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  #1  
Old 11-23-2012
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Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

I read a few posts suggesting not to do. What is your actual experience sailing from Miami to Key West? It looks like the wind is coming behind us and going outside the channel is not an option.

Any thoughts
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Old 11-23-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

It's a bit of a risk, for sure... Particularly the northern section down to around Key Largo, the channel gets pretty narrow in spots thru there, and is defined largely by unlit daybeacons on steel girders, with the lighted aids spaced pretty far apart... You'll be relying heavily on your chartplotter, for certain...

Further on down, the channel widens considerably, there's considerably more margin for error... I'd certainly try to begin the trip in daylight, however, if possible... And, I wouldn't want to try the upper portion without a 2 or 3 million candlepower searchlight handy...

Another risk, which is not inconsiderable, is the likelihood of snagging a crab pot... Depending upon the season, the Hawk Channel in places can be infested with them...

Bottom line, however, it's certainly do-able... However, I'd be much more comfortable suggesting it can be done at night to those who have at least done the Hawk Channel previously... Doing it for the first time, at night, most definitely increases the risk...

What's the rush?

Well, I know the answer to that one, of course... Only times I've run the Hawk Channel at night were in an effort to meet a schedule, or race a forecast change in the weather...
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Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-23-2012 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 11-23-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

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Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
I
What's the rush?
Hahah..... with all said and done, we are all tempting fate thinking that we are immortal . . I will remind myself not to do the dumb thing

My hope is to get to Key West in 2 days without stopping to refuel before heading to Dry Tortugas. My Plan B is from Fort Lauderdale to stop at Key Largo, Marathon and then Key West. My fear is the uncertainty of the weather for late next week over Yucatan Channel. I am also working on Plan C just in case.

I can't be stuck in Key West waiting for weather window. Flying home and return to Key West when the weather is clear is just a pain and added cost I wanted to avoid.

Thanks.
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Old 11-23-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

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I can't be stuck in Key West waiting for weather window. Flying home and return to Key West when the weather is clear is just a pain and added cost I wanted to avoid Rockdawg.
Are you single handing? Are you the Captain of this boat? Do what is safest, especially if others lives are entrusted to you. added cost and running a schedule should not trump safety.

Dave
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Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

We have taken this route a few times and think that if you leave miami during the day you would have no problem, as long as you can sail and not motor. The crab pots are the biggest risk and wouldn't want to catch one on the prop IMHO.
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

I do not understand why you would want to do that trip at night, nonstop.
If you were to go outside, there is a counter current that runs close to the reef and you can stay in 50 to 100 feet of water so you can pretty much run it on your sounder. Charts are quite accurate along the reef, and shipping must stay well out. You will have a steady wind without the interference that the structures along Hawk's Channel create and the channel currents can be difficult.
Of course, the inside passage can be done, but I'd stock up on Rolaids, if I were attempting it, day or night.
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

Don't know anything about Hawk Channel but have some experience running in the dark.
If you don't have much experience running at night I suggest you do some night time trial runs in waters that you are familiar with. Sounds like Hawk Channel can be a bit tricky, crab pots and all.

Paul T
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

Quote:
Originally Posted by capta View Post
I do not understand why you would want to do that trip at night, nonstop.
If you were to go outside, there is a counter current that runs close to the reef and you can stay in 50 to 100 feet of water so you can pretty much run it on your sounder. Charts are quite accurate along the reef, and shipping must stay well out. You will have a steady wind without the interference that the structures along Hawk's Channel create and the channel currents can be difficult.
Of course, the inside passage can be done, but I'd stock up on Rolaids, if I were attempting it, day or night.
That is what we plan to do now, outside the reef. We just left Fort Lauderdale inlet and heading south. Sea calm and not much wind. Hope wind will pick up tonight.

I see very well at night as long as not much light pollution from the shore. My first time sailing at night in the Keys, I can't image it will be worse than Chesapeake bay or Maine for pots. Either way, we are too damn old not to be careful.
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
If you were to go outside, there is a counter current that runs close to the reef and you can stay in 50 to 100 feet of water so you can pretty much run it on your sounder.
Anyone who would attempt to run outside the reef along the Upper Keys, at night, staying in depths between 50 and 100 feet, is a FAR braver man than I... (grin)

The hell with attempting to find any counter-current, I've never noticed it to be very significant, anyway... As soon as I see anything less than 150 feet or so on the sounder, I tend to fade a bit more to the left...

And, that would be in daylight...

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Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-25-2012 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Sailing Hawk Channel at night?

Thanks Jon,

Thanks for the article. I will take this careful. The wind is calm now. According to NOAA, there is more wind (5 to 15 kn) to the south, we will sail further left may be 8 nm from the coast line. More easterly wind tomorrow (10 to 20 kn) till Wednesday.
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