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Old 19-12-2012, 10:51   #1
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Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Alright, Im making plans to take a cruise down the coast to Fla. My plans are to depart the first of June out of New Bern or somewhere around there on the NC coast, and head south. I have a 26 foot San Juan with a shoal keel, Im about done with a refit after a some abuse by the previous owner. Its on stands now in the yard, and I intend to throw her in the lake work out the kinks till we take off. I have sailing experiance and have owned other boats, but Ive never done any cruising. We lake sail mostly now, but I have been on many day sails with friends down in the Gulf where I'm from. I'm not going to set a schedule as far as when we will get back or how far we go, dont care. But I would like to complete the trip in a couple months or so. I,m not going to be totaly broke so I wont have to watch every dime, and Id like for my kids to have a good time[just me and my two kids, 11 and 15]. I,m doing alot of homework and plan to have our little boat ready as best I know how. But safety for them is my main concern. I know alot of you folks wouldnt think anything of this trip, it may be a cakewalk to some, but its a big deal to me. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make this trip a success? Meaning everybody comes back alive, with pictures and stories, and I dont have to do another refit on my boat? Does anyone know a trustworthy place to put in, so I dont have to worry about my truck and trailer till I get back? My kids are growing up and they might not want to take off with Ole' Dad much anymore soon, Im gonna have to get on the ball. Any help or advice would be great, Thanks
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:15   #2
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Hi RD

First, if you are leaving NC in June to FL for a couple of months that does put you into hurricane season? That would be my biggest concern. Not saying don't go but you better keep a close eye on the weather and be prepared to leave the boat and evacuate to higher ground with the kids.

You don't mention what kind of power in the San Juan. One option is to take the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) from NC to FL. Do you know about this? With the exception of a couple of places where you cross open bays this will give you a protected path all the way. The down side is you have to pay attention to navigating, charts, staying in the channel, running aground if you stray outside the channel, more traffic and dealing with bridges. But you are sailing in rivers, lakes and canals almost the whole way so protected water. Another benefit, you don't have to look for entrance and exit points for the night. Usually just pull to the side somewhere and drop the anchor or tie up at a marina for the night.

PS
You might want to add a paragraph break occasionally in your posts. Makes it a lot easier to read.
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:49   #3
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Did you ever consider maybe just sailing out to Cape Hatteras and back to see how it goes? It's right there in your own back yard so to speak with lots of things to do and see..............plus the kids won't get as bored as they might motoring all the way down the Intra Coastal to Florida should you decide to take that route.
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:57   #4
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

You will get, or have already heard, some good advice - get towing insurance, don't run the ICW at night, etc, and I'm sure there will be more. Just off the top of my head, and knowing little about what your preferences are, have you considered going north and doing the Chesapeake? Not better or worse, IMO - just different. You could even put in at Elizabeth City and do the Dismal Swamp first thing.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:07   #5
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Edit: Chesapeake is a great idea.

Or, put in at New Bern. The Nuese is like a lake up there. Excursions to Beaufort, Oriental, Cape Lookout, Hatteras, etc. Today would have been perfect! I get you have to wait for school to get out. Better plan on going the ICW. Easy trip with your shoal draft. Plenty for kids to do and see. Stop and eat. Safe. Bad weather, which is unlikely: just find a hideyhole and anchor. Take more than one anchor. Plan for bugs and heat.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:07   #6
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Get towing insurance, the best 100 odd bucks you'll spend. You might not need towing but it's really good for peace of mind. And if you run out of fuel, they'll bring you some. If you're going outside rather than the ICW go out of Beaufort and spend the first night in that bay at the end of Cape Lookout. Heading south there are a couple of stretches where you'll be far off shore (up to 60 miles) and will need to sail for a couple of days without a good inlet. If you don't like this try the ICW. It'll be much better for the kids as they'll have things to see and do.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:11   #7
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

You have a huge array of options for 2 months starting in NC. In addition to those above, I recommend the NC Inner Banks/Sounds and Chesapeake Bay, each affording you more sailing opportunities than the ICW but with the protection of hundreds of creeks and harbors to pop into. You will not be able to explore it all in 2 months, so get some good guidebooks and cruise where you want (or the direction the wind's blowing that day!). There's always good anchorages, lots of nice waterfront sailing towns (many with free town docks), and bigger cities like Norfolk, Baltimore, Annapolis...you can even sail up to D.C.

Also, it will be hotter and buggier the more south you go. If a hurricane is predicted, just know what arrangements you need to make to get your boat back on the trailer and away from the path.


Whatever you choose, hope you go with it and have a wonderful trip!
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:13   #8
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

+1 on Cape Lookout Bight...and Ocracoke...and the Dismal Swamp Canal(+++)...and New Bern, and...........
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:18   #9
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

The SJ 26 is usually a very shoal draft boat with outboard power. Not terribly stiff either as it's meant to be trailerable. If you are unfamiliar with your boat, I would take the waterway south for much of the trip. You can always duck outside in good weather for a nice reach south once you are more familiar with your boat. The kids will enjoy the waterway more anyway... lots more interesting things! I sailed much of georgia on the waterway, it was lovely with a nice soft breeze off the beam.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:38   #10
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Re: Coastal Cruising from NC to FLA

Thanks guys..Yep thats hurricane season, and I have a healthy respect for the big blow. I grew up in south FLA and Ive saw the eye of several but never on a boat. I would definitly watch the weather and leave my boat if I had to.
The idea on heading north is a good one I just thought south because I have friends and family down that way.
Power on my boat is mercury outboard.
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