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Old 12-04-2011, 19:13   #1
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Florida to US Virgin Islands

Hi everyone,

I've been googling to try and find an answer to this (unsuccessfully) and just found these forums during my searching, so I figured this would be the best place to find the answers and get the tips I need.

Anyway, does anyone know about how long it would take to sail from St. Thomas to the Ft. Myers area without stopping, on a 30 ft sailboat? Of course, I'm sure the time can vary largely depending on the wind & weather, but has anyone made the trip and want to talk about it?

The reason I am asking is because I'm in the market to buy a boat, and I found one with my name on it down in St. Thomas. I'm a novice sailor at best but I am ready to take the leap.
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Old 12-04-2011, 20:06   #2
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

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Originally Posted by millera View Post
Hi everyone,

I've been googling to try and find an answer to this (unsuccessfully) and just found these forums during my searching, so I figured this would be the best place to find the answers and get the tips I need.

Anyway, does anyone know about how long it would take to sail from St. Thomas to the Ft. Myers area without stopping, on a 30 ft sailboat? Of course, I'm sure the time can vary largely depending on the wind & weather, but has anyone made the trip and want to talk about it?

The reason I am asking is because I'm in the market to buy a boat, and I found one with my name on it down in St. Thomas. I'm a novice sailor at best but I am ready to take the leap.
Honestly not meaning to give a flip answer, but that is a pretty straight forward calculation, very basic navigation and trip planning. If you can't estimate this are you sure you're ready for the trip?

Just get any chart of the area or even go to google maps and step off the distance. I haven't made the trip to Ft Meyers but have made it to Miami and Ft Lauderdale. As I recall that was a bit over 1000 nm. Stepping off with my finger on the screen it looks like more or less 1400 nm to Ft Meyers.

Then you must know that a 30' sailboat will cruise around 5-6 kts so 5 kts in 24 hours gives in round numbers 120 nm/day. Allow for calm days round down to 100 nm/day. 1400 miles at 100 miles per day = 14 days.

That of course is non stop. Cannot imagine you wouldn't stop at all in the Bahamas or Keys on the way, rest a bit and enjoy the trip a lot more.
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Old 12-04-2011, 20:28   #3
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

skipmac,

Thanks for the advise!

You are right, I could not calculate this and I am absolutely in no way ready for the trip. I am just starting to ponder it at this point.

That's a lot longer than I was hoping. I would only have 8 or 9 days at the most to make it, so stopping, resting, and enjoying it would be out of the question.
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Old 12-04-2011, 20:37   #4
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

IF you got really lucky, perfect winds and weather you might might it in 8-9 days. You do have a current helping along that could add 0.5-1 kt to your speed. But one of the first rules of sailing, trying to keep to a schedule or deadline is the quickest way to get in trouble. Getting task focused and going when weather is marginal, boat isn't totally ready can lead to problems.

A sail of that distance will take a good bit of planning and preparation for the boat. Doesn't matter if is in great shape and just got in from a sail across the Atlantic, you cannot show up, get on a boat and take off for a 1400 mile trip without some planning and many days checking out the boat.
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Old 12-04-2011, 22:45   #5
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

This is the sort of great adventure you do after you've owned a boat for a year or so. Even then, Skipmac is right that you never let schedule trump safety.

Try looking around Ft. Myers for a boat "with your name on it". It's a great time to buy a 30ft sailboat in Florida. And even if it's more expensive, you won't have the costs of getting a boat in St. Thomas ready for an ocean passage (e.g. buy/rent life raft, fix any "borderline" things in engine, equipment and rig, emergency supplies, etc). It would surprise me if this voyage prep cost you less than $10,000 and took less than a month.

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Old 13-04-2011, 03:30   #6
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

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...I would only have 8 or 9 days at the most to make it, so stopping, resting, and enjoying it would be out of the question.
Forget about making that trip in 8-9 days in a 30 footer. More like 12 at best. And you'll need to plan to cross Florida Bay in daylight to avoid the crab pot floats (millions and millions of crab pot floats...), so unless you arrive at Marathon early in the morning, you'll have to hold up and bide your time.
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Old 13-04-2011, 06:35   #7
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

Hi: Start close to home. You are trying to run before learning to crawl.All trips take longer than expected;if you have no time to enjoy the stops,why are you even buying a boat?
Of course an option is to get an experienced captian and go along for an unforgettable experience, but even with a pro at the helm you will most likely need much more time than you have alloted. Sorry, but this is a recipe for a broken dream .You write that you are ready to make the leap,ok great; just leap into your local waters to start, and after learning the ropes you can go further afield comfortable with the knowledge you have then aquired.
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Old 13-04-2011, 07:04   #8
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

Welcome Aboard CF.

You might want to look at coming half way back, leave boat in a yard (on the hard) then come back in a month or so to finish the trip.

Just watch out for hurricane season..
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Old 13-04-2011, 08:02   #9
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, mrohr.
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Old 14-04-2014, 19:50   #10
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pirate Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

So here's my 2 cents. I have been sailing since I was 12, and when I finally got around to getting my ASA certifications, every cert I was asked by my family "Do you have the training you need now to go across the ocean?"

I would normally reply by saying "I now have enough training to know that I would NEVER sail across the ocean."

I wanted to agree with what everyone here is saying, and at the same time say shame on you for how everyone is saying it.

What this guy is trying to do is something we have all dreamed about doing. You know I'm right. This should be a "SAFE" place for people to come ask questions, no matter how dumb. I would wager that NONE of you are perfect, and you have all probably done something stupid, brave, gutsy, careless, or from the heart, with out giving it much thought. Lord knows I have.

My answer would be something like this.

My coastal navigation exam was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, it was an accomplishment. My course required me to sail from Barcelona, to Mallorca, using nothing but a compass, charts, and set & Drift tables. I found that island the next morning at 7am, and was so proud.

Having said that, the idea of Sailing from St Thomas to the mainland US is a dream of mine....and one that I will most likely one day do. But it is not a task that I would take lightly. There is training that is required, and some experience. But nothing that you can't get off the coast of Florida.

You have the most important thing you need.....guts...and passion. Everything else you can fill in with the right class, boat, some time, a good mentor, and some encouragement. Which frankly you should be able to get from a group of old salts in a Cruising forum. Again....shame on you guys!

Don't give up on your dreams, life is too short. But also don't put yourself at risk, or create a hazard where someone else has to risk their life to come save you. Take the risks serious, address them with training and experience, and there will be no destination you can't reach.

There is always a way!

Gene Sizemore
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Old 14-04-2014, 20:11   #11
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Re: Florida to US Virgin Islands

Hi Gene and welcome to the forum.

I can appreciate your comments but if you read the replies carefully you will see that no one told millera not to do buy a boat or to not follow a dream. The replies just pointed out the impracticality of his schedule and recommended, admittedly in fewer words than you, that he might do better walking before attempting a marathon.

I don't think anyone on the forum would discourage a new member from following the dream. We are all dreamers to some extent or we wouldn't be on this forum. But to take off with no experience at all on a old boat in unknown condition on a 2 week trip with one week to do it is inviting disaster. Better to counsel a little more planning and caution to increase the chances of a successful transition into cruising and possibly risk a bit of cold water on the dream than to hear after the fact of another failed voyage, lost dreams and even lost boat.

By the way, if you look this thread is three years old and the original poster never returned. Guess his passion for sailing wasn't as strong as he thought.
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