AN Virgin Islands to Panama

A downwind trip at all times, this passage diagonally across the Caribbean Sea should not be undertaken during the peak months of the hurricane season, between July and October. Another period to be avoided is at the height of the winter trades, between January and the middle of March, when strong winds and high seas are the rule in the Caribbean Sea. Reference should be made to route AN74 (page 89) as directions are similar, with

Virgins at the end of their Caribbean cruise and use the Virgins as a convenient springboard for the continuation of their voyage, most commonly to Bermuda and home, and occasionally to the Bahamas and Florida.

These small islands to the east of Puerto Rico are an extremely popular cruising ground, enjoying very similar weather conditions to the Lesser Antilles. The prevailing wind tends to be easterly, the trade winds being north of east in winter and south of east in summer. The trades are stronger in winter months, around 20 knots, gust-ing occasionally to over 30 knots. Northers can also affect the islands in winter, although not so frequently nor so strongly as in other areas, such as the Bahamas. The Virgin Islands lie in the hurricane area and they can be affected by tropical storms every year.

the exception that for those who start off from the Virgin Islands, the recommended stop in the ABC Islands or Venezuela is not applicable unless one wishes to spend some time cruising there.

Boats setting off from St Thomas on the direct route to Panama leave Vieques Island to starboard and take their departure from the Virgins at WP AN811,10 miles SE of Vieques. Those who prefer to call first at San Juan, Puerto Rico, take a route

Best time: Tropical storms: Charts:


Cruising guides: Waypoints:

April to May, November to December June to November ilgp^ jfpgf^

Cruising Guide to the Caribbean, Panama Canal Pilot's Handbook.




Destination Distance (M)

AN810 St Thomas 18'20'N, 64'56'W

AN811 Vieques 18c00'Nt 65'13'W AN814 Manzanillo 9'47'N, 79"32'W

AN815 Panama 9C26.25'N, 79'55'W .

Cristobal 9'21'N, 79'55'W


AN810 St Thomas

AN812 Borinquen 'N, 67;10'W AN813 Mona 18'00'N, 67 .-O'VV AN814 Manzanillo

AN815 Panama



along the north coast of Puerto Rico to its western extremity and reach the Caribbean Sea through the Mona Passage. From WP AN812, 5 miles NNW of Cape Borinquen, a course can be set through the Mona Passage to WP AN813, ESE of Mona Island. Unless stopping in San Juan, the detour around the north of Puerto Rico should be avoided as it can be windless at the end of winter when the island blocks the winds.

Whichever route is chosen, be it south or north of Puerto Rico, from those waypoints AN811 or AN813 a clear course leads right across the Caribbean Sea to WP AN814 about 10 miles N of Punta Manzanillo and 30 miles from the Panama Canal entrance. The latter is reached by altering course for WP AN815 which is the landfall buoy 3 miles N of the entrance into the port of Cristobal. Traffic Control should be contacted on VHF channel 12, although small boats may enter if they proceed carefully. Traffic lights control the entrance through the breakwaters and small boats are advised to keep as close as possible to the sides. See page 489 for detailed instructions concerning entry and transit procedure.

Most boats leave the Virgins for Panama in winter and all those who have done this passage in February complain about the rough conditions in the Caribbean Sea. A later start, when the winter trades have lost some of their power, might be preferable, although this may be too late for those planning to continue their voyage along the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico. For those who are bound for the islands of the South Pacific an early start from the Virgins is not essential, as the seasons there are the opposite to what they are in the Caribbean and a later passage to Panama in April or early May is acceptable.

Best time: Tropical storms: Charts:

I'll oix

Cruising guides: W\> poim-»:



Jfiliriiu'diritc / hhiííi?//


Diftiincr i uj

Kuuto ANS2A

AN82G S: Thc-ias

ANS2: v-rqu" 18 CO'N ?5 13V.' AN322 iru-Pi GlÍO'

-"2C1N 71 AN823 P'umb


17'58'N, 76'48'W



AN82". Vsques

AN825 Ahí- Ve i. AN827 Nor


18'25'N, 77J07'W

677 716

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment