Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA) - SailNet Community
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Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

We are purchasing a Leopard 48 catamaran and I am planning to bring her to Virginia in May. Any tips? I prefer offshore for speed. What's the best way to plan my route? I have 50 Ton Master license and know how to sail but no point in reinventing the wheel when this has been done thousands of times. Thanks to all! Bernie
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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

With the Leopard 48 mast height, your only option is to sail it offshore. It will never clear the ICW bridges. You have the wind and current in your favor for this trip, and it can be quite a pleasant one. The other way, not so much. Essentially, you will leave Ft. Lauderdale and head for Cape Hatteras, rounding Diamond Shoals and then heading for Norfolk, VA. Wait for a weather window that doesn't have a strong cold front coming.

I like to stay in the Gulf Stream as much as possible, so our route typically does a slow curve following the curve of the coast. You will know if you get out of the Gulf Stream, both visually and by lack of current, so can just angle back in toward the coast to pick it up again.

The other option is to do a series of jumps in and out of inlets along the way. This is much slower, and you are still doing some overnight passages. We plan bail outs to these inlets, but never used them. With good weather, this is a very pleasant trip.

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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

Mark has it down, we do the same, a couple of good bail out holes and follow the gulf stream. Not sure what checkins with the "authorities" is required, if any - given the times we are in. I would make sure you get travel copies of all docs, just in case.

Enjoy, ours have been uneventful.
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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

When I am in the Gulf Stream I stay in the full current but as close to one edge as I can. Going up I would stay on the landward edge in case I want to bail out to the cost with an impending storm.

The reason is that the GS is aprox 50nm wide off Cape Hatteras, middle obviously 25 miles. Its a weird, squally horrible bit of sea and air and if can be hit with some bad bit of weather locally even on a nice day. So to have to go 25nms in wind against current is not good... but just 5 miles, say, is acheivable.

I have now crossed the GS maybe 10 times and on no occasion have I left at all comfortable. Its straight out of SciFi, Bermuda Triangle or a horror movie.
The nicest crossing, no wind, perfect day, clear as a bell, blue sky... but ships just a few miles away were distorted in my brand new Steiners. Truly weird.


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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

"With the Leopard 48 mast height, your only option is to sail it offshore. It will never clear the ICW bridges. "

Maybe drop the mast and motor up the ICW? Draft OK, except for a few spots where high tide would help.

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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

As colemj says, should conditions warrant, you can hop up the coast.

Someone had previously suggested the following: from Miami (or Ft Lauderdale) to St. Mary's River, to Charleston, to Cape Lookout, to Norfolk, day and night and day each hop. Anchorages you can reach with your mast height at all these places.
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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

The later in May the better. March and April is Noreaster seasons. Fronts slow down the further into May you go.


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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

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Originally Posted by ggray View Post
As colemj says, should conditions warrant, you can hop up the coast.

Someone had previously suggested the following: from Miami (or Ft Lauderdale) to St. Mary's River, to Charleston, to Cape Lookout, to Norfolk, day and night and day each hop. Anchorages you can reach with your mast height at all these places.
Yes, that would be the coastal hopping route, but it is very long and gets you out of the gulf stream for the majority of the trip. One spends a lot of time going in and out inlets, and currents can't be timed. Being in the gulf stream alone saves at least a day of passage time as you gain an extra 2-4kts of speed (more at the beginning, less as you go North).

If the object is to get the boat North, run as long as possible with good weather. On a Leopard 48 catamaran, this is a max 4-day trip in good conditions, so a weather window shouldn't be difficult in the next month or two. Coastal hopping will be over a week, and much more tiring - you will be doing hard work going in and out inlets to fall asleep late at night only to get up early and do it all over again. There isn't much to see in these stops, except for Charleston, and maybe Jeckle/Cumberland.

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Re: Best way to get Leopard 48 from Ft Lauderdale to Deltaville, VA (or Norfolk, VA)

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Originally Posted by FreeAgent View Post
"With the Leopard 48 mast height, your only option is to sail it offshore. It will never clear the ICW bridges. "

Maybe drop the mast and motor up the ICW? Draft OK, except for a few spots where high tide would help.
This isn't a bad idea. Particularly if one has never seen parts of the ICW and would like to experience them once. If I were to do this, I'd sail to Cape Fear or Beaufort NC, drop the mast there, and take my time in the North Carolina ICW to the Chesapeake. The part of the ICW between FL and NC sucks, with just a couple of interesting places in South Carolina that are now so shoaled they are problematic. Georgia ICW will have you considering suicide. I find North Carolina ICW small towns delightful.

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