We'll be leaving the Bahamas to head north soon (leaving from the Abacos). If we get weather to go past Hatteras, where is it easy to clear customs? Maybe Norfolk/Hampton, VA? Ideally we'd like to make it to Sandy Hook, NJ or somewhere else near NYC before heading up the Hudson. Even Atlantic City, NJ would be ok. I've checked the CBP site but all of the sites between Beaufort, NC and Long Island seem to be far from convenient places to anchor or dock.
We're Canadian flagged but have NEXUS cards & already have a cruising permit. I know in theory we should be able to call in but I haven't heard of anyone not having to report in or have the boat visited except on the Great Lakes.
Odd are we'll only make it to Beaufort, NC then decide whether to the ICM or go around Hatteras. It'd be nice not to have to stop if we get there and the weather is good to round Hatteras. Last year we did Marsh Harbour -> Beaufort a day or so behind TS Ana. It turned out to be one of our nicest passages. The timing worked out nicely too. We got calm weather to motor around Hatteras after catching up on our sleep & remedying our draft beer withdrawal from the Caribbean.
Good for you. I'm an offshore guy also.
You'll find, if you have not already that US C&I is much easier outside Florida. US CBP will come to you.
If you go to Beaufort NC call in once you are on the dock (I usually use the City docks at Beaufort on Town Creek but have recently started using Portside Marina in Morehead City). Call in and CBP will send an officer to you. If you ask (they won't volunteer) you can usually get permission for crew to get off the boat for showers. Make sure you can get everyone back on the boat really fast when the CBP officer arrives - if too many officers have to wait too long we'll lose that privilege.
In Norfolk I head for the marinas in Little Creek, usually the fuel dock of Vinings Landing Marina. It is closest to the airport where CBP comes from to meet you. I would not plan to stay at Vinings Landing - just get fuel, water, and C&I and then move down to Cobbs Marina if you want to stay a day or so.
The distance from Abaco to Norfolk VA is not much different than to Beaufort NC. Going so far West to Beaufort makes the trip to Norfolk or Portsmouth or Hampton that much longer. If you have good weather data aboard (something that shows cold fronts, like weather fax or Chris Parker, not GRIBs) you can head for Norfolk/Little Creek and use Beaufort NC as a bailout if you need to.
For me, watching the weather, I usually do Abaco to Little Creek in three to five days depending on the boat and the wind.