Moving to STT; traveling by power boat - anyone done it?
Hi! Has anyone done the move from the states to USVI by power boat?
We are trading in our wake-boarding boat for a 30-35' power boat to make the move next year. Looking for any advice on the journey:
How long did it take (from FL most likely)? What (if any) complications arose? What are the best islands to hit on the way down?
Our biggest decision in this move is whether to do the journey by boat with the ability to live on-board for a couple months while getting settled in STT....or.....to just fly and ship our personal belongings. We (my fiance & I, and golden retriever Roxy) have the means to buy the boat but are unsure on the costs associated with mooring the boat in STT for one year (+)....
Any insight would be appreciated! Would love to chat with someone who has experience in this. *-)
There is quite a bit of info available on boating forums, and much much more available in print about traveling aboard a vessel on the ocean and from the USA to the Caribbean in particular.
It is not a casual marina to marina ride - there is the problem of water storage aboard, even with a watermaker - the actual cruising range of many powerboats is usually the limiting factor - clean diesel fuel is not always available within the range of many smaller powerboats that are equipped with the fuel tanks that exist in stansard models.
Navigation is not a skill that should be learned along the way by trial and error.
Passage-making is often a challenge even for the most experienced boaters - there are many International complications that may be involved - even something as simple as traveling by boat with your dog will require serious research.
This can be a great adventure or a total disaster - boating experience of a wake board boat [ I admit I have no idea what kind of vessel that is ] may not transfer to ocean conditions travel, weather dependent, longer overnight passages, anchoring instead of tying up at a marina, and bigger boat maintenance on a day by day living and traveling basis.
If the cost of living on a mooring in STT is worrisome -- the cost and time and experience of bringing a 30-35' cruising vessel here should be daunting beyond comprehension to you.
I have done many trips on the ocean and have over 150,000 NM of Bluewater travel - I have never done a small power vessel - under 50' - long distance move. So this is only my humble advice, --- Most boats that size are shipped here.
It's about 1,150 miles (as the crow flies) from Miami to St. Thomas - the actual cruising distance will be longer. Assuming that's your starting use your boat's average cruising speed to calculate how long the trip will take - add more time if you begin somewhere else in Florida. Don't forget to add in "stopover time" since most people making the trip don't cruise non-stop.
As far as islands to hit on the way down, most people making the passage work their way through the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos, past Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgins before ending in St. Thomas or one of the other USVI's. Make sure you have a current cruising guide to the Bahamas as well as up to date charts and maps for all of your potential ports of call as well as the surrounding islands - the waters around the islands can be tricky. You'll also have to keep a close eye on the weather which can change quickly in the tropics. Be prepared to spend several days, maybe even weeks, on some island waiting out passing weather fronts. A 30' to 35' boat can get bounced around a lot when you get to the open water crossings. You'll be crossing lots of open water so you'll have to pay close attention to the weather forecasts and tidal flows (especially when traversing the Bahamas Out-islands). This is not a trip for amateurs. We have several sets of friends who made the trip in sailboats (powering part of the way) - they each took more than several weeks to make the crossing. One couple said they'd never do it again.
Sorry, can't help you about the costs associated with mooring a boat in STT.
I have a friend who single-handed a 37 foot power boat from FL through the Bahamas to the DR, across the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico and on to the VI. But he is totally crazy and has a great deal of experience sailing throughout the Caribbean. Most people put their smaller boats on transport and take the plane. Do the two of you have offshore sailing or boating experience?
Wow that is a lot of very helpful info! Thank you for the replies.
Unfortunately, we do not have any experience in offshore sailing, but have tons of experience in boating (large lakes only). I know the ocean is immensely different; and that weather would be our biggest obstacle and/or issue.
We have done tons of research already, but are just a little unsure of what the best (and smartest) decision would be. We love boating and would absolutely love the adventure & experience of traveling the Caribbean to get to our destination and final stop of STT. It would just make our move from Arizona even more exciting. But I do agree with you that it is not a trip for the amateurs. We are a younger couple seeking adventure with the means to do so....but not at the expense of our safety.....or our dogs.
Maybe we will rethink this decision & fly the friendly skies like most other people do. 🙁
Any additional info would be greatly appreciated. :@)
You might want to check into hooking up with an experienced open ocean crew member on a site such as www.findacrew.net to assist with planning and executing a voyage to the islands in your motor yacht. I've assisted with many sailing relocations and charters for boat owners who have found me on that site and others, but the site also has a lot of people who have experience with ocean crossings on motor boats. The trip will be a wonderful adventure... if prepared for fully in advance.
I would be the last person to tell you to think like everyone else, but 1200 to 1500 miles in the kind of boat you are talking about in open ocean just doesn't make good sense. First off the boat you mentioned in a previous post, will get around a mile or mile and a mile a quarter to the gallon. At lets just say $4.00 a gallon thats five or six thousand dollars worth of fuel. Second off you will have to do several long passages, think overnight open ocean etc. Also based on what you have listed as your boating experience you won't be able to insure the boat for this kind of trip. It won't be about the boat like it is stateside it will be about your experience level. Also the odds of traveling that far on a boat in the conditions that you will be subject to without some kind of mechanical issue are nil. At some point during this trip you will have to deal with some kind of major mechanical repair likely in a foreign country. Think expensive and complicated, waiting for parts, not speaking the language etc. This is how cruising works. If you have the means, and the will then go for it. If you don't then ship a boat and come on down. If you haven't purchased the boat yet, I wouldn't. Sell the ski boat, spend some time here decide what kind of boating you want to do then buy a boat for here. There is a very good chance that what you think you want in a boat simply won't be what you want once you have been here a while.
I'm not a real boater. But I would think that this would not be a good move. Just sounds like a lot of money for what? And think about it. What if you need to go home because you don't like here? You could sell the boat where there are tons of boats for sale and take a big loss.
Fly down and stay for a week. Line up what you need to do. Then go home and think about it.
Jay makes some very good points - you should heed them without reservation.
I don't mean to sound harsh but you said: "We have done tons of research already, but are just a little unsure of what the best (and smartest) decision would be." Well, if you really did do this research you should have already known just about everything mentioned in the previous posts and you know you lack the necessary expertise to make this kind of trip. If you don't know this by now than your research was faulty.
If, on the other hand, you are fully aware of the risks, and your purpose of posting the question was to garner support from others you probably won't find anyone who in good conscious will tell you to go for it.
Ok I asked the wrong question. Yes I understand that experience is a must for open water cruising and we would never put our lives in jeopardy. We are coming down in July for a week and we do understand all of the positives and negatives with making the down there and most don't last. But we are willing to take the chance and we both look forward to a new experience. So with that being said, has anyone shipped their boat down and if so how much? We are looking at boats between 32-40 ft cabin cruiser. Also this could be the killer is how much to moor the boat at a marina? I saw that there was about 10 marinas to choose from, so if no one has any info on price with cost of mooring, then I will just have to call. Thanks for your help and concerned comments.
Okay, are you looking at the marinas on the travel board? Boaters Haven is now Yacht Haven Grande, Pirate's Cove is no longer. Some of those don't allow live aboards and some are really for the rich and famous. I would call American Yacht Harbor, Independent Boat Yard and Compass Point. I believe Sapphire is condo style, you have to buy your space.