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JagsBch 01-24-2007 09:36 AM

Sailing down from NY to Florida in the spring
The ICW seems like such a hassle, besides I did not buy the boat to sail in a ditch. :D :D

I did some commercial fishing out in the golf, bottom and long line. That current during a full and new moon can really get moving, I understand that it really shallow around NC coast to the point of forcing you well off shore. Someone suggested I go to Florida via Bermuda.

I am curious regarding any suggestions for a 35' boat making the trek down.
How far should I go offshore, and what are some can't miss stops on the way down? I will more than likely take the treck down to Annapolis and Chesapeake for a weak or so before heading down.

I am thinking that hiring a delivery skipper might not be such a bad idea after all, as the valuable experience and lessons could be priceless in the overall picture of bringing me up to speed. I figure this would probably be the best way to learn the inside and outs of my boat, from dealing with the delicate procedure of docking a sailboat to dealing with rough sea conditions.

The catch is I think it would be wise to get to Chesapeake first before hiring the delivery captain, so as not to rude him out as far as the delay in Chesapeake would go. I might even fly the girls up to stay with me on the ship from Florida so they can soak up the atmosphere.

So I guess I might need two delivery captains. Heck maybe 3 or 4 at this rate. I'd appreciate any suggestions and information regarding the trip down. I can't get to the boat right now because it is stored for the winter.

sailingdog 01-24-2007 09:42 AM

Many delivery captains will charge you an extra fee if you want to come along and learn as crew. They're not in the business of teaching owners how to sail their boats as a general rule—they're in the business of moving boats.

Going offshore shouldn't be that much of a problem, but it depends on the winds and the gulf current... I don't have my pilot books here, otherwise I'd look up what the prevailing winds and currents for the trip would be for different parts of the spring.

Certain parts of the Atlantic coast, like the NJ shore, do not have any good harbors of refuge during bad weather, so there is nowhere to hide if a storm comes up.

Where is the boat currently? Is it in shape to make an offshore passage? Is it equipped to make an offshore passage?

camaraderie 01-24-2007 10:02 AM

Jags...I'm gonna be contrarian here and suggest that you go via the ICW. It is undoubtably a longer journey but it is beautiful and there are many places along the way that are wonderful and that regular folks never get to see. I think everyone ought to do it once...then forget about it as you won't want to do it twice but can use it as needed.
Going south offshore can be done but you are generally working against prevailing currents and winds so you will need to be prepared to do a lot of motoring out there as well.
If you do decide to go "outside", I'd suggest you go down the ICW to Beaufort NC...3 days... and then hop outside to avoid the long and relatively dangerous path around Hatteras. You can do the rest of the journey relatively near shore and duck in to a safe harbor within 24 hours if an adverse weather forecast pops up. Steve Dodge's guide to SE US inlets is a great resource for doing it this way.
The Bermuda route is the only practical way to actually SAIL down south but it involves extended ocean passages that both you and the boat must be well prepared for and you will be truly on your own 600 miles from shore.

Coming back north offshore from Florida is MUCH easier and faster as the gulf stream and winds are working in your favor.

JagsBch 01-24-2007 10:40 AM

Is the ICW something I should even try to attempt navigating through with only 3 months sailing experience? I wouldn't mind even getting a skipper to sail me down to like lets say Chesepeake bay to help me work out the wrinkles with my new to me boat.

camaraderie 01-24-2007 11:00 AM

ICW is EASY but you have to prepare for the trip with the right resources. It is 90% motoring so pretty much like driving a car and you CAN do it. If you decide you want to try it, I can give you some advice as can others here but I don't want to go into it heavily unless you have decided to do it this way. You should allow 30 days for the trip from the Chesapeake to South Florida. A few days less for Jacksonville.
I would definitely advise getting some help from NY to the Chesapeake with a new boat and offshore coastal passages along the Jersey shore and the slog up the Delaware or offshore the Delmarva coast. That is the toughest part of the trip.

Vasco 01-24-2007 11:11 AM


Piloting on the ICW is fairly straightforward. Good marks and lots of them. Most of it is motoring or motorsailing although there are stretches where you can sail. From NY you'll get lots of sailing until you get to Norfolk and the ICW. With a good weather window you can do the Atlantic stretch in a day, this'll be the longest stretch of open water till you get to Florida. With your experience the ICW would be your best bet. You might be able to find an experienced sailor to start the trip with you. Post a few notices around the local yacht clubs. As for getting to the Chesapeake first before hiring anyone, your longest stretch will probably be Sandy Hook to Cape May. This is about 20 hours. After that it's all day sailing or motoring. If you really want to go outside I'd wait till Charleston and set out from there for Florida.

NomadPa 01-24-2007 11:56 AM

I'd like to hear
what you have to say about the ICW trip, Camaraderie. How bout if you were in a 24' S2. Just contemplating it, very seriously. My wife and I teach so we have the summers off and were looking for a little trip, we have family in Beaufort, SC. We're based south of Annap.

thanks for any info.

JagsBch 01-24-2007 01:17 PM

So I guess in planning I ought to break this trip down into 3 phases

1. I arrange a skipper to get me to Chesapeake, while teaching me the ropes of my boat. While in the bay sail my tail off for a week or so till I can feel comfortable enough going offshore in SC.

Phase 2
Motor down to SC via ICW.

Phase 3
How do my odds look going about a mile or two offshore between Jacksonville and SC to pull this off singlehandedly, while being so inexperienced? How do my harbor options look in case the weather turns south? And at what point in SC is it safe to go offshore?

Vasco 01-24-2007 01:26 PM

Look at a chart, on the course from Charleston to St. John's River you go about 50 miles offshore. If you're going to hug the shore might as well go down the ditch. Hugging the shore won't help as there are very few good inlets.

Sailing your tail off for a week won't do it. When I started I gave myself (jokingly) ten years to learn to sail and I already knew piloting, navigation and seamanship being a former merchant navy officer. After 22 years I'm still learning.

JagsBch 01-24-2007 01:48 PM

I knew it sounded too easy. I plan on taking sailing lessons starting in a week or so, so by the time I got to SC I ought to have 4 or 5 months of full time sailing under my belt. Now thinking about it I wouldn't mind spending a month or even 2 at the bay.

I thought maybe if I could be a day from an inlet while hugging the coast I could pull it off if by keeping a good eye on the weather. I would much rather be sailing down the coast than motoring through the ICW. No way am I going 50 miles off shore by myself right now. As a matter of fact I am not going to do squat with out approval from more experienced sailors at this point.

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