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post #1 of 26 Old 03-29-2018 Thread Starter
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novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

hello everyone
almost 2 years ago i realized a 25 year dream of owning my own boat and being a live aboard was not going to happen if i didnt get off my butt and make it happen .
So i sold my house and everything in it and and stayed in hotels that my company provided for work for almost 2 years . as soon as the house sold i started looking and found the boat i wanted at a unbelievable price . I had it surveyed and the surveyor pointed out all the thing that needed repaired and in 2 years it is now ready to go .Now i am planning to relocate the boat from Baltimore to key largo. This will be a solo trip and the boat is a 38 ketch . i plan to leave in late April to early may . i have taken a sailing course in Boston about 5 years ago and sailed a few smaller boats but this is A much bigger boat . i have read about the Intercoastal route but i want to get out to sea . Is there anyone that has made this trip and could offer some input /advice. it would be appreciated .
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post #2 of 26 Old 03-29-2018 Thread Starter
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novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

hello everyone
almost 2 years ago i realized a 25 year dream of owning my own boat and being a live aboard was not going to happen if i didnt get off my butt and make it happen .
So i sold my house and everything in it and and stayed in hotels that my company provided for work for almost 2 years . as soon as the house sold i started looking and found the boat i wanted at a unbelievable price . I had it surveyed and the surveyor pointed out all the thing that needed repaired and in 2 years it is now ready to go .Now i am planning to relocate the boat from Baltimore to key largo. This will be a solo trip and the boat is a 38 ketch . i plan to leave in late April to early may . i have taken a sailing course in Boston about 5 years ago and sailed a few smaller boats but this is A much bigger boat . i have read about the Intercoastal route but i want to get out to sea . Is there anyone that has made this trip and could offer some input /advice. it would be appreciated .
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post #3 of 26 Old 03-29-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

No offense intended, I admire your dedication in getting to this point, but if it were me, and I was fairly new, I'd go "inside" and bring an experienced friend. Singlehanding is exponentially more difficult than doublehanding, both in sailhandling, anchoring, and avoiding fatigue. More so when you're new at it, and don't (yet) know how much to bite off and still be able to chew it all.

You have a month to get used the boat and do some mini-cruises close to home in Chesapeake Bay. Use that time to take a sailing friend with you to help critique your equipment and technique. Take a Power Squadrons course to make sure your chart-plotting skills are good.
Don't go outside Cape Hatteras during hurricane season. Not to say you can't sail outside some, but a lot more things--particularly weather and inlets--have to go right for you to be able to be comfortable and safe.

All that said, I have not made that trip. My sailing has been New England, and Gulf Coast, and once in the Virgin Islands. I've got a 100-ton Near Coastal license and have done more than a few deliveries. But others would know the actual territory whereas I don't.

Best wishes.
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post #4 of 26 Old 03-29-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

25-30 knot winds in five foot seas. I find it challenging to work in these conditions when alone. There is a lot going on and simple tasks on deck seem to go in slow motion. Maybe for some it's all a cake walk but I have found that when I have someone whom I trust and knows what they are doing along for the ride.

You don't want to be alone and suddenly just don't know what to do so you end up making the wrong decision. There is a gulf stream and lots of big boats crisscrossing your path out there. It gets dark and stormy...

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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

Out towards Bermuda, then tack back in. You don't want to be sailing into the Gulf Stream current.
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post #6 of 26 Old 03-30-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

Inexperienced and single handed you need to take the ICW with the occasional run outside when the weather is good.

Mostly stay close to land which keeps you in the south going counter current and out of the Gulf Stream which in places can be very close to shore.

Many of the entries from the ocean are difficult/dangerous in bad weather and often the safest option is to stay out which is difficult if you are inexperienced, tired and single handed.

Do not get on a schedule, the last time we did the trip we took three weeks but you might need enough time to get you to Florida by hurricane season. Last hurricane season, in hurricane Irma, 2,000 boats sank or were badly damaged in Florida...you would be much smarter to sail the Chesapeake gaining experience until the end of hurricane season and then work your way south preferably with crew. If I can ever get my boat to Japan and then Alaska I might even be available to help you.

Good luck Phil

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post #7 of 26 Old 03-30-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

I think April and early May may be too early. But others with Chesapeake experience will pipe up. It's no fun being cold and wet.

I would go in the ICW untill Beaufort North Carolina. That take you inside of Cape Hatter as, the most dangerous point on that coast.

From Beaufort south is pretty simple and you can duck into the ICW if you need to avoid weather.

Have fun.
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post #8 of 26 Old 03-30-2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
Inexperienced and single handed you need to take the ICW with the occasional run outside when the weather is good.

Mostly stay close to land which keeps you in the south going counter current and out of the Gulf Stream which in places can be very close to shore.

Many of the entries from the ocean are difficult/dangerous in bad weather and often the safest option is to stay out which is difficult if you are inexperienced, tired and single handed.

Do not get on a schedule, the last time we did the trip we took three weeks but you might need enough time to get you to Florida by hurricane season. Last hurricane season, in hurricane Irma, 2,000 boats sank or were badly damaged in Florida...you would be much smarter to sail the Chesapeake gaining experience until the end of hurricane season and then work your way south preferably with crew. If I can ever get my boat to Japan and then Alaska I might even be available to help you.

Good luck Phil
I second this. Pick up a waterway guide to help you determine safe inlets and learn about the ICW. You will need 2; the Atlantic which covers Norfolk to Florida Georgia border and then Southern which covers Florida. They are very helpful to help you plan and execute your trip. There are plenty of off shore opportunities to help you cut time off your journey or avoid problem spots. Keep an eye on weather as it can become nasty off shore. ICW is mostly protected waters.

There are a sea of boats doing this every fall.

What is your draft? 5 or under is desirable but people have done the ICW with a draft of 6 or 7'. Bridges are 65' high.

Good luck.

Tod

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post #9 of 26 Old 03-30-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

I completely agree with what others have said above. Listen to them. This is not a trip for a novice especially going single-handed. At best this is not an easy trip this time of year until the start of Hurricane season since the weather can be extremely volatile and unpredictable. Then once hurricane season gets here, it becomes more a little more predictable, even if it means that it gets harder to get winds from the right direction and you do have a greater possibility of encountering a hurricane.

The classic route south is to leave from Beaufort or Morehead City, beat or close reach south-southeast until you are between 66 degrees and 65 degrees west, then tack and head south. Unfortunately, this route is largely a close reach and you bought the absolute wrong boat for this kind of passage, especially as a novice, especially short handed.

New sailors make the mistake of buying obsolete designs and not realizing they have just made their lives much harder. It is especially true on a passage like the one that you are asking about, in which weatherliness, motion comfort, and having a short enough passage times are important. The short passage time is important since you would have a better chance of picking a weather window that potentially will be less exposed to storms. A boat like the one that you have chosen could easily keep you out there for a 15-20 days (vs 7-10 days for a better design). That is important since weather fronts come through roughly weekly this time of year, and so you are more likely to end up in a gale or two.

Its one thing to claw through a gale with a well seasoned skipper and crew on a thoroughly shaken down boat. Its another for a new sailor, alone, in a poorly chosen boat, with minimal shakedown to slog it out in a gale. And the type of offshore gales encountered this time of year means days of fighting for your life, which is exactly the worst case for a solo sailor.

As others have said, while emotionally you want to go offshore, you are wildly better off going down the ICW. Maybe as you develop skills and confidence along the way, you will find chances to jump offshore for short legs when you have winds with a westerly or a norther slant that will allow you to reach and make decent passage times.

You are not the first novice to suggest that they can do something that is beyond their skill level simply because they do not fully understand the implications of what they are proposing to do. And while there is a chance that you might pull this off, you also have a good chance to end up abandoning ship or being lost at sea.

Respectfully,

Jeff


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post #10 of 26 Old 03-30-2018
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Re: novice sailor /sail to Florida from Baltimore

An "old-reliable" source for cruising waters you (and I) haven't sailed before (or even if you have) is the Pilot Charts. In your case, the North Atlantic charts. Here's one for the Month of May:

May ? MatthewsDaniel Weather

Once you read how to interpret the current and prevailing wind diagrams, you'll see that for a boat heading down the US east coast in May (meaning you're heading generally south and southwest) shows that the prevailing/more frequent winds are from--you guessed it--the southwest, right "on the nose" for a sailboat heading where you want to go. And the current lines, which show the Gulf Stream, show an adverse current of several knots as well, unless you get close in towards shore, where you "might" get a countercurrent, or at least weaker Stream current.

This is a good indication that sailing "outside" is going to have you fighting both wind and current most of the time.
Hence the advice above about going inside.
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