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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 06-21-2007
johnr
 
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Crossing Gulf of Mexico- alone.

I will be crossing the Gulf of Mexico single-handed on a 44' cutter-rigged vessel very soon. I have all of the latest gear, gadgets, safety equipment, satellite weather, radar, etc.

I've never single-handed this far before. Any thoughts on what I should expect? When do I sleep? Do I heave-to when I can't be on watch because I'm sleeping? Do I just cat-nap and stay under way?
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Old 06-21-2007
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You'll find many thoughts on the subject here and on other forums. Basically, if you are asleep you are failing to maintain the required legally adequate watch. You may be held responsible--and uninsured--for any damages.

Oil platforms, abandoned and unlighted platforms, storm debris, other traffic...avoiding them all when you are asleep is a gamble, even if you are just cat-napping. Still, folks do it without incident. Sometimes.

The bottom line? Like horse racing, "you pays your money, you takes your choices".

If at all possible, I'd take crew, even if it was just someone capable of "don't touch anything, just wake me if you see anything".
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Old 06-21-2007
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Where are you planning on leaving from, to where? The Gulf, especially the western half is FULL of oil rigs, large ships, and fast moving crew boats, as well as commercial fishing vessels. Not to mention, the prevailing wind is out of the Southeast.

Having spent 3 miserable days in the Gulf after leaving from Galveston, and making only 60 miles of eastward progress, we went up to the ditch through Louisiana.

If I was to attempt it again, singlehanded, I'd follow the coast down to the tip of the Yucatan. Then head nor'east for Key West. Not a trip I'd care to make singlehanded though. That's why I got crew.


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Old 06-21-2007
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Due to the navigation hazards that is unique to the Gulf (Oil Platforms and the associated work boats that tend them) I would have a crew. Two other people who can sail. and have your watches 4 on and 8 off. Ship traffic is squeezed closer together also.
Single hand the Atlantic and the Pacific, But The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean You should have a crew. Might be a good idea for some of the other seas also.
Alas this advice is free. Do with it what you want.

Last edited by Boasun; 06-22-2007 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 06-22-2007
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Bad idea. Go coastal and anchor or get some crew.
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Old 06-22-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PBzeer
Where are you planning on leaving from, to where? The Gulf, especially the western half is FULL of oil rigs, large ships, and fast moving crew boats, as well as commercial fishing vessels. Not to mention, the prevailing wind is out of the Southeast.

Having spent 3 miserable days in the Gulf after leaving from Galveston, and making only 60 miles of eastward progress, we went up to the ditch through Louisiana.

If I was to attempt it again, singlehanded, I'd follow the coast down to the tip of the Yucatan. Then head nor'east for Key West. Not a trip I'd care to make singlehanded though. That's why I got crew.


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I plan on leaving New Orleans to arrive in Key West. Plan to go in mid-July. Yes, yes, I know, it's hurrican season, and I will have to be mindful of that.
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Old 06-22-2007
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jr, you might consider coast-hopping in 10-12 hour segments, or else contacting some sailing schools in Florida. Tell 'em the size vessel that you are bringing down, and that you need crew. Ask them if they would be interested in providing an opportunity for some of their students, or for using your boat (at no charge) to take a small training class on the trip.

There are always sailors and boats, the trick is to match 'em up for the voyage.

Maybe you'd get one instructor with two or three crew, providing their own food, and they'd get a "free boat", and it would work out for everyone.
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Old 06-22-2007
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I just made that crossing in April, coming from the keys. I had one other crew member and wished I had waited for another to join us. From my experience during the trip, I would not go it alone. The longest we went without seeing another vesel was about 12 hours. There's alot of traffic even once you get away from the oilfields; cruise ships, tankers, and survey ships, etc. The one survey ship we encountered had a 6 mile "No-Go" zone around it and got pretty testy when any vessel even looked like they might come close. Also, we hit some currents that helped and hurt us more than I expected, so if you can get some info on their locations that would help. The trip took us five days (with engine troubles) in a 33 foot cutter. Good luck!
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Old 06-25-2007
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If you have to go it alone, One possibility is that you can hang off the smaller platforms with a long line. Better yet hang off a work boat that is doing the same. Steel platforms and fiberglass do not mix well at all. And if you do hang off keep your lights on. Your vhf radios on also.. ch 16 & 13. The platforms have their own working channel, but usually guard ch 16.
Would be better to hang off a work boat. Again have your boat lit up and the radios turned on. The work boat will give you a working ch to guard while you are resting.
Best of all have a crew. At least two and if you can swing three, that third one could be the cook. I generally starve before I eat my own cooking. Then I have to eat the stuff.
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Old 06-25-2007
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I recently made a short coastwise trip outside the Islands from Mobile to N.O. Off Dauphin, I noticed a *large*, completely unlit platform. The moon was my friend (no radar on board). There may be others out there too.

Assuming you come out from Miss. Sound thru one of the passes, you need to make about 100 miles to get past the continental shelf and all the platforms and workboats. You might stop over behind Ship or Horn Island, sleep a lot, then if you have a fair wind (big "if"), make as much distance as you can in daylight, so you have as little of these obstructions as possible to encounter at night.

Me, I'd take a crew. The Gulf's a busy place. Even after you're in deep water, there are still a LOT of ships and seagoing tug/barges going in your lane, or over to/from Tampa. Kinda dicey place to be sleeping with no one on watch. I wouldn't do it without a radar guard ring CPA alarm, and even then I'd be a nervous guy.
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