Best Route: San Blas to Virgin Islands

Hi Steve, Thanks for the your great books! I have a 46-foot Catamaran “Wild Cat” and sailed south from Newport, CA on Dec 1st. I am still in Pardise Marina in Puerto Vallarta. I am trying to find the best route from the San Blas Islands, Panama to the USVI. I plan to be through the canal by March 1st. I would like to sail across as “high” as Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, but fear this may be to sailing to high to the prevailing wind, waves and current. As an alternative, I was thinking of sailing further NW to the Mona Passage between NW Puerto Rico and Domican Republic and go around the top of PR.

Steve, do you have any suggestions on what I might expect and the best route for crossing the Caribbean to the USVI, without having to go even further NW to Jamaica and around Haiti? Thank you for any insight you can offer. Hope to see you guys in the Caribbean. We met in Catalina a few years ago. Best Regards Frank & Tina

Hi Frank and Tina: There are no easy options from the San Blas/Panama to the Virgins. The best approach is to be very patient, wait for the trades to relax, and then sail/motor/motorsail as fast as you, taking whatever the wind and sea state give you. You will typically find lighter winds as the year progresses. Usually by May things have dropped off quite a bit. The sea state will be a major issue as well. But you need to be prepared to go uphill–there’s almost no way around this. You will find that the “trades” oscillate through 30 to 60 degrees–take advantage of the shifts, and make sure you have a really flat, smallish headsail which is efficient for going to windward. And, while you’re waiting for a light spell, take advantage of the San Blas islands. You’ll not find anything like them in the Atlantic. Good luck–Steve

PS-My first catamaran, back about 1958, was a “Wildcat” class.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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