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Old 05-07-2016, 12:20   #1
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Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

We're sailing north from Miami to Beaufort NC next week, 1st time in the ocean and (thanks to wise advice from forum members) also our first night-sailing.

Based on our experience (only around 1500 nm total), a new-to-us boat (we have scheduled 2 days of shakedown in Biscayne Bay before we leave) and the timidity of the admiral and crew (and truthfully, myself too), we do not want to ride the stream straight north across the bight for 4-5 days.

There is no rush, we wait patiently for weather, and are in no hurry.
We have all the safety gear, comms, life raft, epirbs, inreach, radar, etc.

Planned trip will mostly be 70-110 mile hops out to 3nm line, then back in.
Basically just 24 hr or shorter passages.

-----

Q: Are there any navigational, wind, sea state issues with sailing at the 40' depth contour, or just inside the 3nm line?
What's wrong with hugging the coastline, besides making it a longer trip?
-----

Thanks for your advice and sharing your experiences -
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:50   #2
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

SoundWave, good for you, and your crew, for taking the offshore route. I think you will find it much more enjoyable than motoring up the coast and hoping for an opportunity to sail occasionally. I think you will also find it much less stressfull, and much more satisfying.

I'm on the other coast of Florida so no gulf stream to deal with. Someone will post a link to where to find current info on the stream location. That can help you decide how far off your route should be. It varies along the way. Also, I think some awareness of countercurrent will play a part as well. Hopefully others will provide some insight.

For pointers I might offer, assuming you will plot a route on screen, be sure to zoom in and carefully do a flyover of the entire route. Slowly and carefully. Then as you travel you can have confidence that the depths are safe at a glance of the route line and the XTE.

Also, I prefer and offshore wind for it's benefit to a lesser sea state. And the possibility to tuck in closer for somewhat less wind or further for a little more. Counter currents may play a role here, however.

Research each pass along the route so you have some idea of available options when the plan needs a tweek for whatever reason.

For what it's worth I usually find myself about 6-10 miles out unless the steady winds are approaching 25 knots. Then I'll tuck in closer to try for under 20 steady.

Congrats and fair winds on your cruise.
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Old 05-07-2016, 13:00   #3
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

You're crossing a bit of ocean that I've spent a lot of time in - the Georgia Bight. In that area you will often have 20 feet or less of water when three miles out, and bunches of point bars off the river-fed channels between the barrier islands. The dominant nasty weather, when it comes, is Nor'easters, with sharp waves over that shallow bottom. You might want to push off a bit for the Jacksonville - Beaufort SC stretch. I hope you have a wonderful trip.
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Old 05-07-2016, 13:12   #4
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

A few comments and some information.

The post by tkeithlu is right on. Some spots there is shallow water far offshore and in boisterous weather could get very bumpy. Also, in the shallows there are numerous fish havens, many with large, unlit buoys some up to 20 miles offshore. Need to keep an eye out for those.

Also due to the shallows and layout of the inlets you might be running 10-15 miles to get from the ocean to the inside. Doing that twice on a short hop you could be spending half a days run just getting in and out so I would plan longer hops in places where the inlets make for a long trip in/out.

It's a great trip. Enjoy.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:27   #5
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

I would add to skipmac's comments above that the tide can be strong in places like Charleston or Beaufort, sometimes up to 6 knots, so that you should look ahead and time your departures and arrivals accordingly least you find yourself having to wait offshore for the tide to change.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:27   #6
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
there are numerous fish havens, many with large, unlit buoys some up to 20 miles offshore. Need to keep an eye out for those.
Others have mentioned these in past threads, the thought scares me.
Please forgive me for asking, these buoys are CHARTED, just not lit, correct?

I have no desire to play boat-pachinko if I can help it...
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:31   #7
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

As others have said, the most dangerous thing to a boat is the land, especially in areas where you have shallow water and the bad sea states which can occur there. So the further offshore, the better, so long as you are not so far as to make it too hard to get into a harbor if you need to. When I'm sailing along a coast, I really prefer to stay out of sight of land if possible without a big detour, and only at about 20 miles off do I start to relax a little. Close inshore you have all kinds of hazards -- small traffic, fishing gear, fishing boats, shallow water, lee shores, horrible sea states when wind blows against tide in shallow water, etc., etc., etc.


The other thing I would say about your plan is that a series of 100 mile day sails is an exhausting way to make miles. It takes me, personally a day or more to start to get into the rhythm of being on passage and start to really enjoy it. Even if you're not in a hurry, you might find it more pleasant to make a few longer passages of two or three days each, then just gunkhole around for a while, before making the next one. You'll be better rested and you'll get to see a few areas in depth, rather than just tying up at night and casting off in the morning. Another great advantage of this is that it gives you much more power to pick your weather. I, personally, like to "make hay when the sun is shining" -- sail and don't stop when conditions are good and you have a fair breeze, and spend time in port only when the weather is less than ideal.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:33   #8
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

It will be easier to be a little farther than 3NM off. Less fishing gear and navigation worries.

But in several spots it will take you hours to get out far enough from an anchorage to get around the shoals which extend for quite some distance offshore. Then you have to waste the same amount of time coming in at the end of the day.

If you crew is up to night sailing, try doing two days and the intervening night (assuming the weather window is good and the wind is aft of the beam) - then take two nights and a day off at anchor or a marina to explore the area. No need for a watch schedule for one night. A couple of cat naps will do. Can be a real confidence builder for the crew.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:55   #9
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

Strong tides along my chunk of coast, too. Getting in to anchor, or out to start the day, could be a problem; in most of my experience in that area I had 250 HP and a 25' utility boat. Eight foot tides are normal, on a 12.5 hour cycle. The last time we travelled that coast by 7.5 knot trawler, we followed the sort of schedule CarF proposes - doing two days with a night in between is not too bad when you have only two watchkeepers, but then a day or two of rest is welcome. Of course, age has a lot to do with this- I certainly did watch and watch for several days when I was young, and some crews do it for months.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:59   #10
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
I would add to skipmac's comments above that the tide can be strong in places like Charleston or Beaufort, sometimes up to 6 knots, so that you should look ahead and time your departures and arrivals accordingly least you find yourself having to wait offshore for the tide to change.
Yes the tidal currents in Charleston. How could I forget. First time I was there we stopped in for fuel. Wasn't thinking about currents when we pulled up to the fuel dock and almost got pushed into the side of an 80' sailboat with an Awlgrip job that would have cost me a years pay to fix.
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Old 05-07-2016, 15:03   #11
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

By the way, I'm a retired biological psychologist, and pay some attention to the literature. Summary statement is that if you're doing less than 6 hours sleep per 24 hours, within a week or so you are measurably impaired in both cognitive process (IQ) and judgement.
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Old 05-07-2016, 15:06   #12
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundWave View Post
Others have mentioned these in past threads, the thought scares me.
Please forgive me for asking, these buoys are CHARTED, just not lit, correct?

I have no desire to play boat-pachinko if I can help it...
As far as I know they are all charted. When I was planning my trip that's what got my attention. Plotting a course from one port to the next on the chart I found all these buoys along the route, many without the little purple marks showing it was lit. At least I didn't see or run into any that weren't marked on the chart.

Still find it quite strange that 20 miles offshore and in areas with lots of boat traffic, there are giant buoys floating here and there with no light at all.
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Old 05-07-2016, 15:18   #13
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

[QUOTE=SoundWave;2159946].

Planned trip will mostly be 70-110 mile hops out to 3nm line, then back in.
Basically just 24 hr or shorter passages.

-----
I would never sail along just 3 nm from a coastline at night. Twice that maybe, with a radar or something to keep track of the shore. Maybe somewhere like down in the Tehuantepec where you would tend to be blown off shore if the wind picked up and your engine quit.
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Old 05-07-2016, 16:22   #14
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

is a dolphin24 capable of a round the world voyage?
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Old 05-07-2016, 16:38   #15
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Re: Anything wrong with shore-hugging?

I'd do it if I was motivated enough to go in that small a boat. The O'day/Yankee Dolphins are tough little boats and sailors.

Don't know why people are so freaked about going offshore?? If you play the weather, it' a much faster sail in the gulf stream, way less obstacles and much more pleasant relaxing sail. Nothing will ruin your day faster than running aground or into other hard objects. South bound shipping will avoid the Stream so you'll only have to worry about overtaking traffic. Might break up the trip with an occasional stop like Charleston which I'd stop at just for the She Crab Soup and Grits.
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