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Old 07-08-2011, 13:06   #16
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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Originally Posted by bstreep View Post

That said, if you are offshore at night, radar OR the safety zone is a darn good idea.
I definitely agree with Bill. I crewed on this past Harvest Moon Regatta. We had a great sail!



We ran the rhumbline from Galveston to Port Aransas, which took us through an area with a lot of platforms. I have seen with my own eyes, rigs that are unlit and no whistle. Kind of eerie, under a moonlit night sky! An attentive crew is all you need, though.

We returned to Galveston via the ICW, due to small craft advisories on Sunday. There is a lot of commercial traffic, especially on weekdays, but the captain's are very professional and pleasant. Lot's of nice things to see along the way. Birds, dolphins, and plenty of quiet, comfortable conditions.

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Old 09-08-2011, 14:33   #17
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

If I go the ICW there will not be any problems with old platforms. But if I go some distance outside the ICW, is there then any risk with oil platforms?

If I go the other way, straight over the golf. Hove wide is the area with oil platforms? Is it the same along the Mexican cost?
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Old 09-08-2011, 14:40   #18
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

The further away from the coast you get, the fewer and farther between the platforms are, also the bigger they are and the more brightly lit. The small old platforms close to the coast are the biggest danger.
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Old 09-08-2011, 15:23   #19
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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If I go the ICW there will not be any problems with old platforms. But if I go some distance outside the ICW, is there then any risk with oil platforms?
If I go the other way, straight over the golf. Hove wide is the area with oil platforms? Is it the same along the Mexican cost?
Looks like from the map scraps below that for the first 75 nm from Mobile you will be in the thick/dense area of platforms (Black squares on the graphics below). After that you will be pretty much clear of everything until you get to Mexico. The straight line route (Blue line on the graphics below) is about 550 nm so depending upon your boat's average speed you will probably be out there for maybe a week.
- -There are "safety fairways" charted between the platforms but they may not be too convenient for a sailboat. But to run outside the beachline rather than the Intracoastal Waterway is not very easy from looking at the charts. You probably need to stay within 2 nm of the beach and then you have to go around the Mississippi Delta. And then around major inlets for the oil/gas companies the platforms are as thick as Georgia flies in August right up to the beaches.
- - From your questions I can assume you don't have any nautical charts or computer charting program, as all the above is easy viewed on your own computer. The charts are free from NOAA and either Sea Clear II (which comes in European languages) or Open CPn (both are free downloads) will display the charts.
- - How are you planning to navigate if you don't already have any charts?
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:48   #20
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

I have Sea Clear on my computer, but so far I have only overview charts. I haven’t come longer in my sail planning. Here in Europe sea charts are expensive so I have not thought of that I can get US charts free.

How accurate are those charts in details about old oil platforms and leftovers. I really hops that the safety fairways are free from oil platforms, but beside the fairways, are the platforms marked on the charts?
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:52   #21
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

I think you are worrying too much about platforms. If you leave Mobile Bay and head south, you will see a few platforms close to shore, but they are easy to avoid unless you sail blind. Even then, odds are strongly against running into one. The thing you should worry about is bad weather out in the gulf, especially if you get in the loop current and the wind blows against the current.
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Old 10-08-2011, 13:08   #22
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

My suggestion is along the West coast of Florida.

You can head out of Mobile and head East and make the jump to Florida as wind and weather permits.

Remember September 1st is the very high point of the hurricane season and I certainly wouldn't want to be in the middle of the Gulf if one brews up. Sometimes they form up in the Carribean Sea rather than the Atlantic which gives you much less time to make evasive manuvers.

If heading down the Florida coast there are lots of places to duck into once South of Tarpon Springs. North of Tarpon Springs there are none for sailboats. Well, at least, none that you don't have to time the tide just right. That doesn't include the panhandle though.

The ICW stops at Carrabelle and picks up again in Tarpon Springs and there are several places to make landfall between Mobile and Carrabelle. Futher, you can still make headway along the ICW if wind/weather is against you on the outside. Another advantage is that there are no rigs once you're into Florida waters.

I suppose the draw back may be the current from Key West to Cancun. I have not made that run but I believe it flows West to East. Let me know if you take this route, I can give you particulars from Mobile to Tarpon Springs. Including bridge heights, which can be a problem if you're more than 48 feet. There are few that are 49 and 50 feet along the Florida panhandle.

Good luck and please let us know what you decide and how it went. I plan on making the same trip, just a soon as I can figure out a way not to have to come back for a year or two or three. Also, once in Mobile, let me know and I'll be more than happy to give you hand with local knowledge of marinas, gunkholes, etc. If you've never had a soft shell crab po-boy (sandwich) you're in for a treat.

Just noticed I was responding to LarsL post and not the OP, Sorry Domknotty. I'll leave it here though since it does apply to cruising the Gulf and Domknotty if you have any questions about cruising between Mobile and Tarpon Springs, PM me and I'll be glad to tell you what I have experienced.

I will say this, the trip to P'cola to St. Andrew's Bay is great week get away. Sand Island is superb gunkhole. While it may not be the Carribean it's beautiful and peaceful. I try to make it there every Spring.
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Old 10-08-2011, 13:26   #23
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

Thanks for all the advices. I’m not in Mobile yet, I have not even left Sweden, but in this tread it sounds a little dangerous to sail in the golf. I have in another tread written little about my northerly trip over the Atlantic. After the Great Lakes I come via the Tenn-Tom Waterway to Mobile. I need 52 feet clearance under the bridges.
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Old 10-08-2011, 15:55   #24
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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. . . How accurate are those charts in details about old oil platforms and leftovers. I really hops that the safety fairways are free from oil platforms, but beside the fairways, are the platforms marked on the charts?
The charts are official US nautical charts and as accurate and up to date as is possible with the US government. RNC Downloads
- - The "safeways" are free of platforms by definition as large ships and tankers use them and they don't like to have to be weaving back and forth between platforms. But using them you might be exposed to being run down by a large vessel or tanker.
- - But as I and others have mentioned once you get 60 or 70 nm out the platforms are gone and you have a clear shot to Mexico.
- - So the choice, I see, is between staying inside the Intracoastal waterway from Mobile to Texas with limited beach running outside - or - going for the straight across route. Inside will probably take months while straight across a week or less.
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Old 12-08-2011, 14:12   #25
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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Originally Posted by Lars_L View Post
I have Sea Clear on my computer, but so far I have only overview charts. I haven’t come longer in my sail planning. Here in Europe sea charts are expensive so I have not thought of that I can get US charts free.

How accurate are those charts in details about old oil platforms and leftovers. I really hops that the safety fairways are free from oil platforms, but beside the fairways, are the platforms marked on the charts?
Most of them are, new ones pop up regularly, lit platforms may have a light burn out leaving them dark for days. If you have radar, and or enough hands for full watch, your biggest danger for hitting one is in bad weather. Other times they are easily avoided.

Most of the year the gulf is a great place, but right now hurricanes are a constant threat, (even a low grade tropical storm can be bad to be in). Wait a couple of months they will become few and far between.
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Old 22-06-2012, 14:56   #26
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

I'm very new to sailing but would it make sense to stay on the edge of the safety zones and duck out of the way of large ships/tankers when they approach? Is there a lot of ship traffic to worry about?
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Old 22-06-2012, 15:11   #27
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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I'm very new to sailing but would it make sense to stay on the edge of the safety zones and duck out of the way of large ships/tankers when they approach? Is there a lot of ship traffic to worry about?
Depends entirely on where you're going and what time of day. when we came back from Isla Mujeres I stayed just outside of the fairway (it lined up almost perfectly with our course anyway) and shot into galveston. Most everything out there is well charted, and when in the area of platforms and ships I'll keep the laptop handy to look at the electronic charts. Sailing between Galveston and Freeport or even as far as Port Aransas, there's no reason to go into the fairway, you just need to plot your position often on paper/computer and keep a sharp eye out for lights and horns.
Around southern Louisiana is another story entirely, Either fairway or radar.
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Old 22-06-2012, 17:30   #28
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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Anyone cruising the Gulf?
Yes, I have in the past and will be cruising a good part of it this coming spring.
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Old 22-06-2012, 18:39   #29
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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Two problems with the "Gulf of Mexico" cruising - first it is all coastal cruising - no islands but an unbelievable amount of Gas/Oil rigs that are major hazards.
No Islands? The Dry Tortugas (National Park System-Uninhabited)are about 70 miles west of Key West. Then you have the Florida Keys. Many more islands on the west coast of Florida. Several small islands iff the Alabama coast-uninhabited. Mississippi coast- Horn Island, Deer Island, East Ship Island, Ship Island and Cat Island. All of them are uninhabited and most are part of the National Park System. Mississippi coast line is only about 25 or 30 miles long. West of Mississippi starts the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana, known for great fishing. These are about 25 miles off the coast of Gulfport, Ms.

- - Second, other than the US coastline from Florida to Texas and Mexico from the border to the Yucatan - there is not much variety in any of the places. Huh? From the Dry Torugas followed by the Florida Keys and north several hundred miles and over 1000 miles of coastline on the northern coast to around 600 miles due south over open water to the Yucatan Peninsula and not much variety?
- - On the other hand the Caribbean Basin stretches from Cuba to Antigua and south to Trinidad, Venezuela and west to Panama and then north to Mexico. That is a serious available amount of new and different experiences.
No doubt the Carribbean is more scenic than most of the Gulf coast, but to make those statements above leads me to think that you have not been on much of the gulf coast.
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Old 22-06-2012, 19:03   #30
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Re: Gulf of Mexico

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I think you are worrying too much about platforms. If you leave Mobile Bay and head south, you will see a few platforms close to shore, but they are easy to avoid unless you sail blind. Even then, odds are strongly against running into one. The thing you should worry about is bad weather out in the gulf, especially if you get in the loop current and the wind blows against the current.
Agree 100%

Straight from Mobile Bay to the Yucatan Peninsula should take about 5 to seven days with decent weather. When the weather is calmest - summer time - you can go for a week or more with absolutely NO wind. This is also hurricane season. Late april or early May is a good time to make this jump. I have sailed and motor boated on pleasure boats in this area and was also a USCG licensed capt. on crew boats and supply boats in this area. Great tuna fishing about 50 to 60 miles out and more.
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