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  #1  
Old 08-23-2007
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It's official!

OK, here it is:

After years of plotting & planning (+some sailing), I am now officially among the ranks of live-aboards. And while I'm not yet officially among the ranks of cruisers, I'm only a month or so away. Last week I gave my notice, and my last day at EB will be September 5th. I moved aboard on Sunday, 8/19. We closed on our house on Monday, 8/20, and the check has cleared - yesterday I had the extreme pleasure of asking a bank teller for $25,000 in cash (which is gone already if you're thinking of robbing me). All personal debt is paid off, and we don't owe anyone a dime (nice feeling, btw.) My wife just started her new job in New Orleans. She's an elementary teacher, and got into a program called TeachNOLA which aims to rebuild the school system down there by attracting certified teachers with incentive packages. Her salary is nowhere near what I've been making at EB, but that's OK since it comes with health coverage, and the money was never enough to make the BS worthwhile anyway. She will live and work in the Big Easy during the school year, and summer in New England, while I plan to be a snowbird until the money runs out (which could be awhile, we did very well selling our hose (pats self on back)).

I have a few more weeks of work to do on the boat, which includes a couple of major projects; finish installing ther Lavac toilet, rebed lifelines, add a tiller pilot. I will get underway from the Thames river at the end of September, weather depending, and make my way down to Ches Bay during early October. I will stay in the Chesapeake area until the end of October, waiting out the end of hurricane season, then proceed down the intracoastal. I think I'm singlehanding most of the trip, though I do have a couple of guys who want to crew for various legs. I hope to make Florida by the end of December, and be in New Orleans sometime after the New Year. A lot depends on how comfortable I feel with the boat once I get a few hundred miles under my keel - more offshore legs are desirable, but I don't want to be forced offshore by schedule concerns. I'd rather take it nice and easy at least until south of Hatteras before I try anything really adventurous.

Having never done the ICW before (except in very short pieces) I'm looking for comments, advice and recommendations. I have a guide to anchorages, but I'd be interested in hearing specific recommendations from anyone who has made the trip. Is my timing too late? Too early? Too long? Too short? Are there major milestones I should try and hit by a certain timeframe (i.e. don't head south from Norfolk before 11/1, or try and make it south of Hatteras by 11/1, etc.) Aside from normal navigation and safety equipment, is there any gear I ought not get underway without? How heavily should I provision? Any pitfalls to look out for? Am I crazy for thinking of doing it alone, in a Morgan 30 K/CB?

Anyway, I'm starting to get excited for the trip, it finally seems real, and I'm looking forward to hearing from this group of experienced sailors. Have at it!
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Old 08-23-2007
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Congrats! Sounds great (and well-thought out). Though I didn't think there was anyone still employed at EB I spent most of my childhood across the river, folks still live in that area, and I am honestly surprised (but happy for you) that you did well selling your house. Can't give any practical advice, but glad you're not trying to schedule too much. Plans just give Murphy something to mess with!
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Old 08-23-2007
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I can't comment on all of your trip, but I know one part of the leg pretty well.

When you round the corner into SW Florida, you really have to watch your weather window. The gulf, especially that part is very bad in a northern. It is shallow and with the fetch will cause large, breaking swells.

One thought would be to head west out of Key West and into the Tortugas (about 61 miles west of Key West). You can sit that out for a good weather window to Fort Myers. It is a beautiful place but there are no supplies... but should be seen if you can (have I already said it is beautiful??). You can restock at Fort Myers beach and there is a decent yard there called Olsens. It has a mooring field. Leaving there you can head up the ICW if you have less than 6' draft or round Sanibel and up the coast. The run is easier from there. The worst place to watch for on much of that leg will be SW Fl so plan a stop at Key West or maybe the Tortugas to wait for a decent weather window.

The ICW up the SW side is quite shallow and the bridges across the cut are 55 so you need to keep that in mind.

Others may know the other parts of the leg better, so I will let them answer the rest.

Congrats on the move. Enjoy it and welcome to the life.

Fair winds,

- CD
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Old 08-23-2007
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Hey congrats Mike. I think your timing for leaving the Ches Bay could move up a couple of weeks to mid October with the rest of the boat show crowd assuming the tropical weather systems cooperate. You can then take your time in the ICW and sounds of north Carolina until November when you should head south in earnest to stay warm! Allow 4-5 weeks from mile 0 to Miami if you are single-handing as you will want to stop and rest along the way as well as see a few things I am sure. You will want to update your charts for recent shoaling and changes in bridge schedules and both he Skipper Bob site and the BoatUS sub-forum "East Coast Alerts" will give you the info you need. There are lots of ICW threads here if you do a search so I suggest you take a look at some of those and then come back with more specific questions. For any offshore legs you attempt...the Dodge Guide to SE US inlets is invaluable. Bring plenty of FILTERS, BELTS and IMPELLERS and start with clean tanks!
Congrats again...slipping the chains is even better than slipping the lines!!
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Old 08-23-2007
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"EB", as in Electric Boat? I worked for CSC on a support contract up there years ago, saw a couple of boats splashed (which was a trip - nothing like watching something that large sliding down massive wooden planks greased with beeswax).

Congrats on cutting the cord!
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Old 08-23-2007
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My brother left EB a few years ago to set up his own business - best thing he ever did . . . said he was "Rottin' in Groton".

Congrats on your retirement and best wishes with your plans.

(I won't offer any advise, since I'm the "master of the obvious" . . . thanx for the negative rep points BTW)
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Rev. Mike: I don't know how well thought out it is, but I've been thinking about it for a long time. We lived in New London when we first moved down here, but we bought a house in Montville. We did well selling the house because we were smart when we bought it - we picked something affordable, small but nice (1000 sq ft cape w/ wraparound porch) in a good neighborhood in a town with good schools (and a big casino with lots of employees who all need cheap housing.) When we listed, we put it out at the low end of the comp range to make sure it moved fast. Sure enough, 9 days on the market, 5 showings, and we had an offer. The real estate market here has not slowed here that much, and at the low end of the scale where we were, SE CT still has a robust market. Not to slam my employer, but ther are many reasons to leave EB, and yes, part of it is the work slowdown around here, combined with my boss driving us towrds two ships a year without funding from the Navy. Can you say "working down our backlog at a dangerous rate"?


CD, honestly, I haven't given much consideration to that part of the trip, though I probably ought to. So far, I've been focused on actually making to to Florida before I worry about getting around. I only draw 4'2" and my mast is about 45' above the water, so it seems like I'll be in good shape? I've been assuming a break in the Keys anyway, so I'll definitely consider your advice about the Tortugas. Thanks.

cam, that's good to hear, exactly what I was looking for. I think I'm being a little cautious about how much ground I can cover in October and November (to allow for bad weather, mostly) and I hear you about getting south while it's still warm. I'll definitely check out those sites, and yes, I've been reading the ICW threads that I find here (I lurk waaaay more than I post, which is as it should be, I think.) Re: Filters, belts, and impellers - AMEN. I do that here in LIS (4 RACOR elements, three spare impellers and a half-dozen belts onboard at all times.) Cleaning the fuel tank is high on the list of to-dos prior to getting underway. Re: slipping the chains - yes, it was very satisfying to tell the VP of the Virginia Program that I didn't want to work for him anymore. He seemed surprised that anyone would want to leave EB ("you have a career here you know") but like any good VP, he shifted gears fast and proposed a job for me on the LCS program once I get south. I told him I'd give him a call. Hope he's holding his breath.

TS, yup that's Electric Boat. We don't slide 'em anymore, now we launch from a land level facility onto a pontoon in the graving dock, then flood down. Much less exciting, but way safer. Did you ever hear about the Trident that slid all the way across the harbor backwards and almost hit the piers in New London?

TB, can't believe you're still holding a grudge over a few measly rep points. I got hit on that one myself you know. Anyway, no hard feelings, thanks for the congratulations. I know a few people who've left EB and to a man they say it was the best thing they've ever done. Regardless, I know I don't want to end up like these fat, risk-averse drones after 30 years pushing paper. Time to go while I'm still young. In my life, I've found that every time I thought I was leaving something good, and worried about it, it always turns out that leaving opened the door to bigger and better things. I certainly hope that will be true again.


Thanks to all for the well wishes.
See you out there,
Mike
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Old 08-23-2007
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sonofasailorsailing is on a distinguished road
Northwest Florida

Your time frame for this leg (Jan-Feb) is fine. Cool weather will prevail with temp in the 50-60 high and 40 low. Winds can be unpredictable at that time of year.

Generally, a 30-45 hour run from Tampa puts you in the Carrabel area where you can pick up the ICW again. Most bridges in this area are 65'. The Dupont Bridge in Panama City is only 55' though. It can be easily bypassed by exiting ICW at Port St Joe and running outside to PC (about 40 miles).

February can see some prety good blows here. We had a storm a couple of years ago that had 85mph winds in Feb. For the most part, It is fine though. If you stick with the ICW, you can go through Mobile Bay. I hear that is quite an experience. I'll let someone more familiar with that area give advise there.

If you get up this way, email me and we'll try to get together. Good luck and congrats.
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Old 08-23-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morganmike View Post
TS, yup that's Electric Boat. We don't slide 'em anymore, now we launch from a land level facility onto a pontoon in the graving dock, then flood down. Much less exciting, but way safer. Did you ever hear about the Trident that slid all the way across the harbor backwards and almost hit the piers in New London?
Heard that story several times.

The graving docks were (are) amazing. I was there once when there was an Ohio class in one and a Los Angeles class in the other. The difference in size was incredible. Those poor bastards in attack subs really have it rough. The boomers look like five-star resorts by comparison.

Last time I was there, they were about halfway through the first two Seawolf class boats. Do they still build the boats in sections up at Quonset?
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Old 08-23-2007
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My blog here on Sailnet pretty well covers from New Orleans to North Carolina. I did all but 2 1/2 days from the Keys to Beaufort Inlet going offshore in overnight hops and found I prefered that to running inside.

I'll be heading back south this fall, so perhaps you may want to buddy up for part of the trip. Just let me know come October.

Congratulations on making the break. Hope it's all you expect it to be, and more.
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