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Old 10-06-2013, 19:21   #1
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Smile North Carolina to St. Thomas

I will be sailing this fall from Maine to USVI with my husband and four children age 7-17. I read that Donald Street suggests sailing from Little Creek, NC to St Thomas. Is there a reason why I keep reading that most people sail in November?
Can this be done in late September early October? Or is the threat of hurricanes too big during that time? Any other reasons? Or thoughts about that trip?
Thank you!
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Old 10-06-2013, 23:59   #2
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

First do you have a blue water boat and blue water skills sufficient to take children on a 10 to 14 day offshore trip?

It is too dangerous in hurricane season and November is no bargain. The Caribbean 1500 works on the false premiss that there is a weather window, in November, between the last hurricane and the first northern winter storm. Research the 'Rule 62' incident and other rescue incidents off Bermuda and Hatteras and read what happens to inexperience people.

The recent tropical storm Andrea shows that there is no such thing as a two week weather window and the Rule 62 incident shows what a dangerous lee shore the Bahamas become in bad weather.

CARIBBEAN 1500 RALLY: A Death in the Bahamas

I you, the kids and the boat cannot take 40+ knots for an extended period then you need to go with an alternative plan like following Van Sant's the 'Thornless Path'.

As much as I prefer the offshore route, with small children I would come down the US coast to Florida and go through the Islands.

Good luck
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Old 11-06-2013, 13:52   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer View Post
First do you have a blue water boat and blue water skills sufficient to take children on a 10 to 14 day offshore trip?

It is too dangerous in hurricane season and November is no bargain. The Caribbean 1500 works on the false premiss that there is a weather window, in November, between the last hurricane and the first northern winter storm. Research the 'Rule 62' incident and other rescue incidents off Bermuda and Hatteras and read what happens to inexperience people.

The recent tropical storm Andrea shows that there is no such thing as a two week weather window and the Rule 62 incident shows what a dangerous lee shore the Bahamas become in bad weather.

CARIBBEAN 1500 RALLY: A Death in the Bahamas

I you, the kids and the boat cannot take 40+ knots for an extended period then you need to go with an alternative plan like following Van Sant's the 'Thornless Path'.

As much as I prefer the offshore route, with small children I would come down the US coast to Florida and go through the Islands.

Good luck
Yup I second that
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Old 11-06-2013, 14:19   #4
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

I agree. There is the popular idea that late Oct to early Nov going south is "safe" because you are at the end of the hurricane season but before Nor'easters start coming down. WRONG!! It is the best time for the trip but not necessarily a good or safe time.

Every few years there is a late tropical depression (a few years back there were tropical storms until January), an early Nor'easter or both like the situation that happened in the book and movie The Perfect Storm. Over the years a number of cruising boats have been lost on the trip south in late fall. Seems to happen about every 3-4 years.

Most of the time for most boats it works out fine but it is a gamble. Weather forecasts two weeks out are not accurate and once you are out there, there is no turning back and you will have to deal with what comes. I would not do this with children on board.

It is a lot harder sail but much safer to take the "Thorny Path" from south Florida, through the Bahamas to the VI. Yes you will be going dead against the wind and currents but it is a very scenic trip, lots of beautiful islands to see and lots of safe places to hole up if it hits the fan. Plus I think the kids won't be bored to death sitting on a boat in the middle of the ocean for two weeks.
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Old 11-06-2013, 14:21   #5
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty East View Post
I will be sailing this fall from Maine to USVI with my husband and four children age 7-17. I read that Donald Street suggests sailing from Little Creek, NC to St Thomas. Is there a reason why I keep reading that most people sail in November?
Can this be done in late September early October? Or is the threat of hurricanes too big during that time? Any other reasons? Or thoughts about that trip?
Thank you!
Are you insured? Most insurance companies require waiting till Nov due to hurricanes. You can gamble with 'çanes whenever you wish, but it is a life and death gamble.
I believe Street's advice is to leave from Beaufort, NC, not Little Creek, VA. This is to avoid going around Cape Hatteras, having a short Gulf Stream crossing with a good weather window and to start with lots of easting.
There are a number of rallies that start in Hampton, VA that go to the Virgins.
As others have said, you can consider going down the east coast, through the Bahamas and working your way to the Virgins. It is essentially 900 miles to weather, so you better have a strong engine and time to wait for weather windows.
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Old 11-06-2013, 14:57   #6
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

BTW - that's Little Creek, Virginia. Not North Carolina.

Your original question makes me wonder if you are up to the task. If you have to ask, you likely are not equipped with the needed skills.

Good luck and godspeed in your adventure.
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Old 11-06-2013, 16:13   #7
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

Weird responses you are getting.

November was very cold and quite inhospitable when I was there in northern Florida in St Augustine.

I left New York Ciry on 18th September... what I believe was the last useful weather window and headed to Norfolk.
Each week it became colder and not nice sailing so I moved south, albiet in the ICW which is really quite slow.

If I was doing it again I would leave NYC when I did and head to Norfolk, or if the weather remained good go round hatteras and stop in Beaufort North Carolina for a reassesment of the weather and wait a bit for seasonal change to say mid October. If happy with the long range hurrican forecast and with good weather info on board I would go a straigt shot to USVI 1,200nms with the following pull out points Marsh Harbour Abacos, Bahamas 500nms; Georgetown Exhumas, Bahamas 650nms; Turks and Caicos 850nms.

The difficulty is if there is a hurricane you need to move well out of its way quickly.

The other difficulty is you need to keep that original Beaufort to USVI rhumb line and only go west if you really need to. That means to deviate into, say Georgetown you would be having to come west about 250 nms.


Othe people real experience thoughts?


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Old 11-06-2013, 16:24   #8
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

Hi Mark! She has little children that might need medical interventions, on a trip like that. Hugging the US coast to FL is a sound decision to heed to; then a straight course to the Caribbean. The straight line approach is very risky, due to lack of good medical services along the way. Kids are part of the equation. In addition, by hugging the coast she'll have plenty of coves to go to if the weather does not cooperate. Sail away!

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Old 11-06-2013, 16:28   #9
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

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Hi Mark! She has little children that might need medical interventions, on a trip like that.

Mauritz
Oh for gods sake. That would put every passage off the cards just because of children.

Kids arnt some kind of wilting vegetable.
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Old 11-06-2013, 16:30   #10
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

--->Dunks Mark in a tub of molasses, for being ornery!

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Old 11-06-2013, 18:39   #11
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

I think about this trip often and I plan on doing it this coming fall as well.

I'm constantly back and forth on whether I want to straight shot it out of Beaufort or island hop to windward along the 'thorny path.' I've officially chalked it up as a "figure it out when the time comes" sort of thing; and see where we're at.

Although i like reading about people who have made the trip (offshore or island hop) and what their experiences were.
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Old 11-06-2013, 19:46   #12
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

In this situation I would suggest a compromise course. Follow the ICW a little further south, maybe Charleston for the jump off point. If you head more or less SE from Charleston you will only be a day or two off the US coast if you have to bail out for weather or any other reason. Hold a course that will keep you about 100 miles offshore of the Bahamas. If you can hold SE you can make a good bit of easting and shoot for a landfall around the Turks & Caicos.

On this course you will always have the option to turn west and withing a day or two at most duck into the Bahamas, and you make about half the easting to the USVI so avoid a big piece of the thorny path.
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:02   #13
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

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Your original question makes me wonder if you are up to the task. If you have to ask, you likely are not equipped with the needed skills.
I have to agree. No offense intended to the OP, but someone who has the skills and experience to safely do a voyage like this does not go on the internet and ask a bunch of strangers whether or not hurricanes are really a threat in September.

The kids are a whole different matter. Four kids are going to be a handful, no matter what the weather is like. On the other hand, the youngest is 7, so it's not like we're talking about toddlers. Nor is that so young that medical issues are likely to be significantly different than any adult. The oldest is 17, which is just another crew member. Other than that, it depends on the particular kids, their ages, their experiences, and their personalities. Only the parents can really decide.

In the end, it is up to the OP to decide, but my advice would be to skip the offshore passage.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:27   #14
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

another option - get experienced crew to go with you offshore and have the kids meet you down there. That's what I did and it was much better for all. Last thing you want to do is put everyone off sailing with a rough passage - and it is almost inevitable that there will be some rough patches.

by the way - when I think of a "weather window" to head to the islands from Norfolk or Beaufort I am thinking of a window to get across the Stream, not a two week weather window - there really isnt such a thing. I would also want to know that there are no hurricanes on the horizon. Beyond that it is a crap shoot. But far better to suck it up and get there than spend three months waiting for the next chance to hop to the next stopping place.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:33   #15
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Re: North Carolina to St. Thomas

Other option, join the Salty Dog Rally and leave the kids with Granma till you get to the Virgins.
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