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  #1  
Old 10-24-2006
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How far north is far enough?

Hello all.

My Wife and I are seriously considering buying a boat on the east coast. Where do most cruisers hang out over hurricane season?

If we buy the boat this winter we will not be able to use it yet due to work requirements . We will want to store it somewhere outside the hurricane belt. Then begin our escape in October 07. We would like it kept somwhere that we will be able to begin sailing it in Oct and get used to the boat before heading down to the Caribb or Bahamas.

If my plans seem kind of vague it's because up until recently we were planning on buying a boat on the Pacific side and cruising the Sea of Cortez.

All info appreaciated. Kevin
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Old 10-24-2006
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Kevin,

Very hard to answer your question with 100% certainty, because of the vagaries of the hurricanes themselves. So let's talk about odds and options.

Generally, the Chesapeake Bay area and north to Maine are relatively unaffected by hurricanes, other than some heavy rains, winds, high tides, etc. Infrequently, however, they can and do cause damage anywhere along the East Coast. That's the bad news.

The good news is that there are many places where you can keep a boat with relative certainty it won't be damaged, especially if it's hauled and more especially if it's tied down and the mast is out. Or, you can choose a spot to keep your boat in the water where it's very unlikely to suffer damage from hurricanes.

I've lived aboard in Washington, DC for a total of about 17 years, and have had my non-liveaboard 42' sloop here for another 5 years total. My boats were in the water continuously during this period, except for short maintenance haulouts every few years. During those 22 years, I have had zero damage from hurricanes. There are several marinas in the Upper Potomac River which are very rarely affected by hurricanes, and which offer a safe place to keep your boat in the water.

There are numerous boatyards in the Chesapeake area where you could keep a boat, especially hauled out. Slips are becoming very difficult to find these days, but space ashore is still available. One of the very best (and the largest) marinas is Herrington Harbour North in Deale, MD....about a 40-minute drive from Washington. There are several others I'd recommend also, if you are really interested.

The big advantage of being in the Chesapeake area rather than further north is that when you launch in Sept or Oct you are already in a wonderful cruising area at the very best time of year for sailing. Lots of places to go on shakedown cruises, and lots of places to get boat gear and repairs if you need them. Then, sometime in early November, it's time to head south....either via the Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk or offshore towards Bermuda and the Caribbean.

IMHO one month isn't much time to prepare a new boat for extensive cruising, especially offshore voyaging. It would be good if you could manage to extend the preparation time somewhat.

Bill
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Old 10-24-2006
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Bill's advice is excellent as always. The Chesapeake is a wonderful cruisig ground and a month will only scratch the surface. Plus...you can visit the boat show and load up on all sorts of goodies before you depart the Bay.

I would add that I have been through 3 hurricanes on the bay over the years and HAVE had some damage once but would have had damage other times if I had not been available to rig extra lines etc. and adjust as the water rose. Thus I second the notion of storing on land if you can't be there. Shroeder's yacht yard in Deltaville is a great and inexpensive place to store your boat and they are full service with good staff if you need anything done.
Frankly...I think that outside of Florida, your chances of being hit by a hurricane are about equal in any of the southern states (exception Cape Hatteras!) and as long as you pick someplace well inland from the coast you face about the same risk anywhere. Other places I would consider include: Thunderbolt/Savannah area, Beaufort SC, Bellhaven NC and there are others. What may drive the decision for you is your insurance policy which may require you to be north of a given lattitude by a certain date. In selecting your insurance company you'll want one that can both cover you in the Bahamas and Caribe...but also give you some flexibility along the East Coast and adjust rates according to your cruising plans. May I suggest consulting with IMIS out of Annapolis who we have been well satisfied with.
I agree with Bill that a month is not a long time to get to know your boat and really prep it for offshore...but the ICW will sort out any mechanical stuff (you're not planning on going right offshore are you?)...and you can continue preparations in Florida before you hop out to the Bahamas. I would not go further down island until you really feel comfortable with the boat as services are few and far between.
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Old 10-24-2006
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I'd agree that a month is really a bit short for prepping a boat for offshore passages. IF the boat is going to be new to you, then a month is unlikely to be long enough if you do run into any issues with the way the boat is setup or have any serious problems with the gear. Sailing on the Chesapeake is a good way to shake down the boat, and learn a bit about her, but you should seriously consider giving yourself more time to prep the boat.

I sailed on the Chesapeake when I lived in the DC area, and it is a good area, and not particularly prone to hurricane damage, being fairly well protected overall. However, if a named storm is going to hit where you have your boat, additional precautions are definitely in order.
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Old 10-24-2006
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Another option we may use (and just an option) is Texas. It is in Hurricane path, which may completely rule it out for you, but -

The Clear Lake area is very well protected and slippage is very cheap. Lots and lots and lots of cruisers hang out there over the season and beyond. There are also a lot of services. One other positive is that it does not get as cold in Texas (Say, September or October) so you might use it more if you can get down there.

I think PBeezer keeps his boat there, you might PM him on thoughts if you are interested.

I was very suprised at how nice the facilities are and how cheap everything is. A nice slip might be $6/foot and this will often include nice amenities (workout rooms, etc). If you PM me, I can try and dig through my stuff on Marina names/contacts. I think I still have all of that.

Texas to Swest Florida is about 5 days offshore, or you can hop around the coast.

Now the negative: (1) You are still in a Hurricane path (though proportionately they get hit much much less). (2) There are not a lot of destinations that are not a serious haul and (3) the water is not very pretty. You can punch around to Mexico or shorter stays off the Water Gardens or Padre Island... but compared to Bahamas cruising you will be dissapointed.

Still, if it is only for a few months????? Your call.

Hope it works out.

- CD
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I know you said you wanted to have the boat on the east coast. That is a pretty big area, if you are going to have to travel anyway, and want total security from hurricanes, have you thought about Lake Ontario or Erie? In the whole scheme of things, they aren't that far from the Ocean. There are plenty of marinas in areas like Rochester, Toronto, Cleveland etc. Just thinking out of the box a little. If it must be on the coast, I can suggest, Huntington, NY, on Long Island. It is a good hurricane hole.
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New Jersey rarely get direct hits from hurricanes and plenty of marinas on the back bays and Delaware Bay. If you don't mind dodging tugs, barges and freighters the Delaware River above Wilmington may be an option and not to far from the C&D canal.
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Old 10-24-2006
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Cool Here is one for ya

If you check it out and I know this one sounds far out. But you have more of a chance of being hit by a hurricane in New York than in Jacksonville Flordia.

Fair Winds

Cap'n Dave
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Thanks for all the GREAT info.

Iamgoing to begin resarching all the suggestions tomorrow . I have a call into IMIS corp for a quote on insurance and no doubt what they will have to say will affect my decision.

The boat I am considering has 6.5 draft ,is that going to be a big problem in the Chesapeake bay?

How long would it take me to cruise it down the Intra Coastal Waterway Florida?

Thanks again for taking the time to respond , it's very much appreaciated.

Kevin
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Old 10-24-2006
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Kev..A 6.5 ft draft will limit you a bit in the Chesapeake but not too much. On the ICW a 6.5 draft WILL limit you a lot and there will be major sections you cannot do without tidal help or you'll need to go offshore. We did is with 6ft' this spring and it was a bit dicey as conditions continue to deteriorate in SC and GA. The ICW will take you about a liesurely 30 days from the Chesapeake to W. Palm Beach. If you push hard you can do it in 3 weeks weather permitting...but there's lots of nice places to enjoy on the way so I would encourage you to allow the time for visits along the way.
I would encourage you to get a draft of 6' or less if your long term plans are on the East Coast and Bahamas. Not that 6.5 is prohibitive...it just will cause you problems and if you have a choice you should avoid problems. This ain't the West Coast!!
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