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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 12-18-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

My friend has asked me to help him move his boat from Florida to Virginia, past the Cape Hatteras area in February. I''ve heard it can get rough. What gear should I have? Although my friend is experienced in offshore cruising, i''m a freshwater sailor. The boat is a 47 custom aluminum hulled sloop. Any advice for me?
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Old 12-18-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

Gear to sail around Cape Hatteras in February? You must be nuts. I would say the most critical gear will be a good Bible, a snow shovel, anti-seasickness patches (and an arsenic pill in case the patches don''t work) lots of polypropolene underlayers, the best harness and teather that money can buy, a dry suit, and increased life insurance policy. I cannot even begin to imagine what logic (or weapon to his head) could convince your friend that he can somehow justify going offshore in that neck of the woods at that time of year.

Jeff
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Old 12-19-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

Just so you don''t think Jeff is pulling your leg, here''s one of a couple of warnings I found in USA today about severe weather in that area in winter time. Keep in mind that strong temperature gradients across short distances are a recipe for violent weather:

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/tg/wcapehat/wcapehat.htm
Source: USA TODAY research by Chad Palmer, graphic by John Herne

Storms tend to form near Cape Hatteras

By Chad Palmer, USATODAY.com

If you follow East Coast weather you''ll notice that many of the storms that affect the middle Atlantic states and the Northeast form or strengthen off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Extratropical storms - storms that form and grow away from the tropics - draw their energy from contrasts in air temperatures, and the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina Coast is one of those places where the ocean and atmosphere can work together to create strong temperature differences across relatively short distances.

Here, the cold Labrador ocean current from the north Atlantic meets the warm Gulf Stream current from the tropics. The ocean cools air over cold water and heats air over warm water. Thus, big differences in ocean water temperatures help create big air temperature differences.

During winter, the Labrador ocean current creates an especially strong temperature contrast near Cape Hatteras as it meets the Gulf Stream ocean current, which is cooled hardly at all.

When other conditions come together in the right way, the Atlantic off Cape Hatteras breeds ferocious East Coast blizzards. The stormy seas off North Carolina''s Outer Banks - where Cape Hatteras is located - gave that part of the coast the name "Graveyard of the Atlantic." (Related graphic: East Coast storms)

Some times, storms that form here are so fierce that they are called "bombs."

Check out this link on "Bomb cyclones"

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/tg/wnoreast/wbombs.htm

And before you reassure yourself that you''ll be alright if you closely monitor the weather forecast:


Source: USA TODAY research by Chad Palmer, Graphic by Kevin A. Kepple

Coastal storms confound forecasters

Intense areas of low pressure, develop off the East Coast during late fall, winter and early spring. They usually make life hard for forecasters.



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Old 12-20-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

Having been caught by a Nor''easter just north of there (off the coast of Delaware) one winter many years ago--when I was very young and foolish--I would second the previous posts. The most important thing to bring is--as Jeff said--the life insurance policy. Hatteras is not called the Graveyard of the east coast for nothing. Its simple--forget it. Fly down and meet them.
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Old 12-20-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

If you ski, take all your ski gear along with all your sailing gear. It will be colder than you can imagine because of the high humidity near the water sucking your body heat away. Be ready for 50 knots of breeze and 20'' seas, possibly from several directions at once as the storm swings around. Waiting for a good weather window is advisable - like sometime in April. The USS Monitor (yes, that one) sank off Cape Hatteras in a winter storm, and the Navy doesn''t mess around.
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Old 12-20-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

I''m aware of the dicey conditions around that area. But this is a sturdy boat;47-foot with an aluminum hull. It will be captained by an experience blue water sailor. And although I have no ocean experience I''m a competent sailor from my lake experience.
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

That is raw BS. No boat can stand up to the worst that can be thrown at it by Mother Nature. No "competant sailor" or "experience[d] blue water sailor" would try that cape in February in a 47 foot sailboat. Not even if you had to. Not even if you knew every through-hull, every fitting, every line on that boat......
The list of names humbled by Cape Hatteras in the winter includes Ted Turner and lots of others.
Forget it. Or stop asking for advice and join the statistics.
OTOH, you might get lucky. People have sailed in bathtubs with placemats for charts and survived. The worst thing is that you might get lucky in spite of how dumb it is, survive the cape, then crow about it.......

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Old 12-20-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

I''ve been on lake Michigan in 50 knots of wind, and hail a half inch deep on deck. That was in July, and it lasted a half hour. We were doing six knots under bare poles, and the wind didn''t have time to build up any waves. I''ve been at sea in storms that lasted three days. The waves keep getting bigger, and it''s not warm. The gist of most of these posts is that someone with "blue water experience" should know better, or you may both end up with more experience than either of you want to have. If you head far enough offshore, to avoid the cape, you can have fun with the Gulf Stream, where I''ve had as many as three waterspouts in sight at the same time. The Atlantic in winter is why people haul their boats or head to Florida in September and October.
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Old 12-20-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

Coondogger,

A little ignorance can take one a long way ... and into a lot of trouble. Maybe you can also plan an East-West passage around Cape Horn some Winter, I mean , hey, how bad can it be? Maybe all those other guys who have been killed attempting passages like these were just a bunch of wussies...
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Old 12-21-2003
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cape hatteras in february what gear should I bring?

Would it be possible to take the intercoastal waterway and avoid offshore entirely between Florida and Virginia?
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