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  #1  
Old 08-15-2010
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Question Charleston to Jacksonville Cruise

All,

I'm planning my first cruise from Charleston to Jacksonville, to take place late September or early October this year, barring any major storms (if that's the situation, I'll be calling it off).

I'm currently planning to do this as a coastal cruise on the outside, attempting to stay within 3 NM of land, but certainly no more than 5 NM. I have a route plotted with my computer's chart plotting software (GPS Nav-X), which I will gladly export to someone else to look at if anyone wants it (I'm always willing to have someone else take a look at it!).

I'm looking for someone with local knowledge of the areas listed below to let me know if I'm making good decisions on the stopping points. I'm hoping to do this as a series of day sailing trips only (anticipating ~12 hours of daylight based on the almanac). I'll be either anchoring or pulling into a marina every night. The boat is an O. H. Rodgers 33 with a shoal keel; with the board up, she draws a little more than 3 feet.

Right now, I'm planning on:
Day 1: Charleston to Seabrook Island (40 NM). Planning on a stop at either the Bohicket Creek marina or anchoring in the North Edisto River.

Day 2: Seabrook Island to Hilton Head Island (65 NM). This is my longest sailing day, and probably the one with the most concern, because getting into Tybee Roads looks pretty interesting. Especially since it looks like a pretty tight squeeze around R14-R18 up to G3 enroute to the Calibogue Sound. I'm hoping to secure a reservation at the South Beach Inn & Marina for a night or two to enjoy Hilton Head. (Option B would be to stick in a "short" day to pull into Edisto Beach to reduce the sailing distance. That would open up many additional hours of sailing.)

Day 3: Hilton Head Island to St. Catherine Island (44 NM). I was looking to anchor in Walburg Creek.

Day 4: St. Catherine Island to St. Simons Island (53 NM). I'm hoping to stay at one of the marinas for the night.

Day 5: St. Simons Island to Fernandina Beach (38 NM). I'm hoping to stay at one of the marinas for the night in the area.

Day 6: Fernandina Beach to St. Johns River (38 NM). I'll be pulling into the new slip for Zephyr here.

You'll probably ask about my experience, so I'll tell you now. I sailed small boats (Lasers) in college, got my officer's commission in the Navy (where I've qualified as an officer of the deck, sort of like a third mate on a large ship; the process included learning about navigation, collision regulations, ship and personnel safety, etc), and I've been boating all around Charleston. This is my first large "cruise" trip with my sailboat. I'm really excited, because this is why my wife and I bought Zephyr, but I'm a little nervous, since it'll be my first big trip.

Since I don't think you can be "too safe", I'll have a crew of at least three, including one very experienced sailor. Navigation is by GPS Nav X, handheld GPS and a full paper chart of the Tybee Roads area (don't want GPS to fail me there), and St. John's River (new homeport). Hopefully, I'll have small printouts of the other charts just for reference. We're bringing along some big items (coastal viking liferaft, EPIRB, etc), and everyone gets an inflatable lifejacket, safety harness and tether to use with the jacklines. I'm NOT planning on having storm sails, but instead plan on opening distance to land and then dropping sails at the first indication I won't get out of the way of weather trouble and switching to engine. If that fails, I'm tossing out a coastal ParaAnchor.

I'm hoping for:
1. Good local knowledge comments about the stops that I'm making - anything will help alot. Good anchorages? Good marinas? An easy way to make sure you're not going to run aground in Tybee on the way to Hilton Head?

2. Any other comments about recommended equipment for this trip? (I can't be too careful here!)

3. Any other thoughts?

Thanks for your help - I'm hoping to get some great advice.
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Old 08-15-2010
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For your long day 2 trip you may want to keep Port Royal Sound as a ditch option if the distance to Tybee Roads doesn't suit. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-17-2010
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Thanks for the heads up - I might end up taking that as the primary option for Day 2.

Sailing for Port Royal Sound would change Day 2 to a 59 NM sailing day vice 65 NM, right up to the marina. It looks a lot less difficult too. I'd also be able to spend a "short day" berth shifting from one side of Hilton Head to the other via Skull Creek, so when I leave the area, it won't affect day 3.
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Old 08-17-2010
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Are you stopping overnight by choice? I generally do Port Royal Sound to St Augustine in one overnight hop, So JAX would be an easy overnight. You could also do Charleston to Fernadina Beach in an overnight.
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Old 08-18-2010
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Getting in/out of the inlets is time consuming, if you are going to jump offshore, might as well do any overnight. Tybee roads/Port Royal inlets 10-15nm to get in or out. I would stay on the ICW if you don't want to travel at night.
Tom
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Old 08-18-2010
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I too would consider all the time you'll spend going in andout of the inlets , as it will consume a considerable amount of your daylight sailing. Although having several inlets available should things not be going your way , or you just want to sight - see.
Either way , have fun and enjoy the trip.
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Old 08-18-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teejayevans View Post
Getting in/out of the inlets is time consuming,.........
Tom
Well said,.....absolutely true,.........but wait! I elect to travel by sailboat. If you're worried about time, "Nothing goes to windward like a 747! Time is not a factor for all. I usually leave Florida for Maine with a three month plan, but I am not concerned with delays. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-18-2010
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We're just looking to enjoy the trip. Sure, I haven't done an overnight on a sailboat before, but I've done overnights on ships to know what to expect. I just don't see any reason to rush things along.

A big reason my wife and I bought the sailboat was to cruise - and visiting ports is a part of that! At least it is to us. This trip she's not coming along - it's me, my dad and a friend, but we're still going to make this a fun cruise. Besides, taking the ICW wouldn't necessarily be a "sailing trip", so unless I have to because of some other reason, that's out.

No, if time becomes a factor, we can shift to a simple overnight plan. But the whole point is that it's not a factor - we're just looking for some fun instead.
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Old 08-18-2010
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I assume you're also factoring tides/currents into your sail plan? (They can be large, 8-9 feet in this stretch).

If you want a marina every night, you might calculate whether you spend so much time coming in/out the inlets that it cancels out the benefits of going offshore. We went southbound on the ICW, stopping at several lovely sites along the way and taking a week to get through Georgia; and outside on the way north, taking 30 hours from St Augustine to Beaufort, SC.
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Old 10-04-2010
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Update: due to the weather during this week, I was forced to cancel our little trip. I had several days lined up to do the sail, but previously-Tropical Storm Nicole really messed up the weather for us. Since some of my crew was flying from out of town, I had to make a call on the trip, and safety was my number one priority.

We'll be trying again next year instead. (I wish work would let me do it sooner!) It'll be an abbreviated trip too - I think we're going to sail it straight through instead (well, maybe a stop in Hilton Head).

Regardless, thank you all of the help that you gave us!
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