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Old 28-02-2013, 21:48   #1
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Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Come October, I'm thinking I want to get from the Cape to the ICW as fast as possible and am looking at doing an offshore run from Chatham to Norfolk, VA and picking up the ICW there. Has anyone done this that can offer any advice? I can go inside, obviously, it just seems like it adds a lot of unnecessary time. What sort of weather window am I looking for?

Thanks in advance.

Jim
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Old 28-02-2013, 21:59   #2
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Well lets see. The distance is more or less 400 nm. I don't know the size or speed of an ODay Mariner but just take the cruising speed of your boat, divide 400 by that number and you will have how many hours it would take to get to Norfolk. That's your weather window.

So say you can average around 6 kts. That's about 3 days.

Oct you do run the risk of an early Nor'easter or a late season tropical depression hitting (remember the Perfect Storm), so be prepared to duck in somewhere along the way just in case.
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Old 28-02-2013, 22:18   #3
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Most likely a Sabre 32. If the Gods smile a Cabo Rico 38. 6 knots is about right for either.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:13   #4
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

I made the trip a couple of years ago from Narragansett Bay and was in a bit of a hurry due to a pending business trip.

I made several outside legs but broke up the trip.

1. Because I thought it would be fun and had not done it before. Down LI Sound to the East River.

2. East River through NYC down the Jersey shore to Delaware Bay.

3. Delaware Bay to Norfolk.

4. Inside through VA and NC (gets you around Cape Hatteras).

5. Outside at the New River (NC/SC border) to Charleston SC.

6. Outside Charleston to Brunswick GA.

7. Outside Brunswick to the St John's River.

Made the trip in 15 days which included 3 nights in Charleston for a minor repair.
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Old 01-03-2013, 15:28   #5
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

That can be a nasty ocean out there, and you do not have places to duck in if things get bad. The inlets on Long Island, the Jersey shore,and the Deleware coast can not be done in heavy weather.
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Old 01-03-2013, 15:40   #6
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

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Originally Posted by lorenzo b View Post
That can be a nasty ocean out there, and you do not have places to duck in if things get bad. The inlets on Long Island, the Jersey shore,and the Deleware coast can not be done in heavy weather.
Good point. I should have been more specific and said be prepared to duck into a harbor before things get bad.

Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay I think you could enter under most conditions and find a lee.
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Old 01-03-2013, 16:17   #7
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It's all Bout the weather at the time. Jersey coast run can be uncomfortable in the wrong wind at 20 knots. Where off the coast it's great sailing in the same condition. There is all sorts of traffic in the main shipping lanes. How much crew do you have if any? Do you have time constraints? Etc....
With a good window I would go outside. Long Island is good fun someways late in the season it's more better.
How's that for not giving a answer. I think I have lived in DC to long.
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Old 01-03-2013, 16:41   #8
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Have you been offshore before?

If not, these aren't the waters for your first trip. Do the sound and along the NJ coast. It won't take that much longer and the trip up the East River is something you won't forget.

If you are experienced, this trip has a lot to recommend - but only if you have a weather window. Be prepared to wait a week for the right weather. This whole coast can become very dangerous -very quickly. But in nice weather, it's a joy.

Winter storms seem to start in October these years. If you could leave in September your odds are considerably better.

Cape May is a great place to "bail out", if you've had enough. Well lit, safe entrance.

There is a lot of commercial traffic in these waters. Have AIS - preferably an AIS transponder. That way, you can hail by name rather than "Tanker off my starboard bow, this is the white sailboat"
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:35   #9
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

The best way to do it, IMHO, is to go to Block Island and wait for the weather to cooperate. If you leave really early, maybe before dawn, you can often get into Cape May just before dusk the next day. Cape May has a well-marked entrance and is pretty easy to get into after dark if you don't make it. If you head out and it looks like your weather will hold you can angle off and continue on down to the mouth of the Chesapeake. If you do get to Cape May and the weather turns lousy, you can sit, and/or head up the Delaware and use the C&D Canal. Myself, I wouldn't want to miss the boat show">Annapolis boat show around the second week of October, and why skip the Chesapeake unless you're in a big hurry? Best wind to leave Block Island is a petering out cold front so you've got north winds. Wait until it hits to make sure it isn't too strong, than go once you know the wind will be reasonable. The breeze will probably peter out before you get to Cape May, so you often have to motor in the last 50 miles or so.
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Old 03-03-2013, 21:51   #10
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Based upon the answers I see, I dont think I have enough offshore experience to the trip outside. I do like the Block Island to Cape May idea and I certainly have enough flexibility to leave in Mid to late September. I suppose if there is a hurricane lurking these days there is enough weather hype out there I would have to be asleep to miss it.

Under those circumstance I might try the run. Crew of me plus 1. AIS equipped.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:42   #11
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Re: Cape Cod to Norfolk offshore

Here's a way to break up the trip to give short offshore legs and allow for safer, shorter weather windows.

1. Down Long Island Sound, down the East River and through NY harbor. Cautions: time your trip through Hell Gate for slack or ebb tide. It can run 5 kts reversing so if you have it against you, you would be almost sitting still. There are lots of places to stop at the west end of LI Sound so you can wait for proper departure time for the E River.

2. After passing NY Harbor you can anchor at Gravesend Bay or behind Sandy Hook. From there it's about 120 nm to Delaware Bay so at 6 kts about 20 hours. So if you leave NY around midday you should make the entrance to Delaware Bay the next morning. Seems like most people go into Cape May but I stopped across the bay at Lewes DE. I took 5'4" draft into the town canal with no problem. If you need fuel there's a small but nice marina about 1/4 mile in on the left and a restaurant next door. We topped off the tanks and they let us stay free while we had lunch next door. Very friendly little town. If you don't want or need to tie up you can anchor at the mouth of the bay at the harbor of refuge.

3. If you want very protected water for the next leg you go up the bay to the C&D canal that crosses over into the upper Chesapeake Bay then down the bay to Norfolk where you enter the ICW. I preferred going outside again as I had a tight schedule. Outside from DE to Norfolk is about the same distance and strategy as the leg from NY to DE.

4. One you get into the ICW you are in protected water the rest of the way. There are a couple of sections that are a bit open like crossing Albemarle Sound.

5. Once in the ICW you will have to watch close as at places the channel makes a twist and a turn and you don't want to shortcut between two markers.

6. The section that may be a bit tricky is GA where there is a 9-10' tidal range in spots leaving some places in the channel as low as 3-4' at low tide. Here you will have to play the tides or go outside.

Good luck on the trip. Lots of great resources to check out including the Waterway Guide (books and online), Cruiser's Net online cruisersnet.net, and Active Captain online. Or if you have questions feel free to PM or give me a ring.

Skip
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