Originally Posted by bacq2bacq
...John, could you please elaborate on your comment about the Cape, for someone unfamiliar with it?
thanks in advance,
Oh hey Ben, just noticed your question.
SailingDog and Tom Kringstad pretty well answered it, though. But to elaborate....
Besides the shoals that need to be given a wide berth, rounding Cape Hatteras can be very challenging if the wind comes up strong against the Gulf Stream current. This often happens when a cold front passes bringing strong northwesterlies behind it. That is why the Coast Guard probably pulls more people from boats out there off Hatteras than anywhere else. And why so many boats are abandoned in that vicinity.
As Tom points out, conditions can also be perfectly benign. But it's easier to time the good weather when sailing along the coast, with good forecasts and several places to duck in. The difficulty is in predicting the weather that far ahead -- i.e. when jumping off from somewhere like the Bahamas four or five days prior.
Even coming from Abacos, you have to make a decision fairly far out whether to shoot for Beaufort (between Frying Pan and Cape Lookout shoals), or head farther east and around Hatteras. If you are east of Cape Lookout shoals once you get to about N34 degrees, you are pretty well committed to Hatteras.
I expect that the O.P. (Jim) is aware of the concerns/issues of rounding Hatteras. And he may well have sophisticated weather data available on his boat. I only mentioned it casually, on the remote chance he was not familiar with those waters or how nasty it can get out there in the wrong conditions. But it sounds like he has a capable boat and crew, and a fair bit of experience as well.
Rounding Hatteras does save time, and that's a big reason why folks do it.