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Old 25-07-2014, 19:27   #1
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Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

I am considering making the passage from the Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin this fall in Nov - Dec. Does anyone have experience with this passage?
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Old 25-07-2014, 20:22   #2
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St martin

I am originally from Cape Fear (Rocky Point to be exact) but now live in Florida. We did our crossing to St. Martin from FL. It's a b** going south. North is great! I'd say consult the guide books. We've had many friends that have done the ditch down to FL first and they've really loved their experiences. Are you on a timeline? Are you delivering or sightseeing?
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Old 25-07-2014, 20:49   #3
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St martin

N n mm. Me


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Old 26-07-2014, 07:05   #4
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St martin

Heading to the Caribbean from the eastern seaboard is always a seasonal balancing act. Late summer to early fall you are in hurricane season. Late fall to early winter you are in the winter storm season. But to complicate things sometimes you get late hurricanes and sometimes you get early winter storms.

Leaving Nov/Dec the risk of hurricanes is lower but the risk of winter storms has increased. You know you will be crossing the Gulf Stream at some point and a winter storm with north winds against the Stream makes for very unpleasant conditions.

You just have to watch the weather very carefully. If there is the slightest risk of a hurricane anywhere on your track, don't leave. If there is a winter storm forecast, wait. The worst thing you can do is base your departure on a personal schedule. Don't let pressure to get back to work or plans to meet family in the Caribbean dictate your timing, weather only. Remember that a weather window is only good for a few days to a week so be sure you have a good way to check weather on the trip AND a backup.

I have been caught by a winter storm in early Nov a couple hundred miles off Hatteras and it was not fun, even in a 90' trawler.

With care, preparation and a little luck with the weather it will be a great trip. Final suggestion. Don't hesitate to bail out. Head west and make a port in the states or Bahamas if you have problems.
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Old 26-07-2014, 07:25   #5
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St martin

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Originally Posted by Greggegner View Post
N n mm. Me
Is this some new internet slang I don't know about? Or maybe it was a bit late when you posted?

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Old 26-07-2014, 08:11   #6
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

Head out to 65 west and then down. Its quite easy from Cape Fear.
jimmy Cornel has a route from Beaufort North Carolina and explains it well.
November after the hurricane season is best, or December as theres more north easterlies. I did it in the first week of January from florida out through New Provdence Channel to east of the Bahamas, but thats a tougher trip than yours.

Get out as soon as you can, both in the season and offshore.

Don't ever be afraid of a few days upwind. Did 14 days upwind solo and it was fine. Your route will make it much better, it should be one tack, starting close hauled and then easing off a bump or two.


Btw, dont be tempted to go south to Florida and then out. Dont be tempted to go into the Bahamas. Stay right out.
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Old 26-07-2014, 09:04   #7
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Head out to 65 west and then down. Its quite easy from Cape Fear.

Btw, dont be tempted to go south to Florida and then out. Dont be tempted to go into the Bahamas. Stay right out.
Ditto. Good advice here. I've done the trip a number of times from the east coast and there is absolutely no advantage going down to Florida and many disadvantages. Watch the weather and take off on a west wind that should clock around to the north. If that takes a day or so, it will give you a good sailing start to 65 west. I found in the late fall, once you hit the trades, that the wind tends to go more to the east/northeast at night. That helps you make your way south at least for part of the day. Taking 65 west will put you in the Virgin Islands for a break. If you don't want to stop there, then you will have to go even further east so you can eventually head south to St. Martin.

By the way, I checked a pilot chart for your area and winds in November tend to be from the west to north. That's good sailing for you as long as you don't go out in a raging norther .

Needless to say, you should have some blue water experienced crew on board. Nothing substitutes for experience when the going gets tough and that is always a possibility at any time of the year.
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Old 26-07-2014, 09:37   #8
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

The critical element for the passage to the islands from NC or VA is getting across the Gulf Stream in benign or favorable conditions. Winds from the NW, N, or NE will make it a very rough crossing. S, SW or even W winds will make it tolerable. Once you're over the Gulf Stream you're good to go as long as no tropical storms are looming. You'll likely be broad reaching in 35-45 knots for a few days.

In early November, cold fronts typically come off the East Coast every 3-5 days. Wait for one to pass and head out in the light southeasterlies that follow in it's wake, motor-sailing until you get some wind.

The wind will begin to clock to SW as the next front approaches, then W and NW, strengthening all the while. You will definitely want to be across the Stream by then. The wind will continue clocking and building, usually to Gale strength from the N, NNE or NE, so you'll get a good push to the southeast. If it's a very strong front, it may last until you reach the Tradewinds at about 24-25 degrees north. If it's not so strong, you'll have a day or two of motor-sailing though the variables before you reach the Trades.

The concept of departing the East Coast in light winds after a frontal passage has worked well for hundreds of boats over the years. If you wait for a westerly wind to leave Cape Fear, you risk being in the Gulf Stream with gale force winds from the northern quadrant--not a great place to be.
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Old 26-07-2014, 09:44   #9
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
The critical element for the passage to the islands from NC or VA is getting across the Gulf Stream in benign or favorable conditions. Winds from the NW, N, or NE will make it a very rough crossing. S, SW or even W winds will make it tolerable. Once you're over the Gulf Stream you're good to go as long as no tropical storms are looming. You'll likely be broad reaching in 35-45 knots for a few days.

In early November, cold fronts typically come off the East Coast every 3-5 days. Wait for one to pass and head out in the light southeasterlies that follow in it's wake, motor-sailing until you get some wind.

The wind will begin to clock to SW as the next front approaches, then W and NW, strengthening all the while. You will definitely want to be across the Stream by then. The wind will continue clocking and building, usually to Gale strength from the N, NNE or NE, so you'll get a good push to the southeast. If it's a very strong front, it may last until you reach the Tradewinds at about 24-25 degrees north. If it's not so strong, you'll have a day or two of motor-sailing though the variables before you reach the Trades.

The concept of departing the East Coast in light winds after a frontal passage has worked well for hundreds of boats over the years. If you wait for a westerly wind to leave Cape Fear, you risk being in the Gulf Stream with gale force winds from the northern quadrant--not a great place to be.


The definitive answer!
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Old 26-07-2014, 10:42   #10
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

All good advice, and I've found that once past the Gulf Stream, the fronts tend to lose their gale force punch below 30 North. Work your way south when a front is forecast, and then plan on reaching SE across the NE winds which follow to get out to 65W.
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Old 26-07-2014, 11:14   #11
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Head out to 65 west and then down. Its quite easy from Cape Fear.
jimmy Cornel has a route from Beaufort North Carolina and explains it well.
November after the hurricane season is best, or December as theres more north easterlies. I did it in the first week of January from florida out through New Provdence Channel to east of the Bahamas, but thats a tougher trip than yours.

Get out as soon as you can, both in the season and offshore.

Don't ever be afraid of a few days upwind. Did 14 days upwind solo and it was fine. Your route will make it much better, it should be one tack, starting close hauled and then easing off a bump or two.


Btw, dont be tempted to go south to Florida and then out. Dont be tempted to go into the Bahamas. Stay right out.
Just out of curiosity, how much traffic did you see in the NPC?

Did you pull in anywhere along the way?
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Old 26-07-2014, 12:51   #12
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Re: Cape Fear Inlet to St Martin

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Just out of curiosity, how much traffic did you see in the NPC?

Did you pull in anywhere along the way?
No, I didnt pull in anywhere, but would have to refuel but for the $300 idiot Bahama fee.

As for traffic SH!T LOADS!
New Providence Channel is always busy and I had a look at it a few months before:


But due to the wind I was a bit further north of the main track the ships use.

Florida straits was fun as this AIS grab shows three ships diverting around me at 2am. I use this pic as an example of how good AIS is I came north from Key West into NPC.



But, of course, east of the Bahamas theres not a ship to be seen. Feet up and relax... well, in my case it was tack, tack, tack for 14 days, but hey
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