From The Northeast USA to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 1 of 12)

Need to get from Maine or another city on the northeast coast, and head down to warmer climates and Caribbean scenes by boat? This guide is split into 12 readable chunks. Let´s begin!

Why Do The Trip

Well, maybe because sailing is really cool! Warm weather is cool. And if you have a boat, you´re probably going to want to hang out in it! It´s easy to stay in your local area, but it might be time to set sail for shores a little further out of reach. Hell, this could be the adventure of a lifetime!!

Sailors that have cruised around the Mediterranean and other areas can often fall into doing exactly what land-based tourists do – renting vehicles to explore, sight-seeing on land for most of the time, eating in restaurants and meeting other tourists at bars or restaurants.

But the Caribbean and Central and South America can move you towards beachcombing deserted beaches, snorkeling daily for weeks on end, fishing for your food and spending time with other members of the cruising community.

A beach in Maine

When to Do the Trip

Let´s think ahead for a second. If you´re going to be heading to the South Pacific through the Panama Canal, plan to cross it in February or March. The hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30, but seems to be getting worse in the later portion of the season and shifting later in the year.

Around 97% of storms occur during this six-month window. Most insurance companies require that you´re south of 12 degrees, 40 minutes latitude near Trinidad or South America or north in the US during this season. There is a lot you can learn about hurricane season as a sailor, and it´s well worth sharpening your skills and knowledge before you go, of course.

There is both a one and a two-year plan detailed here – the two-year plan involves going from Tobago, the western Caribbean, then heading up to Maine, going to the Annapolis boat shop in October, then heading down the Intercoastal Waterway down to Florida. Then it´s Cuba, Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles islands and back to Trinidad. South America is next, including Venezuela (well perhaps now isn´t the right time, but…), the ABC islands (Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire), the Cartagena Islands, Colombia and finally, Panama. The one-year plan is shorter, but still sweet!

Brazilian coastline


If you just love sailing down rivers and don´t mind using an engine for some of the journey, you could take the Intracoastal Waterway down the East Coast, like Roger Walker. His small old Bristol 30 vessel, with its 16hp diesel engine wound around the waterways from New London to Key West. Here´s how he did it, and here´s more tips on sailing this waterway.

If your vessel is unable to pass under the bridges along the Intracoastal Waterway, you hate hand steering, flat water, and powering for hours on end, you´re just gonna have to sail offshore!

Most sailors recommend buying a good guidebook, of course, to help you find inshore anchorages. Along the Waterway, you can use this website, selecting your region, then “anchorages” in the dropdown menu at the top of the page.

But let´s face it, finding an out-of-the-way spot, dropping anchor, and leaving early in the morning is often possible feels awesome. You might want to take advantage of doing this while in the U.S. and Caribbean, since it´s not recommended you do so in Central and South America.

Check out Part 2 for the beginning sections looking at some of the areas in the U.S. that are most highly rated by sailors, including Maine, Nantucket and Boston.

From The Northeast USA to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 2/12)

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 8/12)

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 11/12)




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