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Old 03-12-2008, 13:35   #1
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Boat delivery St. Thomas to Chesapeake Bay

I am considering purchase of a C&C 37/40 R which is located in St. Thomas, USVI and sailing her home to the Chesapeake Bay...any suggestions on route/best time of year to make such a trip. Unable to use ICW (draft 7'10"). Boat is 40' racer, so obviously fast. Biggest draw back is tankage so will intend on carrying lots of extra (only holds 20g fuel and 30 gall water). thanks.
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Old 03-12-2008, 14:12   #2
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Late spring with a straight shot home. You can also squeeze a trip in early summer. Any later the weather needs a sharp eye.
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Old 03-12-2008, 14:17   #3
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The conventional wisdom is to leave the USVI in very late April or the first half of May, hoping to avoid the strong cold fronts that blow off the US coast in the spring, and the tropical storms that can form in the early summer. For years, the Cruising Rally Association has sponsored the "Atlantic Cup", in which boats leave Tortola in the first week of May, bound for Bermuda. After a suitable layover there, with parties, etc. The boats head out for the Cheasapeake or New England. I think your chances of having a good passage are probably best in that timeframe. The route could vary from St Thomas to Bermuda and then the Chesapeake, a track that heads NW from St Thomas then curves more north, crossing the Gulf Stream south of Hatteras, or the route we took. A friend of mine has done the Gulf Stream route from south Florida to the Chesapeake a dozen times with no real issues.

I can relate to you my one and only experience going in that direction. We departed St. Thomas May 1st, 2005, arriving in the Abacos after six days at sea. The winds were moderate and off our starboard quarter until we got to about the Latitude of San Salvador. There the tradewinds petered out, and we experienced a weak cold front with some moderate squalls. No problems.

After a week playing around in the Abacos, we headed north at Moraine Cay and over toward Florida, where we entered the Gulf Stream opposite Cape Canaveral. It was a great ride north, with SOGs up to 10 kts. I had arranged for weather routing advice from Commanders Weather for the second leg, and they kept us posted daily by email over my SSB on an approaching cold front that passed over us just as we reached Cape Hatteras. It was weak, and again, we had no problems at all. It was what you'd call "benign" weather the whole way, and we motor-sailed a fair bit during parts of it. (I have 85 gallons in tankage and 30 gallons on deck in jugs).

You can get some bad weather at that time of the year, though. An acquaintance did the same trip a week after we arrived in Virginia, and was hammered in a strong gale off South Carolina, and had to limp into Charleston for repairs and a rest. In 2002, a friend did that same trip in early May, and was hit by what some called the second "Perfect Storm". A couple of boats were lost in that one. It's the luck of the draw.

I agree with you that fuel and water capacity is a concern for a trip like that. And I'd recommend using a weather routing service--Commanders Weather, Herb Hilgenberg or Chris Parker, for example. Bad weather in the Gulf Stream or at Cape Hatteras is nothing to play around with.
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Old 14-01-2009, 18:15   #4
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Thanks...I was re-reading your message and am confused about one part, you mention one choice of route of going NW from St. Thomas and then crossing the stream south of Hatteras--can you explain this more, it was my understanding that going up the coast close in to Hatteras was unwise and that the safer route was staying off the coast, either in the stream or outside of it. Can you elaborate/explain?
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Old 14-01-2009, 18:21   #5
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Did the same trip a few years back, after having boat in VI for 11 years (and sailing there for many more).

My boat's in DC. If you wish to discuss in more detail, give me a buzz...PM or email bill at wdsg dot com

The Gulf Stream swings in very close to Hatteras. You'd cross it south of Hatteras if you were planning to enter the ICW at, e.g., Southport (Cape Fear).

But, if you were planning on continuing to the Chesapeake Bay entrance, you're right, you'd give Hatteras a wide berth.

Bill
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Old 14-01-2009, 18:36   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Did the same trip a few years back, after having boat in VI for 11 years (and sailing there for many more).

My boat's in DC. If you wish to discuss in more detail, give me a buzz...PM or email bill at wdsg dot com

The Gulf Stream swings in very close to Hatteras. You'd cross it south of Hatteras if you were planning to enter the ICW at, e.g., Southport (Cape Fear).

But, if you were planning on continuing to the Chesapeake Bay entrance, you're right, you'd give Hatteras a wide berth.

Bill
Don't get locked into any route or firm time table until you leave. Once you establish a course, be flexible with every forecast as it may change.

Most of the time you can pass Hatteras close by. In fact the fishing is great there. You'll see plenty of boats off the Cape in fair weather. If there are weather warnings or a breeze from any Northerly quarter, stay clear.

Common sense will tell you to use the Gulf Stream to your advantage, weather permitting. The one thing you don't want is wind apposing current. Other than that, you should be good.

Tropical storms are more common later in the season (Aug - Oct) and you get pretty good warning of tropical disturbances well in advance. I personally prefer June. Spring storms can be severe when they get over the water. Again....everything depends on current conditions at the time. You may want to plan an earlier departure and be flexible. The key is not to put yourself on a time table. More problems come from that one single point than any other........be flexible and allow lots of time.
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