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Old 24-04-2014, 18:27   #1
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St. Augustine, FL to Norfolk, VA in May?


I'm a newbie to offshore passage making (1 gulf crossing, 4 Galveston to Port A runs & 1 FFL to St Augustine) and am looking at moving my 41' Morgan Classic to Jordan Pt. on the James River in May. Any advice? Links I can read? Most of the posts I've found talk about North to South. I did read some of the Cape Hatteras posts but, they talk about early spring/ late fall.

What I think I know:
1. Don't try it in any north winds
2. Stay away from Cape Hatteras
3. Take the ditch if there is any doubt

Specifically I'd like to know:
1. Should I grab the near edge, far edge, or middle of the Gulf Stream?
2. Where should I get in/out?
3. What are the max winds I should consider in my weather window?
4. S? SE? SW?
5. Can I use only VHF for weather?
6. Best/worst ports in a storm?
7. Can I expect to make it in 10 days max with a good window?
8. What kind of seas can I expect in a good weather window?
9. Should I hire someone with local knowledge and experience?
10. Anything and everything else

P.S. The boat is in a lot better shape than I am. New sails, standing & running rigging, multiple anchors, new chain, lots of safety stuff including life raft and EPIRBs, ditch bag, chart plotter w/ radar, good motor…ect

Note: Minimal 1 addtional crew member w/ no experience. Posible 2-4 members, some w/ experience

Capt Shad

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Old 24-04-2014, 19:41   #2
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Re: St. Augustine, FL to Norfolk, VA in May?

So many options it's hard to say what exactly to do.

If on a schedule, first you will have to play it by ear. Bad weather if not really bad, you can stay in the ditch. Good weather or fair winds go outside.

A few random comments and suggestions.

1. Gulf Stream will be fairly far offshore until you approach Hatteras and you may actually encounter a small counter current in places. I wouldn't factor that into my plans too much on this trip unless you go outside around Hatteras.

2. ICW in GA is shallow in spots, requiring you to play the tides and possibly slow you down a bit. The GA marshes are beautiful so you have to decide on your trip.

3. My loose plan would be

- Outside St Augustine and depending on weather, crew, etc stop in Brunswick or on to Charleston. Charleston City Marina is a nice stop, close to town, lots of good restaurants. Take care docking there as the currents on tide changes can hit 2-3 kts and the fairways are narrow in places.

- If making a layover in Brunswick I would make another outside leg.

- Once you make Charleston choose inside or out depending on weather and your inclination

- I would go inside from Beufort NC to Norfolk. Saves going around Hatteras, not too many tricky spots to watch for, and may actually save a few miles.

- I

The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 28-04-2014, 17:59   #3
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Re: St. Augustine, FL to Norfolk, VA in May?

Thanks for the input. I'm still weighing my options with work/schedule/readiness.
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Old 28-04-2014, 19:00   #4
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Re: St. Augustine, FL to Norfolk, VA in May?

We did Tampa to Nova Scotia last June/July, through St. Augustine/Beaufort/Cape Cod. Did the run from St. Aug-Beaufort in 2.5 days straight thru, no issues. Just me, my wife and my 3 kids (all under 10 yrs old, 2 seasick). 47' cutter - Motorsailed 60%, sailed 40. Autopilot died as well, so last 24 hrs were tiring, but it's an easy trip with decent weather window. 2 days in Beaufort, then straight shot to Cape Cod (a lot further than you are proposing), did it in 3.5 days doublehanded only. Outside Hatteras with decent forecast. Small squalls off NJ/NY, and entering buzzards bay, but otherwise uneventful. probably 80% motorsailing.

We were on a schedule (clearly); and we passed a heck of a lot of very cool cruising grounds... but heck, yeah - it can be done quite easily in the time you propose.

Respect Hatteras; respect the weather windows, and have good help. We did fight back eddies from the stream at times, but never terrible. Confused water at times from being on the edge of the stream - NOT a place ot be in poor weather, but we were aware and could have pulled in or further out at will.

Honestly, the scariest part to me was leaving St. Augustine with about 5 knots of current behind us (going out) and a big swell coming in over the bar, and only a couple of feet to spare in terms of nominal depth under the keel. I didn't like that at all... but once you get that kind of current pushing you, you're kinda committed! I nearly missed the last marker on the channel leaving St Aug too. that would probably have been bad. The keeper on the bridge of lions didn't really want to open up for us until we were, like, nearly being swept under him as well... but it all worked out in the end.

Good Luck!
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Old 29-04-2014, 10:52   #5
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Re: St. Augustine, FL to Norfolk, VA in May?

I agree with this, all the rest stay outside:
- I would go inside from Beufort NC to Norfolk. Saves going around Hatteras, not too many tricky spots to watch for, and may actually save a few miles.
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