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Old 02-12-2019, 13:36   #31
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

There is always more than 1 way to skin a cat. Several years ago, my wife and I planned to bring our IP380 from the Chesapeake to Stuart for the winter. As life always takes precedent over planning, we had to come up with Plan B. We hired a captain to bring our boat down as far as St. Augustine, FL. He did it in several days off shore. Then, at our leisure, we picked up the boat and brought her the rest of the distance to Stuart. A lovely short cruise. (From there we headed over to the Bahamas.) Over all, Plan B worked out very well. Something to consider?
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Old 02-12-2019, 13:38   #32
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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...I would rather stick needles in my eyes than travel down the ICW.
It took me a while to get past the imagery. Jeepers. I don't like the ICW at all, but compared to needles in the eye I'm all over it. *grin*

I'm an offshore guy. I'm a delivery skipper and my customers don't get good value for money on the ICW. Heck, I don't think cruisers in general get good value for money on the ICW. There are pros as well as cons.

Pros:

It's pretty easy.
You can do it by yourself with relative safety.
There is always help near at hand.
There are a lot of interesting things to see.

Cons:

It is deadly boring.
There is very little sailing to be done.
It's expensive.
Running from inlet to inlet "offshore" is a poor way to dip your toe into distance sailing.
The research overhead for each day is high.
The attention level required is high.
There are all kinds of things to hit.
There are many places--entire states (Florida and Georgia come to mind) that don't really want us. The Florida motto is "send your money and stay home."
It's cold. Most cruisers have insurance limits and Jack Frost isn't only nipping at their heels he's sitting on their heads.
It's slow. Cruiser average progress (average, not peak) is 35 sm/day. With discipline and planning I can average 75 sm/day but it is work not cruising. With the right crew and equipment I can average 125 sm/day but that's a lot of work and expensive.

I have a warped sense of humor. I love staging in Little Creek or Hampton while snowbirds wander past. We hand off a list of boat names to the owners so they can have wave at them in the Bahamas weeks or months later when they finally show up. *grin* As I said - warped sense of humor.
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Old 02-12-2019, 16:42   #33
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

...whether you chose to run offshore or plod along in the ICW...2 weeks is simply not going to cut the mustard for a B'mas trip.
...leaving from up north, 2 weeks is going to get you to Florida.....maybe, if everything is perfect and there are no mishaps?
...then, this time of the year, one needs to wait on a " weather" window to cross the Gulf Stream. This could could take a few days or a few weeks.
I have waited as long as 6 weeks in south Florida for a decent weather window during winter months.
...this invariably means a marina stay, as Florida discourages willy nilly anchoring.
Crossing the Gulf Stream and getting to your first inhabited Bahamian Island will take several more days.
...Unless one is blind, deaf or dumb, one may recall that the Abaco's got ravaged by hurricane Dorian, so the Abaco's, lovely as they are, are probably not an ideal destination at his time.
..This means the Bimini', Exuma's or elsewhere....even Andros.
..Then there is the trip back....see above.
..All in all, even a month is pushing the limit for a very brief stay....very brief !!

..As an alternate, let me recommend the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are very similar to the B'mas in many ways. You will still be in the USA, so if this is a first time trip, good 'ole American assistance is never far away. The beer is just as cold and the fishing just as good and you will have plenty of cruising company.
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Old 02-12-2019, 18:31   #34
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

..I should add, that with a 4.5' draft, the Florida Keys is very doable on the " inside" track.
..You won't even have to set foot in that mean 'ole winter ocean and have just as good a time as you would have going to the B'mas.
..Finally, with likely time and weather constraints against you, you can leave the boat in the Keys or Miami area and come back as time permits to bring it back home.
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Old 03-12-2019, 04:38   #35
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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...then, this time of the year, one needs to wait on a " weather" window to cross the Gulf Stream. This could could take a few days or a few weeks.
I have waited as long as 6 weeks in south Florida for a decent weather window during winter months.
Six weeks is a long time. That's eight to twelve cycles of the common cold front pattern. Perhaps your standards and expectations are too rigid?

Fort Lauderdale (Lake Worth is not and never has been a good idea) to West End is likely not a good choice until the effects of Dorian are fully resolved. Somewhere like Key Largo to Bimini should be a reasonable hop within one or two cold fronts.

Coming from Chesapeake Bay it's five to seven days to Nassau to clear in. Another day to George Town if you prefer to clear in there. Add two or three days if starting from New York or Newport. Get your Gulf Stream crossing done as early as possible and into warmer weather. Why be cold when you don't have to? For that matter why go South on the West side of the Gulf Stream around two sides of a triangle when you go straight along the hypotenuse? I'm all for VMG but the intermittent Gulf Stream counter currents don't make up the time.

If a boat needs help going offshore for the first time, or the third time, that's readily available.
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Old 03-12-2019, 05:11   #36
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, pad.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:22   #37
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

A few years back my wife and I started a sail from Charleston to the Bahamas via Florida just after Christmas on an electric boat that required sailing 99% of the time.

It was her first time being crew, and my first time on the East coast. I figured after a few days sailing in and out of inlets and up and down rivers she would get the hang of it. Perhaps because my teaching skills suck or it was just an unrealistic expectation she never got to the point where she was comfortable with the thought of an overnight where she would be on watch by herself.
As a result we spent a month going up and down every river and in/and out every inlet between Charleston and the Ogeechee River south of Savannah. While I look back with fondness, it was not the way to get out of cold weather!
Coming in to an inlet after dark when you can hear the waves crashing on the breakers on either side of the boat is not a relaxing experience. The next morning sailing past a shipwreck on said breakers you couldn't see in the dark is an even more sobering experience.
Doing a combination of motoring on ICW and sailing outside overnight when you get the weather window would be best for a set schedule.
I am about to make the trip again. My wife still does not like the idea of overnighting so am hoping to get a weather window when a friend can take a scheduled vacation to help me get the boat as far as Daytona, but I am prepared to stay inside till we get that window, but will avoid Georgia if at all possible. I curse the Ogeechee river!
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Old 03-12-2019, 16:43   #38
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

The inability of sailboats to sail?
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What is it about traveling the ICW that so many people hate?
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Old 03-12-2019, 19:57   #39
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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What is it about traveling the ICW that so many people hate?


Damn near everything. Itís hours of drudgery, single handed even with an autopilot boredom at the helm waiting for the next twist and turn, shallow area, mismarked or misplaced markers, being swamped from the stern. If your in route somewhere, like the islands, all you are doing is delaying your arrival to your intended destination. I did it once the whole way and Iíve never gone inside since. After 10 or more hours you are just numb, you hit your bunk knowing you get to do it all over again the next day, and the next...
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:04   #40
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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Damn near everything. Itís hours of drudgery, single handed even with an autopilot boredom at the helm waiting for the next twist and turn, shallow area, mismarked or misplaced markers, being swamped from the stern. If your in route somewhere, like the islands, all you are doing is delaying your arrival to your intended destination. I did it once the whole way and Iíve never gone inside since. After 10 or more hours you are just numb, you hit your bunk knowing you get to do it all over again the next day, and the next...
Your post made me think of something I left off my own list of cons above: for singlehanders bathroom visits become a significant and limiting exercise. It can be unpleasant and/or time consuming.
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:46   #41
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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Your post made me think of something I left off my own list of cons above: for singlehanders bathroom visits become a significant and limiting exercise. It can be unpleasant and/or time consuming.
Oh, I had that too, but I left it off the first post figuring it would just be piling on.

My original autopilot gave out in Georgetown and I hand steered the rest of the way to Stuart. So lots of wheeling locking and running below to deposit my morning tea, seeing the boat veering off course out the head port, shutting down the flow and run back to the cockpit to correct... Then trying again.

The really fun days were when it was raining and I had on my foul weather bibs and jacket, thank god for Velcro.
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:58   #42
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

Beaufort to the Bahamas is not a case of ICW or offshore..unless your mind cannot fathom other approaches.

while it is certainly true that there are parts of the ICW are tedious and boring (here is looking at you Georgia).. there is NO REASON why a safe and rapid trip south cannot be done as a combination of ICW AND offshore..

Beaufort NC to wrightsville beach NC : one slow night offshore
Wrightsville Beach to Southport NC : iirc ~3 days ICW (can't remember exact)
Southport NC to (pick one of) Charleston, Brunswick, Fernandina beach, offshore depending on weather..
Fernandina Beach to New Smyrna Beach, Cape Canaveral, Ft Pierce, again pick one and go offshore with decent weather.

its not that hard..use the ICW to avoid cape fear, cape hatteras (not relevant here) and sit and wait for weather at solid spots with good inlets...then go offshore
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:06   #43
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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My original autopilot gave out in Georgetown and I hand steered the rest of the way to Stuart. So lots of wheeling locking and running below to deposit my morning tea, seeing the boat veering off course out the head port, shutting down the flow and run back to the cockpit to correct... Then trying again.
Depends on the boat of course and just HOW cold it is but for liquids you can aim at the deck drains. There is no man in the world whose aim is anything like as good as he thinks it is, particularly with a moving target. (tm) Keep a bucket of water to hand.

It is more substantive physical functions that take planning.

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Beaufort to the Bahamas is not a case of ICW or offshore..unless your mind cannot fathom other approaches.
For purposes of vocabulary what you call offshore is coastal for me.

Beaufort to North Man o' War Cut (not a good idea until recovery from Dorian is more advanced) or Nassau is offshore. Beaufort to Wrightsville Beach and then on to Southport is coastal.
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Old 04-12-2019, 09:33   #44
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

..I am intimately familiar with the Florida ICW (the ditch) thru' my past work (surveys and dredging) and know practically every nook and corner of it.
..The 12' minimum mandated depth is long gone...very long gone.
..These days a 6' draft needs to keep a sharp eye out ALL the time on the depth sounder, but often little warning is given before...thump !!
..In addition to the depth sounder one must be vigilant to the state of the tide at all times.

..All told, the ICW is not a happy place for a cruiser heading south.
..Like other posters here, I have opted for the offshore route based on my own miserable ICW experience.

..In this regard, I have sailed up and down the Florida coast many dozens of times, on my own boat and on others, singlehanded and with crew.
..I have gone in one hop or two or three hops and also directly to the B'mas and elsewhere.
..It's fair to say that I have seen pretty much every type of weather the Atlantic can throw at a coastal cruiser.

..My opinion remains the same. Even a small boat is perfectly capable of doing the offshore trip, even against contrary winds.
..There are several inlets along the coast where one can duck into if required.

..At the end of the day, the objective is to get to the B'mas or other Caribbean port.
..Plodding along in the ICW, dealing with shoals and every other type of nautical nuisance is simply not for me....I repeat....not for ME !
..In my opinion, the offshore route is by far and away the best way to head south.

..It's not for me to say what route a cruiser should chose, but like others on this thread, I can say without a moments hesitation that the offshore route is simpler, quicker and more enjoyable than the ICW route.
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Old 04-12-2019, 18:07   #45
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Re: Sailing Beaufort to Miami -> Bahamas

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I hope this works....

I have attached a screen shot of the Florida coastline showing the location of the Gulf Stream. More importantly, the screen shot shows a " reverse" current going in a southerly direction along the coast of Florida.

In case it does not work you can find it here: a website I use is: "Mike's Weather Page", which has this screen shot plus several other weather related screens.

Additionally, there is another website I use, called " Windy.com" which depicts wind direction and strength.

Finally, I would like to add my own experience in doing this trip down (and up) the coast on numerous occasions.
First, is that beneficial " reverse" current (if you are headed south), which can carry on past Cape Canaveral.
Secondly, I have found that, at night, day time wind strength and direction often eases, becomes quite calm and even changes direction, flowing from land to sea, ie, a nice westerly land breeze.

NOAA weather forecasts are often generic in their forecast, and I have found that weather in that first 5 miles offshore are more often than not, very localized. It is not unusual to find relative calm until 8 am in the morning or so, as the seabreeze battles the land breeze for dominance.

As the day progresses, wind speed will typically pick up, peaking around 4 pm or so, but after sunset, it will start to die down again. By midnight, more often than not, there is no wind, before the land breeze kicks in.

One must factor in all these benefits going offshore. There is no guide book or other directional wisdom, it comes from experience.
Folks that have done this trip have likely encountered the same pattern as me.

For all these reasons, plus several others, going offshore on a southerly voyage, is my preferred route. Simple, quick and enjoyable

Finally, for me, there is something magical about sailing at night. From land, ie, the ICW, you can see next to no stars, but at sea, the heavens explode and gives one time to ponder the many wondrous things that planet earth provides for the seafarer.
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