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Irunbird 08-29-2012 06:11 PM

Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
I may be doing this trip in the next year or so, and I have some options (trailer). My boat is an Olson 30, no "beam of destiny", but has the jock straps (below deck shrouds connecting the chainplates to the mast base). If you didn't know about Olson's, they are ultralight boats (3600 lb displacement) with a 35 ft mast and 5'1" keel. I'm thinking of doing this solo (possibly with one friend) and hugging the coastline, so if something happens, I can duck in somewhere and drop the hook or tie up safely. What I'm not finding by searching on Sailnet is info about the gulfstream as you get past Jacksonville (I know it comes into the shoreline) and around Key West. I'm fairly certain this will be a slog of sorts, but does anyone have some good advice? I've been looking at the pilot charts for the area, and this isn't happening anytime soon, so I can plan this trip carefully. One thing I was thinking was taking enough time off from work between jobs so I can take my time and enjoy the trip.


cupper3 08-29-2012 11:57 PM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
Here you go, and free courtesy of the USA taxpayer.

Maritime Safety Information

teejayevans 08-30-2012 12:06 PM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
You can avoid the gulf stream easily until you get to West Palm Beach. You'll need to do overnights to get anywhere, otherwise you be spending 4 hrs just getting in/out the inlets.
Weather wise the best time of year would be spring/fall, you will have company if heading south in the fall. You will have to decide how much tolerance you have to being sleep deprived, if singlehanded, you'll have to do just short naps, get yourself a countdown timer that you slip to your collar to insure you wake up.
Most people will use the Hawk channel south of Miami to avoid the stream down to Key West. If you motor some, sail offshore when weather is good, you should be able to get to Tampa in about 4 weeks.

Irunbird 08-30-2012 06:57 PM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
Thanks, guys- I've already been going over the pilot charts, but I was hoping for first-hand experience to tell me what it's like doing it (kind of hard to guess just by looking at wind roses). Thanks, TeeJay- exactly what I needed to hear. I'm guessing there's quite a bit of commercial traffic outside the keys especially going east, right?


Irunbird 08-30-2012 07:17 PM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
Man- what an intimidating looking coast line! I'm just starting to look at the charts via the NOAA reader, but it looks kinda like once you're in the channel, there are few places to get out. I'll be careful!

FSMike 08-31-2012 08:48 AM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
You could always go across Okeechobee if you want to give the keys a miss.

svHyLyte 08-31-2012 11:26 AM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
To get a good idea of what the gulf stream is doing, go to Passage, click on the Sector Maps and select the area of the coast you're interested in and then click on the tab "Gulf Stream". You will be able to see the stream and the velocities at the moment and predictions for several days ahead. By and large, for 3-4 days at a time, passage weather has proven very reliable.

In general, heading south to about Cape Canaveral, you can stay "relatively" inshore and within northerly flows of 1 knt or less. Attempting to take advantage of counter currents will require you to hang too close to the coast which will sacrafice any advantage offered by such currents to greater distances and the flukie conditions of alternating sea/land breezes and put you into a more hazzardous area--the sea doesn't generally kill boats, its the hard stuff around the edges that does that. From Canaveral south, you can hug the coast and sail point-to-point, or go inside, to St. Lucie and then cross to the west coast on the St. Lucie canal, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchie River route (provided you can stand the boredom). BTDT.

As long as you can sail in easterly through southerly to westerly winds, you should do okay. Any northerly components tho' will make for a miserable sail as that boat is an off-the-wind machine. It can be done, of course, and the boat is certainly up to it...if you are. Frankly, however, if you have a trailer, I don't see the point of beating up the boat, and yourself, for the sake of the exercise.


PBzeer 08-31-2012 11:51 AM

Re: Sailing from Charleston to Tampa
I go outside from Charleston to the Keys, within sight of land, and have never experienced a problem with the 'Stream.

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