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sailing route planning

Leaving For Good, The Plan and Our Biggest Passage

We’re leaving these docks and we’re not coming back.  Well, at least hopefully not for a few good years anyway.  The plan is to head for Panama but the big question is, which route do we take?

We fill up our fuel tanks one last time and sail south to Miami where we can drop the hook and hash out a plan.  Grab your sunglasses and join us for a short journey and some round table sail planning.

Hopefully that all made some sense to both the sailors and non sailors.  We’ve never been big planners but sailing definitely requires some advanced planning and a whole lot of flexibility in those plans.  Considering this is our first big passage, we’re still figuring out our own processes. But, if you are still in the dreaming phase and wondering what planning a passage looks like, hopefully seeing how we’re going about it gives you some ideas.

Below is everything I could think of that we’ve done to prepare for this leg of the journey.  Resources, links, float plan and sail plan.  If there is something I missed, leave us a note in the comment box below.  If it’s something super important, we may owe you a beer!

Before I go diving in, I have to give a shout out to all our fellow sailors, bloggers, Patreons, and viewers out there who have helped us along the way. Thanks to all of you, we are able to gather information for our journey and share in hopes of making the next voyagers journey a little easier too.  It takes a village and you guys are the best tribe ever!  Thank You!

And a big thanks to the Captains who graciously looked at our route and shared their experiences and knowledge with us (Jan Cluistra, Larry Shaffer, Scott Griffin).

Planning Books

Weather Apps / Communications

Navigation Apps

Customs/Piracy/Health/General Cruising Info

We look up all the info for each country we have the potential to stop in along the way, but for example purposes, we listed the links to Panama.

The Float Plan/Sail Plan

Creating a float plan is super important.  I hope that we never need it and my only interaction with the coast guard or any emergency services is a friendly wave…but, best to be prepared.

As a risk taking adventure junkie, I realize that if something happens to me, it’s the people I love the most that need me to be prepared.  So, it’s for those I love, as much as it is for myself, that I try to be a responsible adventure junkie.  The best way for me to do that is to have all the information they might need or want on hand.

Of course, I created my own float plan, then found this link for the coast guards.  Go figure.

USCG Float Plan – floatplancentral.cgaux.org/  

The USCG Float Plan is fantastic and I highly recommend giving it a look.  However, I am going to stick with my personalized float plan and add in the emergency guide from the Coast Guard version above.  I added additional information to ours such as screen captures of our route, photos of Curiosity (our sailboat), our dinghy Minion, the passengers, along with insurance information that I think will be helpful if there were ever an emergency.

As an extra precaution we uploaded our float and sail plan to the cloud. We added a link to the cloud file to our EPIRB and inReach SOS online documentation. In an emergency the link will be sent to the government officials and our emergency contacts…it’s like information overload!

Cameras Used to Capture This Video

 

Ok, I think that’s it.  We will send updates from sea using our inReach and Iridium Go.  You will be able to see those on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Want to know more about Dale and Justin, our current Patreon crew members? You can find them on Instagram and YouTube.

Wish us fair winds and following seas!  See you in Panama!

anchoring in Miami

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (74)

  • Cindy T

    Nikki

    I am trying to determine the total cost for immigration and visas and transit (etc) when traveling across the Panama Canal and I am finding the guidance documents a bit confusing. When you finish your cross would you consider loading a video that explains what your final costs were for those fees? Thank you

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  • Jodi

    Did you say Texas Caviar? Recipe please!

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  • Denise Fonseca

    Loved Dale’s and Justin’s questions! This was so informative! It was great seeing what goes into the float plan! Happy sailing on the wide expanse ye brave mateys!

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  • Arno

    Hi guys. With all the new technology you have available, I’ve noticed you still referenced Cornell’s Ocean Atlas. You much do you still make use of theses more traditional resources and would you say theses are still worth the place and weight they occupy on the boat?

    Also, would you mind sharing Predict Wind and Iridium packages you subscribed to and what the monthly cost of these subscriptions are?

    Great work, you guys are awesome.

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  • Love the videos! Thanks so much. We are in the process of buying a boat and we are leaning heavily toward a catamaran. We will have seven on board. I was wondering if you would recommend Just Catamarans again. I didn’t know if you used them for everything or just used Kent for his expertise. Thanks again.

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  • Deborah Kerr

    This is so exciting – it’s like the first day as a freshman at high-school – full of anticipation and what this new chapter brings, but yet some anxiety and not knowing what to expect! You will do fine and even excel at this! You have a lot of folks supporting you and cheering you on!! Prayers for your safety and guidance…. keep smiling!! 🙂

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  • jim ege

    Please be careful of Pirates.. seriously, reports of raiders are rampant.. more not he pacific side than Atlantic. A famous sailor was killed near the mouth of the Amazon River.

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  • Phyllis Price

    Sorry that ‘Bill’ is doubting you, I have never even been on a sailboat but live vicariously thru your adventures – starting a few years ago with your RV purchase, which just showed again a few days ago on HGTV!!!! I do enjoy your adventures and thank you for including all of us. Looking forward to the next newsletter!

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  • Gerald B

    Michelle and I were betting for several minutes whether you’d go Gulf-side or Atlantic-side of Cuba. Either way you’d crew up for the challenges and opportunities ahead. At this point I find I’m checking “The Wynns Are Currently At” each day. GAH!!!! I’m a groupie (no, Justin, NOT a Grouper! 😉 Be safe, have fun, we’ll stay tuned.

    PS – Jason… you keep on geeking out on the gear buddy. I love those segments most of all. PSS – How’s the solar bank keeping up with the demands of an expanded crew?

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  • Hi! We are getting ready to put a compostable head in our sailboat–however, we have not heard you guys talk much about it since your RV days. Do you love it as much at sea? (because we noted that you still have a standard flushable head as well.) 😉
    Look forward to hearing your thoughts. Congratulations on making it to the “big passage” event. Wishing you fair winds, following seas and lots of dolphins at your bow 🙂

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    • Curious Minion

      Still love them! Jason wanted to keep one marine head in case coir was hard to find – that’s all.

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  • Mark Beresford

    Have a great time and keep us upto date on twitter….Any big adventure can test your metal…You will make mistakes…just keep them small…Bon Voyage..

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  • Paula

    Psyched for you – you’ve worked hard for this point – a longer passage off to an unknown! Seems like your taking all the steps to ensure you are as safe as possible and will have fun on the trip. Looking forward to video of the journey whenever you find WiFi.
    For Panama contact – check sundowner sails again blog and vlog. They show a contact there who helped them a lot. He has a business supporting sailors and will even take resupply orders, hit the local Costco and brought it to them at the marina in the Atlantic side while he is on pacific side area. He shuttled them around looking for boat repair stuff and accepted packages for them. Seemed like a good guy and they were pleased with his support services.
    Best wishes and smooth sailing with fair weather !

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  • Donald Johnston

    Noticed on the Garmin tracking the elevation fluctuates up 14 ft ASL. Is this d/t tidal sea volume variance? Also have you noticed a difference sailing with the flat props?

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  • Bill

    Wow are you storming the beaches at Normandie. Talk about over thinking something. If your that afraid or inexperienced try upgrading your insurance and stay in the Bahamas for one year and become more familiar with sailing and your boat plus increased your confidence. But wow Miami to Panama not that big of a deal especially if you choose the Bahamas route. If you really want to enjoy the true thrill of sailing try not to over think things, increase your sailing skills and your confidence and experience things as they come. Sure planing is a good thing but over thinking and over planing kills the thrill of sailing. Again if you are not comfortable with your experience level pay for the insurance and stay in the Bahamas for a year or so you’ll be happy you did. Oh well that’s my 2 cents worth. Stay safe and try some spontaneity so you can enjoy true sailing.

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      • Bill

        1 Overthinking yes
        2 1200 mile passage but within 1 days sail of an island and safe anchoring not a big deal
        3 Hurricane season with todays weather apps and computer simulations not as bad as it used to be
        4 Gulf Stream does need to be respected but again with todays gps and computer apps not so bad
        5 I only gave you my observations and suggestions and opinion
        6 In any event have a safe trip and if you decide to to do the coconut milk run when you wont see land for 2 to 3 weeks and 2500 miles plus you’ll look back on your Miami to Pamama sail as a cake walk
        7 Sailing is not about planing or schedules it’s about adventure and discovers and these things come with experience and knowledge
        8 Am I a sailor, long before gps and weather apps. Back in the days of compasses , sextants , acurite chronometer and celestial navigation . Buy a sextant and try it you’ll get a healthy respect for OLD TIME sailors
        9 Now a days it’s easy for anyone to call themselves sailors all you need is a boat. Easy.
        10 I ment no harm or disrespect you kids will do fine once you let loose of your city ways in any event have a safe passage. I wish you fair winds and following seas

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      • Warren mangan

        I’m with you Nikki. I don’t understand Bills comments. I was facinated by how you could come up with different routing options. Having a plan is part of the fun of an adventure like yours. As you have said many times it’s only a plan you have to go with the flow , it’s sailing! Why would you not take advantage of the amazing tools you have. I love it!
        I’m writing this a week after you planning and the wind has clearly not played ball but with your nav. tools it’s probably easy to adjust your plan and see where you gain or loose. Cheers, wish I was with you! Warren

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  • Doug

    Hi guys, just want you to know how much we enjoy all the effort you have put into this venture. Be safe, have a great time and we will be looking forward to seeing your wonderful videos. Take care of your (CATS)

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  • Maria Van Den Ouden

    Hey you two, just wanted to say we found you on YouTube and are sitting here watching your adventures every night ! I must say you both have really good attitudes and deal with sailing very well ! What kind of boat do you have ?

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  • Lucille

    Sounds like a good plan. Good luck and happy and safe sails.

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  • Really enjoying reading your blog. Just found it and now I need to catch up.

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  • Very detailed planning! Good for you. Did I detect some tension among the “core team”? Safe sailing you guys and be careful out there!!

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  • Landon

    Sorry if you explained this somewhere, but why are you skipping so much of the best cruising in the world? Why not head to the windward islands? Why not stop in Cuba? Dominica? PR? Etc etc etc? Isn’t that why you’re doing this, to see the places along the way? What’s the rush to get to Panama? Especially since the jump across the Pacific shouldn’t be until March… You’re going to just hang in Panama for 9 months?

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    • Curious Minion

      Because insurance requires that Curiosity get out of the “hurricane box.”

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      • Bart

        The southern tip of Grenada and Trinidad are both below the “hurricane belt”.

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  • Howard Brooks

    Love following you through your videos. My daughter is a Captain on the west coast, teaching sailing, doing transfers, kayak tours of Channel Islands Natl. Park and used to run Ventura City Sailing Center. Watching you helps me understand what she is doing. I spent 3 1/2 years Sailing the Western and South Pacific with the US Coast Guard so have some knowledge of where you are headed. Good luck and God speed.

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  • Gee

    Couple notes to file: First, typically Atlantic hurricane occurrence is less in the years when average sea surface temps (SSTs) are less elevated relative to Pacific SSTs. In other words, though a more active Atlantic season was predicted, the rule of thumb (given present SST differentials) is you will see more hurricane activity on the Pacific side – probability wise. Said still another way: El Nino means more Pacific hurricanes on average and La Nina means more Atlantic side (last check waning El Nino). Second, you may want to consider a stop in San Andres given your current route. I was there for diving years ago. Very friendly, lovely people, although security is heavy indicating need for situational awareness. Fair winds and bon voyage!

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  • Bart

    Just my 2 cents worth but from MANY years of sailing, I strongly suggest you spend a year in the Eastern Caribbean first. Then it’s easy to head west to Panama and beyond. The eastern Caribbean has a LOT to offer in terms of culture, sights and sailing experience. Winds are fairly consistent and the islands quite safe and varied. Seas are generally not too big and lots of islands in the chain to enjoy if the weather is not great. So far, in the Bahamas you have only dipped your toes in the water. Get some more experience before you jump into the deep end. Besides, you don’t want to miss carnival in Trinidad!

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  • T.K.

    Please consider “skirting” the Bahamas down to the Grenada/Caicos area. Rick at s/v Sophisticated Lady can tell you all the hurricane holes once there. Then you can work your way over to Panama via Aruba, Barranquilla, Cartegena, etc. at your leisure. This will avoid commitment to 5 or so days in blue water during hurricane season for your safety and give you a lot of experience in prep for Pacific crossing……baby steps for safety and confidence please….jmho.

    Hi to my favorite dog cat, Singa.

    P.S. Why is this site still showing you in Dania Beach?

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  • Rick B.

    While you’re laying over in south FL, you might consider taking advantage of a number of foul weather days to hone your storm sailing techniques and rigging.

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  • Darrell

    Have a wonderful and safe trip. We’re praying for you guys.

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  • Ricky

    Know you guys are in a hurry but it would have been great to see you in Jamaica. Hope everything jus irie on your trip.

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  • Rhonda

    Fair winds and safe voyage to you and the crew!
    P.S. …and lots of fish!!

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  • Mark

    Have a great trip be safe

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  • Richard Vezina

    Have a wonderful time. I really enjoy your videos and will continue to watch them .You are a very brave couple.I once flew from Thailand to Hanoi a couple of hundred times in an F105d. And would not have the courage to do the trip you are planning
    . Be safe, enjoy and have fun!

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  • steve edison

    good luck on this new venture!! safe journey, with lots of fun and adventure thrown in.

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  • Tracy H

    The thrilling adventure is here!! Jason, Nikki, Dale and Justin, be safe, catch those fish and hope you have great weather on your travels. God speed.

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  • Lee

    Do you have: An immersion suit, or survival suit (or more specifically an immersion survival suit) is a special type of waterproof dry suit that protects the wearer from hypothermia from immersion in cold water, after abandoning a sinking or capsized vessel, especially in the open ocean. They usually have built-on feet (boots), and a hood, and either built-on gloves or watertight wrist seals.

    Watch out for Pirates.

    Wish you the best of luck. Fair winds and following seas.

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  • Lee

    Watch out for those Pacific cyclones.

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  • Pat Parker

    My heart rate increased just watching….have a great adventure and stay safe

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  • Anthony Sexton

    I’ve been following you ever since the RV days, God bless, Godspeed and safe journey.

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  • Anthony Sexton

    I wish I was there with you I’ve been following you since they are bdays God bless godspeed and safe journey.

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  • maurice harvey

    good stuff you’re on your way…..can’t help thinking about the essentials …did you bring plenty of sunscreen and tomatoes ..? there’s nothing like nasty wind burn to spoil your days sailing..eat the tomatoes , they have a natural sunscreen built in and it will help take some of the sting out of the burn..ok , as you sail south there will be less pollution in the upper atmosphere and the sun will feel hotter because it is and the reflection off the sea more intense …..cheers

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  • John Schretlen

    Great video of your planning, your use of amazing technology, and your decision process. Quite a lot has changed since the days a captain would watch tides and clouds for days then put wetted finger up in the wind and declared “we sail on the next tide”.

    Your lifetime of sailing joys and experiences is under way, and we are glad to be along for the ride.

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  • John L.

    It’s very exciting for all of us following along at home to think you won’t be back to Ft. Lauderdale for a few years! We can’t wait to see each one of your adventures! Stay safe!

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  • Don Hatland

    I enjoyed the video. I am impressed on how in-depth you go and share with us your Wynnions. Watching your videos and sharing in your travels are the next best thing to doing it ourselves. Good luck and safe travels.

    PS The seafood restaurants along the water have excellent Sangria there in Panama.

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  • Jamie

    Smooth seas and fair winds guys, interesting to see your debate re route planning. Going to say it seems a bit of a no brainier, down wind every time, and battering against the Gulf Stream – why on earth would you? The whole point of cruising is to work with the elements, not against them. Having done a few trips where it’s been necessary to fight both current and wind, any time you can avoid it, do so. You are not just talking more uncomfortable, but more exhausting and you are more likely to have crew fall prey to seasickness, making the watches even longer and thus even more exhausting, and as we know, tired people are ones more likely to make simple errors.

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  • Gregory Yount

    Remember to have courtesy flags for any future stops. They are hard to find underway. Safe journey!!!

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  • Deby

    So excited you guys are on your way! Enjoying sailing along with you by video. Best wishes for a great trip!

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  • Safe passage to you all!

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  • Gillian

    Dare I ask, new boat video? Just a quickie?
    Would love to see new equipment and how you reorganized to make room for….roomies!
    Thanks and I’m having a ball watching!!

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  • Gordon

    This is what life is all about….adventure. Stay safe.

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  • Jim Deatsch

    Good on you folks, you’ll do just fine. Know that we are ALL with you in spirit and keeping great thoughts for a peaceful sail.
    “May you live in interesting times” is not a curse, it’s a pleasant thought.

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  • Tammy Themel

    Bon Voyage. Eagerly awaiting the next installations.

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  • Tim Nagler

    Hello!
    Before you go through the canal may I suggest a trip to Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia. Both beautiful places. I am from Dallas but lived in Colombia for 7 years and absolutely loved it there. Also i totally agree with Andre who said the west coast can be very dangerous. Not so on the Carribean side of Colombia. If you need help with anything in Colombia I have alot of contacts there.
    Sincerely,
    Tim

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  • Harold George Hofmann Jr

    The smiles of “Iwant to have fun!” And the nerves of the unknown are so endearing.
    Do have fun, do practice level headedness, do consult as many sources so you never have to say, I should of.
    Enjoy each other’s company and that wonderful boat, Curiosity. Fair winds and following seas.
    Love, George

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  • George_iz_Miami

    So enjoyed watching AND learning from your Bahamas adventure, and looking forward to your South American voyage! I’ve enjoyed your videos so much, it’s time to make a donation…and with pleasure! Capture great video, have fun, be safe!

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  • So very excited for you! Bon voyage!

    Nina

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  • Christopher

    Interesting. Are you guys planing on sailing to the Pacific already? If so, any reason why you’re not going to cruise the Caribbean longer?

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    • Curious Minion

      Curiosity must get out of the “hurricane box” ASAP as required by insurance.

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  • Andres

    A word of caution: As I understand you are planning to cross the Panama Canal to reach the pacific ocean and sail southbound from there. If this is true I hope you are aware that nearly 80% of the drug smuggling is done through those waters along the coast of Colombia and Ecuador (probably Peru too) what makes them one of the most violent and hostile territories you may encounter. Therefore my advise would be that you MUST contact the US embassy in Bogota to let them know of your plans and see what they think about them. I hope this is helpful. Sail safely.

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  • Mark Mitchell

    Thanks for sharing the books, weathat apps, communication and other resources. Can you a lap let us know what you use for reroute navigation. Thanks. I wish you all the very best

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    • Curious Minion

      All the nav/planning apps are listed in the blog post. Garmin BlueCharts and iNavx are the nav apps.

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  • Pam McClure

    A huge Bon voyage to you all. Have fun.

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  • Pete Naylor

    Good route choice. Happy crew, happy days, happy fishing and happy sailing! Sweet adventure

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  • Griz

    The perfect answer is always “in retrospect”. You all gathered the right facts and considered the right topics. I will say the probability is strong that eventually something will happen where a port or protected waters will be the best and safest option.

    The ability to head to the Bahamas, Turks, Haiti/DR, etc. is good insurance. I predict at least a 1 in 3 chance you’ll have to do that at least once.

    You are making good choices.

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  • Michelle

    I know you’re probably so excited you didn’t notice (I would be), but video is labeled “private,” so it isn’t playing. Can’t wait to watch!

    Godspeed to you all!

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