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Ocean outlook: Red Sea, Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean

by Noonsite 2 Jun 2023 16:34 UTC
Red Sea ©

Red Sea:

Yachts visiting Djibouti report on the importance of getting the right agent for clearance, one who knows and understands small yachts. Most agents in Djibouti are geared towards commercial shipping and recreational cruising is little understood by the authorities. Consequently, if you get the wrong agent, you may find yourselves paying exorbitant clearance costs. Always appoint an agent well in advance and get several quotes and recommendations. Some interesting feedback in Djibouti Comments from Patrick Catellani of SY Tabata III who encountered problems when trying to obtain a cruising permit to explore the Tadjoura Gulf in Djibouti.

SY Tabata III is currently sailing up the Eritrea coast on the way to Jeddah and skipper Patrick has also sent feedback on Starlink; "I'm using the ROAM version with Mobile Priority 1T package. ROAM has worked well since installed a few months ago in Thailand. We went to Maldives, Seychelles, Socotra, Djibouti...and now navigating the Red Sea and we have never lost the signal. I work from the boat so for me it is important to have a constant, stable and fast signal." Read Yachting World's May update on Starlink for cruisers here.

The Red Sea Passage Facebook Page report that there has been an increase of 40% on the number of yachts transiting north to the Med this year (close to 50 yachts have cleared through Egypt so far).

Caribbean Sea:

As boats migrate out of the Caribbean Sea with Hurricane Season approaching, starting on 1 June, Don Street's article for Noonsite on when to leave and which way to go is a worthwhile read.

Helpful officials, friendly people, great diving plus few cruising boats, make the Cayman Islands worth a visit, says Keith Pomeroy who visited there in early 2023. However, you need to keep an eye on the wind and weather, as he details in this report.

A yacht sailing from Colombia to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, has reported a potential piracy incident off the coast of Honduras, after encountering a fishing vessel that acted in a highly suspicious manner.

The Tobago Cays Marine Park in St. Vincent & The Grenadines recently announced a change in the permitted anchoring zones due to signifcant damage to coral by yachts. This removes the small anchoring zone adjacent to the cay of Petite Tabac, which is located outside the main lagoon of the Cays, on the windward side of Horseshoe Reef. Read more here.

Chris Lewns visited Los Roques, Venezuela, at the end of February and reports what a wonderful and beautiful (albeit pricey) place it is to visit. Read his feedback here under comments.

High season through the Panama Canal has ended and although news outlets are reporting drought and delays with transits, this will not affect yacht traffic, says canal agent Erick Galvez. "For yachts there is no delays, heavy season has ended, therefore transit after inspection is about 3-4 days. The dry season has affected merchant vessels, Panamax and Neopanamax, due to their high draft and heavy cargo, but every day there is traffic moving and yachts are not affected since yachts are always in tandem with a merchant vessel in the chamber. We are starting to get more rain since mid- May, thus lake levels will rise up eventually. What really affects yachts are the limited Advisors available per day, since they are workers within the canal authority who sign up to transit small craft in their time off. Also, the availability of Canal Inspectors, since they give priority to merchant vessels and their staff is limited as well."


The UK Met Office have issued their North Atlantic tropical storm seasonal forecast for 2023. The most likely number of named tropical storms (winds of at least 39 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 20, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 14 to 26. The 1991-2020 long-term average is 14. NOAA's 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook predicts a near-normal season.

With the start of Hurricane Season on June 1st, the Spring migration across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to the Azores and Europe has begun. Bermuda is a popular pit-stop for many yachts, but it should be noted that although the online clearance service SailClear states it operates for Bermuda, the officials in Bermuda do not use it. Therefore, be sure to complete the official pre-arrival form. See Bermuda Clearance for more details. Bermuda Carnival runs from June 16th to 19th.

Circumnavigators Mike Reynolds and his wife Nicki were on their way to Bermuda from the BVI, on their 34-foot cruiser-racer Zen Again, when the passage turned nasty. With unexpected squalls of 60 knots+ they experienced significantly more wind than they had ever sailed in before (and they had crossed the Southern Indian and the South Atlantic Oceans!). The couple shared their experience and lessons learnt in this article for Yachting Monthly.

Linda Lane Thornton and Don Street weigh in on passage advice for sailors headed home from the Caribbean in this month's Caribbean Compass. Linda is the co-author of the RCC Pilotage Foundation's Atlantic Islands cruising guide.

In the Azores, Horta on the island of Faial is already in their busy season with yacht arrivals. Duncan Sweet of MAYS, a company dedicated to ocean cruising sailors, reports "the main waterfront thoroughfare in Horta has been given a serious rebuild over the winter, with on-going work to complete a new laundry and showers complex to the south of the Yacht Club (Club Naval da Horta). Until these are completed, the original laundry, toilets and showers by the marina bar, are still operational. There is also a clear view of the fuel & reception quay as well as the MAYS location, which is on google maps here. MAYS monitors VHF Ch. 12. Two websites that will help visitors with insight into the Azores as well as Faial are and Arrival procedures and berth rates remain unchanged.

Unfortunately. the beautiful port of Lajes das Flores on the island of Flores (so named for its flowers) is still out of bounds for visiting yachts. Following Hurricane Lorenzo, which passed over the Azores at the beginning of October 2019, this port has been closed as the harbour was completely destroyed. A new harbour is under construction, however, Portos dos Acores are still busy getting the harbour repaired and they ask that yachts do not attempt to come to the port until construction work is complete.

Further north in Europe, a new scheme to reduce pollution and prevent overcrowding on the waterways of Amsterdam in the Netherlands now requires most boats transiting the city to purchase a 'vignette'. The Cruising Association (CA) offer excellent guidance.

The CA also report that Officials in France have announced a derogation for the ports of St Cast, St Quay, Lézardrieux, Tréguier, and Trébeurden in Brittany to act as temporary Ports of Entry for the period of 1st June to 30th September 2023 to ease entry into France for yachts arriving from outside Schengen.

A great many yachts in North Europe will be heading out across Biscay this month and down the coast of Spain and Portugal to Gibraltar and the Med. Of prime concern is likely the continuing on-going activity concerning orcas and yachts. Just at the start of May a third boat was sunk by the Iberian orcas to the south of Barbate in SW Spain with all four crew safely rescued. The CA have updated their 'orca information and reporting' portal this month reflecting the research and analysis that has been undertaken by the CA since June 2022. The CA orca project team has analysed over 300 interaction and uneventful passage reports received in 2022 and some patterns have emerged which are shared on the portal. Noonsite has many useful links on the Orcas and Yachts page, including links to interesting scientific articles with theories as to why the orcas are behaving this way.

Down in the South Atlantic there's a new way of making payments in St. Helena and Ascension Island. At present, personal cards such as Visa and Mastercard are not widely accepted on-island and visitors either have to carry cash or visit the Bank during opening hours to draw from their card (fees apply). The local Bank on St Helena, also the only Bank on Ascension Island, has launched a new 'Tourist Card', a virtual prepaid GBP cash card that tourists can apply for and have ready to use when they arrive on the island. Find out more here

Namibia, on the south-west coast of Africa, is one of the driest and most sparsely-populated countries on earth. Its NW coast is known as the "Skeleton Coast", for good reason, but it is very scenic and there are many sheltered bays to anchor in, provided you keep a watchful eye on the weather. OSASA Director John Franklin provides this useful report for anyone considering heading that way.


If you have been thinking about a visit to Morocco, this report by long-term liveaboard Alison Gieschen will most definitely tempt you. Full of glorious details of touring Morocco, as well as the difficulties her and her husband Dan experienced on trying to leave the Med for the Canaries, this is yet another great read from a Noonsite regular contributor.

Marine Publisher Imray has a nice feature about the "bora" in Croatia in their newsletter this month, as they share expert tips from the Adriatic Pilot by Trevor and Dinah Thompson. May, being a wonderful time to visit Croatia because of the mild weather and no summer crowds, does have its downside. As it's "transition" season, there is a chance you may experience the "bora", a cold, dry wind from the NE that often appears with little warning and can reach gale force in just a few hours. Imray explain more in their blog.

Wade and Diane Alarie arrived in Alanya, on the southern coast of Turkey, after passing through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in June 2020. After three years in the country they are now departing Turkish shores, but have shared a great deal of knowledge they have accumulated over the years in this informative report, a must-read for anyone considering sailing to Turkey.

?Shavit Marina in Haifa, Israel, has now re-opened for the season after winter dredging operations. It is a port of entry and just a 30-minute drive from Nazareth and 50 minutes from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of

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