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Old 02-08-2009, 05:47   #1
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Location: Prince Edward Island
Boat: Hunter 28.5 & Tanzer 22
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New England and the ICW Starting in October

I need some advice and thoughts....after a year of sailing our Tanzer 22 here in PEI, Canada we decided to look south for the winter. We bought a 28.5 Hunter in Maine the only problem is my husband and I both have seasonal jobs (which is great if you want to spend the winter sailing) so we can't go and get the boat until after our Thanksgiving which is about Oct 12.

Our idea is to pack up ourselves and our two dogs get to Belfast about mid October and for the next two or three months just point her South (no real specific spot to stop just going as far as we can get in that time (any ideas where that might be?). Is this unrealistic with the weather in that area during that time? Are we leaving it two late? This is my husbands dream and he is gung ho I am a little more reluctant and cautious about our timing are we leaving it too late? Our only other alternative would be to leave it over the winter in Maine go in April and sail it for a month South then fly back to PEI to open our businesses then fly back in October of next year to continue sailing it. I really want to do the trip as well but I want us to be realistic as to what we are facing that time of year in that area. We are both from cold climates so the cold doesn't overly bother us but what else might we get into? Any suggestions, advice thoughts on what we might need to consider?

We plan to just keep sailing her south every winter since that is really the only time we have to sail.

Thanks
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:13   #2
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We left CT on October 27, 2008 and headed South, We stopped in Norfolk mid Dec and stayed there until mid Jan. We then continued South and ended up in Jacksonville in March. We took our time, but it was without a doubt a rough, cold Winter. We saw ice in the Dismal Swamp, and had to anchor in more than a couple of cold Gales. However, I would not trade what we did for the world... Some times we would be held at anchor (our new 65lb Supreme worked like a dream) for a couple of days due to Weather, but again, we almost always anchored out, we loved it. We have a nice wood stove that kept the cabin comfortable, the mornings were somtimes rough, but we had excellent sleeping bags and slept very comfortably. With this said, most people would not do it through the Winter, the nice thing, no crowds, we were basically by ourselfs the whole way down and we loved it.

By the way our Ketch has an open cockpit, had to dress warmly and we only traveled about 5 hours each day. But we were not in a hurry.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:02   #3
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you are leaving too late and will in all probability leave even later than you think but go for it anyway and get south to warmer weather ASAP. we have done the trip several times and enjoyed it. good luck.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:50   #4
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First off, a 28 footer is very small for 2 people and 2 dogs. I had a 30 catalina and I thought that was to small to live aboard. Being 28 feet it will be slow going and you really want to get as far south as quickly as you can. I would leave no later than early September. At least the dogs will keep you warm.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:05   #5
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I left Maine at the end of September. It was not a problem but things were getting chilly. HEAT. What do you have? You'll need it a lot all the way to Florida. Dodger/Cockpit enclosure. What do you have? Without it you won't like being underway. TWO DOGS? on a 28'? Fuggidabowtit! Dinghy? You don't want to tow it all the way that time of year.

How ready is the boat? If you haven't been aboard and using it you likely won't be ready to leave until November. That IS really too late for leaving Maine. Not that you can't, just that fun won't be part of your vocabulary.
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:52   #6
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Thanks for your replies.

For those of you who have done the trip this time of year was it hard to find places to fuel up or dock for nights if need be?

Right now the boat has no heater we have to purchase one...any suggestions what would work for this trip? We do have a dodger and binimi...as for the Dingy we are just researching buying one now - again any suggestions are appreciated? The boat doesn't have davits.

The 28.5 I know seems small but we saw lots of boats before purchasing this one all larger but that seemed much smaller...cockpits half the size and interiors that you could barely move in even though they were 30s, 32s, and even a 34. The 87 Hunter has a decent sized cockpit and is if not roomy at least pretty comfortable inside, it also had the layout we liked with the head in the aft so that you don't feel like you are sleeping with your head in the head...but I am sure you are all right it will seem very very small with two large dogs and my husband and I stuck in there on long cold days and nights.

I guess my husband and I will have to take another look at our timeline and see if there is any possible way of closing down a bit early this year and taking off beginning of October instead of mid. It just means having less money to live on during the winter.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:36   #7
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There are plenty of places to stop, get Skipper Bobs book, we used it for anchorages and marinas, it was very helpful.
Good luck
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:36   #8
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If you keep an eye on the weather, plan your passages and don't get impatient, should be no problem. You will need heat, however. Weather will be cold and getting colder with each passing day. Still, there are short sessions of relatively mild weather even in the dead of winter. Hey, you are Canadian, you are experts on Winter. Haven't spent a fall north of Norfolk. Did live aboard there for one winter. Winter didn't really hit till after Christmas. Weather in the 50-60 range prevailed though did have one short lived cold snap. After Christmas it got a bit chilly. Regularly froze at night and daytime temps in 40s with very occasional snow and subfreezing Wx. Began warming up in March. Expect you'd have to get to South Carolina to get out of freezing temps, Northern Florida for 50-60 degrees and southern Fla before you can break out the swim suits. We made a trip from Norfolk to Maine in March. Left 70s in VA to 50's in NYC to low 30s and snow in Maine. Plot that in reverse and you'll probably find what you can expect in November/December going south.

The boat will be a challenge with two large dogs. But what's life without challenges. When we were young and foolish, we lived in a VW Bus with a 60# Lab and 7 puppies while building our Westsail Kit. Boat seemed like a mansion after the bus. You'll have to learn to adapt to the limits but you'll do it if you want to.

I've got a diesel Newport Heater in my current boat. Keeps 35' boat very toasty though needs a fan running to distribute the heat. Installed a separate 12 gallon tank for the heater fuel.

Good Luck, it's a great adventure that even my non sailing loving wife looks back on fondly.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 02-08-2009, 13:22   #9
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I agree that Skipper Bob is a great resource, also get cruising guides for the East Coast. I also agree with all the others that this trip this late in the season is not going to be fun and may turn you off to cruising.
You will not hit nice weather until mid Florida. I would suggest an inflatable dinghy with an air floor, light and can easily be stored, but I would think about adding davits. I have sailed the East coast and lived in New England for years before moving to Florida, you may find that some marinas will not be open that time of year so you need to plan ahead, go for the larger marinas with live aboards. The marinas in the Carolinas south will all be operating, and the further south you go the more crowded the marinas will be, you will be joining the flock of snow birds migrating to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter.
Good Luck and stay warm.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:14   #10
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Thank you for all your thoughts and advice much appreciated. we are discussing options and have taken all of your advice into consideration - we think we may need to be a bit more reasonable and maybe not so impatient so that we are sure to do it right and enjoy our adventure...so we are now thinking of going to Maine end of OCtober and get the boat all ready install what we need buy everything and get it ready to go then leave her on the hard where she is for the winter - then end of April early May go down and sail her south for about three weeks of four weeks - come back open our businesses work for the summer/fall then mid October next year go back to her and continue sailing south - that way we would get better weather and probably enjoy it more...now all I have to do is convince my husband that this is a more practical plan LOL
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