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Old 20-03-2009, 14:06   #1
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Daytona to Morehead City - Picking the Time to Leave

Looking at picking weather patterns for going north from Daytona, FL to More Head City, NC starting April 1.

We will have my wife and I plus my inexperienced but strong 37 yr old son as crew. We prefer to sail but not pound into weather to test ourselves - read fair weather sailors. Our boat is a Sceptre 41, cruiser not racer, in good condition with no know problems. Jib is a 130 on a roller, hanked on staysail, and an older main with 2 slab reefing points. Below deck auto pilot and Cape Horn wind vane.


The plan is to do the ICW for a two day shakedown to St Augustine then offshore to Charleston (205 KM) with an option to go in at St Marys/Fernandina Beach (65KM) and hold up at Cumberland Island for a rest and a reset of the weather window then on to Charleston.

After getting to Charleston our next leg goes around Frying Pan Shoals and in at Morehead City and on to the Nuse River to stop for a time which is a total of 240 KM. (we've done this passage 1 time each way in the past)


In looking at current weather trying to get a handle on how to pick the right time to leave in a couple of weeks I've noticed that as cold fronts go through the wind goes NNE on the heels of the frontal passage. A couple of days later it clocks more to the east, then SE which is much more favorable. This seems (?) to give us an acceptable weather window for both offshore legs before the next front comes through.

Any experience getting out the inlet at St Augustine in a mid-teens kph east wind?

Any other words of wisdom?
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Old 20-03-2009, 14:27   #2
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You've accurately described the wind patterns associated with frontal passages. The reality is that the winds are strongest just before (SW to NW) and after (N-NE) the front goes through. Then the winds usually get progressively lighter as they clock from NE to SE. And then the pattern repeats. The fronts are usually closer together in April vs. May.

My preference is May, but you can still experience very challenging weather then. I did a passage from the Abacos, up the Gulf Stream, and around Cape Hatteras to the Chesapeake in mid-May, 2006. We had great weather all the way. An acquaintance did the same trip a week behind us and got royally hammered in the Gulf Stream off Charleston, and had to seek shelter and make repairs.

Guessing the weather a month or two in advance is playing the odds. The odds are that you'll have a better chance of good weather in May than in April, but there are no guarantees. Using a weather routing service can improve your odds considerably.
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Old 20-03-2009, 15:53   #3
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Thanks Hud. I've used Commander's Weather in the past and am considering them again.
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Old 20-03-2009, 16:23   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemsea View Post
Looking at picking weather patterns for going north from Daytona, FL
Any other words of wisdom?
Get the hell out before the motor bikes take over!
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Old 24-03-2009, 05:01   #5
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John,

I've used Commander's Weather a number of times and have found them to be good. PassageWeather.com does a good job of displaying model data graphically, including animated forecasts of various regions. It's a good way to see what might be coming at you. I say "might", because it's model output only, with no expert human interpretation. You have to supply that part yourself.

Hud

p.s. there a hurricane force storm developing right now off the US East Coast. Well east of where you intend to sail, but an example of how strong the Spring storms can become.

(screen shot from PassageWeather.com)
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Old 24-03-2009, 08:03   #6
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The only suggestion I have is that if the weather looks at all rough near frying pan shoals it is easier to pop into the cape fear river and back out again at Masonboro inlet. It eliminates having to deal with the rough water around the shoals.
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