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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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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.

Mark
 

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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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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.


Mark
 

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"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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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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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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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.

Mark
 

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"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.

Mark
 

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Definitely agree with that. I haven't done much of the Georgia ICW - Always went outside soon after Charleston heading South. I seem to recall one shallow spot on Pamlico Sound, but with about same draft we were OK. With the Cat being wider, might need to go through at high tide?
 

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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.

Mark
I repeated an itinerary used by someone else that seemed reasonable to me, if conditions warranted. Daylight starts and finishes each hop. While obviously longer than straight offshore, if one had to depart within a certain period this time of year, this is a reasonable plan. Cape Lookout for one is a lovely anchorage not at all out of the way to/from the south (bit of a detour to/from the north). As I said, each hop is a day and a night and a day, so you get a lot of mileage each hop, and a good night sleep in between.

I've made use of this only once, going south, and AFA do-ability, we went from Morehead City, NC (late start) to St Mary's River the (late) evening of the next day. Essentially combining two hops.
 

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Years ago, I helped deliver a 31' catamaran from Charlotte Harbor to just south of Annapolis. We only dropped anchor one night when we were crossing Florida Bay. It took us 8 days and the boat at times was doing as much as 13 knots over ground when combining the Gulf Stream and a fresh breeze.

The size boat you have can probably do the trip in five to seven days with the right weather conditions. Going into port, especially with the coronavirus causing metropolitan areas to shut down, would probably be problematic and add days to your delivery. With the right crew, you shouldn't have a problem going straight through.
 

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......... There isn't much to see in these stops, except for Charleston, and maybe Jeckle/Cumberland.

Mark
Yes, I agree. If you are taking your time to see scenic places along the way, Cumberland Island is worth seeing, and May would be beautiful. It is one of our US National Seashore parks. There is a good anchorage behind Cumberland Island, near the south end, across from Drum Point Island, and a dock you can dingy to. You may even spot a US Submarine coming to or from Kings Bay Submarine Base.
 

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The size boat you have can probably do the trip in five to seven days with the right weather conditions.
Don't think it will take that long. It is ~750nm, and at an 8kt average will take 4 days. 8kts seems like a lot, but like you mentioned it is stupid easy to be doing 12-14kts in the Gulf Stream for the first 2 days, and 7-8kts for another day until you need to turn out of it completely and head into the Chesapeake. That last day out of the current, however, feels like sailing through molasses.

Mark
 
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