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Old 09-04-2013, 12:17   #1
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Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

Next March we are casting lines headed back home to New Orleans. Have sailed from Maryland to Connecticut with our boat.

Need help planning this monstrous trip. Going from Connecticut to New Orleans. Looks like we have to go through Keys then up coast of FL & MI into LA. Numbers for bridge height in lake okeechobee make it a no go. Trip is single handed making riding the coast a must.

1988 Hunter Legend 33.5 bridge clearance 54, draft 5.

How long will trip take?
Where should we stop?
What major hazards besides oil rigs cruise liners storms and death to worry about?
Would prefer to not exceed one month.
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Old 09-04-2013, 15:47   #2
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

That's a lot of territory to cover in one month, and you don't want to be leaving Connecticut in March, which is still winter. Any way you can move the boat south to maybe North Carolina this fall? That would at least get you south of Cape Hatteras where you could head offshore to Florida with a decent forecast, staying close enough to the coast to avoid the Gulf Stream. Chances are you will be fighting the wind on the way south, unless you travel after a front has blown through and can ride the north winds--just wait until after the front so you can assess how strong the wind will be. It can be a nasty run along there in high winds as it is quite shallow way offshore. Bridges on Florida's east coast are mostly 65 feet, except for the 56-foot Julia Tuttle in Miami. Bridges on the West Coast are mostly 55 feet, but then only 50 feet from Carrabelle to Mobile, and the Ft. Walton Beach bridge is around 49 feet. Still, I would go up to Tarpon Springs and then shoot across to maybe Mobile, to keep the passage length down.
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Old 09-04-2013, 17:38   #3
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We have jobs to get to causing March motor sail. Can't start later or earlier. Great information that we we will use. In March 09 we came up to CT with the Gulf S.
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Old 09-04-2013, 17:46   #4
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

If you have to go in March at least go the 205 miles inside from Norfolk down to Beaufort or even further to Southport so you don't have to get around Cape Hatteras, which is a terrible lee shore when you get a northerly blow. It's a lot colder headed south in March because you have to stay out of the Gulf Stream. If you watch your weather you should be able to find windows to hop outside, but even all the way down to Florida you will be dodging cold fronts coming off the coast. Worst case scenario, you get to Florida and have to leave it there somewhere until you can finish the trip.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:03   #5
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

If you are in eastern Connecticut consider doing an overnight trip from Montauk/Block to Cape May. Takes about 36 hours give or take. Yes, it is offshore and you cross the shipping channels into NY/NJ but if you get a good weather window you will lop off a huge chunk of miles in one straight shot. I've done it a few times and if you have radar and good weather it's pretty straightforward. It's worth finding a crew for, if you can.

From there head up the Delaware to the Chesapeake canal and down the bay, or hop your way down the outside if you have good weather.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:16   #6
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

If time is an issue the Okochobee Waterway will save a huge chunk. There is one bridge where clearance is an issue, just before the lock at the entrance to Lake Okochobee. If memory serves it's 48 feet. Our air draft is 52 feet. We went through courtesy of Captain Billy and the Okochobee Limbo. You can get his number at the Indiantown Marina. For $180 (4 years ago) he lines up a bunch of 55 gallon plastic barrels and fills them with water. The resultant heel effectively lowers your mast and we got through with room to spare. With 5 feet of draft, the same as our Islander, water depth should be no problem but the lake level varies significantly. The Waterway office of the Corps of Engineers can offer current information.

Dick Pluta
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Cape Coral FL.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:28   #7
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

His air draft is 54 feet and that bridge over the Okeechobee is officially 49 feet. He'll have to be careful too at any bridge on the west coast as they are mostly 55 feet or less.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:43   #8
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Ok plan B what about leaving boat in Keys. How long to there? At a later date bring boat up but how long is trip along.West coast to New Orleans.
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Old 10-04-2013, 15:59   #9
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Re: Help W/ cruise plan CT to LA

It's about 406 nautical miles from Key West to Apalachicola (as the crow flies), and then 350 statute miles along the ICW to New Orleans from there. You'll have to add mileage if you deviate from that route. I'm not sure how much ICW you want to do as you are very close to the bridge clearance along there. If I were you I would confirm your clearance by measuring carefully since you are so close.
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