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Old 13-10-2010, 19:54   #1
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Beaufort, NC to the BVIs

So I'm thinking about a direct passage from Beaufort to the BVI's in either November or February. The earlier month might include a hurricane! The latter month, a cold front + strong norther.

What is the conventional wisdom for the passage; i.e. what's the best weather-wise month to go?

thanks

Jim
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Old 13-10-2010, 19:59   #2
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Well when I was there the general concensus was after Dec is to late...
But I wouldn't go direct.. head for Bermuda then once across the stream angle south as the winds shift.... those Northers kick up the Stream something wicked.
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Old 13-10-2010, 20:07   #3
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You will probably find your answers in several past threads on this subject. Here is one:
Sailing to Puerto Rico from Florida ?

and another: Florida to Virgin Islands
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Old 14-10-2010, 06:17   #4
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Jim,

I suggest that you make sure there are no hurricanes in the NWS forecast and head out after a front passes through as early in November as possible. This is the tried and true formula used by the Caribbean 1500 for the last 19 years. That way you'll get across the Gulf Stream while the winds are in the southern quadrant and fairly light, so the crossing won't be too rough. Generally you'll have the next front catch up with you before you get far enough south that they are no longer an issue, so you'll likely see a few days of gale force winds--no problem in your boat.

Don't even think about going in February. The cold fronts that come off the East Coast frequently intensify to Force 11 or 12 storms once offshore. You really don't want to be out there in one of those.
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Old 14-10-2010, 17:17   #5
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What HUD said!

If you have SSB, hook up with Southbound II, Herb Hilgenberg and/or Chris Parker.

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 16-10-2010, 14:37   #6
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Jim,

I agree with Hud.

Watch the Gulf Stream velocity profiles you can find on the Internet (look at Lee Chesneau's Lee Chesneau's Marine Weather under Gulf Stream velocity). You can often find an extensive eastword kink South of Cape Hatteras. From Beaufort you can cross there and use the Eastward set to your advantage to get Eastward toward 65W.

From the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and clear of the safe water buoy I usually head SE until I get to 65W (although there is one enduring southbound ocean current I try to catch) and then turn due South.

I'm leaving Annapolis o/a 1 November. See you at the Soggy Dollar!
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Old 16-10-2010, 14:59   #7
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Hi to all and thanks for the comments. It would seem that the general consensus is earlier rather than later, which is what I suspected. A F11 crossing the stream would not be much fun!
It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has done it in Feb and what their experience was like.
Jim
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Old 16-10-2010, 15:01   #8
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I did Marsh Harbour to Annapolis last January in my HR40 - not a lot of fun. 2009 there were cold fronts boiling off the East Coast every three days.

I did Oxford MD to BVI in February 2008 on a Swan 47. Cold the first couple of days but a wonderfully easy run after that.

It depends on the weather and on the ongoing weather pattern.
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Old 11-12-2010, 19:00   #9
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We left Beaufort on Nov 17 and arrived Nov 29 after a mixed bag of 25+ and no wind at all. But once we picked up the Easterlies at about 22 degrees north, it was a beam reach almost all the way (700 nms). A great sail, but we were tired.
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Old 11-12-2010, 20:02   #10
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Welcome to the Caribbean - from here on down island the passages will be infinitely easier. Just don't sail on the eastern side of St Kitts/Nevis if you want to go from St Martin to Guadeloupe. The mixture of currents in that area sets up a washboard of confused seas. You will find this also true between islands whenever the charts show a "shelf" between them. Staying out west or east "off the shelf" will get you more consistent "ocean" conditions and even the wind will be more reliable when you are out of the "shadow" of the volcanic islands.
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Old 11-12-2010, 20:12   #11
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Thanks Osiris. I am looking forward to further southing but never considered going east of the islands as it seems counter-intuitive. But certainly avoiding the shelves makes sense.
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Old 12-12-2010, 04:53   #12
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When/If you get to the eastern Carib islands which run north/south in an arc - and - want to sail close to the western side to view the fabulous topography then there are the following things to watch for.
- - At the north end of each island, from the island to about 3 to 5 nm northwest is an "acceleration zone." This area has wind speeds 10 kts or more above the normal winds. It is caused by the trade winds wrapping around the high volcanic mountains and bending southward. Much like air over an airplane wing.
- - Shortly thereafter, the wind dies or totally reverses or even totally clocks around the compass. It is a bit of a hassle if you are using your sails. That is why a lot of folks who want to pure sail (not motor-sail) stay out 5 nm or so west of an island. Of course, if you plan to stop there you don't have much choice and accept the flukely winds to avoid all the extra miles of being out "west" and then having to turn east to get to the anchorage.
- - For some unknown reason the acceleration effect is not as bad on the south side of each island and in fact helps you when going north as you tend to fall west of your course line to hold wind in the sails. On the south side the winds allow clock around allowing you to head up more towards your destination as you near the island.
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:06   #13
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customs/immigration regs & fees

Hi Osiris

can you direct me to a source of immigration & customs regulations and fees for the various islands? I ask this following the surprise we got upon arrival in Sint Maarten - plans to stay till the end of Jan at a cost of $20/wk required an upfront payment of $180 that I wasn't expecting.

If you know of a web site that gives all inclusive information that would be appreciated. Or of course, tell me how you discovered 'the rules'.

I've heard that some islands are better avoided because of difficult administration of expensive fees but I don't have concrete evidence to consider. Advice you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

cheers

Jim
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:37   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimJohnston View Post
Hi Osiris

can you direct me to a source of immigration & customs regulations and fees for the various islands? I ask this following the surprise we got upon arrival in Sint Maarten - plans to stay till the end of Jan at a cost of $20/wk required an upfront payment of $180 that I wasn't expecting.

If you know of a web site that gives all inclusive information that would be appreciated. Or of course, tell me how you discovered 'the rules'.

I've heard that some islands are better avoided because of difficult administration of expensive fees but I don't have concrete evidence to consider. Advice you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

cheers

Jim

Go French Side and anchor in Marigot Bay... great holding sand in around 3 - 5 metres.. sometimes you get the predominant N'ly swell rising a bit.. but then mooch round to Gran Cass and anchor in the Nth end of the bay... lovely spot n great cuisine.
When at Marigot Bay dinghy into the Marina area and clear in at the office.. its at the ferry point and you can chain up close by... no charge to clear in or anchor last I was there.
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:48   #15
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Quote:
If you know of a web site that gives all inclusive information that would be appreciated. Or of course, tell me how you discovered 'the rules'.
Noonsite: The global site for cruising sailors

is perhaps the most comprehensive site that is well maintained. The problem is rules shift and what was true last year may not be the same this year. Noonsite so far is as reliable as any single site can be.
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