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Old 20-10-2019, 15:20   #1
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Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

Hi Everyone - looking to make a trip from Annapolis to St Thomas. Most folks doing the same are leaving early November but my schedule really only allows for a late January or early February departure. Some high level questions:

1) If there is a more specific thread for this topic on weather planning going down to Caribbean please point me to it? Thanks
2) What is the best place to find weather pattern data to compare a November voyage to a February voyage?
3) What is the consensus on best place to cross the Gulf Stream? Most seem to agree Cape Hatteras area...
4) How East to go before turning South if the generic prevailing wind and ocean conditions for those two months occur?
5) Any other major considerations I should think about regarding weather.

I will be on a 54 so more comfortable than a 33.

Thanks!
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Old 20-10-2019, 22:47   #2
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Re: Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by chesapeakesailor View Post
Hi Everyone - looking to make a trip from Annapolis to St Thomas. Most folks doing the same are leaving early November but my schedule really only allows for a late January or early February departure. Some high level questions:

1) If there is a more specific thread for this topic on weather planning going down to Caribbean please point me to it? Thanks
2) What is the best place to find weather pattern data to compare a November voyage to a February voyage?
3) What is the consensus on best place to cross the Gulf Stream? Most seem to agree Cape Hatteras area...
4) How East to go before turning South if the generic prevailing wind and ocean conditions for those two months occur?
5) Any other major considerations I should think about regarding weather.
I've done a number of cold water deliveries on that route. Lots of boats get hung up having work done.

1) This is as good as any.
2) Pilot charts. I particularly like Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Atlas as he threw out the data more than 50 years old.
3) If you're leaving Annapolis in winter you'll want to cross the Gulf Stream as soon as possible to get warm. Annapolis to Norfolk is a day. I stop in Cobb's Marina, Little Creek VA to press up fuel and water before heading offshore; tell them Dave on Auspicious sent you. From the sea water buoy I sail as close to 135°T as I can and err East v. South. Note that the rallies run the beach (further South) which seems to be to maintain cell signal as long as possible. I try to cross the Gulf Stream as fast as I can as close to perpendicular as I can. Set your depth sounder to show sea water temperature and you'll see where you are in the Gulf Stream.
4) Hold course until you get to 65°W where you turn right and head due South. This will, when held, bisect Tortola. Do not give up easting early.
5) It's going to be cold. Statistics are not forecasts. Synoptics are better than gribs; get weather fax. Be prepared to hold in Norfolk/Hampton/Little Creek and head out on a front passage.
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Old 28-10-2019, 14:07   #3
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Re: Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

Thanks Dave - appreciate the pointers from a guy who has experience doing it. I have Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Atlas - good news! So they keep the freshwater running through February at Cobbs Marina!?! Excellent to know because I have wondering about where I would top up water before heading out.

Would you elaborate on what you mean by "...head out (leave) on a front passage"?

thanks again!
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Old 28-10-2019, 14:36   #4
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Re: Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

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Would you elaborate on what you mean by "...head out (leave) on a front passage"?
Ahead of a front the wind blows (sometimes very hard!) from the southwest. As the front passes, the wind switches to the northwest, obviously a better direction to get where you are going. Last year as we were jumping out of the Chesapeake on the tail end of a frontal passage, a lot of boats in one of the rallies were hanging back because they were scared of the forecast of 25 to 30 knot winds from the NW. They ended up waiting too long, and having to beat hard on the wind all the way down.

I usually agree that it is usually better to cross the GS sooner than later, the exact timing for that is variable. Depending on the exact conditions, we sometimes head out for a crossing right out of Norfolk, but other times, we go coastal for a few hundred miles. Like everything sailing, and especially weather, "It depends."

If the above question is indicative of your knowledge of marine weather, I would strongly suggest that you hire a professional routing service to help you decide when to go, and the best route to get there. It will cost more than advice from random strangers here, but more likely to give you a consistently correct answer based on the actual conditions when you leave. Sometime free advice is worth less than you pay for it.

You'll be at sea for 5 to 7 days on this trip, and reacting appropriately to changing weather forecasts will be important, especially that time of year when things can get nasty in a hurry.
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Old 28-10-2019, 14:46   #5
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Re: Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

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Originally Posted by chesapeakesailor View Post
Thanks Dave - appreciate the pointers from a guy who has experience doing it. I have Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Atlas - good news! So they keep the freshwater running through February at Cobbs Marina!?! Excellent to know because I have wondering about where I would top up water before heading out.

Would you elaborate on what you mean by "...head out (leave) on a front passage"?
I've not had trouble getting water at Cobb's. One of my few rules: information is power when shared. That means when you're getting ready to leave Annapolis you email David Benns <cobbsdockmaster@yahoo.com> and tell him you're leaving and you're coming and when you expect to be there. They can plan and run hoses out to the fuel dock if need be. Please do tell them I sent you as that helps the next people I send: "Dave sends us lots of people, let's make him proud." You won't be disappointed. When you get close, say six hours, send him another note with an updated ETA. On your boat I would expect Annapolis Harbor to LC2 is about 20 hours under most conditions.

Enter the channel into Little Creek. There's lots of room. Hug the right side and make turn to the right up the creek. If you overshoot the nice men in boats with big black guns will direct you. *grin* Do not go into the Navy base. A lot of landing craft will be on your left after the turn. Cobb's is the first marina on the left after the base. The fuel dock is the last of I think three docks. It's on shore, not at the end of the dock, right next to the lift and lift well. They'll sort out fuel and water for you. Diesel only - no gasoline. Get dinghy gas before you leave Annapolis. I recommend ethanol free Avgas at Lee Airport in Edgewater.

Provisioning depends on where you are in Annapolis. I'm a huge fan of Sam's on Defense Highway with fill-ins at whatever Giant is closest. If you need a Sam's membership I can share.

Weather on the US East Coast and particularly the midatlantic is dominated by Low pressure systems that are born over or North of the Great Lakes and drag cold fronts across the country and out to sea. When a cold front approaches and passes the wind clocks. On your boat I would leave before a shallow front passes or right behind a deep one. For your boat and schedule from Chesapeake to across the Gulf Stream is about a day (shorts and t-shirts in the day, bundled up at night).

Are you based here or is the boat just here? Annapolis proper or Galesville or Deale? Happy to meet at Davis' Pub or Caliente Grill or Pirates Cove and walk you through this. Bring Ocean Altas and I'll bring my laptop. Drinks and French fries are on you. *grin* We can talk about routes and weather and anything else you aren't sure about. As long as I'm not offshore my schedule is pretty flexible.
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Old 29-10-2019, 15:20   #6
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Re: Annapolis to US Virgin Islands

Thanks to everyone for the lengthy replies. Very helpful indeed. Billknny - to set your mind somewhat at ease, I interpreted your note exactly as you explained it but wanted to be certain. I spent my first 10 years sailing in the southern atlantic of the cape of good hope, so rough weather is where I cut my teeth - although I prefer easier sailing than that.

This is all extremely helpful in terms of confidence getting it right as my plan almost exactly as you gentlemen have described a good course of action.

I have always had my boats on the chesapeake and baseboat chartered in the BVIs so first time taking my boat down to the Caribbean.
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