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Old 04-03-2014, 09:01   #16
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

You did make it sound like an ordeal, like something you dreaded, and boating shouldn't be that. And hurry just shouldn't exist. Have you spent time all along the way and don't like all the great cities in between?

Making a trip like that non-stop with just the two of you, you will be miserable and exhausted by the end. And that's assuming good conditions all the way. And you are encountering different weather zones and systems so the same all the way is unlikely. I figure at 24 hours per day your trip to Key West is at least 4 days and could be more.

I would at least break it into two or three segments.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:04   #17
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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I certainly hope that both you and your husband understand that an autopilot is NOT a substitute for a proper watch. That means that, if you are going to sail overnight, someone needs to be on deck and keeping an eye out all day long, and all night long.

You cannot just set the autopilot and both go down to sleep for the night. That would ABSOLUTELY be a recipe for disaster! Most especially in the relatively crowded waters off the east coast of Florida.
ESPECIALLY along the coast of FL, with boats and ships zooming past in all directions at all times. It's not as bad as the English Channel or the approaches to the Panama Canal, but it's plenty busy. You can throttle back on watch standing in the middle of the ocean and out of shipping lanes, but from Jax to Panama to Trinidad, you can have fast shipping pop over the horizon and run you down in no time flat if you are not super alert.

From Panama to Guam and Guam to California, for example, we went days without seeing another ship. Or weeks. But Between Jax and Key West, you will rarely be out of sight of shipping. Often there will be several ships around you at once, and when multiple ships are around, they will steer to avoid each other, while ignoring you, so their turns can be unpredictable from your POV.

I'd also pick up a C.A.R.D. collision avoidance radar detector, and consider an automated identification system if you don't already have radar.

Personally, the stress of sailing south along the east coast of FL 24/7 would not be worth it to me to shave some days off compared to a leisurely pace down the ICW, anchoring and resting at night.

Fatigue multiplies human errors many, many times.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:08   #18
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Making a trip like that non-stop with just the two of you, you will be miserable and exhausted by the end. And that's assuming good conditions all the way.
Amen to that. You don't want to be filing for divorce at the end of an unnecessary ordeal.

Throttle back and take it easy, get enough rest, and stay safe and happy.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:33   #19
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

Thanks, we do have a radar and I would never sail with out a look out.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:41   #20
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Thanks, we do have a radar and I would never sail with out a look out.
With only two rotating "port and starboard" watches, radar or no radar, fatigue is still going to be a major issue. A fatigued crew huddled in the cockpit can miss a ship or fishing boat coming up over his or her shoulder in a matter of minutes. Be very, very aware of your limitations when it comes to fatigue. When fatigue goes up, critical thinking skills go way, way down.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:14   #21
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Amen to that. You don't want to be filing for divorce at the end of an unnecessary ordeal.

Throttle back and take it easy, get enough rest, and stay safe and happy.

we each have our own opinion but i find the above bs -- there are 2 of us on our boat and we NEVER take crew -- did once and it was a disaster - never again - we have sailed the east coast of the usa 3 times, most of the bahamas 2x, both east and west side of the carib and across the atlantic - just the 2 of us - not a big issue - for us a 4-5 day sail is no big deal (let alone the atlantic crossing)

the one issue i would be concerned with it too much at one time - by that i mean i want to see it all at one time and that kinda calls for a schedule and cruising and schedules don't go together - we did it 2x early and never again
why not choose either the keys or the bahamas -- and slow down a bit and see them -- you will have plenty of time to see some of one or the other but to not enough to see both
as said earlier i would invest in radar for not only seeing other boats but for wx as well -
heading down the coast we usually stayed 2-5nm off to stay out of the gulf stream except at palm beach where we were really inside as the gs came very close to shore - the other major watch out for is we seemed to always hit ft lauderdale at early am when the cruise ships were coming in and that is just a night mare trying to get around them
if you have an ssb you can get your wx from chris parker - we used him for years and he even wx routed us across the atlantic -

by the way if you do the bahamas you can duck out the top of the bahamas and do a longish sail direct to jacksonville (given the weather) and not have to run the coast -

good luck and enjoy
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:41   #22
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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ESPECIALLY along the coast of FL, with boats and ships zooming past in all directions at all times.

SNIP
Not saying you don't need to watch out for boats/ships but the lobster pots always seem to be my biggest worry once you get to the Keys.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:12   #23
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

Coastal boating is MUCH more stressful than offshore passage making. On a trip like this I'd probably make series of day sails to start using easy inlets with at least one 'bail out' inlet. From Miami I'd anchor out at Rodriguez, Marathon, and then Key West. These are some of the busiest waters you'll ever sail in and coastal route is actually pretty narrow (off the beach and not in the Gulf Stream). Also, I'd consider the Hawk Channel but be VERY aware of the number of crab pots that require a even closer watch than for other boats! They can be everywhere… so my recommendation: make it a daysailing adventure, enjoy sundowners at anchor, and save the overnight stuff for your sail to Tortola. Being in a hurry is NEVER the answer and if you have the time this is the area to take it slow and enjoy. If the weather is bad and your mast height and draft permit it you can even take a day or two on the inside.. Fair winds and calm seas….
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:36   #24
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

Does anyone out there know how many sail boats have been run over by ships? I am serious.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:44   #25
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Does anyone out there know how many sail boats have been run over by ships? I am serious.
Not many. It's very rare and in my opinion, based on thousands of miles at sea in some heavy shipping lanes, I think the risk is very over blown. These boats are a few hundred feet long and hard to miss. I did the calculations once and if you were dead in front of a large freighter going at 20 kts it would take seconds to move out of the path. I forget exactly but it was something like 15-20 seconds.

The risk of being hit by a large ship comes from not standing watch or making a HUGE error in judgment, on the order of pulling out in front of an 18 wheeler in a car.
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Old 04-03-2014, 13:01   #26
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

Thanks skipmac, that's what I thought.
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Old 04-03-2014, 13:09   #27
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Thanks skipmac, that's what I thought.
Of course you may get a different opinion from some others. You know what they say about opinions, everybody has one.
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Old 04-03-2014, 13:35   #28
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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Does anyone out there know how many sail boats have been run over by ships? I am serious.
we have a few miles under our keel and the only time we had an issue was early am crossing the ft lauderdale entrance -- there were 2 cruise ships and 1 cargo going in and a carnaval ship headed south - spent a lot of time on the vfh talking with and working around all 3 of the ship and suddenly in front of me and closing fast was the carnaval cruise ship who did not respond to vhf and it was a bit closer than i would have preferred
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Old 04-03-2014, 15:14   #29
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

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we have a few miles under our keel and the only time we had an issue was early am crossing the ft lauderdale entrance -- there were 2 cruise ships and 1 cargo going in and a carnaval ship headed south - spent a lot of time on the vfh talking with and working around all 3 of the ship and suddenly in front of me and closing fast was the carnaval cruise ship who did not respond to vhf and it was a bit closer than i would have preferred
I had a couple of "issues" with ships. Nothing I would refer to as a close call but they were closer than I liked before I was aware of their presence. Both were watch keeping errors.

First was in the south Bahamas in the middle of the night. We were far from any shipping lanes, it was a perfect, clear night and I got a little complacent on watch. Did my regular scan around the horizon and thought the genoa looked kind of bright, almost like had a slight glow. Bent down and looked under the sail and there was a freighter about a mile off. His course brought him up directly behind the genoa and with the calm conditions and autopilot holding a really straight course, that quadrant had not been revealed to me. Lesson 1, don't forget to look under and behind the sails when you do your scan.

Second time we were headed north from St Thomas and I came on deck to take a look around and check on the crew. Came up the companionway so was looking aft and saw a freighter about a mile behind us. The guy on watch hadn't looked back for a while and had no idea the ship was there. Lesson 2, don't forget to look behind you as well.

In both cases we would not have come within half mile at the closest so no chance of collision. But of course I prefer to depend on me knowing where they are and be ready to change course if need be than to depend on them seeing and avoiding me.
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Old 04-03-2014, 15:26   #30
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Re: Jacksonville to the Key West

I still remember a black night in the Carib seeing the bow of a 150' fishing vessel come out of a dense squall line, a squall like an opaque sheet of down pouring rain thick like Niagara Falls. Could only see it at all due to its bright working lights after it popped out of the sheet of rain.

When it emerged it was no more than a few hundred yards away, and lucky for us we passed about 100 yards apart. It was past us before we had time to analyze and figure out our best maneuver. And I had been on the VHF regularly since visibility was so restricted, with zero comms back. No radar, black night, 100% overcast, so even the squall lines were just a blacker black.

If that big fishing boat had been aimed 10 degrees to port, it would have been ugly. As it was, its bow was the first thing we saw, it's port side the next rushing past, then its stern, and gone. All we could do was say, "oh, crap.....that was close!"
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