Cape Hatteras in Late March - SailNet Community

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Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Cape Hatteras in Late March

Greetings all. I have to get my new to me 50 foot catamaran out of Beaufort due to the elimination of the Drawbridge as my mast height of 76 feet will prevent me from staying past April 1st. My plan is to arrive in late March and get the boat ready and wait for a good window allowing 10 days for a proper window. My question is during this time frame is that prudent and can I expect to be able to see a good window to get to the Chesapeake. Additionally, should I be able to skirt inside or do I need to go well offshore. I am coming from the US West Coast so its not my usual cruising ground and I know its not an area to be taken lightly. I have also contemplated going south instead and getting the boat to Georgia or North Florida as I need to store the boat until November of 2015 when I retire. Another option I guess would be to take the boat north or south earlier say late December or January, but I don't think that would be any easier weather window wise.
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

We have gone around Hatteras both north and south by staying just outside the red buoys on the 60 foot contour line within sight of land. The trip is dependent on a weather window of 2-3 days when there will be an absence of lows coming off the US coast and hence an absence of strong winds especially from the north. Going north in good weather you can get out in the Gulf Stream which is very close to Hatteras which is why it is dangerous.

Easier to go south and leave the boat somewhere like Jacksonville but you will need to find a Hurricane safe location.

Good Luck Phil

Last edited by Yorksailor; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:11 AM.
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

Well, hate to tell you this, but in my opinion late March is perhaps the single worst time of the year to be dealing with going outside around Hatteras... I'd sooner be out there in late January, as a rule...

:-))

The reason being, that's the time of the year where many of those systems that originate in places like Arkansas, and intensify while moving across the SE, producing tornadoes and violent weather, draw a bead on Hatteras. If they happpen to meet up with a late winter cold front, watch out... I think more boats get into trouble out there in the late winter/early spring than any other time of the year, one reason being that sort of weather is notoriously more difficult to predict than the more typical march of cold fronts across the region in late fall/early winter...

Having said that, however, given the amount of time you seem to be allowing yourself, it certainly is do-able. All of my trips outside in the early spring have turned out to be pretty tame, in the end... You simply have to be really, REALLY cautious when it comes to the weather...

Departing from Beaufort, of course, gives you a big advantage, you can sprint up to the Bay Entrance in pretty short order. You definitely want to have the capability to motor all the way, that's not the time or place to be dawdling around in light air, you want that leg over as quickly as possible. As Yorksailor says, stay inside the Stream, just go right around the red nun "2" right off Diamond Shoals, and up the beach to the Bay... If you happen to luck out with a SW breeze, that can be an absolutely wonderful sail, and that time of the year seems to be a good chance of seeing whales in that area...

Another thing you might consider, is simply moving the boat elsewhere in the area south of the bridge - to the Beaufort Docks, or over to Morehead City waterfront - and wait until later in the spring or early summer to move her north...

Bottom line, I'm not trying to dissuade you from making the trip, but simply suggesting that it can be an extremely volatile time of the year in that area, weatherwise...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:51 AM.
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

There are a bunch of threads on this.

Drake of S/V Paragon is an accomplished sailor (with a great cruising video series). He asked a related question.
advice on sailing around Cape Hatteras?

Other threads that might help:
What would you do you are off Hatteras ?

Anyone sailing south around Cape Hatteras?

Regards,
Brad
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
Another thing you might consider, is simply moving the boat elsewhere in the area south of the bridge - to the Beaufort Docks, or over to Morehead City waterfront - and wait until later in the spring or early summer to move her north...
Jon hit on my immediate reaction. Get outside the Gallant Channel bridge and take your time to decide. You have choices in Taylor Creek and lots of choices in Morehead City.

That said, rounding Hatteras isn't a big deal as long as schedule doesn't drive you to poor decision-making, and your ultimate decision-maker understands weather forecasting. I personally would not depend on a third-party weather forecaster or router for that area. I'll take advice and counsel but I sure am not going to put my safety, the safety of my crew, and the well-being of my boat (or a customer's boat) in someone else's hands.
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

Thanks to all for the thoughtful replies. I am considering going south hopping down the coast to somewhere north of Florida/Georgia border for insurance purposes and leaving the boat until June and heading north to the Chesapeake. Is the weather window and conditions not as harsh going south out of Beaufort NC as they are going north around Hatteras to the Chesapeake?

Thanks again to all
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Re: Cape Hatteras in Late March

I was at the Beaufort town dock for a week and it was really quite pretty. Obviously too expensive to stay there for a few months, but in the ruver 100 meters from those docks are plenty of moorings. Some must be for rent.

You'd be crackers to drive the boat to Florida just to drive it back again.
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