AN Lesser Antilles to North America

Waypoints: Departure

Intermediate

Landfall

Destination Distance (M)

RouU' W77B

AN770 Antigua S

Route W"7(" AN770 Antigua S

AN773

AN773

AN774 Abaco 26'50'N, 76'30'W AN775 Bahama 27'30'N, 78'00'W

Beaufort 1335

St Augustine 1340

The recommended time for this passage is at the end of the winter sailing season in the Caribbean. At such times the winds usually have a southern component. If a direct course is sailed to ports south of Cane Hatteras, favourable winds can be expected a? far as the northern limit of the trade winds. Occasionally southerly winds last right through the zone of calms that extends between latitudes 25 °N and 30 °N. North of this zone the winds are variable, with a predominance of S and SW winds. The danger of a blustery winter norther is minimal after the middle of April. The temptation of a ride in the Gulf Stream should be resisted if this passage is made early in the season to avoid being caught by a late norther. This route is not recommended after the end of June because of the increased likelihood of hurricanes. Summer passages should be avoided as the tracks of past hurricanes almost coincide with the direct northbound route.

For destinations north of Cape Hatteras as far as Nova Scotia (AN77A), a stopover in Bermuda has certain attractions. In fact very few boats sail nonstop from the Eastern Caribbean to ports east of New York without stopping in Bermuda. Details for such a route are given in AN78 and AN121 (pages 94 and 135). Boats leaving from English Harbour can leave Antigua either to port or starboard. The second alternative is more comfortable for the start of the voyage and so a course should be set to sail west parallel to Antigua's south coast to WP AN771 before altering course for WP AN772. The course can then be set for WP AN773 to pass west of Barbuda and stay well clear of Anguilla and associated dangers. From there a direct course leads to WP AN774, one mile east of St David's Head in the approaches to the Town Cut which leads into St George's Harbour. This is

Bermuda's only port of entry. The entrance is difficult to negotiate in the dark and those unfamiliar with it should avoid arriving or at least using it at night.

For boats bound for ports south of Cape Hatteras a detour via Bermuda makes little sense. There are two routes which can be sailed to reach any of those ports, either by a direct offshore route (AN77B) or an indirect route passing close to the Bahamas (AN77C). Although the direct route (AN77B) appears to be shorter, it is riot necessarily the faster as it cuts diagonally across the zone of calms that will be found north of latitude 25°. Such a direct offshore route should only be attempted if favourable weather conditions are likely to be encountered. In this case, from WP AN773 a course may be set for the port of destination. The suggested alternative (AN77C) is to follow a NW course to windward of both Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. From Great Abaco the route turns north and picks up the Gulf Stream. Both winds and current are favourable along most of this route. Boats bound for ports in Northern Florida should continue to WP 775 before altering course for their destination.

A direct passage along any of the above routes should not be attempted during the winter months when a slower cruise through the Bahamas to Florida is to be preferred and the US can be reached in a more leisurely way. For boats bound for South Florida there are three alternatives. Between April and June the most direct route passes outside Turks and Caicos as well as the Southern Bahamas as far as Great Abaco. From there the route goes through the NE and NW Providence Channels and crosses the Gulf Stream to Florida. The other two alternatives can be used at any time between November and June, although they cannot be regarded as offshore passages because both consist of island hopping, either right through the Turks and Caicos as well as the Bahamas, or along the northern shores of Puerto

The favoured point of departure for this route is Antigua's English Harbour, where boats take their leave from the Lesser Antilles and head north for Bermuda as part of a return trip either to Europe or North America. This normally happens at the end of the winter season, when most boats that have been cruising the Eastern Caribbean congregate in or around English Harbour for the annual Antigua Sailing Week.

A departure from Antigua to Bermuda puts a boat more to windward than a departure from the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, as described in route AN88 (page 105). The better slant puts one onto a close reach as far as the northern limit of the trade winds, which at the optimum time for this passage can be carried to latitude 26 °N or even 28 °N. The winds from late April to the middle of June are mostly E to SE for the first half of this passage, becoming lighter farther north. Light southerly winds are sometimes carried right through the Horse Latitudes, but calms are the rule not the exception in the region of the Sargasso Sea. If constant SE winds are carried through, the weather remains clear, otherwise it is cloudy and overcast.

Boats leaving from English Harbour can leave Antigua either to port or starboard. The second

Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba. The high risk of hurricanes must be taken into account if any of these inshore routes is sailed in summer.

alternative is more comfortable for the start of the voyage and so a course should be set to sail west parallel to Antigua's south coast to WP AN781 before altering course for WP AN782. The course can then be set for WP AN783 to pass west of Barbuda and stay well clear of Anguilla and associated dangers. From there, a direct course leads to WP AN784, one mile east of St David's Head in the approaches to the Town Cut which leads into St George's Harbour. This is Bermuda's only port of entry. The entrance is difficult to negotiate in the dark and those unfamiliar with it should avoid arriving or at least using it at night.

For those who are determined to make good time to Bermuda there is no alternative but to motor through the calms that may be encountered and this is definitely advisable later in the season because of the risk of hurricanes. This route is not recommended after the end of June because of the increased likelihood of hurricanes. Passages along this route are definitely discouraged after July as the tracks of past hurricanes almost coincide with the direct course to Bermuda, passing north of the Virgin Islands and running between the US east coast and Bermuda. Tropical depressions become more frequent after the beginning

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