Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 15
NYC to Bahamas in November
I doubt there''s any magic to a later set of pilot charts. They are occasionally reprinted but are supposed to summarize a bazillion observations for each grid square over an extended period of decades, so I don''t see how a newer version will reflect significant changes. In fact, I think their value is limited for planning a given, short passage such as you''re considering. Better you monitor the wx off that area of the coast for a period of days to develop a sense for the prevailing conditions, wx pattern shifts, etc..
There''s also nothing wrong with planning the run from e.g. Charleston down to the FL border; it''s short enough that a stable wx system and getting a thorough wx f''cast before departure should make for predictable wx conditions and few surprises. In general, the later in the Fall, the more frequent and the stronger the fronts (and their parent LP centers), which can result in smaller windows and more waiting as you let conditions offshore settle and/or if a 2nd front isn''t too far behind a 1st. Conceptually, you''re picking between two basic options: working somewhat to weather while sailing SW, somewhat against the SE prevailing winds, or trying to catch a clocking wind pattern on departure in order to have the frontal NW/N/NE wind progression behind you, hopefully at only a moderate moderate wind strength but with more swell & wind wave.
One thought: I personally have found St. Augustine''s entrance to be very tricky at times, while other times it is reported to be an easy entrance. This is partly due to repeated shoaling vs. the limited ability of the CofE and USCG to keep the channel open and the buoys placed correctly. And in part the varying reports probably reflect the differing conditions under which people enter the inlet (see the two basic wind patterns mentioned above). Were it me, I would phone to obtain the current conditions of the inlet from the USCG station nearby (including asking about recent chart corrections that have been issued), and then have the chart and waypoints for the alternate entrance into the St. Mary''s River at hand - a much easier approach but further N, should the wx fall apart. (Besides, a stop at Cumberland Is. and the US Nat''l Park docks right off St. Mary''s River and not far from Fernandina Beach is a joy, as is walking around the island with its feral horses, old Carnegie mansion and pristine beach).