Yes another thread about setting off from the north east, down the intercoastal and to the Bahamas
...I did read the others but like everyone else I do have to post my own
Anyway my girlfriend and I just got back from an awesome 9 day cruise (just posted a thread with pics and all in the cruising section) and fell in love with the whole thing so much that we came up with a radical idea to quit our jobs, sell our cars, pack up the boat and head south to the Bahamas for 6 months to a year. Last year we had a smaller 25 foot sailboat and loved cruising but it was more like camping out.
We upgraded to a Morgan 323 this Spring which was decked out with all the best gear and maintained to immaculate standards by the PO. It has brand new radar, gps, dickson heater (so we will have heat for a late start south), windlass, refrigeration, you name it is has it so the good thing is we don't have to worry much in terms of upgrades. It also has 4' draft so the Bahamas shouldn't be a problem. The boat displaces 11,000 punds and has a DL ratio of 314 so it is very heavy and relatively comfortable when the seas pick up. Cruising on this is so much more comfortable and less stressfull as I am not as worried as I was when I had the last boat. Long story short...we have the boat, we have the mindset, we think we have the money and even though we have came to this decision in such short notice, we still think we can make it happen for this fall.
So in my initial stages of figuring this all out here are my plans:
First figure out the finances to make sure we have the cash, read, read and read some more to find out as much as I can about this trip, the ICW, where to enter, when to reach the Bahamas, etc. Based off the other threads it seems like October is the month to go. I think I can get everything ready by Oct 15th but again I am looking to all of you for advice to either push that tentative date back or forward. We do have the cabin heater though. Once I know it is a go...hopefully by the end of this week, I will quit work, put the car and motorcycle up for sale, and start the preperations on the boat.
I plan on getting a short haul to re paint the bottom, change zincs, etc, engine maintenance (although it runs like a charm but I do want to do all the prevenative stuff I can). I am also thinking of replacing the standing rigging as it is the only thing on the boat that hasn't been replaced or upgraded by the PO. It looks to be in excellent shape still but I don't want to be 10 miles off New Jersey in a blow in October heading down to Cape May and have it give out then. All in all I should have a solid month of dedicated time with no work to do the little bit of maintenance, read and plan and prepare for this.
I am usually the type to plan and read about every facet of anything I do way in advance but due to limited amount of time I figure I will focus my efforts on the first part like when to leave Long Island, NY. Where to enter the intercoastal, and basically how to pace the initial part of the trip till I catch up with the rest of the crusiers heading south. I don't think I will have any problem figuring the rest out along the way such as which part of the Bahamas I will want to cruise, and the rest of the ICW. I figure I will meet so many people along the way and will learn off their advice, Sailnet and the books I will bring.
Now here are some questions. I know I have read in other posts about must read books for the trip but if you guys don't mind sending the titles my way again I would appreciate it. If not I can go back and search for them.
Next is the date. Oct 15th. Too late or not bad? We don't mind pushing long days till we catch up with the rest of the pack in the beginning till we get further south so is this do able?
Where to enter ICW? - Based off other threads and the charts I am thinking of leaving Long Island from NYC and doing an over nighter on the outside to either Atlantic City or stright to Cape May, NJ. I have experience sailing in all types of conditions and feel confident knowing how to sail and handle my particular boat but I have not done an overnight passage. It is not the wind and waves I am worried about but more the large tanker and cargo ships. I feel confident we could easily do it on our own but I think I can also recruit a buddy or two with offshore overnight experience to accompany us on that portion. Any thoughts? Any one made that leg? From Cape May I will plan on heading up the C&D and then into the Chesapeake.
I would love to explore and stop at a few spots in the Chesapeake and I am sure in the Fall it is awesome but time line wise how long would you set aside to get from NYC to the head of the Chesapeake and then how long would you stay in there or would you try to make a fast passage further south to warmer weather? Again I am going to read the books and I think it was PBzzer who said in another thread to look at the average temps which is a great idea but I am looking to hear from others experiences who have done the trip.
For now I will leave it at that and wait to hear some responses but I am sure I will conjure up some more questions and ideas. Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.