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Old 27-03-2011, 05:57   #1
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Going south from Florida in September

Hi

I have recently agreed to sail a 32 foot sailboat home from the caribbean to northern Europe, but will spend a year in the Caribbean with my wife and child first. We will borrow the boat from July, probably in Florida, but canīt start sailing until august/september because of work obligations.

My main concern is the hurricane season. When we get to Florida it is already well underway, and as I understand the probability for storms are at the highest between september and october. The plan is to either sail south to Key West, go counter clockwise around Cuba towards the Dominican Republic and eastwards, or trough the Bahamas and the "thornless path" east, and as far south in the Caribbean as comfortable before heading north again to sail the Atlantic between May ad July.

Any advice of which route I should go for considering the hurricane season? Should I wait out the hurricane season in the Intracostal waterways or just go south and pay close attention to the weather? And if I go south right away, are there any good hurricane holes on the way?
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Old 27-03-2011, 07:26   #2
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

I suggest you check NOAA's historical storm tracks before making such a decision. You might have a change of heart. At that time of year you would really be taking a craps shot.

FWIW...
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Old 27-03-2011, 07:53   #3
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

I'll second that opinion that cruising the Caribbean basin in September/October is playing Russian Roulette with a lot more than one chamber with a bullet in it.
You can also access the Storm Tracks for the last 15 years at:
Unisys Weather
- - If the boat has insurance that allows "active" hurricane season/zone usage that might take care of the owner's interest in the boat. But, you, your wife and child are also voluntarily assuming a rather large risk of death or injuries should a storm find you. Communications, hurricane holes, and the time needed to get to one are all highly problematical. Western Caribbean Storms can pop up and be on top of you in days with no viable place for you to get to for shelter.
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Old 27-03-2011, 08:50   #4
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

I would not.

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Old 27-03-2011, 09:08   #5
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

Same as above, not a really goo idea,
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Old 27-03-2011, 09:32   #6
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

Thanks for quick replies, all of you. I guess postponing is the best option then, as I already sort of knew. What I was hoping for was "itīs not that bad" and "no problem", but I guess we can go a bit north on the ICW before heading south later in the year.

Thanks for the link osirisail.
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Old 27-03-2011, 10:46   #7
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

Best vto wait until late October - beginning of October. You would be better off to go North first, then head straight out untill you pick up the trades, then turn South. If you take the route you initially proposed, it would be up wind the whole way.
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Old 27-03-2011, 11:11   #8
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

not safe to do it in august or september .. south florida will be an inferno and the tropics unstable. you may need to find a place to stay and hunker down until october or november. has your family ever experienced summer in florida?
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Old 29-03-2011, 10:44   #9
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

I hope this doesn't start a big commotion (I'm not going to get dragged into it if it does...this is my opinion, and I'm entitled to it!), but I think you have to separate this into two components: actually being underway in a hurricane (potential loss of life), and exposing your boat (not underway) to a hurricane (potential loss of property). In general, the first one is mostly avoidable, since you can generally remain within hours (not days) from land, and thus get yourself and crew off the boat within a reasonable period. The second: not so simple. There's nowhere you can put your boat (within reason) that's completely safe during a hurricane. Nonetheless, many of us live and sail in FL year-round, as do our boats.

I would say that if you are willing to take your time and stay close to land, risk to your life can be minimal (no worse, or maybe only slightly worse, than any other time of year). The challenge, then, is figuring out what you would do with your boat, all along your course, should problems arise. I can tell you from experience that it's a challenge getting anything done, even in your local area, when major storms encroach; everyone's concerned with their own personal property, not with finding a safe place for your boat. I would say that significant damage to or loss of the boat would be a good possibility for a transient during a major storm, but I don't see survival as a major challenge if you stay close to land and pick your weather window(s).

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Old 29-03-2011, 11:13   #10
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

I agree, hurricane season is not the time to do any passage making! Counter clockwise around Cuba is not the preferroud route in the best of conditions.

While you may luck out and avoid hurricanes, there is a wide range of weather conditions ranging from Tropicl waves to Tropial storms that march acrossed the area from June thru October. Remember that Hurricane Andrew, one of the worst huricanes to ever hit Florida, and was the only hurricane of 1992 arrived in mid-August.

The hurricne season leading up to September traditionaly sees the formation of serious weather form in the mid-Caribbean Sea and travel in a Northwesterly direction.
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Old 29-03-2011, 17:42   #11
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Re: Going south from Florida in September

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete33458 View Post
. . . I would say that significant damage to or loss of the boat would be a good possibility for a transient during a major storm, but I don't see survival as a major challenge if you stay close to land and pick your weather window(s).
pete
Very logical and good summary - but that "if" is a rather super major item. On the planned route there are large areas where getting to land would require significant time due to shallows and shoals and even political considerations. Also getting timely weather information requires some significant equipment and knowledge to use it, not to mention the skill to interpret that weather information. Basically there is a lot of "if" in trying to outwit Mother Nature.
- - Many have done it and are doing it each year, so it is not impossible. It is in that area of personal risk assessment - how much are you willing to accept when you have other "loved ones" on board. "Pushing the envelope" (aviation term for doing things that are right of the border between safe and stupid) is fine when it is only your life on the line.
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