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Although we have logged 12,000 nm of offshore sailing, we have no experience going south along the US east coast. We wish to sail from Beaufort NC to Charleston, giving Cape Fear a 15 mile (?) pass and then on to Jacksonville. Does anyone have any comments or advice about avoiding the Gulf Stream.
 

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Unless you go pretty far out, you won't encounter the Gulf Stream that far north. Usually about 50 miles off Charleston. From the outer sea buoy at Charleston, You can pretty much make the rumb line to the St. Johns River. There is a wicked current on the St. Johns, so timing for an incoming tide will be helpful. Otherwise it will be a slow ride up to Jacksonville. Any of the inlets can be treacherous in the wrong weather conditions. Chuck
 

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There's the option to use the 12-NM slue from Frying Pan shoals vice heading further offshore if you want to stay closer to land. Well marked on the charts, two buoys on station. Pretty neat to see.
 

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You may find PassageWeather.com very useful/informative and particularly the Gulf Stream Tab once you have used the sector map to select your area of interest. We have found the wind, wave and Gulf Stream predictions very accurate for up to 48 hours and reasonably accurate for the period 49 to 96 hours. Save for the cold (at this time of year) the trip shouldn't be too bad if you can get a good window between systems. You might also find ActiveCaptain.com (you'll have to register but that's free) useful for local information about potential stopping places along your route.

Good Luck/Sailing.
 
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Tigre,

We have done the trip several times, in both directions, including in November/December. All the advice you are getting is good. We use passageweather to plan all our trips.

You must understand that all the entries, including the big ship channels, are dangerous in bad weather. When wind is into tide the Jacksonville or Cape Fear River entries are very dangerous. We had trouble getting out of the Cape Fear River because a ocean going tug could not control his tow which was slewing from side to side by over 200 ft in the 8-10ft waves.

The Charleston submerged breakwater goes out a long way. Boats have sunk cutting the corner.

Good luck and pick your weather windows.
 

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I've also used the Slue, and found it to be an easy passage, going from Beaufort to Charleston. Also gives you the option of heading up the Cape Fear R, or in at Little R Inlet, if necessary.

Second the comment on the current/tide on the St John's if you're going in to Jacksonville. Also, Charleston to Jax is a long run, particularly at this time of year. You might want to make a stop in between (St Simon Island would be my choice.
 

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Agree that timing is everything. Keep in mind, it's another 20 miles or so past the inlet up the St John's to Jacksonville. There was a free overnight tie up on the Starboard side once in town. I just missed the last bridge opening last time there..so it came in handy.
 
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