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  #21  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Well, the Gulf Stream cuts close to Hatteras and runs north; you're southbound so your choices are to have fair winds and battle wind-against-current waves, or get the wind and current in sync and face a headwind. Neither choice is terribly appealing. You can look for a perfect beam reach, or look for light winds and motor around the cape. Or, stay inside until the Cape Fear River, go out at Morehead City, and stay outside 3 or 4 days to Florida, with the ability to come in at numerous Class A inlets like Charleston or Beaufort, SC; Savannah, GA; should the weather turn.

Surprised that Dave (Auspicious) hasn't chimed in here - he's a big fan of staying to the outside all the way to south Florida.
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  #22  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
I understand Oregon Inlet is not considered to be an acceptable choice for a sailboat. I have been out of it in a powerboat and I would never try it on a sailboat.
Ocracoke is pretty dicey in a sailboat too. I wouldn't plan on being able to come in there.
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  #23  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

I checked the NOAA chart, we can safely sail down to Morehead City 3 NM off the coast and pay attention to Diamond shoal when get to Hatteras. If we need more sea room when wind is blowing from the east hard, we can head out 8 nm or so, which is still far away from the GS heading north. By doing so, we may be able to catch the counter current heading south.

Without any other local knowledge, here what I am thinking. We will wait in Norfolk for the cold front to pass. When the wind is start to shift from south to sw and to west, we will head out from Norfolk to Morehead City or Wilmington. The problem we will have if weather goes bad, we have no place to duck between Norfolk and Morehead City. However, we only need two days to MC. IF we get a weather window for 4 days, we should be OK. Once we get to MC, we will have more places to hide if the weather is not good.

We still have plenty time to sort out the details before departing in November.
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  #24  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
After studying the NOAA chart last night, yes I agree the inlets in the outer bank look dicey. So the alternative from Norfolk is that we will head further south to Morehead City or Wilmington. My questions are:

1. What kind of weather window we should aim for in Norfolk
2. What are our Plan B or C destination if the weather turns bad?

I think you should re-read Jon's post. I would think long and hard about going outside from Norfolk. If you run the ICW it will take you 4 long days to get to Oriental and you can see your friend. There are good anchorages along the way. You will have the option to head outside from Beaufort with plenty of available runs from there (you can go out for long days, overnights or multiple nights). From Beaufort, you will be able to stay coastal and not fight the GS.

OTOH, if you go outside from Norfolk, you don't have any decent falloffs prior to Beaufort. The GS is close to shore and you may wind up fighting it. The weather off of hateras is notorious for changing quickly and (I assume) you know all about the shoals. I just think it is a tough shorthanded run. If you do decide to go outside, when you do your mileage -- don't cheat -- make sure you count all the distance around the shoals and from the sea marks into the harbors. It is a longer trip than it looks at first glance at the charts.

Luck
-Matt
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  #25  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Gulf stream chart:


http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ima...CurrWatlGS.png

You'll have to transfer the lat / long onto a chart to get the distance off Diamond Shoals
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  #26  
Old 10-12-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
Jon,

From your article, you write, "An alternative for cruisers homing in on Norfolk--especially those sailing offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula--is to bypass the first 170 miles of the ICW altogether by continuing past the Chesapeake Bay entrance to Oregon Inlet, at the north end of Hatteras Island. Timed with the passage of a moderate cold front, this route offers marvelous sailing down the Outer Banks, after which it leads into Pamlico Sound, behind Cape Hatteras."

So, if heading south, why not sail down the beach around Hatteras, skip Oregon Inlet and sail down to Ocracoke to enter at Pamlico Sound?

What about a trip from Norfolk to Roanoke Island to stay in the Outer Banks for a few days? Wouldn't outside to Ocracoke be much faster in the right weather?
No way would I recommend planning on heading into Ocracoke, it's a very tricky spot... I've departed from there a number of times from there over the years, but never entered from seaward... Last time out of there was about 8 years ago, it was in decent shape, but the conditions were ideal. Now, with the closure of CG Station Ocracoke, the channel is likely not re-marked as frequently as it used to be - especially this late in the season...

It's hard to understate how dynamic the Outer Banks inlets can be... Year ago, I used to try to run Oregon Inlet on every trip, at the height of a busy season I might transit it twice within a week or 10 days... Sometimes, the changes that might have occurred even over such a short span were amazing...

Charts mean nothing at an inlet like Ocracoke. About 10 years ago, a big Beneteau attempted to enter, relying on a chartplotter... They grounded hard, and by the following morning, the deck was awash, and photographs revealed virtually all deck gear (winches, etc) had been stripped overnight... (This is Blackbeard's old stomping grounds, after all (grin))...

Compare the chart...



with this image, you'll note there's precious little resemblance...

http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/nav/JP...2008_03_01.jpg

Again, I just don't see the point of going around Hatteras unless you have to (especially shorthanded, as Rockdawg appears to be contemplating)... No less an authority than Don Street thinks it's nuts to even think about passing Hatteras inside the Stream. I happen to disagree with him on that, but his opinion definitely validates the genuine risk of doing so... You really have to time the weather perfectly, you'd better be around Diamond Shoals before the wind comes NE with any strength, there's no margin for error, you're suddenly right off one of the most feared lee shores in the North Atlantic...

Not to mention, anyone who trusts implicitly any forecast in the vicinity of Hatteras is a fool... Especially in a year like this one, with the water temps near the Stream as elevated as they have been this summer, the approach or passage of a November cold front could be a recipe for some very volatile weather... Only time I've ever experienced "Thunder-snow" on the water, was a night rounding Diamond Shoals in late January about 8 years ago...

As far as Roanoke Island, I recommended that route down through Pamlico Sound when the weather favors it, it can be a great sail. For those in a hurry, leaving Coinjock the anchorages further south at first light, one can be through the Old House Channel and into the Sound before dark, then continue sailing through the night, and be in Beaufort the next morning...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 10-12-2012 at 07:44 PM.
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  #27  
Old 10-13-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

I concur with Jon big time. The run through Diamond Shoals is much greater than 8 miles offshore. I have come through there a number of times when the regular ocean swells of 4-6 ft were accentuated to 10-12 in the shoals going out 35 miles. If ypu look carefully the Atlantic goes from a couple thousand feet deep to about 100 ft in less than 3 miles. And instead of large intervals the Hatteras area had steep short intervals. There is no real place to duck in for cover as discussed that in any weather Ocracoke is not an option, and Oregon is never and option. The winds in this area not as predictable as you think either. You have many factors to consider. Down sloping winds from the mountains, short coastal plain, influence from tropical air masses meeting fronts from Canada. This can change the weather in the area quite quickly and dramatically.

What most people do not understand about the charts and Jon explained well is that these two areas as well as many of the inlets on the Jersey Shore, the sand shift daily around the channels and the CG is constantly reconfiguring temporary bouys defining them. That should tell you something about the conditions you will find there.

Auspicious has takenthe outside route many times ( I don't want to speak for him) but I don't beleive he runs the coast, certainly not at 3 miles. I thought is route was many outside the stream. He has a world of experience and is very cautious as a delivery captain, and has great experience in this area.

Personally I would not risk my boat, or life on this route and would come out after Hatteras on the way south. There is a reason it is called the graveyard of the Atlantic.

Dave
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Last edited by chef2sail; 10-13-2012 at 08:15 AM.
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  #28  
Old 10-13-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by blowinstink View Post
Gulf stream chart:


http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ima...CurrWatlGS.png

You'll have to transfer the lat / long onto a chart to get the distance off Diamond Shoals
There appears to be an eddy running North to South close to the shore. This seems to be a common feature of the stream - that an eddy runs in the opposite direction outside the path of the Gulf Stream.

Why not ride the eddy south?

Why not sail/motor inside Diamond Shoals during the daytime instead of outside? I understand the danger of being caught on a lee shore, but if you pick the right weather window, it should work.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 10-13-2012 at 08:23 AM.
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  #29  
Old 10-14-2012
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Rockdawg. I am heading out around Nov 12th, that is the date I am currently using. I am heading to the Melbourne area to stay for a while. How far are you going?
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  #30  
Old 10-14-2012
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Re: ICW from VA to FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
There appears to be an eddy running North to South close to the shore. This seems to be a common feature of the stream - that an eddy runs in the opposite direction outside the path of the Gulf Stream.

Why not ride the eddy south?

Why not sail/motor inside Diamond Shoals during the daytime instead of outside? I understand the danger of being caught on a lee shore, but if you pick the right weather window, it should work.
James, I am not qualified to advise the OP on the outside route. I planned to do that trip northbound in August (which would have been easier both because of the month and because I was headed north). Ultimately I didn't go. I have run the ICW on the inside a few times and I have done a number of coastal jumps south of Hatteras.

The reason I originally commented was that some of the discussion in the thread seems pretty far out of line with conventional wisdom and thus potentially really bad advice -- not just to the OP but to someone who might come along and read this thread later (there is also some good stuff in there from Wing N Wing and JonEisenberg and Pbreezer). Maybe you can pass inside the diamond shoals light -- but I have *never* heard *anyone* advise doing that. I do know that the discussion of sailing "outside" to Oriental disregards the fact that Oriental is maybe 30-40 miles from the coast. The OP also talked about heading out behind a cold front - which is definitely a common strategy if you are crossing the stream and going far offshore but maybe not the best strategy if you plan to stay coastal. I don't think there is anything wrong with breaking the rules, but you ought to know what they are first -- so that you understand the risks.

The other point I'd make is that between waiting for a weather window and recovering from a 40 run, you probably don't save any time by running offshore. Just something to think about.

Here is some of the CW:

An article by John Kretscmer which is not exactly on point but useful:
Rounding Cape Hatteras

Finally, if you are going to go, I would suggest you reach out to SVAuspicious who (as Wing n Wing noted) has done this trip quite a few times. I read one his posts on topic (southbound inside the stream) and he used the phrase "you really need to pay close attention" -- that got my attention. I'd ask him for details.
Luck
-M
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