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Old 05-02-2010, 12:43   #1
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Inside-Outside..Decisions, Decisions...

Right now we're in our pre-planning stages of our cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas/Carib. While I can find lots of info on going down the ditch, it's hard to get any useful info on going outside. Is there a problem with going outside? It seems to me that it would take less time and you wouldn't have to worry about skinny water and dubious markers. I understand when going outside there may be times when you have to duck in from weather,to get fuel etc. Is the outside that bad? Where would be a good source of info? Thanks again...Sid
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Old 05-02-2010, 13:54   #2
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Outside might be a quicker delivery passage; in which bad weather could challenge your boat & your seamanship.
Inside might be a slower holiday tour; which (at times) could challenge your patience.
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Old 05-02-2010, 14:30   #3
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Right now we're in our pre-planning stages of our cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas/Carib. While I can find lots of info on going down the ditch, it's hard to get any useful info on going outside. Is there a problem with going outside? It seems to me that it would take less time and you wouldn't have to worry about skinny water and dubious markers. I understand when going outside there may be times when you have to duck in from weather,to get fuel etc. Is the outside that bad? Where would be a good source of info? Thanks again...Sid
You don't say when?? How much experience you have?
Basically you have 2 options:
Do hops down the coast, jumping back in when weather forecasted to be bad
Jump across the gulf stream on a ESE track from Norfolk, after crossing it, head
south.
Option 1 is slower but less stress and more enjoyable
Option 2 is fastest, but you risk being in storms during certain times of the year.

I recommend 1 unless you are a delivery captain where time is money.
Tom
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Old 05-02-2010, 17:15   #4
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In October and November I did two sails out of Norfolk, one to Atlantic City, NJ and back, and another to Charleston, SC in my Cape Dory 31. We sailed out in the Atlantic for both and loved it. I personally like staying out of the ditch because at sea you a.) actually get to sail b.) don't have to worry about running up onto the mud or rocks as much c.) don't have to concern yourself with near as much traffic and d.) can do some deep sea fishing... I could go on, but that's my preference.
-Perry
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Old 06-02-2010, 14:50   #5
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Thanks for the responses so far.
To answer a few queries: I can leave when the weather is suitable for the time of year. We have no timeline as to when we have to depart, it will be driven by weather. As far as experience I have 35+ years boating in both power and sailboats. Largest powerboat was a 42' Matthews and largest sailboat was a Cal 2-29. My wife has no sailing experience at this time, but will have accumulated some in the Cheasapeake before we leave. Another consideration is that the trip will be done on a catamaran, which will be a first for both of us.
We don't mind going down the ditch, it's just the thought of all that motoring when we could be sailing.
Time is not money here, so there's no giant hurry. I don't want to make the wife hate sailing if by going outside it's just one long slog south. See what I mean..decisions,decisions...Sid
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Old 07-02-2010, 18:07   #6
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Thanks for the responses so far.
To answer a few queries: I can leave when the weather is suitable for the time of year. We have no timeline as to when we have to depart, it will be driven by weather. As far as experience I have 35+ years boating in both power and sailboats. Largest powerboat was a 42' Matthews and largest sailboat was a Cal 2-29. My wife has no sailing experience at this time, but will have accumulated some in the Cheasapeake before we leave. Another consideration is that the trip will be done on a catamaran, which will be a first for both of us.
We don't mind going down the ditch, it's just the thought of all that motoring when we could be sailing.
Time is not money here, so there's no giant hurry. I don't want to make the wife hate sailing if by going outside it's just one long slog south. See what I mean..decisions,decisions...Sid
In that case I recommend the offshore hops down the coast and plan on leaving
by Oct 1st when you get first weather window. This should give you plenty of
time to get south before cold weather, plus give you time to hang out waiting for
good weather. Note there is not many good places to ride out a hurricane once you
get to Georgia, so don't get too far south if hurricanes are still active.
Tom
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Old 07-02-2010, 18:58   #7
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Sid, We have done the ICW about 12 round trips and there are many that have done it way more than that. We prefer the outside route for all of the reasons you state and do it as much as possible. Having said that, some years we can jump in and out as we like with no issues and other years we can not catch a window long enough to allow anything but the occasional short run outside so almost the entire trip is done inside. We find the runs outside so much less stressful and the night time passages are simply fabulous. You are also within radio range if you have a problem and need to call for assistance. You need to get familiar with the usable inlets since not all are, and brush up on your weather knowledge since you may have to make determinations on your own because forecasts can not always be reliable. WG
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Old 08-02-2010, 06:14   #8
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You did not say if you are doing the trip in a power yacht or sailboat (and size) (or I missed it). There are plenty of obstacles outside that can ruin your day just a much as staying inside the ICW. Southbound I normally hug the coastline to avoid the northbound Gulf Stream and take advantage of the southbound counter-current when it is present.
- - After getting south of North Carolina there are numerous entrances back into the calmer waters of the ICW/rivers. If you want to keep moving then a mixture of inside and outside makes sense - go outside when you can in settled weather and stay inside when waves/winds are howling.
- - If you have never done the whole ICW before there are too many great places and sights to number and taking your time to meander south is well worth the time. As long as your vessel draws less than 5 ft you are not limited in being able to make a full daylight run from place to place. If you stopped at all the great places for a couple of days or so, it would take all season to get all the way south.
- - Do try to avoid staying inside in Georgia during the Summer or late Summer - the bugs/flies are monstrous and been known to take large chunks out of your flesh. Also the ICW in Georgia goes every which way but south. Yet some of the best stops are also in Georgia. Be warned that the ICW in Georgia is a major commercial waterway with tugs and barges. Be alert and get completely out of their way (and out of the ICW into a side creek) when one is coming at you. They take up more than the width of the ICW when they are making hairpin turns and I have seen them push small boats and sailboats up onto shallows and islands if you are in their way.
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Old 08-02-2010, 19:55   #9
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- - Do try to avoid staying inside in Georgia during the Summer or late Summer - the bugs/flies are monstrous and been known to take large chunks out of your flesh. Also the ICW in Georgia goes every which way but south. Yet some of the best stops are also in Georgia. Be warned that the ICW in Georgia is a major commercial waterway with tugs and barges. Be alert and get completely out of their way (and out of the ICW into a side creek) when one is coming at you. They take up more than the width of the ICW when they are making hairpin turns and I have seen them push small boats and sailboats up onto shallows and islands if you are in their way.
If your draft is 5' or more, you need to play the tides, and leave on a rising tide,
I did Georgia ICW once, the good news is there is plenty of places to anchor.
For barges, they usually monitor 13, I always call them and tell them what I'm
doing, usually on turns I just pull over short of turn and let them through.
Get Skipper Bob books for the ICW, most helpful, also if doing hops get
Dodge's SouthEast Inlets book.

Worst part of the ICW, monitoring ch 16. People do more radio tests than
NASA. Other gems:
"Calling the sailboat on ICW..." - yea, that narrows it down.
"I'm lost..." - tough to do on the ICW even without GPS
"blah blah..." - people who have complete conversations on 16
Tom
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Old 08-02-2010, 20:52   #10
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We've been inside and outside routes couple of times. One thing to think about, we traveled 200 nm miles of hairpins and meandering to get 50 mi southing. The scenery was great savanah south if your not in a hurry.
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