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Old 25-03-2012, 09:07   #1
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Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

Could those of you who know the East coast of the US suggest possible itineraries for a one month cruise starting Hayes, Virginia and I suppose returning to Hayes (but this is not a requirement). This will be our first cruise!

We are looking for fun and relaxation and to learn about our new boat and our-sailing-selves.

Our background. We will soon be the excited owners of a used Antares 44i catamaran. This will be our first cruise, my wife and I. Our experience is limited and confined to the following ASA courses: 101 (basic keelboat), 103 (coastal cruising), 104 (bareboat chartering), 114 (catamaran cruising). 2 bareboat charters in BVI on 38’ catamarans, 3 bareboat charters on West coast to Catalina Island on 38’ catamarans plus some other shorter weekend sails. All in the past two years. That is it. Not very experienced with anchoring.

What do you suggest for a month long summer cruise beginning in late June/early July starting in Hayes Virginia (where the boat is)? We would like to go North and see Nantucket and Cape Cod. Or should we just hang out in Chesapeake Bay area? Or head South?

We are assuming we would return boat to Hayes and keep it at marina where it is now, but this is not a necessity. We could leave boat anywhere on East coast. We live in Tucson AZ and after this one month summer cruise, we will return to Tucson. We would like our next cruise to be in the winter in Florida or Bahamas, but, of course, we have to get boat there.

Longer term plan in a year or two is to retire and cruise full time and eventually bring boat to West coast of US or Baja/Sea of Cortez…

Until we retire we will be able to take 2-4 vacations per year on the boat of 2-4 weeks duration each.

Also please suggest readings and guides to the area...
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:42   #2
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Re: Our first cruise! (starting Hayes, VA)

Your on the Chesapeake bay I would start there. It is a huge area and lots to see. Why beat yourself up racing to a distant shore and have to turn around and race back. Do short hops. Get the Chesapeake cruisers guide from the Chesapeake Bay Magazine and enjoy the trip.
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Old 25-03-2012, 11:03   #3
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Re: Our first cruise! (starting Hayes, VA)

The Chesapeake is too hot by July. Go through the C&D canal, up to NY, through Long Island sound, out to Block Island, Newport, and Martha's vinyard. Nantucket is too darn expensive, and no better than the other nearby places.
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Old 25-03-2012, 13:25   #4
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Originally Posted by donradcliffe
The Chesapeake is too hot by July. Go through the C&D canal, up to NY, through Long Island sound, out to Block Island, Newport, and Martha's vinyard. Nantucket is too darn expensive, and no better than the other nearby places.
What would the passage be like in open ocean from Virginia beach to block island in early July?
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Old 25-03-2012, 13:37   #5
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To block you would see sw winds great trip. Wath the cold fronts and summer lows. You could do the bay urbanna st marys river choptank. It can be fine during the summer. If you get into upper bay sassafrass is awesome fresh water.
Really depends on what your looking for. If you want ocean time go to Block or cuttyhunk. If your cruising and having places to hang out is good for the family and crew start with the bay.
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Old 25-03-2012, 16:33   #6
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Re: Our first cruise! (starting Hayes, VA)

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The Chesapeake is too hot by July. Go through the C&D canal, up to NY, through Long Island sound, out to Block Island, Newport, and Martha's vinyard. Nantucket is too darn expensive, and no better than the other nearby places.
Thanks. When you say "up to NY" do you mean to go out of the Delaware Bay to the ocean up to NYC or is there some inland route that you are referring to?
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Old 25-03-2012, 16:47   #7
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If you want to go to block island from where you are in July you go outside. No inland route. If the weather isn't good you play on the chesapeake don't get set on one option. Good weather window go to block not so hood have some time on the bay.
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Old 25-03-2012, 23:51   #8
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

My favored stops would be Solomons, Annapolis, Sassafrass river, Cape May, Atlantic City, Atlantic Highlands, Manhasset Bay, Port Jefferson, Mystic, Block Island, Newport, Woods Hole/Hadley Harbor, and Vinyard Haven. That's because I'm a cheap cruiser and can anchor at each place.

If you want to same some time by jumping outside on the way up or the way back, its about a 50 hour run from Cape Charles to Block Island as long as the winds are favorable.
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Old 26-03-2012, 05:52   #9
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

Whatever you decide, you have a great boat to do it in. If you're new to cruising, the Chesapeake is a great place to get started (even if it can be a bit hot in July/Aug). Have a great adventure...I'll see you out there.
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Old 26-03-2012, 16:15   #10
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Originally Posted by donradcliffe
My favored stops would be Solomons, Annapolis, Sassafrass river, Cape May, Atlantic City, Atlantic Highlands, Manhasset Bay, Port Jefferson, Mystic, Block Island, Newport, Woods Hole/Hadley Harbor, and Vinyard Haven. That's because I'm a cheap cruiser and can anchor at each place.

If you want to same some time by jumping outside on the way up or the way back, its about a 50 hour run from Cape Charles to Block Island as long as the winds are favorable.
Thanks!
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Old 26-03-2012, 16:32   #11
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

Ricky... I most appreciate your enthusiasm and wish you the best in your future endeavors with your boat. However, the best thing a new boat owner can do is to familiarize themselves with their new boat. This is especially the case if you are not experienced.

Since this is a new to you boat and you have a very limited amount of experience, it will take you several months to familiarize yourself with your boat's systems, test your boat's limits, and test your limits on your boat. With that said, I would hesitate to suggest a month long cruise until you find yourself thoroughly comfortable operating your boat. You mentioned you are not very experienced at anchoring. Attaining this experience before a long cruise is essential.

And even when you gain a strong sense of familiarity with your boat, you will still find yourself learning and refining your skills as your time spent cruising increases. You will be exposed to a variety of conditions and will be able to make more informed decisions BECAUSE you are familiar with your boat, not in spite of it.

Cruising brings incredible pleasures with it. Knowledge about your boat will bring confidence, which will bring enjoyment. Lack of knowledge about your boat and sailing in general will open the doors to uninformed decisions that have the potential of putting yourself and others at risk. Most mayday calls are preventable and could be avoided if the skipper was equipped with proper knowledge about their vessel.

Congrats on your new boat and may you and yours get much enjoyment from it; but please be careful and thoroughly familiarize yourself with your boat before you embark on a month long cruise.
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Old 26-03-2012, 18:30   #12
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

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Originally Posted by Astral Blue View Post
Ricky... I most appreciate your enthusiasm and wish you the best in your future endeavors with your boat. However, the best thing a new boat owner can do is to familiarize themselves with their new boat. This is especially the case if you are not experienced.

Since this is a new to you boat and you have a very limited amount of experience, it will take you several months to familiarize yourself with your boat's systems, test your boat's limits, and test your limits on your boat. With that said, I would hesitate to suggest a month long cruise until you find yourself thoroughly comfortable operating your boat. You mentioned you are not very experienced at anchoring. Attaining this experience before a long cruise is essential.

And even when you gain a strong sense of familiarity with your boat, you will still find yourself learning and refining your skills as your time spent cruising increases. You will be exposed to a variety of conditions and will be able to make more informed decisions BECAUSE you are familiar with your boat, not in spite of it.

Cruising brings incredible pleasures with it. Knowledge about your boat will bring confidence, which will bring enjoyment. Lack of knowledge about your boat and sailing in general will open the doors to uninformed decisions that have the potential of putting yourself and others at risk. Most mayday calls are preventable and could be avoided if the skipper was equipped with proper knowledge about their vessel.

Congrats on your new boat and may you and yours get much enjoyment from it; but please be careful and thoroughly familiarize yourself with your boat before you embark on a month long cruise.
I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. What are you suggesting for our first 1 month vacation on the boat. Return to the slip every night? Take lessons on the boat? Explore the Bay slowly going a little bit farther and longer from home slip each time?
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Old 26-03-2012, 18:55   #13
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

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Originally Posted by RickyEM View Post
I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. What are you suggesting for our first 1 month vacation on the boat. Return to the slip every night? Take lessons on the boat? Explore the Bay slowly going a little bit farther and longer from home slip each time?
Begin by taking short trips and returning to your slip. At the comfort of slip, you can have conversations about the experience and discuss what you have learned and how you could have done things differently. Every cruise is a learning experience; and every cruise will give you something to discuss and reflect on to improve your skills.

I'm not familiar with the geography of your boating area (I'm in the California Delta), but you might want to try anchoring in different settings and in a variety of conditions. Anchoring in mud and grass in protected waters is very different from anchoring in rocky areas with 30 knot gusts. You need knowledge of how your boat behaves on anchor in every condition you can reasonably gain access to. You should also experiment with different anchor types -- as each type has advantages and disadvantages given the conditions under which you are anchoring.

Also, use this opportunity to complete as many safety drills as you can. Man overboard, disabled vessel, etc. are areas one cannot get enough practice in.

Try to take a few cruises with friends. If you don't have friends that have cruising experience, joining a yacht club or cruising club is always a good way to meet others. You'll be amazed at how much support you will receive by others who have been in your shoes.

This will be a great opportunity to gain familiarity with your engine and other mechanical systems on your boat. Intimate knowledge of your engine will give you additional confidence. Gain first hand knowledge of every inch of your rigging and develop comfort with doing everything from replacing a winch to climbing your mast to replace a bulb, to running new lines. You might even find your rigging configuration needs changing to better suit your needs. This is not something you want to learn while on a long cruise.

And most importantly, feel free to post your experiences, questions, concerns, observations, etc. on this forum. We are here to help and will do our best to make your entry into cruising as enjoyable as cruising itself.
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Old 30-06-2012, 19:48   #14
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

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Thanks!
We are planning to make a run to Nantucket in early August. What are the good harbors (anchorages and or marinas) especially along the Delaware and NJ coast to duck into in case something goes wrong.

Thanks
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Old 30-06-2012, 23:59   #15
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Re: Our First Cruise ! (Starting Hayes, VA)

Ricky EM,

Astral Blues advice is sound advice. 2 years sailing experience is enough to take the coastal trip to Nantucket, howver you really dont know your boat very well. Because it is a catamaran you will have very little oppertunity to stay in marinas, not withstanding most people who cruise the NE and Long Island Sound moor their boats and do not keep them in marinas.

Understand you will also be traveling during hurricane season and need to have an alternative plan should one of them hang a right and continue up the coast during the month you are cruising.

Lets look at different routes going north. First let me address your question of ports to duck into on the way to Naragansett. The directline to there takes you offshore quite a distance so you commit to the weather window and just go. If thats your plan I would aim for Block. I would jump off by sailing out the mouth of the Chesapeake to Cape May/ Cape Henlopen approx 130 miles. Averaging 5 knots or so this is 24-26 hours. No place to duck in except trecheous Ocen City , Maryland inlet.

There are three good easy safe inlets in New Jersey ( if any inlet could be considered safe). These are Cape May, Absecon ( Atlantic City, and Manesquan). What makes them safe is that there are no real shoals extending outward from the inlet which will lead to breakers and rollers across the inlet in the afternoon or during a blow which make it difficult to enter or exit. These three inlets do not have huge bodies of water behind them which also creates a substantial running current out the inlet which makes other inlets on the Jersey coast difficult in opposing wind and tide situations. Lastly these three inlets have large established commercial fishing fleets docked in behind them. There are other inlets on charts and boats go out them with local knowledge, but the shoals are always shifting and the bouys are not set because the CG potentially changes them every day. The last inlet I will mention on the Jersey Shore is Barnegat Inlet which we traverse when we head to the Long Island Sound. It is dangerous but has set markings and should not be entered when there is any component over 20 knotss of wind from the east or north east. I lived in South Jersey and have local knowledge and can give you an accurate description to go in which is safe, but it is not for the faint of heart. I would not enter any other Jersey Inlets without a person on board with local knowledge.

Atlantic City is 32 miles from Cape May, Manesquan is 68 miles from Atlantic City. After that is NY Bay and Atlantic Highlands ( About 34 miles from Manesquan. The South shore of Long Island has inlets, but are trecherous like the Jersey ones and really should not be entered.

We go to the LI Sound, Marthas Vineyard, and Nantucket every year from the end of July to mid Septemeber ( same basic times as you) and usually travel for 24 days. There is so much to visit or see ( though there is 4 times as much on the Chesapeake) we dont worry once we get to the Sound as much as making a long range destination as we will return the following year.)

Our route ( assumming 5 knots) is Patapsco to Reedy Island ( through the C&D Canal and south about 5 miles on the Delaware River) 52 miles (9 hours).....Ride the tide to Cape May 54 miles (7 hours)....Cape May to Barneget Inlet (72 miles, 13 hours).......Barneget Inlet to Liberty Landing Marina ( newark- 38 miles, 7 hours or Atlantic Highlands (34 miles- 6 hours). Then you are set up to go up the East River with the incomming tide then next day and you are on the LI Sound. We usually go to Port Jefferson. So we are on the Sound our 5th day from the Patasco ( Baltimore) . It is a cruise and vacation for us and we like to explore and see the places we anchor or moor outside of so we break it up into managemeable segments and can be anchored by 3 in the afternoon ( except Barnegat). Assuming 5 days back from Port Jefferson ( usually it is Northport) and on the way back we can get to Manequan with the tide from Hell Gate and from Cape May to the Sassafrass on the Chesapeake.

So essentially we have 14-16 days on the Sound and points north/ east including weather days to visit all the neat towns and ports. In a later post I can give you our favorites to visit. We have made it in past years to Marthas Vineyard/ Cuttyhunk/ Nantucket on our trips. Usually we find ourselves exploring and changing itineraries to suit the weather, extra days in places we like etc. We certainly get as far as Newport/ Block. For us it is a cruising vacaction once we are up there so we dont kill ourselves on a sailing death march, and it is only my wife and I.

So you can head out the Bay at Cape Charles to Cape May ( 126 miles, 24 hours)) and begin the hop like we do at Cape may or sail straight through to Block 191 miles, 36 hours straight from Cape May or 320 miles ,56 hours from Cape Charles to Block Island. Thats pretty aggressive with your experience ( not your boat as it would be fine), and not knowing how many of you on board this should have at least 4. You will also be tired after this.

You have to determine whether your experience warrents that trip ( no disrespect intended) and if your weather window will hold for 3+ days. These straight throughs take you at least 50 miles offshore so there is no "ducking" in. That will take 8-10 hours. The route I take we stay 5-6 miles offshore.

An alternative would be to explore the Chesapeake for the first week going north to shake down and get to know your boat, learn how to anchor ( very important in all conditions of wind and terrain) and also see some of the best cruising grounds in the US. My wife and I have chartered to Catalina and the Channel islands also. The Chesapeake is way way different with its many coves and small towns ( the country was populated originally through the Chesapeake)

An itinerary the first week could be Solomons Island ( Puatuxat River), St Micheals ( Miles River), Annapolis ( Severn River), Rock Hall. After those 4 days head for the Delaware River an mimick our trip and be in Cape May on day 6 or 7.

Also have a bailout and plan of where to hide should a names storm come up the coast. Last year Long island and New England had a pretty distructive one.

Feel free to private message me should you have any questions.

Dave
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