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Perseverance 08-05-2012 10:58 PM

Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
I am sailing from Michigan to Puerto Rico this fall and I am too tall to go the ICW below Norfolk. I plan to come out the NY harbor about mid Oct and get down as far as time allows me before returning home for a month. I hope to make Virginia Beach.I plan to be back at the boat Nov 25. I do not wish to sail accross, but through the Bahamas. Looking for best jumping point and info about outside Cape Hatteras.

eddyedsanden 08-06-2012 02:10 AM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
Try a run straight to Spanish Cay, Abaco. Low volume, easy customs, a straight shot (watch for hurricanes, and prepare for a 90 degree right hand turn) wash up, buy a few goodies, play pool, swim in pool, and otherwise onto Marsh Harbour, Eleuthra and south.
luck luck!

Perseverance 08-06-2012 09:35 PM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
No can do says the Admiral. I am thinking off Jacksonville. I can run 7 on fuel forever almost (1500 mi). Anyone else going about that time.

JonEisberg 08-06-2012 10:32 PM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
That time of year, you'll want to choose your rounding of Hatteras carefully. Your best choices are simply to motor around during a calm, or try to ride down the beach in advance of a frontal passage while the breeze is still SW-W-NW... You must be very confident of the forecast and timing of the frontal passage, however, as you definitely want to be around Diamond Shoals before the wind moves to the N-NE... In between the Steam and the Outer Banks is not a good place to be, once that happens...

There's considerable risk to this route, and some like Don Street will insist that one should never round Hatteras inside of the Stream... I disagree with him there, I think leaving from the Chesapeake and running down the beach is an acceptable risk if you're patient enough to wait for the right weather... I'd suggest passing the Cape during daylight, I've always cut right around the red nun "2" right off Diamond Shoals with no problem... But again, that is not a place you want to have anything go wrong, especially if weather builds from the NE... Once around the shoals, the bight of Hatteras could afford some protection as a place to heave-to, but it's still a long haul down around Cape Lookout, don't even think about Hatteras or Ocracoke Inlets as a bail-out option in bad weather...

If you're gonna go down the coast as far as Jacksonville, I think you may as well proceed as far down as Lake Worth, Lauderdale, or Miami, and cross from there... Unless you are blessed with exceptionally favorable weather, I just don't see any real advantage to heading for the Bahamas from a spot like Jacksonville... Further north, a place like Charleston, perhaps, actually makes more sense, generally...

SVAuspicious 08-07-2012 06:10 AM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Perseverance (Post 905876)
I am sailing from Michigan to Puerto Rico this fall and I am too tall to go the ICW below Norfolk. I plan to come out the NY harbor about mid Oct and get down as far as time allows me before returning home for a month. I hope to make Virginia Beach.I plan to be back at the boat Nov 25. I do not wish to sail accross, but through the Bahamas. Looking for best jumping point and info about outside Cape Hatteras.

If you're too tall for the ICW you are probably not going to have a good time in Virginia Beach. I stage in Little Creek, usually Vinings Landing Marina (walking distance to grocery, West Marine, close to Norfolk International Airport).

It's three or four days from Little Creek to Abaco. What is your Admiral's objection? If you're heading to PR don't give up Easting too readily. The further North you can get East the happier you will be.

Heading South inside the Gulf Stream takes time and attention. There will be sections at Hatteras and into Florida where you will have foul current. From Little Creek if you cross the GS at 135T to 68dW (ish) you can be in PR in 10 or 12 days.

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonEisberg (Post 906304)
That time of year, you'll want to choose your rounding of Hatteras carefully.

*snip*

There's considerable risk to this route, and some like Don Street will insist that one should never round Hatteras inside of the Stream... I disagree with him there, I think leaving from the Chesapeake and running down the beach is an acceptable risk if you're patient enough to wait for the right weather...

I know that Jon, like me, has made this rounding many times. I suspect he has done it more than me. It simply isn't a big deal. You can see the fronts coming down from the Great Lakes. There aren't many surprises there. From Little Creek to clear of Hatteras is less than a day on most boats. You'll have lots of good weather data available before leaving. Even if the conditions are poor you won't have to wait for more than a couple of days for it to clear unless something really ugly is happening, which is relatively rare.

More information about the familial restrictions you are working under would help us give you more useful ideas.

eddyedsanden 08-07-2012 12:37 PM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
If there is a northerly component to the wind, the gulf stream can get really sharp off FL. If you have a good weather window, I sort of agree with Auspicious, east early, cross above and make the dash.
Qualification: have not rounded Hatteras, just know it can be adventuresome, so take this for what it's worth!
-E

SVAuspicious 08-07-2012 02:03 PM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
Also note that the GS tips over at North Carolina. If you head out at 135T from Chesapeake Bay you'll cross the GS running NEly or even ENEly and get as much East boost as foul North.

blowinstink 08-07-2012 03:35 PM

Don Street in his own words
 
Might as well take a look at what Don Street has to say as well (since eevryone is commenting on him). Here is one distillation of his ideas:

Picking Your Point of Departure | Cruising World

Good discussion.

SVAuspicious 08-07-2012 05:18 PM

Re: Don Street in his own words
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by blowinstink (Post 906586)
Might as well take a look at what Don Street has to say as well (since eevryone is commenting on him). Here is one distillation of his ideas

With all due respect (a lot) to Mr. Street I think some of his opinions (and note the article is almost ten years old) are dated:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Street
The major problem on this long passage to the islands is that the weather window is very short. Many sailors believe that October is the best time to leave and are quite happy making passages then. However, if you leave in October, there’s sufficient risk of getting caught in a late-season hurricane that I don’t recommend leaving before November 1.

That just isn't the way the weather patterns are running. We have years when things settle down in September and years when nasty systems with circulation run to Thanksgiving or beyond. Give Steve Black a call and get his perspective, or call Hank Schmitt. Those guys have dealt with this over and over. Selling books is one thing, running a rally is something else.

There is nothing magic about November 1 that isn't a product of the insurance companies. I firmly believe that a big part of the success of the Annapolis Boat Show is the November 1 insurance date. A mid-October show just a day above the November 1 line? Perfect. It will only take one really big late season storm for the insurance company actuaries to move either the date or the line.

But those storms aren't a surprise to anyone that pays attention. You can watch the systems develop off the Cape Verde Islands and make your choices. You'll have plenty of time to get out of the way if 1. you have good weather information on the boat and 2. you understand what it means.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Street
Further, when leaving from southern New England, you can get very cold weather. I remember leaving Norwalk, Connecticut, with my wife one November with 8 inches of snow on the deck. By the time December 1 arrives, I wouldn’t consider embarking on an offshore passage to the Caribbean from the Northeast. Better to wait until next year.

It gets cold in the winter. Dress for it.

If you have time and are only limited by insurance make the run from New England to Chesapeake and stage in Little Creek. I've left the Bay in February and been wearing shorts and t-shirts in two days. The sea and air temperature across the Gulf Stream is amazing. Launching from New England is going to mean being cold longer (five or six days instead of two). Mr. Street's assessment of temperature doesn't match mine: the temperature difference between Boston and Beaufort just isn't significant in November and December. I've been out there. It's just cold. *grin* In fact, I'd rather launch from Little Creek than Beaufort -- I'll be across the Gulf Stream faster.

Two things I do agree with Mr. Street about are staging from Little Creek (I like Vinings Landing Marina) and getting off the beach. I run 135T (weather permitting) and hit the Gulf Stream perpendicularly to get across as quickly as possibly. Watch the sea water temperature. You'll know when you are there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Street
In years past, sailors thought that the Gulf Stream flowed steadily northeast in this region. We now know this isn’t true. Often there’s a southeasterly meander, and boats that find it usually finish near the top of the fleet in the Newport-Bermuda Race. In addition to the meander, rotating warm and cold eddies also can work in your favor. Play these eddies right and they can literally slingshot you toward your destination.

True. Prof Bohen at UConn is the expert on this. See his stuff on the Newport-Bermuda Race web site.

The availability of US sources for Gulf Stream information has pretty well dried up. Dutch sources are about the best you can get today without having to pay a lot of money for it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Street
The subject of weather routers often comes up these days. If you have a big boat (70 feet long or longer), a weather router is certainly worthwhile because you’ll be fast enough to position yourself on the correct side of the highs and the lows. But for the average 40-foot boat, you basically have to pick a favorable weather window for departure, then make the best of whatever weather intersects your route.

I agree with Mr. Street about the realities of 40(ish) foot boats. I don't agree with the use of routers. You should be your own router. There are so many good sources of information available today that some training will turn you into your own best router. Lee Chesneau gives some great courses. Money and time well spent.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Street
If you buy an all-band receiver, you can listen to both government and amateur weather forecasts as well as to the various ham nets. This will give you a very good idea of the current weather conditions in your region.

True. Do this. Do not pass GO do not collect $200 get set up for voice weather on shortwave and weather fax. Do not kid yourself that GRIBs are a substitute. They are pablum.

Have a good watch.

smurphny 08-07-2012 06:23 PM

Re: Sailing outside on the East Coast
 
The November departure is probably a good rule of thumb but, as Auspicious has noted, there are GREAT variations in when the seasons change. That is really what you are looking for, the change from summer to autumn, when the predominant weather-maker is the cold Canadian Maritime upper level low. It bumps lower level pressure systems south and keeps tropical storm systems from running up the flow of the Azores high which predominates in summer. It eventually controls the winter weather pattern. While November almost always marks the complete onset of this pattern, the tropical storm season varies very widely and I think there are a lot of other factors like El Nino, La Nina years and stuff that no one understands yet that go into TS formation.

I can remember from commercial fishing (out of LI) that at some point in November the howling wind always cut the number of days I could work down drastically to maybe 2 days a week for about a month until winter settled in. The trick to sailing south may be to AVOID locking in November if possible if this pattern looks like it's starting early. Watching the weatherfax 500mb charts is really interesting. It would be nice to see these presented in a historical comparison related to the actual onset of winter.

I plan on heading south this year via Bermuda/Bahamas/FL, weather permitting, and will set my depart target according to how I interpret this pattern, not using some arbitrary date.


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