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Old 20-01-2006, 04:30   #1
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Caribbean to Canada and Onward ?

We are hoping to cross to St Lucia from Europe in 2007 and after spending a couple of months exploring some islands, would like to research sailing northward to possibly reach the Great Lakes before winter.

I've got all the routing software and weather charts etc, but would appreciate some local input to the idea of this trip.

If we were to arrive in the Caribbean for Xmas 07 - how feasible is it to then make passage northward in say March / April? Is it best to sail offshore, inshore, use the intracoastal? What's really possible with a 2.3 M draft and a 23 M mast? And knowing there could be lots of interesting spots to see on the east coast - where are the magic places to spend some time on this kind of northbound trip?

I've also heard it is possible to have a yacht trucked from the lakes across the Rockies so one can then slide back down the US west coast? Has anyone ever done this and if so, how did it go and what might it cost?

All advice welcomed with thanks.


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Old 20-01-2006, 18:01   #2
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Drawing 7.5 ft and with a mast height of 75 ft you can not do the intracoastal. The draft makes it really tricky and the mast height totally eliminates as fixed bridge height is 65ft.

The passage north is really tight until late April or mid May at the soonest as the prevailing south-easterlies don't set it until then. You really don't want to be near the Gulf Stream in a northerly breeze.

That being said it is very practical to do the east coast over the summer. Lots of great spots including but not limited to :

Chesapeake Bay - Tons of great spots..
Long Island Sound - especially between Newport and Nantucket and all the spots between. But many many more
Maine - Tons of great spots as well.

Need to better understand your Great Lakes objective to give any advice. Only point would be is that there is no winter season on the Lakes. Everyone hauls their boats for the winter. When we lived in Chicago boats were out by Oct. even if you are a die-hard sailor.

Re: shipping lots of options. Cost is size and distance related. I had a friend ship a Shannon 38 from Seattle to Boston so anything is possible.

S/Y Sirius
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Old 21-01-2006, 03:56   #3
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John, my take on getting up to New England starts out a bit different than Jon's. First, the sked you are proposing is a bit 'off' relative to your Atlantic Crossing. Everyone likes to be in the Caribbean for Christmas, it seems...but having decent winds that early is very often problematic and you'll hear of many slow passages and fitful weather until the late Dec/early Jan period. Planning for a late January arrival in the Caribbean will still give you two months to see the N islands and provide a faster/more comfy passage. Also, this year there were two hurricanes during that earlier time period; friends on two different boats had to hole up in the Cape Verdes or deal with tough storm weather, as a result. I notice the shower block was destroyed at one of the marinas in the Canaries in early December by one of these storms, well "after" the storm season's official end. Perhaps next year will be different (?).

The run N to the States can be a joy in late March/early April; the winter Trades usually die down in March sometime and our return from the Virgins to Florida during this time period was a treat. The issue you face, and the one I think Jon is alluding to, is that the normal weather over the N part of the U.S. is a W-E progression of lows that originate in the N Pacific. The tail of each low drags across the S portion of the U.S. and can extend down into the Caribbean; the earlier in the year, the stronger the low pressure cell, and therefore the longer and stronger the frontal tail. By late Mar/early April, these lows begin to lessen in strength and so your task is to wait for a settled period after a frontal passage (e.g. across the top of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico) and then make a run of some distance to the next decent stop before the next front. As Jon points out, you don't want to be caught in the Stream by a Norther, but of couse the Stream is just one narrow band you will need to cross, while your run is quite lengthy. Typical legs would be from e.g. St. Martin or the Virgins up to the T&C Islands (perhaps Sapodilla Bay off Provo Is., a few day run), then further N into Georgetown or perhaps Cat Is. (you'll owe the Bahamas $300 in clearance fees these days), then up the Sound and across to Florida. You'll have many options along the way without draft being a limitation.

From there - and as spring weather becomes more settled and the fronts even less vigorous - you'll probably choose to use the various sounds and major harbors on your move N. Examples might be in at St. Mary's River to stop at lovely Cumberland Is., calling in at Hilton Head off Port Royal Sound, stopping at Charleston, entering at Beaufort, NC to wait weather for getting around Hatteras (our very own Finnisterre), entering the Cheapeake for some superb cruising, and so forth. These options will all offer lifting (bascule) bridges or no bridges and deep water channels used by commercial shipping. I'm afraid your options are limited on our East Coast waterway, so forget the 'ICW'.

Your time on the Lakes will be limited before you will need to put the boat to bed; I'd definitely try to arrange for at least one firm haul-out reservation before showing up there. Were I you, I'd instead consider trucking the boat in the Fall to the NW rather than sitting out the entire hostile winter on the Lakes. NW winter weather is poor but not as strong in the winter, and a review of a good climatogical atlas will show you some places on the Sound and N of Seattle where rain fall is surprisingly low and temps normally well above freezing. Just bare in mind that our fuel costs, tho' low by Euro standards, and highway regulations for your kind of load will result in a steep trucking fee out to the West Coast. Of course, this is in wimpy U.S. dollars, so perhaps your Pounds or Euros will make it look cheap!<g>

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Old 21-01-2006, 09:47   #4
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We winter aboard on Lake Ontario , canadian side. There are various harbours that remain open, and of course the lake does not freeze. It is not however hospitable sailing in the winter.
I have met more than one person that has had their boat trucked across country, however , that is not cheap.
Keep us posted about your trip.
Fair Winds
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Old 23-01-2006, 01:30   #5
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Thanks Guys

Appreciate the outline guidance given so far as its allowed us to at least start our passage planning.

Latest thinking is to maybe go as far north as New York and forgetting the great lakes - either shipping the boat overland to the NW or possibly even returning to the EU.

Plenty of time between now and end 2007 to make up our minds - but thanks again for the advice provided.

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