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Silvio 05-05-2011 10:54 AM

Florida to Chesapeake late fall
Planning to depart north west Florida as the end of hurricane season approaches sometime between Septemeber and December and head south to the keys and hopefully Bahamas for a couple of weeks. That is the fun part.

Next leg of the trip is to get me and our Catalina 310 to the Chesapeake. I know this is getting to be a bad time of year to head north but it is what it is.

The one thing I have going for me is time. When I leave north west Florida I will be joyously unemployed:thewave: and will have until January before I need to be anywhere in Maryland (I plan to be there before then but you all get my point).

So, to my reason for this post:
1) I would appreciate any thoughts from folks that have made this run between Florida and Maryland both inside and outside to Norfolk or there abouts and particularly any thoughts pertaining to making the run this time of year. I know there is a ton of good info about this route both directions so I am looking for thooughts specific to going "against the grain" as most folks typically head south in November/December.

2) I am looking at piney Narrows Yacht Haven in Chester Maryland as our new home base and would welcome any information from folks with first hand experience as either owning a slip there or renting from them.

Background is that I am comfortable sailing in moderate conditions. I live aboard the boat in Florida and sail mostly single handed. I by no means over estimate my own abilities and tend to be cautious, particularly regarding weather. I will have two to three, mostly inexperienced, crew for the trip north and will not go outside over night unless the weather looks very good. I have only been sailing a few years but have lived a couple decades in Florida and have been boating most of those years. I do appreciate the gulf stream and understand and appreciate the hazard of a northerly wind blowing counter to it, not my idea of a good weather window:) and again I have time to hunker down and wait.

Happy sailing and thanks in advance!

RichH 05-05-2011 12:20 PM

My advice would be to try be in Maryland/Chesapeake by mid October as if later you will be in 'gale season'. From mid-October on you will be subject strong NW gales ('equinoctal gales') that can keep you 'in hiding' for several days. During this time (late September, on) Id avoid rounding Cape Hatteras as its a 'birthing site' for the very rapid formation of Lows/storms, so If running outside Id come in at Beaufort/Moorehead City or Cape Fear and run the ICW from there up to Norfolk, etc. From SC to Beaufort (heading NE) at that time you can sometimes experience a 'nantucket sleigh-ride' on a screaming beam reach by coming in close to shore to avoid the 'fetch' from the NW (watch out for the shoals) at the 'tail end' of a gale.
The 'equinoctals' can sometimes occur earlier depending on how 'early' the change from late summer to early winter weather patterns (watch for the jet stream to begin to flow more 'southerly' on a 500mb weather chart) . Watch the birds ... if you start seeing migrating geese, swans and eagles along the coast you can be quite sure that the weather will soon be 'turning'.

rayncyn51 05-05-2011 01:01 PM

Silvio, Welcome to Chester. We are nearby, at Castle Harbor. We'll be making the trip the other way in a year or so. Would love to meet you and chat when you get here. PM or e-mail us at rayncyn51 at gmail. The beer will be on us. - Ray'n'Cyn

Silvio 05-05-2011 01:57 PM

RichH- Thanks for the input, precisely the thoughtful and intelligent kind of information I was hoping to get by posting.

RaynCyn- I will be sure to drop you a line when I get there. We are in the middle of a protracted move to Bethesda. My wife and kids (youngest is 15 but they are still 'the kids' :)" are already there but my work has me stuck in Florida for a while longer.

My back up plan if it just looks like a bad idea to make the trip that late in the year is to do the Bahamas part and then put the boat up somewhere near Jacksonville, FL. until the spring, then bring it up in April or May. I just hate leaving the boat that far away and not be able to run over and tinker with it when I have time.

RichH 05-05-2011 02:53 PM

Im not suggesting that the 'gales' will prevent you. What Im suggesting is that it may take longer because you may have to 'hide out' more often. Usually there is quite a bit of good sailing weather until the end of November in the Ches., etc.

Silvio 05-05-2011 04:18 PM

I did not construe anything you posted to mean "DEFINITELY DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS TRIP" :) What you said is very good info. Although I haven't done any boating in the Chesapeake area we have lived in Maryland before and I know how the weather can be during the fall. Some gorgeous days full of sunshine and mild temps, some days with raging wind and quite cold temps, rain, and sleet.

I threw out there that I have time to spare for precisely the reason that I can 'hide out' when necessary for several weeks (in total, not at one time) if it came to that. I will point out that I am kind of a sissy when it comes to cold so I would prefer to hide from bad weather on a dock where I can plug in and run the heater :D

Thanks again.

SVAuspicious 05-05-2011 04:31 PM

Hi Silvio,

I did see you said you aren't interested in overnight runs. I'd like to poke at that a bit. You can run from Marsh Harbour, Abaco to the Chesapeake Bay offshore direct in 4-5 days on your boat. It's a great and energizing experience. Most years a good weather window opens every week or so. If you need more experienced crew I can likely help you.

Just something to think about.

Oh - C&I in Little Creek or Norfolk is a much more pleasant experience than in Florida.

2140 05-08-2011 11:02 PM

I have done the trip from and to Florida numerous times at the time of year you plan to travel. My best advice to you, considering the boat you have, is to not go outside after October, and even in October you could be pushing your luck. A Catalina of that size is not a boat you want to be in with a northern wind pushing against the gulf stream. If you have to do it, make short runs, after monitoring the weather, on the outside with a stop along the coast of S. Carolina, then go inside behind Cape Fear so you don't have to go around Frying Pan Shoals, go back out on the other side of Cape Fear and cross Onslow Bay. Then go inside at Beaufort and take the Intracoastal up to the Cheasapeake.

A longer yet safer route is the intracoastal waterway all the way up.

I would leave the inexperienced crew on land and take someone experienced if you decide to go outside at the time of year you plan to head for the Chesapeake.

john1066 05-09-2011 06:21 AM

I wouldn't be contemplating a South Florida and Bahamas sojourn in September and October - it might be the end of the hurricane season but it's by far the most active time. That might just me being overly cautious, but I've encountered enough hurricanes whilst making my way south from the Bay to the Keys to have great respect for them.

I'd head straight up to the Bay planning on going inside all the way with a chance that you'll have to hole up at some point to avoid a storm. Remember that going offshore you'll get large swells if there is hurricane activity even very far away, so if you see a window that will let you out for a few days offshore, just check that there is no unusual swell being reported. I once went offshore at Beaufort, heading south, and found an enormous swell running with only 15k of breeze - it was caused by two hurricanes passing way offshore.

PBzeer 05-09-2011 07:11 AM

Since you have the time (and unless you're dead set on the Bahamas), I would make my way to Miami, then do a series of overnight hops up to Hilton Head Island (Miami-Ft Pierce, Ft Pierce-St Augustine, St Augustine-Hilton Head), then go inside on the ICW (I would go all the way to Beaufort Inlet myself in two more hops, the last two nights, but the trip inside is worth doing once).

Easy day to Beaufort SC, then two to Charleston (anchoring the first night), two days to Georgetown SC, then another two to Myrtle Beach, then to Southport, then an easy day to Wrightsville Beach (to put you in a good anchoring spot going to Beaufort). Two more days to Beaufort NC, then an easy day to Oriental. From there, you can go to the Outer Banks (Orcacoke, then Manteo), or follow the ICW up through BellHaven and the Alligator River. Then you have another choice of the Dismal Swamp (my choice) or the Virginia Cut up to Norfolk. Except on the Nuese River in NC and crossing the Ablemarle Sound (one day each), weather shouldn't be a big factor. Once on the Chessy, you have all kinds of choices.

The outside hops are weather permitting, of course. This is just a suggestion on my part, based on my trips through these areas, and what I think is a good mixture of speed and scenic.

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