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Old 16-10-2010, 06:00   #1
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Philadelphia to Florida ?

I would like to eventually end up in the Bahamas this winter, but plan on getting the boat to FL before it gets too cold in Philadelphia. What is an ideal route once leaving the Delaware Bay? I have checked a pilot chart for November, and it seems that hugging the coast (say 10-15mi offshore) would provide a southward running current for much of the coast. What type of weather pattern should I look for? Would it make sense to leave the Delaware Bay on the tail end of bad weather with a favorable forecast? I figure 7 days (sailing overnight) should get us to FL from Delaware Bay?
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Old 16-10-2010, 06:44   #2
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Although the distance is approximately 700 nm it is through some nasty water and long enough to expose you to some nasty weather. If you are in a hurry take an airline flight. Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout can be downright nasty, lots of ancient wreck to dive on there. Cape Fear is not so bad, but can be a pain in the Winter months.
- - The most reasonable route, most often used is from Philly through the C-D canal to the Chesapeake down to Norfolk. Then the ICW to Beaufort/Morehead City. From there you can transition outside and run the coast lines to stay out of the Gulf Stream and be within range of quite a few inlets/rivers should the weather turn nasty.
- - If the weather does turn nasty you can run the ICW in comfort making miles toward your destination rather than sitting for days or weeks waiting for acceptable conditions "outside."
- - "Pushing the envelope" by having to be somewhere with too little time to allow for weather and break-downs, most usually results in some nasty and occasionally disastrous experiences. Getting to Florida can be done in a month, but two months is more reasonable. Remember, a sailboat moves at about the speed of a bicycle - - How long would it take you to bicycle to Florida from Philly?
- - A sailboat is a "recreational vessel" that you are supposed to have fun and enjoy yourself on - it is not supposed to be a S&M machine. Offshore all the way can be done, but I would wager you might just sell the boat after doing it and for sure most any wives/etc. on board during a non-stop offshore slog would never set foot on the boat again.
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Old 16-10-2010, 19:59   #3
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Wink

osirissail- Thanks for the information. Unfortunately, we don't have a month or two to get to FL. However, I believe 100mi/day is a conservative estimate once offshore. I have not done this particular trip before, however, I have crewed on NE-Carribean deliveries during the same time of year. Would staying inside the gulf stream pose any additional concerns (besides hitting land!)? I still need to check charts for hazards, is there an ideal range to stay off the coast? Is it better to swing wide around Hatteras? The crew is solid, only people who want to be on the boat and expect the discomfort of offshore passage.

PS- If I could bike 24hrs/day it would take approx 6 days
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Old 16-10-2010, 21:06   #4
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Actually all the larger boats have no choice but to go offshore as the bridges on the ICW are height limited. If you cannot get under them, you have to go offshore.
- - When I do run offshore I like staying within a mile of the coastline to try to find a southward flowing counter current. That does not always work as there are an awful lot of hazards from shoals, fish pens, random buoys, and shrimp boats (especially at night) working the area. Kind of puts you between the devil and the deep blue sea. With shoals and man-made hazards close to shore and the Gulf Stream further out.
- - You can end up 10 nm or so offshore to avoid the shoals at the capes. Shadowing the coast line can require too many extra miles versus just heading straight to the next Cape.
- - Once south of Cape Fear (Wilmington NC) things straighten out and running closer in is feasible. But I would suggest a good radar system with watch standers who know how to operate and use the radar.
- - Until you get to Cape Lookout there isn't much available, if anything, that would allow you to duck "inside" for shelter or repairs. You are "out there" for the duration. Winds and weather are the big problem with staying outside. If you have great Karma and a personal friendship with Mother Nature the whole thing could end being a cake-walk and boring, except for those shrimpers and scallop trawlers. It's the luck of the Irish how you make out. Whenever I have to be someplace I get pounded but if I have plenty of time things stay nice and boring.
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Old 16-10-2010, 21:08   #5
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I have a friend that rode his bike from San Diego to New Jersey in 8 days.
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Old 16-10-2010, 21:31   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaasun71 View Post
I have a friend that rode his bike from San Diego to New Jersey in 8 days.
Is he available to peddle my boat?

osirissail- Thanks again!
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Old 18-10-2010, 14:12   #7
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mrybas,

Did you consider the "other" offshore option? Make your way down to Hampton Roads, Virginia, wait for the right weather to cross the Gulf Stream in settled conditions, and then head directly for the Abacos. It takes about five days from Hampton, VA.

That's what the Cruising Rally Association's Bahamas Rally does. Their target departure date this year is November 7th. Here's a link to an article about it.

http://www.carib1500.com/documents/B...ne20100001.pdf

You don't need to sign up with the CRA, of course, but Steve Black is one of the most experienced offshore sailors around, so looking at his plan is a good move.

You could check out Florida on your way back north next year.
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Old 18-10-2010, 20:08   #8
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mrybas,

Did you consider the "other" offshore option? Make your way down to Hampton Roads, Virginia, wait for the right weather to cross the Gulf Stream in settled conditions, and then head directly for the Abacos. It takes about five days from Hampton, VA.

That's what the Cruising Rally Association's Bahamas Rally does. Their target departure date this year is November 7th. Here's a link to an article about it.

http://www.carib1500.com/documents/B...ne20100001.pdf

You don't need to sign up with the CRA, of course, but Steve Black is one of the most experienced offshore sailors around, so looking at his plan is a good move.

You could check out Florida on your way back north next year.
I like your idea, but I don't think it's going to work for me. I really just need to get the boat somewhere now that will allow me to access the Bahamas/points south. I have to come back home and work for a few months, so the boat will waiting down south for my return in January. Florida works well, because I have a few minor projects to finish up (headliner, refrigeration, bottom paint) and I figure it will be easier to to this work stateside vs. Bahamas. I also have family in FL, that will let me borrow cars/tools/etc.
Just curious, what would it be like heading for the Bahamas from Hampton, VA in January? I bet it could be pretty nasty?
Any opinions on doing the C&D/Chesapeake(then going outside to FL) vs going outside the from the Delaware Bay to FL?
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Old 18-10-2010, 20:46   #9
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Any opinions on doing the C&D/Chesapeake(then going outside to FL) vs going outside the from the Delaware Bay to FL?
The difference is called Cape Hatteras.

If you don't have 5-6 days to go inside from Philly to Beaufort, then I imagine you won't have the time patience to wait for a weather windown either.
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Old 18-10-2010, 21:04   #10
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The difference is called Cape Hatteras.

If you don't have 5-6 days to go inside from Philly to Beaufort, then I imagine you won't have the time patience to wait for a weather windown either.
Either of the two routes I asked about requires rounding Hatteras.
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Old 18-10-2010, 21:22   #11
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Either of the two routes I asked about requires rounding Hatteras.
Yeah - I ignored that. 5-6-7 (very) long days and you can be in Beaufort NC with a reasonable straight run to south florida (3-4 days?).

You set up a false choice between your 2 months on the inside and 7 days offshore. You can run smart and do it in 2 weeks accounting for weather windows -- or you can leave tomorrow and run offshore from Lewes . . ..

I suppose you can make a run straight from Hampton Rhodes if you have great weather window (the Carib1500 site says they did it in 5 days) it just seems like there is *way* more trouble possible and when you compare apples to apples -- there is not that much time saved.

Seems like you have you mind made up anyway.

Luck,
-M
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Old 19-10-2010, 06:24   #12
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...Just curious, what would it be like heading for the Bahamas from Hampton, VA in January? I bet it could be pretty nasty?
Any opinions on doing the C&D/Chesapeake(then going outside to FL) vs going outside the from the Delaware Bay to FL?
January can be VERY nasty. I wouldn't do it under any circumstances. You'd probably be OK in the ICW the whole way, but not offshore.

Go in November. If you're in a rush, going up the Delaware Bay and back down the Chesapeake will cost you time, especially since you'll probably end up stopping along the way, but that's the way most boats head south. If you're planning to sail non-stop, you might as well stay offshore. There're some great spots on the Chesapeake to spend the night as you head south, so it's worth the diversion if you can spare the time.

Once you get to Hampton, VA, you should wait until the next cold front goes by (they come along every 4-7 days that time of year). It can be really rough crossing the Gulf Stream when the winds are above 15-18 kts with any northerly component. After the frontal passage, the winds become light from the SE. Motor sail out of the Bay and get across the Gulf Stream. It typically takes about 16-18 hours to get to the other side. It would help to get a picture of the cold eddies on the southeast side of the Stream. You can see as much as 1-2 kts of foul or fair current, depending on which side of the eddy you're on. It also helps to pick the narrowest part of the Gulf Stream for your crossing.

You'll see the winds clock and build through the S, SW, and W. It'll most likely be at gale force when the front actually passes over you and the winds shift to the NNE or NE. You'll be well south of Hatteras by then. It'll blow for a couple of days, maybe three, but it's a good ride, and you'll be making good time. I've done it three times, headed for the BVI, and that's been the pattern.
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