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Old 03-14-2011
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planning a trip Boston->Virginia Beach

So my friends and I (~4 people total) want to take my boat from Boston to Virginia Beach at some point this summer, perhaps July. We'd try to make a three week trip out of it, which would include sailing down there, spending time there, and sailing back. As some of you may know, I have rather limited sailing experience (and my "crew" even less): an 8-day ASA class, a handful of weekends sailing Cape Cod Mercuries in the Charles River, and about 6 day trips around Boston Harbor in my Gulfstar 37. Do you think this is a foolhardy endeavor? We would of course get more practice in my boat before heading off, I'm thinking a circumnavigation of Cape Cod in June, ideally including an overnight passage to Provincetown so we get overnight experience.

I'm wondering your thoughts on the following...
  • Should we go at all?
  • Should we take the "outside" route to make better time? I'm currently thinking we might stop for one night on the way, which I'm estimating means two 48-hour passages.
  • How long would it take to get there? Is my above estimate even close?
  • I currently do not have a life raft or EPIRB. How important would you say they are to get? I'd like to get an EPIRB, but I don't think I can afford a life raft.
  • I also don't have a dinghy. I should probably really get one of those ASAP, but my finances are stretched thin. How important is this (especially in light of perhaps not having a life raft...)?
  • I do not have a trysail or other storm sail (I do have two reefs in my main and a roller furling jib). Do you think I need to get a storm sail?
  • Can you recommend good places to stop on the way and good places to go once we're in Virginia Beach? I'm particularly interested in info on marinas in Virginia Beach. We're all 24-26 years old, so we want something of a party when we get there.

Thanks!
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Last edited by rmeador; 03-14-2011 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-14-2011
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I have made that passage a number of times and I am quite familiar with Virginia Beach. There are no marinas of easy entry in VA Beach suitable for your boat. With your experience and that big new boat I would say sail around and party in our Mass. Bay ports. Check out Gloucester. You can still have a great time staying local and you won"t be needing a liferaft or EPIRB. But get a dinghy.
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Old 03-14-2011
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FishSticks, thank you very much for the input. I'm sure we'll do plenty of puttering around New England (and maybe Long Island) this summer. The trip we're planning is supposed to be more of a getaway to someplace further, like a road trip, except by sea New England also has a sad lack of beaches with warm water, even at the height of summer. The original plan was to head to Bermuda, but I quickly became convinced that we lacked the necessary experience, and also lacked the funds to properly outfit the boat for such a voyage. Virginia Beach was chosen because it has a reputation as a fun place and it has "beach" in the name. We're open to other possibilities, as long as they have beaches with warm water and a social scene with people of our age group. I don't want to make it sound like we're a bunch of alcoholics (we're not), nor is this trip meant to be a bender, I was just trying to communicate that we want a destination tailored to people of our age group.

What do you mean by there are no marinas with easy entry? That implies there are some marinas suitable for my boat? I've heard tales of how terrible the NJ coast is, and NC, but I can't recall ever hearing anything bad about VA. Virginia Beach appears to be right at the entrance to the Chesapeake, which everyone says is the sailing capital of the country! Thus I am confused about what makes this area unsuitable.
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Old 03-14-2011
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I think the trip sounds like a good one but....

I would wait until you have a little more experience and some funds for some upgrades.

FishSticks gave some good locations and I'll add some more:
  • Isle of Shoals - at the border between Maine and NH. Would be a good location for some local cruising or stop off on the way north into Maine
  • Salem - Great harbor with some cools things to walk around and see. Great restaurants and bars. Easy day sail.
  • Cutty Hunk - Go through the canal for the first trip or on the way there. Then around from P-Town, the Vineyard and/or Nantucket
  • Block Island - This would again expose you to some good currents and you could go out and around the Cape if you wanted to get some experience with open water

As to the equipment, the EPIRB is a personal choice. You could be in range of the coast guard for that trip and if you had a newer VHF with DSC then I would feel ok with out it. Make sure you file a float plan with a friend or relative.

But the life raft or dingy, this would be a must for me. If money is short, look on craig's list for a roll up inflatable. I have seen a lot of them for cheap that look to have very little use. Usually the person wants to upgrade to a hard bottom. If you had that inflated and strapped down to the bow that would be good.

You might also want to look into joining a local cruising association. CANE is pretty active and cheap to join (I just joined at the boat show for $20 for the year). You do not have to own a Catalina to join. They plan trips where you can get experience and have someone close by in case you need help. This year they have a shake down to P-Town from the Boston area and then a 10 day around the Cape.

Good luck and I hope to see you out there this summer. What marina/YC do you sail out of?
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Old 03-14-2011
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rmeader, I live here in Va Beach and what fishsticks was referring to about marina access for your boat is accurate. There are two entry's into VA Beach's marinas and both have bridges to low for sailboat accessibility.

That being sail there are plenty of marinas in Norfolk which is just right inside the Chesapeake Bay on the Norfolk side. This is where I kept my boat and they are many choices and price ranges. The trip to the ocean front from there is about a $35.00 cab ride. And yea there is plenty to do in Va Beach for your age group.

But, before making that kind of trip I would suggest if nothing else renting the life raft and getting an epirb. There is a lot of ocean out there and hugging the coast that time of year with the southerly winds will be almost impossible.
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I also meant to ask if you knew about Active Captain for planning out trips? It is a great resource.

I also just saw your reply to FishSticks. You are right about the lack of good warm water beaches around here. But I still think that VA might be a little far for your experience level. But hey, you may be more risk tolerant then me (or rather my Wife because I would probably to that trip with your level of experience too).
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Old 03-14-2011
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If you can sail around in the Mass Bay/Cape Cod area comfortably now, then you can go to VA!

Pick your stops and watch the weather for your comfort level. Enjoy the trip!
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Thanks everyone that has answered so far. I think I can manage getting a dinghy and an EPIRB. I'll have to see about renting a life raft; I can't afford to buy one. I was not previously aware of Active Captain. I spent the last half hour or so playing with it. It seems really useful. And it easily points out the low clearances on those bridges that FishSticks and SailKing1 pointed out (why would they build them so low???).

The Norfolk area looks pretty good, and it seems about as close as I can get. $35 for a cab seems a little steep, though, especially two ways each day for several days... Are there any other areas that I should check out, perhaps north of the Chesapeake? I didn't see any likely candidates in my couple minutes of looking up there on Active Captain. My current insurance policy won't let me go further south than the VA/NC line.
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rmeador
What about Cape May NJ or Lewes DE.
Cape May has beaches and night life and a short distance to Wildwood NJ.
Lewes DE is close to Rehobeth Beach, another great party town.
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Old 03-14-2011
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try this BoatUS Foundation for the EPIRB
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