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Old 12-06-2011, 09:14   #16
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Re: US east coast to Caribbean

Nial, Bermuda costs what you want it to. Anchor out at St. George's and eat on the boat and it is cheap. Eat ashore or buy expensive food, it is expensive. Get a bus pass and enjoy the island. Be sure to stay less than six months, at the six month mark you have to pay import duties on the boat, 55 percent of its value. Sailors now get a 90-day visa for $120 (I think). Blue STocking knows more about this than I do.
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Old 21-06-2011, 10:22   #17
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Re: US east coast to Caribbean

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Well, when you get offshore you will find very little difference between a 28 inch boat and a 39 inch boat.
nial
Ha! Took the words right out of my mouth!
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Old 21-06-2011, 11:23   #18
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

Nial, the tried-and-true route to the BVIs is to depart from Hampton Roads, Virginia, or Beaufort, NC sometime in the first week of November. Shove off after a front blows through. You'll face light SE / SW breezes that will begin to clock and build as the next front approaches. The Gulf Stream is narrower off the Virginia Capes & Cape Hatteras, so if you hustle you should be able to get across it before the next front comes through. We would leave Hampton Roads and be across the Stream about 18 hours later.

Once across the Stream, you'll in all likelihood experience a gale force storm associated with the next cold front exiting the coast. They tend come through every 4-6 days that time of year. Winds will clock and build, settling into the ENE or NE in the 35-45 kt range, depending on the strength of the front. It could go as high as 50-55 kts, but that's rare in early November, as are weaker fronts (25-30 kts). Seas will build to anywhere from 16' to 24', depending on the wind strength, but you shouldn't have any trouble handling them in the Flika. The gale will blow out in three days, and you'll have had a heck of a ride, making a lot of distance. You'll probably experience some light conditions before reaching the Trades, so plan on a day or two of motor-sailing. Then it's a great close reach in the Trades to the BVIs. Eddy currents in the Sargasso Sea can help you or set you back by as much as 1 or 2 kts, so if you can get your hands on a current chart showing the cold eddys you can route yourself around them to take advantage of the fair currents.

In the old days, the ships used to head for Bermuda, but nowadays, most yachts just sail close to the rhumbline, maybe a bit north and east of it. If you can sail the rhumbline and maintain good boatspeed, you can shorten the trip by maybe 100 nm. You should be able to make the passage in about two weeks in your boat, assuming you keep going and don't heave to for whatever reason.
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Old 21-06-2011, 19:15   #19
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

As usual, Hud3 provided brilliant and thorough response.
I'd like to add a factor to the discussion: The 500mb line.

Several years ago, hurricane NOEL held up the departure of the Caribbean 1500 which leaves from Hampton, Virginia. NOEL didn't make landfall there and headed up the east coast just off shore of Virginia and Maryland.

We were leaving Annapolis when the 1500 left the southern Chesapeake Bay so we were 2 days behind in leaving the Bay headed for the Gulf Stream.
We sailed in some really, really rough weather and ended up with a broken boat in Bermuda. Upon arrival, and within a few days, many well founded, larger yachts showed up with a lot of damage due to the sailing in the same rough seas. I think several people died in an attempt to abandon ship, sailing from Newport to Bermuda.
I could go on about, back to the 500 mb line.
I had never heard of it until that trip. Later, I mentioned to Steve Black how bad the weather was and he told me that the Caribbean 1500 fleet intentionally sailed south of the 500mb line, knowing how rough the weather can be north of it when lows are passing through.
Apparently, the low pressure storms that spun off of the back of NOEL were trapped north of the 500mb line (which was just south of the mouth of the Chesapeake) and caused all sorts of havoc. That's how I remember it.
The lesson was: Sail south of the 500mb line when leaving the Chesapeake, heading for the BVI's, in the fall. That's what I was told and it makes sense, as explained to me.
Can anyone add to this or explain it in a better way?
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Old 21-06-2011, 22:10   #20
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

Nial,
I am an advocate of taking the off-shore route to the Islands over the Thorny Path but seamanship is about being in the right place at the right time in the right boat!

The Atlantic/Gulf Stream between the US and Bermuda in November in a 20 ft boat is about as wrong as you can get.

http://hamptonroads.com/2010/02/nine...uries-suffered

Work your way south to Fernandina Beach or somewhere further south in Florida, wait until the end of hurricane season, pick a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream, go through the Abacos and then consider either going due east to 65W and then south to the Islands or down the Thorny Path.

That way you can do an off-shore passage without invoking the USCG rescue services!
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Old 22-06-2011, 13:32   #21
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

Or wait until April/May, then you don't have gales to worry about or hurricanes, you do however have to get to your summer location without delay.
Tom
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Old 22-06-2011, 19:06   #22
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

YADO mentioned the 500 MB chart. It's definitely a valuable tool for predicting where you might expect to encounter gale force winds or higher. Three or more day analyses are available on the Internet. What to look for is the location of the 5640 meter isobar. If you see it dipping down to the south, that's where the storms will track. You never want to be at or north of that line.

Phil's (s/v Moondancer) concern about crossing the Gulf Stream in a 20' boat is prudent, and I agree that the Stream's no place to be in a small boat when it's rough, but with careful weather analysis, I believe it can be done safely. Sea state conditions after a frontal passage, even in the Gulf Stream, are generally pretty benign. The secret is to be able to make enough speed to get to the other side before the winds begin to build out of the northern sector as the next front approaches. On one of my crossings in November, the Stream was so flat you couldn't tell you were in it but for the increased water temperature and the blue color. Other times it's been very manageable.

It's absolutely critical to time your crossing correctly, getting to the Stream after it's settled down from the last front, and across before the next one. The other critical factor is that you'll need to be carefully watching the weather to the west to make certain you'll have a window of at least two days, preferably three, between fronts. The Stream's usually only about 60-70 nm wide off Hatteras, so you could get across in 13-16 hours. Since the winds will go light after a frontal passage, plan on some motor-sailing in order to get yourself in position to cross as soon as possible.

If you really want to do this, but don't feel that you have the necessary weather analysis skills, consider hiring a weather routing service to advise you.
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Old 23-06-2011, 08:21   #23
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Re: US East Coast to Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
YADO mentioned the 500 MB chart. It's definitely a valuable tool for predicting where you might expect to encounter gale force winds or higher. Three or more day analyses are available on the Internet. What to look for is the location of the 5640 meter isobar. If you see it dipping down to the south, that's where the storms will track. You never want to be at or north of that line...
The surface storm track is usually 300-600nm north of, and parallel to, the 5640 meter contour (isobar).
Surface lows and fronts generally move along the surface at a speed 1/3 to ˝ of the 500mb wind speed.
Surface winds in a low are typically ˝ of the 500mb wind speed.

See also NOAA’s
Mariner 's Guide to the 500-Millibar Chart
http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/article...DE_500MB-1.pdf
http : //www . opc.ncep.noaa.gov/articles/MWL_GUIDE_500MB-1.pdf
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