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Old 23-01-2010, 16:07   #1
NTD
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Key West to Texas

I am looking at doing the crossing in a few weeks. I am planning on trucking the boat to California in the near future but I have no set timetables.
I have not sailed on the Gulf before and I am looking for advice from you who have.
I have a 46' Swan with 8+ feet of draft. I read some of the previous posts on the subject and would appreciate more information
How reliable is the weather forcasting for 5-6 days in advance for major systems?
How far offshore to avoid all the unlit garbage. I hate the thought of hitting anything!!!
How predominant is the gulf stream affects?

In short what am i in for?

thanks in advance,
Nick
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Old 17-03-2010, 23:16   #2
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To Texas in April

NTD, did you do the crossing yet to Texas?

I am also planning a Key West to Galveston Tx crossing in April.

I would like to hear how it went and if you had any pointers for me. If you havent gone yet then lets team up and go in April. I have a Morgan 41 Ketch s//v Exodus.

RobertVB
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Old 18-03-2010, 05:25   #3
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Nick or Robert,next week my boat 38' Hughes will be making the crossing from Ft Myers to Galv. Pilot Charts stated good NE winds. I hope 5 to 7 day crossing. BTW it will be single handed. Best route or Rubline is Ft Myers to Flowe Gardens (Nat Reef) then turn north to Galv. 100NM away. Get back with me and I will tell how the trip went.
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Old 18-03-2010, 10:26   #4
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Ok Thanks Bill
I will also be single handed and I am planning on a little side trip to the Dry Tortugas before heading out across the gulf.
I layed out a rumbline, Tortugas to Galveston but too many rigs around the Heald Bank area so I moved the line over to an intersection of the safety fairway and will make the jog up the fairway to Galveston. I've never done this before but the chart was just full of little black dots for rigs in that area, I sure dont like the idea of picking my way through there in the dark.

RobertVB
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Old 18-03-2010, 10:49   #5
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I crossed from La. to Florida in a power boat and the rigs are all lit up at night and you can tie to them if you want to take a break. But they sure are ugly.
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Old 19-03-2010, 12:59   #6
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Hi Robert, I havent done the crossing yet. The plan is set for April. I would welcome the company.

Thanks guys for the information. Looking at the amount of Rigs out there it is a bit intimidating!
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Old 21-03-2010, 01:39   #7
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The wind sites & weather have little in common with reality.Last wk gave mostly 10 to 15 ,various directions.Slight error 10 to 35 all nw.On way to La.April will probably be a better time.marc
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Old 22-03-2010, 01:20   #8
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So far the Texas coast rolls off a northern front every week that crosses the gulf to florida. High seas and high winds that would slam me just as I got about half way across the gulf. This has been going on for the last 3 months. I hope April is better or I might have to wait till May.
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Old 22-03-2010, 08:42   #9
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As we move into spring, the northers become less and less frequent. You really don't want to be in the Gulf with a strong norther. It's just plain no fun.

If you don't believe me, watch the buoys in the Gulf during some weather:

National Data Buoy Center

8 foot waves in the Gulf at 6-8 seconds is WAY different than 8 foot waves at 20 seconds in the ocean...

In April or May, you should be able to catch a week of "typical" weather, with winds from the southeast.
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Old 22-03-2010, 22:50   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
As we move into spring, the northers become less and less frequent. You really don't want to be in the Gulf with a strong norther. It's just plain no fun.

If you don't believe me, watch the buoys in the Gulf during some weather:

National Data Buoy Center

8 foot waves in the Gulf at 6-8 seconds is WAY different than 8 foot waves at 20 seconds in the ocean...

In April or May, you should be able to catch a week of "typical" weather, with winds from the southeast.
I am looking into plan "B", Heading to LA and hug the coast by day then shooting into ancherage at night. This way I might by-pass the ditch with all the locks and bridges. If I can get a good weather windo I will stick with plan A, if not go to plan B. Just trying to avoid the ditch if possible.

I am waiting for a windo now if nothing by Fri or Sat, will go to plan "B".
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Old 23-03-2010, 00:45   #11
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I am in fl heading west,looks like couple good days wed on.How do you plan to cross ms river?Do you know the status of tiger pass planning of using it if still navigable.?marc
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Old 23-03-2010, 02:36   #12
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We have made four open gulf crossings in our 44’ high performance cruising catamaran. This is not a body of water to be taken lightly. Gulf crossings arguably can be as difficult as almost any other open ocean crossing. Even under good conditions the short wave period and moderate wave amplitude render anything other than down wind passages somewhat uncomfortable.
We have dealt with three significant threats during our crossings.
The density of oil rigs, some of which are unmarked, unlighted, and without horns, is a problem well offshore from the Mississippi Delta all the way to the southeast Texas coast. In this area two person watches are highly advisable, especially at night. I advise staying well clear of these rigs, especially in marginal weather, and never tying off on one of them. I personally would never risk pass through this area single handed, especially sailing alone at night .
During hurricane season, tropical systems can form unexpectedly, as with Allison which caught us by surprise hundreds of miles offshore on June 4, 2001. With a seaworthy and well prepared craft and a good crew, this threat can be overcome but it is a most trying experience.
The most serious threat is the passage of cold fronts, especially during the winter and spring months. These fronts, or Northers (in Texas, “Blue Northers”), often move very rapidly and there may be only a few days of inadequate warning in the forecasts. It is imperative that you either avoid them by sheltering inshore during their passage, or meet them well offshore with little or no sail up, with no beam exposed to the coming direction of the wind shift, and preferable with a sea anchor ready for deployment. Any time the sky darkens to the northwest, you must prepare, as the front may pass within an hour or so, and at times with wild ferocity.
Strategy depends on your vessel’s seaworthiness and performance capability. Staying far offshore until approaching your destination minimizes the impact of the offshore rigs and increases the likelihood of fair southeasterly (through northeasterly) winds, but limits ability to reach a pass through to the shelter of the Intercoastal Waterway. This mandates a well prepared, seaworthy, and fast boat. Otherwise it is preferable to stay within reach of the potential of inshore shelter, and maintain careful watches while traversing the area of dense offshore rigs. If there is any question of preparation, seaworthiness, or sailing skill, the Intercoastal Waterway offers a safe, comfortable, and interesting alternative.
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Old 23-03-2010, 04:34   #13
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Dw you have definitely been in the gulf as all stated is a fact.Still an open gulf trip is almost unavoidable.There are few places from anclote to apalachicola to duck into.Good sailing /marc
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Old 23-03-2010, 06:07   #14
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Marc; yes you are right in saying "an open gulf trip is almost unavoidable.There are few places from anclote to apalachicola to duck". But DW is also right in his statement about the Gulf. I've worked the Gulf ever since I was older enough to Pee over the side rail of a boat. I grew up on Shrimp Boats, then went to work in offshore Crewboats and Supply Boats. Yes as DW said it can be rough out there, but I've seen early Hurricanes in May. If I don't get a good windo this week I might go the SW Pass,cross the Mississippi to Tiger Pass if it open. The last I heard it was closed. Then first port of call Foncheon LA, then to Morgan City LA down the ICW to Freash Water City LA, and out to open sea to Galv TX. At least I would miss N.O. and all the locks. If you might find anything about Tiger Pass please let me know. There is just no good time to cross the Gulf.

Good Luck
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Old 23-03-2010, 10:15   #15
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I have been watching this page for weather forecasts:
NWW3 Product Viewer

Its model data but it has been pretty good predicting the fronts.
It is predicting a front to blow off the Texas coast around 135 hours from now (about 5 days from now 3/23/10) I think this is from a low that is moving across New Mexico right now.

If I left Key West right now it would put me in the middle of the oil patch of rigs when this front moves off the coast. Not a place I would want to be after reading DW's post. Would the safety fairways marked on the charts be any better?
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