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  #1  
Old 12-04-2002
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Stormer is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

OK - Here''s the scenario:

I''ve been barely able to keep my butt in my seat at work - thinking about going cruising for 6 months to 1 yr. Then - today (not cause of dreaming) - I got let go!

My first thought is that this is a perfect opportunity to cruise for 6 months. I called the boat yard - she can be back in the water ready to go inside of one month.

I have substantial sailing and coastal cruising experience. What are everyone''s thoughts about departing south along the East Coast to Fla and then making it out to the Caribbean?

I''m wondering particularly about the weather. In addition, my boat - while sturdy and seaworthy (and well cared for as I have done most of the work myself) is not really outfitted for passagemaking (I have radar, GPS, can use a sextant no SSB - no windvane steering). In regard to self steering, I have been reading and I understand there are alternatives involving rigging lines to the stay sails, etc.)

Am I crazy? Is this do-able without putting myself or the boat at risk? What sorts of things should I be thinking about re: weather and passagemaking?

Boat I have is a 36'' S2 Center cockpit cutter (with a club foot).

Looking forward to all your responses.
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Old 12-04-2002
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WHOOSH is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Stormer, you''re not in the Member Directory so I''m not sure how we''re supposed to know where you''re leaving from...which plays a role in what we think about getting to Florida.

Once in Florida, what you mean by "making it out to the Caribbean" is a little vague. You can certainly make it down to the Virgins by Spring, island hopping, should you leave in early February...but the winter winds will be firmly entrenched and you''ll work the boat pretty hard or have to be satisfied waiting out lots of fronts on your way.

OTOH if you only hope to visit the Bahamas (which always seem to be colder with more weather junk when I''m there in the winter than I remember from the last time!), of course you''ll have lots of time to visit multiple island groups.

Give us a little more detail on where you''re coming from (you apparently are wondering about leaving right after New Year''s?) and where you''re hoping to get, and folks will be able to give you a more thoughtful comments.

Jack
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Old 12-04-2002
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Stormer is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Hi Jack -

Thanks for your reply.

I''d be leaving from Boston. My first thought was try to make it to Bermuda - but I''ve heard that could be a difficult trip this time of year due to weather.

That taken into consideration, I figured I could work my way down the East Coast to Florida then "out to the islands" - it gets a little vague there since I''m not sure of my geography.

If I can get everything together I would leave in early January (again - weather permitting). I''m not really fond of sailing in the cold in the middle of winter - but I''m not opposed to it either and feel very comfortable as long as I''m along the coast where I have access to assistance, good weather info, etc.

The part that concerns me is generally further south. I''m not sure what to expect in the Carribean - and I don''t know passage distances/times etc between islands. Also - as I mentioned - the boat, while sturdy and seaworthy, is not fitted out for long distance passage making across open water (no vane, no SSB...I can find a life raft and an EBIRB but from some of the materials I have read (again READ - not experienced) it seems one can get away without a vane.

Also wondering about storm sails and sea anchors. Much material I have read discusses lying ahull (with no sails) or heaving to (which can be done with a reefed main. Again, it all looks great when you read it but I''m sure some folks out there have had to practice it.

I''m adventurous - but not reckless. I don''t mind setting out and "roughing" it a bit because I don''t have all the optimal equipment - but again, I don''t want to do anything stupid or be unprepared in a way that would put me and my boat at risk.

Looking forward to your reply.

Regards.
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Old 12-04-2002
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kimberlite is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Stormer,
your note gives me the chills.

The current mid atlantic-coastal weather is 6-8 foot seas 30 knots going offshore you will find seas over 20 feet and winds 40 kts plus.
this is not the time of year to head for bermuda.

you might wany to go to www.orc.org and see what is required for an offshore boat.
look at the requirements for ORC 1.
that is what is required for a run to bermuda.

not having a ssb and strong autopilot is a serious error. You really should look into obtaining weather reports at sea .
why dont you take the safety at sea course at MIT this spring for the marion bermuda Race. do a lot more reading and talking to blue water sailors have one of the inspectors for either the marion bermuda race or the newport bermuda race go over your boat. You will learn a lot from then.
have you read bill seiferts book offshore sailing?
you should also learn how to read the pilot charts and improve your "geography".
sailing east this time of year in the caribbean is a beat all the way to africa.
please rethink this adventure.
ERIC
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Old 12-04-2002
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Stormer is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Thanks for your reply Eric.

Kind of a bummer....I have the time now but it appears to be absolutely the wrong time of year to go anywhere....

Is the Carribean really that difficult? Would Florida to the Dominican Republic and the islands be THAT unpleasant? If it''s upwind to the islands, once I get there and head South I''d be reaching.....

Would prefer not to wait till Spring as I don''t really want to take more than 1 year off....but - as I said above - if it is just plain stupid to go at this time I won''t do it....

Thanks again.

Matt
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Old 12-04-2002
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Stormer is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

By the way....6 to 8 ft seas and 30 kts of wind is manageable along the coast (I''ve been in conditions such as these a few times and the boat was very manageable....I almost think being in such conditions along the coast (or even something slightly more severe) would be a good way to practice/get used to heavy weather conditions (better to do so where you have access to assistance if necessary - rather than 400 miles off shore!)......I feel confident I and the boat could handle that....obviously temperature is a factor...
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Old 12-05-2002
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btimm is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

There is a very interesting book that covers exactly what you want to do. It''s called, "A Gentleman''s Passage South." I would highly recommend that you get this because it includes detailed sailing directions from Florida to the Caribbean.
The purpose of this book, as it explains, is to provide a detailed method and route for traveling the "Thorny Path" to windward. With about three exceptions, the book describes how the trip can be done in a series of passages that are less than a day.

You will love this book. I''ve seen messages from individuals that have followed this route successfully but have not tried it myself.

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Old 12-05-2002
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Jade Sky is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Hey Stormer,

My first thought was yahoo! congratulations! A fabulous door of opportunity just opened. You are so lucky!

I have no idea of weather and conditions on the East coast, but if you have excellent experience and your boat is capable, and you''re willing to rough it a bit, why not get your SSB, life raft, EPIRB, and whatever other critical necessities you need, and just GO FOR IT! Use good judgement, choose the best weather conditions, and work your way south.

When you see a fork laying in the road, pick it up!

Cheers,

Pamela
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Old 12-05-2002
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MaineJC is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

I agree with btimm "A Gentleman''s Passage South" covers the Thorless Path. Get it and read it cover to cover. But this only covers Fl throught the Islands. J.C.
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Old 12-05-2002
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kimberlite is on a distinguished road
East Coast to Fla to Caribbean - NOW

Stormer,
i hope i didn''t totally burst your bubble. Last night before reading you question i read of a mans brother who went over the side on saturday and drowned while still snapped in. This was on the ARC atlantic rally which is a milk run at this time of year. If the drowned sailor just had current approved gear ( a teather with quick dis-connect at the chest) he would be alive. Incidentally the seas were in such a state that he could not be brought on board and had to be cut away. This leaves his brother alone with 2000 miles to sail, for the lack of a snap shackle.

i GUESS I AM A LITTLE PARANOID when it comes to equipping a boat for offshore. If you look at the equipment list on my old boat
http://kimberlite1.homestead.com
you will see what i feel is necessary for a offshore passage. The safety equipment is not listed.

Sailing in 6-8 foot seas with 30 knots is no big deal but add 20 degrees farenheit and the fact that you have no way to get warm for at least 4 days leads to hypothermia and death.

I would wait till late april and head south to the caribbean.
of corse you then have to contend with hurricane season and putting up your boat from june-july to the end of october.
it is kind of a conundrum, since you are out of phase with most cruisers.
the time to have headed south last month.

if you would like to talk about the trip south please e-mail me back channel Kimberlt@optonline.net . I have made a number of round trips to the caribbean from long island and will be going transatlantic
canaries-caribbean in january.
fair winds,
eric
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