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Old 09-09-2005, 07:49   #1
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Question Best Stops Heading North Along Atlantic Coast?

Next spring, while heading back to Canada from Trinidad, I hope to stop along the Bahamas chain over a week or so, then hit the coast somewhere along Georgia before the first of May, and hit the Bay of Fundy by the first of July. One "must-see" for the Admiral and me is Savannah.

We also intend to travel the ICW from Beaufort to Norfolk, although I have done the outside trip before.

Given this, I would love tips for good stops along this course, both in the Bahamas and along the US. I am interested in good anchorages, economical marinas, and places near the waterfront with good cultural or historical sites. Significantly pretty places, with friendly people, would appeal to me as well. For example, I also hope to show the Admiral the town of Oriental.

I would appreciate any tips you folks might provide, so that I might investigate them by computer before we fly to Trinidad in October.
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Old 09-09-2005, 08:11   #2
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Depending upon how far south you want to enter the US, I would recommend coming in at the Saint Marys river on the Florida-Georgia border. I live in the town of Fernandina Beach on the Florida side and would be happy to give you a hand with any needs. There is an anchorage and a marina near the historic downtown area. After stopping here, head to the Georgia side of the river and visit Cumberland Island. It has a couple of great anchorages and lots to enjoy with it’s trail, historic ruins and seashore with wild horses.

http://www.nps.gov/cuis/

You can then go north in the ICW, or go back outside through the Saint Marys or Saint Simons inlets.
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Old 09-09-2005, 08:59   #3
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I'll second Cumberland Island, my favourite stop on the trip south. I'd skip Georgia (until Savannah) unless you want to see the mansions at Jekyll Island. Charleston is great, lots to see here. A good stop on the ICW just before Norfolk is Great Bridge, you can tie up north of the bridge just before the lock (free) and shopping is nearby also laundramat. If you're going outside again rather than up the Chesapeake a good anchorage for jumping off is just east of Hampton, behind the ramp leading to the tunnel. I think it's called Ft. Monroe (there's an army base there with a marina)

In the Bahamas, Normans Cay and just south of that, Shroud Cay are two of my favourite stops. These are in the Exumas. If you've never done the Exumas land and Sea Park you'll want to stop there, Warderick Wells. I don't go to the Abacos any more. They're getting more like Miami every day. I'll be in the Exumas by January and will hang around there and the Jumentos till May. If you see "Breathless" come over and say hello.
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Old 09-09-2005, 18:23   #4
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Does crowd thin out South of Abacos?

I'm planning much the same trip for next year but intend to stop in Abacos. Chartered there about 10 years ago. I guess its getting more population now huh?

Does the boat traffic thin out once south of the Abacos and into
the Exumas? JR
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Old 12-09-2005, 16:00   #5
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Fabulous

Fabulous information. Please keep it coming.
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Old 12-09-2005, 18:45   #6
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halyardz,

I might be a bit harsh about the Abacos but it's mostly the Marsh Harbour area that's like Miami. Further north up at Walkers Cay and Allens Pensacola it's not too bad. I chartered in the Abacos in 1984, my first time chartering and really enjoyed it. Luckily it wasn't blowing because I didn't know how to sail but I'd just bought a boat and the manufacturer had a charter operation out of Hopetown and apparently would charter to anyone! We had a great time. It's like most things, nothing stays the same and we always remember the way it was. Lots of conch, lots of fish, not too crowded. no Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
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Old 21-09-2005, 07:50   #7
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Sono, on the wee chance you might still bypass Cumberland Is., I'd like to 'third' that recommendation. NPS dock with water, nice anchorage, escorted tours by the Nat'l Park professionals who know the island intimately, and the walks and the undeveloped 19 mile long beach are treasures to experience.

Given your timetable and yet your hope to visit some interesting places, my plan in your shoes would be to use the Sounds and main shipping channels with outside overnight runs. E.g. I'd leave via St. Mary's River and enter at Port Royal Sound; personally, I've had a wonderful time visiting Hilton Head, with a nice, free anchorage, all the major amenities close at hand, and a bike 'freeway' system that gives one access to the whole island.

Another decision you'll need to make, given your choice to go inside from Beaufort, is whether to take the Dismal Swamp route or not. If it's open and if your draft permits, folks usually enjoy that 'drive' thru an overhanging arch of trees and the free overnight stop at the Virginia Welcome Station near the state line. The next morning it's an easy run into Norfolk, where you can anchor at Hospital Point and dink over to the Waterside marina and the huge mall only a few blocks away. A free van service is operated by a local grocery store to fetch Waterside customers; very convenient. Docking at Waterside is also a good choice; OTOH watching the commercial traffic from the anchorage at that point in the waterway is something we always find fascinating.

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Old 07-10-2005, 07:32   #8
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Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island is now on our itinerary. As well, I have decided to return to the Dismal Swamp Canal, and to Oriental, to show these to the Admiral. The recommended stops on this passage to Norfolk will come in handy as well.

The lakes back there allowed some lovely reaches through shallow water filled with jelly fish and rays. I really didn't expect such a fun trip.

There was a Chandlery and boat repair location, with a free docking area along the channel, just south of a bridge, a few hours from Norfolk. We stopped there in 2002 when bringing the boat home after purchasing it in Martinique, when the bridge closed for repairs. The repair business lent us an old stationwagon to run for groceries while we wait. What great people! Hopefully they are still there. Would that have been the Waterside Marina?

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Old 07-10-2005, 07:34   #9
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Recommended clearance locations

We'll be leaving the Bahamas near the top of the chain, and likely cross the Gulf Stream as close to a right angle as reasonable. What are your recommendations for ports of clearance for a non-US vessel?
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Old 07-10-2005, 08:08   #10
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When a private vessel arrives at a port of call in the United States, the Master of the vessel must report arrival immediately to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and must physically present themselves and their passengers for admission into the U.S. Documents needed include registration papers, a declaration of both ship's stores and crew's possessions, last port clearance, and a crew list. Clearance must be completed with customs, immigration, health and agriculture. Sometimes the customs officer performs some or all of these other duties.

Florida Ports of Entry (POE):
http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/xp/cg...acts/ports/fl/

I’d suggest Jacksonville, Florida, as one good option.
POE Jacksonville:
2831 Talleyrand Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32206
Phone: (904) 360-5020
Fax: (904) 360-5043

Vessel Entrance or Clearance Statement
https://forms.customs.gov/customsrf/...-1300-form.xft

Crew's Effects Declaration
https://forms.customs.gov/customsrf/...-1304-form.xft
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Old 07-10-2005, 08:26   #11
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Clearing in

Sonosailor,

The consensus right now is that Lake Worth is the best place to clear in. Just call the 800 number, and check in with the authorities within 24 hours. It's a short walk from the dinghy dock. It might help if you have a customs decal. All vessels over 30' are required to have them. l I just got my 2006 one this week. You can get it online but I have to warn you their new computer system is a bit screwy.

Instead of Beaufort, I stop at Morehead City, there's a free dock at the Sanitary Restaurant. There isn't really that much between Oriental and Norfolk. Belhaven is like a ghost town these days. If you take the Virginia Cut I'd say the best stop is Great Bridge, free dock, laundramat and groceries. I've never done the Dismal Swamp so don't know anything on that route.

I take it that you're skipping the Chesapeake and heading straight home after Norfolk.

After you get out of the ICW at Norfolk the best place to wait for weather is at the anchorage at Ft. Monroe. This is just east of Hampton, tucked in east of the ramps leading to the tunnel.
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:11   #12
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Decal?

Vasco: I had the impression that the decals were for returning US-owned or registered boats, and were for boats that often make the trip in and out of the US. I do note that you are a Torontonian, but is your boat Canadian registry? My intention is to request a cruising permit to allow me to get back to Canada along the coast, similar to what I acquired last fall at Eastport Maine, on the way down to Newport and off to Bermuda. Has there been a change? Hopefully, pre-application is not necessary, as we'll be leaving for Trinidad shortly, and would not be here to accept delivery.

I cleared in at Morehead City (taxied from Beaufort) in 2002, when we were first bringing Cat Tales home. We spent some time in the area looking for rigging parts - nice place and nice people. That year, we jumped directly from the BVI - spent 3 days with absolutely no wind.

No decision has been made regarding the Chesapeake vs the ocean. Kinda the reason for the thread. Last two trips were "outside", but then we were just trying to get boats home as fast as possible. This time, we are tourists, with an extra few weeks. What is your recommendation? What are "must see" spots alont the Chesapeake? Is the sailing good? What is it like moving from the Chesapeake north?

Gord: Jacksonville isn't too far north, is it? Would one travel north to it's latitude, then cross the stream, or get into the stream when the weather is acceptable and ride it north? Is there much benefit to filling out the referenced forms before arrival? What length of "window" of south wind would one look for? BTW, thanks for previous kind words regarding our personal website and postings.
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Old 08-10-2005, 13:39   #13
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ALL vessels over 30'

Sonosailor,

All vessels over 30' need the decal. My boat is a Canadian registered vessel. If you do not have the decal you might get away with it, you might have to pay clearing in fees, or, like what happened to me a few years ago, when I didn't have one, receive a letter in the mail threatening me with a $25000 fine if I didn't send them the 25 bucks. Needless to say I sent them the money.

When you clear in at Lake Worth, you can get a cruising permit good for one year (no charge). The cruising permit and decal are two different things. I've included the site for the decal. The decal takes about a week or you can get it expedited if you pay extra. You can have the decal shipped to a shipping address. You only have to quote the decal number if asked. Technically it's supposed to be on the boat visible near where you board. I stick it on the mast.

I would do the Chesapeake, go through the C&D canal, shoot down Delaware Bay (nothing worth stopping for here) to Cape May and then head out home from Cape May. Sailing should be good in the Chesapeake early in the year and the reason I love it is that the whole area is very friendly to sailboats. There are hundreds of good spots.

You are right that Jacksonville is out of the way. In addition it can take you many hours going up the St. John's river. Especially if there's been a bit of rain. Last time I went up (kept my boat there last summer) it took me most of the day, tide and a lot of flow all against me, as usual. Also you and your crew have to physically report to the Homeland Security (Customs) office . It's a short walk in Lake Worth. In some places, such as Ft. Pierce, you have to take a cab to the airport. I don't know where it is in Jacksonville. There are no forms to fill out, just present your bodies(with passports) and the number you get when you phone in. This is an 18 digit number that identifies you and the time you called in to the second! You have 24 hours from this time to present yourself.
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Old 08-10-2005, 16:19   #14
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Rick’s right about Jax being “up the river”, and Customs etc being “out of the way”. I don’t recall exactly where it was, but I do recall a $20 cab ride. The office is in a tough neighbourhood, and the officer recommended we NOT take the bus. We did return to the dock by (1) bus.

I’d never recommend crossing “the Stream” at (anything near) right angles, as you have to steer way too much offset. I’d vector directly towards Jax, in any wind BUT North-Anything, and perhaps not due West.

West Palm (Lk. Worth) is also good, but less “lift” from the stream.
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Old 08-10-2005, 16:52   #15
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Gord,

As you know a lot depends on where you jump off from in the Bahamas. The last couple of trips we've skipped the Abacos on the way home and head across starting at Nassau across the Great Bahama Bank, up to Memory Rock and ending at Lake Worth. It's about 26 hours averaging 6 or so knots. When we used to leave from the Abacos we'd jump off at Great Sale and head for Port Canaveral, about 24 hours. Both ways you get quite a lift from the stream. Also you've got your options if the weather holds and you want to make better time stay out and head further up. I've heard that Fernandina Beach is not too bad to clear in but have never done it myself. It's interesting that one of the biggest factors on the crossing nowadays is where you're going to clear in!!
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