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Old 12-08-2003
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Timing for Gulf of Mexico Crossing

Does anyone know if this is a particularly bad time of year to cross the gulf? I have a 1973 Gulfstar 41 Ketch, and was thinking of going from Ft Myers, FL to Galveston, TX via the Dry Tortugas. If the timing is bad, when would the best time be?
Thx, Jeff.
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Old 12-08-2003
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Timing for Gulf of Mexico Crossing

Calder''s guide on the Western Caribbean, while now pretty outdated, has some helpful and fairly timeless information on making passages across and up/down the Gulf. I''d recommend you start there, then review the Pilot Charts and/or Cornell''s World Cruising Routes and bounce what you see against what Calder offers up.

Also, your particular passage begs for some diligent monitoring of the main Gulf Stream branch current that runs N into the Gulf from the Yucatan Channel...as well as noting the various warm and cold water eddies, each of which can impede you or speed you on your way. Staying in that main branch can be a huge help on your passage, altho'' not as much if you steer a rhumb line course. If you use Winlink, you can even download truncated daily pics of these currents and eddies while offshore to stay current on them; they are very dynamic.

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Old 03-21-2006
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Ft. Meyers to Galveston in Nov

Many years ago I sailed from FL (Ft. Meyers) to Galveston TX in Nov. We experianced a two day Norther (30-35 knots) about 80-100 miles off of Tampa and had large ?20ft? sea that were awe inspiring but non threatning. The seas were mostly due to the northerly current. When on watch and a sea would slop onboard and splash us we marveled at how WARM the water was, like bath water. In the end the scariest part of the trip was the little Islander 29' yawl going up the Huston ship channel with freighters in front, behind and passing close by as they were going outboard back to the gulf. When we hit the dock in Huston I remember having RUBBER LEGS.

Nov was nice. No hurricanes in Nov back then.

Last edited by sailandoar; 03-23-2006 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 03-21-2006
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nolatom will become famous soon enough
Pilot charts are viewable on-line at

As to when, some of the fronts can be strong in March. May be better to wait til May or June, before serious hurricane season and before the summer doldrums.

Be careful once you get to the oil patch, lots of lights still out from Katrina and Rita. It'd be good if you had radar for this reason.
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Old 04-07-2006
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I have made the trip to New Orleans 5 times now. I go to Clearwater from Ft Myers then cross two days give or take to Panama City great stop City marina is straight in the cut to the bulkhead and just to the right around the back of the building to the docks. Good fuel water showers parts close by grocery shopping by the trolley to Wally World and cocktails at the Hawks Nest. Then sail a day to Pensacola and duck in to Big Lagoon to the left about a mile into the channel watch the markers a little confusing. Once in the lagoon about 3/4 mile go to the left fair Anchorage out of barge channel. Then head outside or a half to 3/4 day trip to Gulf Shores just before Mobile bay LU LU's and another new marina fuel water party. after that its guess work all the way to the Texas line as most marinas were blown away.
Attached is a copy of our Katrina Marina Report (6th and final edition).In general, marinas on the Gulf Coast including Mobile Bay and east of Mobile Bay as far as Panama City are little changed from before Katrina or Rita. However, damage from Hurricane Ivan (2004) still remains and some marinas are closed and transient space is limited. The Tenn-Tom is back to normal.Marinas west of Mobile Bay to the other side of New Orleans have been badly damaged, have no fuel, and/or no electricity or phone service. Some were totally destroyed. Vessels are reported sunk near the waterway, daymarks are missing or off station, some bridges are damaged and will not operate. Travel is not recommended in this area at this time unless you have at least a 300 mile fuel range. It will take 6 months to a year before this area approaches anything near normal.BobSkipper Bob PublicationsHttp://SkipperBob.home.att.net
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