off from PV in groups last several days.  Not a bad place to leave from of you want company.  Can still get permits for Soccoros too so if you like diving something to see on the way out. The Maria's are also open and available via permit, so another time capsule under the water sort of on the way.

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On 3/20/2021 at 11:51 PM, frozenhawaiian said:

so looking upon further research/ looking at pilot charts I don't really feel like beating all the way up the coast of baja. so it looks like we'll use either PV or cabo as our departure point from to head to hawaii. I'm thinking I'll skip honduras and el salvador entirely.  wait for a good weather window and then run 100 miles or so offshore with the idea being to avoid any pirate issues and then come back inshore to check out Guatemala and then go the coastal route up the coast of mexico. thoughts on this. 

I did a PV - Honolulu run.  A brisk 25 day passage. Very light the first 2 weeks and we didn’t have the fuel to power thru. Then when we got into the trades we had a rigging issue that forced us to drop the main. Jib and jigger only the last 12 days out. 

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3 minutes ago, Al Paca said:

I did a PV - Honolulu run.  A brisk 25 day passage. Very light the first 2 weeks and we didn’t have the fuel to power thru. Then when we got into the trades we had a rigging issue that forced us to drop the main. Jib and jigger only the last 12 days out. 

Yikes...do you recall how many miles from PV the dead air extended?

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16 hours ago, Al Paca said:

I did a PV - Honolulu run.  A brisk 25 day passage. Very light the first 2 weeks and we didn’t have the fuel to power thru. Then when we got into the trades we had a rigging issue that forced us to drop the main. Jib and jigger only the last 12 days out. 

jesus, 25 days? longest west coast-hawaii run I've ever done was 16 days. very heavy, very slow boat and a captain that wasn't in any rush. we"ll jump off from either PV or cabo not sure which yet. probably mid feb or there about. luckily for me I have 500 gallons of fuel tankage so I can motor upwards of 2000 miles at around 6 knots before my tanks are empty. also lucky that the boat sails really well, especially if it's aft of the beam, big genoa we can fly as well as an asym cruising chute if we're feeling motivated.  also 500 gallons of fresh water, a watermaker and a ton of storage if it does happen to turn into a long passage. 

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On 4/1/2021 at 6:31 AM, Al Paca said:

1500-2000 mi. This was late in May.  Arrived Honolulu mid afternoon on Father’s Day.  

 

wow, odd weather pattern. 

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3 hours ago, frozenhawaiian said:

 

wow, odd weather pattern. 

Following along the years we have been around  off and on 2003 to now, it's a moving target of dead air off the coast.  Late Feb into March is usually when. Everyone jumps off SP and Hawaii Mike Daniels local sail shop who does the net does a good job with wx routing advice for jumping on a window, can do yourself but it's on the net each day locally and he is pretty good with local conditions and this hop off.  It's nice to leave from PV as you can sit on the hook in La cruz or Punta de mita waiting and super easy to provision, get Zarpe  work done etc.  Plus March is peak season awsome weather. The marinas are peak rates but still for a couple weeks or a month not bad. You couldn't pay me to go to Cabo. Even San Jose which is pretty chill is just not our space.

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On 4/1/2021 at 9:31 AM, Al Paca said:

1500-2000 mi. This was late in May.  Arrived Honolulu mid afternoon on Father’s Day.  

This was in 1980. 

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