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Old 27-04-2013, 19:16   #1
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Annapolis to Charleston

If all goes well with my survey I will need to sail a 34ft Beneteau from Annapolis to Charleston in June. I am not keen on going via the ICW. I am familiar with sailing outside from Winyah Bay to Charleston and south but the portion from Norfolk to Winyah Bay I haven't done and that amounts to most of the trip. In good weather is it possible to squeak around the Frying Pan Shoals without getting too much push back from the Gulf Stream? I like to maintain around 5 knots. What other areas are a challenge from a wind verses tide/current perspective? Information from anyone who is familiar with this passage would be much appreciated. Thanks, Michael
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Old 27-04-2013, 19:21   #2
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Personally, I would always take the stretch of the ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort on the inside if there is any weather question whatsoever. It is actually shorter (205 statue miles), though you can't run 24/7 so takes longer. But, Cape Hatteras isn't called the Graveyard of the Atlantic for nothing! Beaufort to Charleston is a nice offshore run, and yes you can cut inside Frying Pan light and you are out of the Gulf Stream, and there is an inshore route as long as the weather is mild.
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Old 27-04-2013, 19:23   #3
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Before you get to Frying Pan Shoals, you have to deal with Diamond Shoals and Cape Hatteras. My inclination on a new to me boat headed southbound past Hatteras would be to stay inside until Beaufort NC and then jump out and sail outside to Charleston (maybe 36-40 hours). That trip has multiple fall offs if the weather turns or if you have problems with the boat. The Norfolk to Beaufort leg is much less forgiving. Congrats on the boat -- good luck with the survey!
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Old 28-04-2013, 01:35   #4
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Because of our size we have to go outside Hatteras and we have done it twice going south and once going north. A benign weather window is essential with the wind preferably light and or off-shore.

If you stay just outside the red markers, which run all the way from the Chesapeake to Charleston, which are in about 60 ft of water and mostly within sight of land you will find a light counter current going south. Staying in close we had a light but southerly component to the current 90% of the time from the Chesapeake to Miami.

There is a marked passage through Frying Pan that again keeps you out of the northerly current.

Both the marker off Hatteras, Diamond Shoal, and the passage through Frying Pan are 12nm off.

All this said, if the weather turned bad you would be in trouble and in a new and small boat I would go inside, it is a lovely trip.
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Old 28-04-2013, 19:28   #5
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Many thanks to those experienced sailors who took the time to weigh in. I know from experience how important local knowledge is so I will be doing the ditch from Norfolk to Beaufort.
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Old 28-04-2013, 20:15   #6
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Sounds like you're all over the inside route to Beaufort. You can sail the Pamlico Sound down to Manteo or Ocracoke, or just down the western side as you make your way to the Neuse. That can be great sailing, and I always take that route when headed to the Chesapeake and back if the wind is right. I used to be able to sail under the bridge in the Croatan sound, W of Roanoke Is. I think they are dredging the channel to Manteo anyway, and that's a nice stop with a free dock and a good anchorage.

As far as south from Beaufort, I often recommend putting out to sea at dark from Beaufort or Cape Lookout (my preference at dark) and sailing overnight to Wrightsville Beach, coming in at MAsonboro at dawn or as inlet conditions dictate. It is a straight shot from Beaufort to Charleston or Winyah Bay taking this route on the inside, in lieu of around frying pan. Time it correctly and you can catch the falling tide out the Cape Fear making 7+ knots with the current, and you'll be in Charleston the next day. Bald Head Island marina is near Cape Fear inlet, and a good place to tank up if needed before putting back out to sea. Being a new boat and route, this will give you the most options, while sailing a very direct route, mostly offshore. Allows you to anchor/moor in Wrightsville or Carolina beach and rest up for next leg down the river and back out to sea, although with crew, I keep on trucking.

Good luck with the boat purchase. June is a sweet time to be on the water, and that's a great route with lots of good sailing and places to drop the hook and relax.
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:02   #7
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Re: Annapolis to Charleston

Thanks Cheoah, that is just the kind of information one cannot glean from studying charts.
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