Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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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.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 03-30-2018 at 08:51 AM.