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Old 23-05-2010, 16:50   #1
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Hampton Roads to Bahamas Info

Hello all,

My wife and I are planning for our first longer (more than 2 days) offshore passage from Hampton Roads VA to the Bahamas. Just checking to see if anyone can direct me to more information on this passage or any recommendations.

Thanks for all your help!

Patrick
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Old 23-05-2010, 19:34   #2
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Hampton Roads to Bahamas

I am currently in the Bahamas but originally hail from Hampton Roads. I strongly suggest getting a current copy of the ICW charts fron Norfolk to S. Florida. Watch Passageweather.com for a crossing window. The shortest route is probably from WPB or Ft Lauderdae to West End...70-80 miles. Easily traversed if the "stream" is calm..Get your weather window!
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Old 23-05-2010, 19:51   #3
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Bahamas or Bermuda? It sort of makes a difference!
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Old 23-05-2010, 21:45   #4
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Thanks for all the Replies.

I guess my main question is: how far East out of Hampton Roads did you head before turning south? I have been looking at pilot charts and it's hard to see the exactly where the current dies off. I'd hate to be facing a 1.5 knot current for 6 days straight.... we have a 30 foot Cape Dory, probably a little slower than your Island Packet.

Thanks

Patrick
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Old 23-05-2010, 22:16   #5
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Hi Patrick -
For whatever reason, the first couple of responses assumed you were headed to Bermuda . . . so ignore them. As for Norfolk to Bahamas, I may be wrong but I don't believe this is generally viewed as an offshore trip. More likely, you will want to work down the ICW or do a series of coastal trips (including overnighters if you like) before going offshore to cross the stream from Florida. The general idea is that you don't want to be in the stream any longer than necessary so you cross it at right angles. Your rhumbline from Norfolk would put you in the vicinity of the stream for the entire trip (fighting it and exposing yourself to potentially nasty conditions). Just looking at charts of the stream, it doesn't look feasible to head to the eastern side of the stream and then south. Others will confirm, but I think this is a coastal trip with a jump off from southern Fl. The return trip is definitely an offshore run. Sounds like fun!
Keep us posted.
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Old 24-05-2010, 13:41   #6
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Yeah I saw that... to clarify we are planning for an offshore passage from Hampton Roads VA, crossing the gulf stream, then heading south towards Marsh Harbor, Abacos. We made this same trip last year, but doing short coastal overnighters and ICW eventually crossing from Florida to Bimini. Coming back we sailed from the Marsh Harbor area to Cape Canaveral.

you can read about it here if you are interested:
whitesatingloves.blogspot.com

We really don't want to resort to doing that again... The coastal trips on the Eastern seaboard were a little crowded (lots of fisherman) and we didn't feel all the comfortable knowing that if the weather got bad we have very little sea-room. To top it off, we would have to hug the coast as to not face the gulf stream. I realize there is current even on the eastern side of the gulf stream, we more of less want to know of any desired routes south with less current.

Thanks for all the help,
Patrick
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Old 24-05-2010, 13:44   #7
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Side note:

The Caribbean 1500 rally did this exact same trip this year...

Bahamas Cruising Rally - Offshore Sailing Rally for Cruisers

Any more information on this trip?

Patrick
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Old 24-05-2010, 14:36   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaddyoRiley View Post
Side note:

The Caribbean 1500 rally did this exact same trip this year...

Bahamas Cruising Rally - Offshore Sailing Rally for Cruisers

Any more information on this trip?

Patrick
Interesting. I agree with you about wanting to go offshore (especially since you did the ICW before). Sounds like you found the people to ask. Have you emailed them about their past sailing instructions and general recomendations? I am definitely interested to hear what you learn.
-M
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Old 24-05-2010, 15:16   #9
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No big help, but here is one more thread discussing the general idea and some past efforts:

Beaufort NC to Bahamas
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Old 24-05-2010, 16:17   #10
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Looking at the charts, it basically looks like you would have to follow a route that runs in the opposite direction of the GS, but outside it. One of the challenges then would be to make sure you are sailing in an eddy that helps you toward the destination. You might want to consult with Jenifer Clark. She produces fairly accurate charts showing where the GS and eddies are running and can email them to you just before you leave. She offers a couple of different deals depending on the level of support you want.

Of course one of the other challenges faced along this route is you end up paralleling the US East Coast, so any fronts that come along are going to get to you pretty quickly and you have no place to duck into.

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 24-05-2010, 17:41   #11
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You have a Choice. Running across the stream and then heading for the Bahamas OR staying west of the stream and riding the counter current. I would go inside a Mayboro and the back outside at Cape Fear. From their, you can continue along the coast with many safe harbor inlets to duck into should the weather turn bad. Make the jump across at West Palm. For your size boat, the costal route would be safer.
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Old 25-05-2010, 07:29   #12
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Paddy,

I took a quick look at your blog and it sounds like the northbound ICW trip wasn't that much fun for you guys.

Did you have Skipper Bob's "Anchorages along the ICW"? We found it pretty invaluable on our trips as we ended up in pretty good anchorages most nights.

The other question (designed to create thread drift and promote another CF argument) is, what anchoring system did you have?

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 25-05-2010, 08:32   #13
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Patrick, Since the Gulf Stream limits vary from week to week you will need to get the latest Stream location, usually from the Navy site just before you shove off. Plan to head out of the Chesapeake, head south far enough out to clear Hatteras, find the narrowest section of the Stream and look at your weather forecasts at that point. If weather looks good, make your crossing and head south once on the other side. How far will depend on wind conditions when you cross the stream and not what the Pilot Charts show. Wind direction will also determine how far east you need to go before you head south. We used Herb Hilgenberg, South Bound II VAX498 for our weather routing, he is free and is an expert on the waters you will travel. There are a lot of variables you will need to take into consideration.
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Old 25-05-2010, 13:37   #14
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Thanks everyone, lots of great info here.

Yogao, I appreciate the Jennifer Clark reference, she seems like a valuable resource for planning and you are right, we are looking for an eddy just outside of the GS to follow down.

As for the blog, it probably seems like we didn't have that much fun because our cruising budget was $300 a month for the both of us. We spent all of our cruising fund on our boat... It's funny, there is a thread call "cruising on $500 a month," we dreamed of having an extra $200 a month! This next time will be different though, we are shooting for a $800 a month budget.

We became great at anchoring on the trip - that's how you save money. We never really dragged, we had a 25 lb CQR with 75 ft of 1/4 chain and 300' of nylon. Our Bahamian moor 2nd anchor was a 22 lb Delta and our backup was a 25lb Bruce

There's another thread that just came up, "Beaufort to Bahamas," that we are very interested in. This may be a more reasonable trip for us and we are certainly taking it into consideration.

Thanks for all the help!

Patrick
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