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Worst place to sail in the U.S.

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
While I've run powerboats in more places than I would like to recall, I've only sailed the East Coast of the U.S. from the Chesapeake's upper reaches south to Marathon, Florida. Some of those places along the way were pretty neat, even in marginal weather, while others were just plain nasty. Of them, the worst I can recall, both headed south and north, were Charleston Harbor, the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. Charleston Harbor has a tidal current that screams in both directions, and often conflicts with the wind, thus creating stacking, or standing waves that can be brutal when encountered. The winds got to 35 to 40 MPH while I was crossing Charleston Harbor last November, and the tide was screaming in the opposite direction. The best speed I could make under power was 1.5 MPH. There was a lot of time that the boat was at a 45-degree angle bow up and bow down. Man that was a nasty 9 hour ride to the south end of the harbor.

The Neuse River was not much different, but not quite as bad. I was able to manage 3 MPH on that leg of the trip.

Pamlico sound is not the place to be when the wind is whipping along from the north at 30 to 35 MPH, but that's where I was - right in the middle of the sound when the wind came up. No turning back - just a nasty, wet, cold, bumpy ride for 8 solid hours.

I'm confident there are worse place to sail, but fortunately, I have not encountered them as yet.

I screwed the poll up so you can forget that part and just post the worst places you've sailed.

Thanks,

Gary :cool:
 

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Having covered much of the same ground I agree with Gary but St Andrew Sound gets my vote. There is a reason they went to the trouble to create an alternate route. Chart 11504
Dan S/V Marian Claire
 

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Any of the larger bodies of water along the ICW develop a nasty, short chop. I've rarely had so much water continually running across the deck as when beating across Abelmarle going south last year. Delaware Bay is also an ugly stretch of water. Gardiners Bay very often develops a short, square chop as well. Those waters that are just deep enough and have enough fetch to quickly develop large square waves are the worst: 10-20' deep+10 miles of fetch with an opposing current= misery.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Sometimes some places get nasty, other times they're great. That's just the nature of sailing. I've spent a lot more time having great sails on the waters of North Carolina than I have with bad days, for instance.

Or, another for instance, I don't even bother to raise the sails in Charleston Harbor. Just motor straight outside, where I can actually sail. And from Cape Fear south, pretty much any inlet/sound is a bear if you don't hit it at the right time. Plus, if you're on the ICW, chances are you're motoring, not sailing, anyway.
 

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Delaware bay has been more unfriendly to me than most places. Just my bad luck perhaps.
It's been either windless, hot and loaded with greenheads or snotty.
 

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Florida.

The wind is almost always out of the south, which is great if you are northbound, but if you ever have to go south it's motoring most of the way. If you are going south and get you get a northerly wind, you then have to deal with the gulfstream.

And from Cape Fear south, pretty much any inlet/sound is a bear if you don't hit it at the right time. Plus, if you're on the ICW, chances are you're motoring, not sailing, anyway.
I used to live near Lockwood Folly inlet and it was astonishing how many people were killed or injured trying to run that inlet on a semi-regular basis.
 

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I always marveled at the few folks who kept sailboats inside one of the bars along the Oregon Coast.




Assuming you can safely cross the bar, there is nowhere to go for hundreds of miles. I wouldn't say it's the "worst" place to sail, because you can certainly sail, and anyone who keeps a boat here must really like to sail.
 

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Gary, you hit NC at the WORST time. There are plenty of beautiful days in NC (don't forget, our season usually starts early), but I have motored a powerboat out of the Lockwood Folly Inlet where my Mom wouldn't speak to me for 3 days after. She was terrified. Also, never crossed the Albemarle, but that is another notorious body of NC water.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've been through several NC inlet, most of which are downright dangerous on windy days with ebb tides. High standing waves and cross currents were the norm at Hatteras Inlet, Oregon Inlet and a few others I've long since forgotten the names of. The inlet at Cape Point was a piece of cake, even in nasty weather, while the inlet at Morehead City was a bit dicy with a hard NE blow one afternoon.

Gary :cool:
 

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I didn't find the Albemarle to be bad (wind was north), but I'll second the St Andrew as a fairly nasty passage. Nevertheless, Florida takes the cake, between the jackwagons and the crab traps, just not fun
 
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