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Old 23-03-2010, 23:07   #1
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Mobile to (?somewhere?) and Six Months to Do it...

My best friend and I have been saving our money for over a year in an effort to finance a 6 month sailing adventure. We live in Minnesota and plan to motor our (yet to be purchased) 37' hunter down the mississippi to st louis, up the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, through the Tenn-Tom waterway and out the Tombigbee to the gulf through Mobile bay. We're hoping to be to the gulf by late November. Where to after that? I'm trying to find the route that maximizes my adventure in the allotted time. Where do I go? How far can a guy get in 6 months? I am thinking of a one way type trip, leaving the boat somewhere for another adventure later, or selling it if I can.
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Old 23-03-2010, 23:13   #2
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37 foot Hunter....average cruiser speed is between 0 and 4 knots...so in 6 months expect to be either tied to the same dock, the typical scenario, or 18,000 miles along, rare...who knows?
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Old 24-03-2010, 09:58   #3
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Just sailed across the gulf so will give you my opinions.

I would head east from Mobile to Pensacola. Spend a few nights there and go to Peg Leg Petes (I think that is the name). Nice little sailing area. Then head east over to Panama City. Really pretty area. Problem is that you will want to watch for Northerns there as the gulf is really ugly in a Northern... take a look...



After that, punch straight across to Charlotte Harbor. Nice, well marked entrance. Head south to Cabbage key and Fishermans Village. THe Village is a little touristy, but Cabbage Key is a cool little place to have a $10 hamburger! Lots and lots of cruisers anchor at Useppa there and punch south around.

From there, if you want to restock, grab a mooring in Fort Myers Beach. THere is a Publix that is just a dink ride and walk away. Lots and lots of restaurants. It is becoming much more cruiser friendly. Walk the beach and relax a few days. THen head Southwest to the TOrtugas. Take everything because they sell nothing (including water or food or diesel), but is a beautiful place and full of history. Head east from there around to the Keys. Then Bahamas. Then south to the carrib.

That is our plan. I would probably not want to keep the boat in the carib. I would sail her north Florida to leave her there. I think you would have a better chance of selling her afterwards too. That trip would eat up every bit of your 6 months and have you back before Hurricane season. Notic you keep heading south? Not by accident.

Anyways, good luck with your trip. If you see us out there, say hi.

Brian
S/V Sea Mist IV
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Old 24-03-2010, 11:14   #4
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through the Tenn-Tom waterway and out the Tombigbee to the gulf through Mobile bay.
The only information I can find indicates that this route includes several bridges with 52-53' clearance. Not sure which Hunter 37 you have in mind, but an H37 (1987-1990) has a 59 foot mast. An H37.5 (1984-1990) also has a 59 foot mast. An H37 Cutter (1978-1986) has a 50 foot mast.
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Old 24-03-2010, 12:11   #5
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phew. we have the cutter. actually it's been a modified rig, it's been converted into a sloop. but still has the original 50' mast.
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Old 24-03-2010, 12:27   #6
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Don't know much about river sailing, but H37Cs are sweet and fun boats for Gulf sailing. They are fast in light winds, perform well at all points of sail, and they do it all without excessive heeling drama. Don't know whether loss of the inner foresail makes much difference, but good luck on your trip.

Fair Winds
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Old 24-03-2010, 19:59   #7
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Speaking of bridges, if you take the Mobile to Western Florida route, there are three 50 foot bridges to contend with on the Intracoastal Waterway if you choose to use any of it between Mobile Bay and Carrabelle. Between Pensacola and Fort Walton there are 50 footers at Navarre and at Ft Walton. There is another 50 foot bridge just East of Panama City.

It can be a nice sail of about 100 miles outside on the Gulf from Pensacola to Panama City which will bypass the first two bridges. You can stop at Destin which is about halfway, but you probably can't get onto Choctawhatchee Bay because of the bridge across Destin pass. This bridge is charted at 50 feet but it's notorious for clearing a bit less, especially in the summer. Destin Harbor itself is on the Gulf side of the bridge so you can get in there. Be careful, the pass shoals often although it was recently dredged.

To bypass the bridge East of Panama City, you can either go outside on the Gulf around Cape San Blas to the West coast of Florida which will take about two to four days, or you can go outside to Port St. Joe (about 25 miles), then take the Intracoastal Waterway to Apalachicola and Carrabelle. The crossing from Carrabelle to the West coast of Florida is about 36 to 48 hours.

Both the Panhandle and the West Coast of Florida are excellent cruising areas offering beautiful protected, uncrowded anchorages, relatively inexpensive marinas (relative to South Florida and the Caribbean) and great sailing. One problem you may have is that the weather in the Panhandle can be hit or miss from November to February. There are many cold, windy, wet days mixed in with some very nice days. It warms up somewhat South of Tampa.

You may be able to find some good information on your planned route (the US part at least) by googling "Cruising the Great Loop". A good bit of the Great Loop covers the route you are talking about especially the rivers, the Panhandle, and Western Florida.

You might also consider going to Central America rather than the Caribbean. I have never been, but I've heard good things about it and I'm sure some others will chime in with good information. Going to the Caribbean will be against the prevailing winds; not so much with Central America.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great trip!
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Old 31-03-2010, 15:15   #8
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You might also consider going to Central America rather than the Caribbean. I have never been, but I've heard good things about it and I'm sure some others will chime in with good information. Going to the Caribbean will be against the prevailing winds; not so much with Central America.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great trip!
I was originally thinking of doing the central america route towards panama (and canal) towards galapagos, but I was told some time ago that this route, rather than the caribbean route, would be more against prevailing winds than out to towards the southeast and onto the lessers. Am I wrong here?
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:02   #9
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I was originally thinking of doing the central america route towards panama (and canal) towards galapagos, but I was told some time ago that this route, rather than the caribbean route, would be more against prevailing winds than out to towards the southeast and onto the lessers. Am I wrong here?
Well, yes. Prevailing winds in the Caribbean are from the east, and these are trade winds so they are often quite strong.

The route to the western Caribbean from the Gulf coast starts with a multi-day sail to Isla Mujeres in the Yucatan Channel. This is good because it gets you to the Caribbean quickly - itís bad because, well, itís a multi-day sail which can involve weather surprises with no close safe harbor. From Isla Mujeres you coastal sail/island hop south. At times you may need to sail southeast against southeast trades, but for the most part you would be reaching or close reaching.

The Leeward/Windward chain in the eastern Caribbean is a 1000 miles southeast of Florida. Getting there is mostly against prevailing winds. However, the conventional route is a day sail from south Florida to the Bahamas. Then leisurely island hop southeast to Turks and Caicos. From there itís a one day sail southeast to DR, and from there you coastal sail eastward along the south coast of Puerto Rico. If you do it slowly, it can be a fun trip; but it takes a long time.
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