Friday, January 7, 2011

Armchair Sailing - Routing

2011 01 07
Where I am is irrevelent; as to where I'm Going...have you got a minute?

Getting to the Passage Islands, our next intermediate destination, from midFlorida is a simple matter.  Curiously we have found ourselves conflicted as to how we should approach the voyage. 

Too much non navigational data is entering the decision making process.  Or perhaps the correct amount?  Here is where we find ourselves:

There are three main alternatives:

Bruce Van Sant's "Thornless" path
Jimmy Cornell's I"-65"
Budget Committeee's "I Want to Stay Warm" path.

Here's how they look:

 If you mouseclick on the image it will enlarge for easier viewing

Bruce Van Sant's so called Thornless Path is shown in Orange, Jimmy Cornell's I-65 is in Yellow and the BC's Heat Seeking Missile in Dusky Rose.

For all the palaver amongst cruisers you would think there was some critical decision making involved in getting from Florida to Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.  Look at the map: other than the fact the trip starts just south of Cape Canaveral does any part of this look like rocket science?

Bruce Van Sant's path, popularized in his "Gentleman's Guide to the Thornless Path..." is a pain to sail.  Slow, this route which requires a lot of upwind sailing into adverse sea and current, has multiple stops and is likely to result in a lot of time lost waiting for weather windows.  On the other hand this route maximizes the opportunity to visit with friends who will not be leaving Bahamas, gives you lots of chance to explore new islands and, most importantly for Mr. Van Sant, provides access to cocktails on a daily basis.  Other than the risk of cold weather this is the route preferred by the BC.

The I 65, in yellow, is a class act.  Sail east until you get to longitude W65, turn right and sail until you get to an island.  The island you hit will be one of the BVIs.  A favourite of delivery captains this route is fast, allows for a long downwind run along longitude W 65 degrees  and is not hard to navigate.  You would need a good 10 day weather window and ven then you are pretty much assured of the opportunity to enjoy some heavy weather sailing.  Being a cheap SOB I find myself drawn to the I-65 route.  Taking it means I do not have to pay extortion money to the Bahamian government - $300 for the right to pass through their waters.  A realist I am quite aware of what the phrase "some heavy weather sailing" means for the prospect of my arguing successfully for I 65.

The Budget Committee is not looking forward to a winter such as we had last year.  If it is cold and blustery in Florida she knows it will be cold and blusterier in Bahamas.    Not for her the "North Atlantic" experience, especially if she is not in the North Atlantic.    If mid Floridian latitudes remain cool on our return then we will run south along the keys, cross to Isla Majeres and then head either south to Belize or east to Cayman Islands.  From there, depending on the time available, we can still make Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgins.  Positives are the higher caloric content of the atmosphere and the chance to visit Isla Majeres, Belize, Cayman & Jamaica.  Negatives include adverse current and a long sail from Belize or Cayman or both.

Already I can hear the disapproving gasps of "expert" cruisers each of whom has a detailed argument in favour of or dead against each, any or all of the routes.  Who cares.

The distances are short in all cases.  A bit of discomfort and inconvenience will attend any choice made. If we go down the wrong road we can always turn back, even if we have to wait a month to be able to do so. 

This is not rocket science.

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