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Old 31-08-2016, 08:04   #1
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Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

Hello everyone!
I sought previous posts on the subject but I wasn't able to find anything, so here we go: I am planning on sailing from Florida to New England on October/November, following the gulf stream up to North Carolina and then probably getting into the ICW. The boat is an Island Packet 27. The leg from Ft Pierce, FL to Beaufort, NC (the off-shore part) should take 4 or 5 days.
Looking at statistics and archive weather, it seems to be fairly safe; the chance of hurricanes is still there, but I plan on having Iridium on board, so I should be able to keep an eye on that. Also, the possibility of deep lows off the north coast creating north-east winds and packing waves in the stream is also considered, so I will keep an eye on that as well.
Does anybody have any experience to share? Is October/November a reasonable window? I am missing something?
Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 31-08-2016, 08:15   #2
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

From Steve Dashew on Atlantic storms:

"there’s nothing more important to the enjoyment and success of your time on the sea than a thorough understanding of weather forecasting and tactics.

While the Atlantic hurricane season is “officially” from June 1 to November 30, the Atlantic basin shows a very peaked season with 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of the minor hurri- cane days, and 96 percent of the intense categories 3, 4 and 5 hurricane days occurring in August through October.
Peak activity is in early to mid-September. Once in a few years a tropical cyclone may occur out of season—primarily in May or December."

Fair winds!
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Old 31-08-2016, 08:45   #3
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

There must be a compelling reason you are planning this trip in October rather than May. You need to state that reason, or most of the responses will be on the order of "wait till next year".

If there is no compelling reason for this time frame, my response is, "wait till next year".

John
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Old 31-08-2016, 10:34   #4
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

Quote:
Originally Posted by tegarri View Post
Hello everyone!
I sought previous posts on the subject but I wasn't able to find anything, so here we go: I am planning on sailing from Florida to New England on October/November, following the gulf stream up to North Carolina and then probably getting into the ICW. The boat is an Island Packet 27. The leg from Ft Pierce, FL to Beaufort, NC (the off-shore part) should take 4 or 5 days.
Looking at statistics and archive weather, it seems to be fairly safe; the chance of hurricanes is still there, but I plan on having Iridium on board, so I should be able to keep an eye on that. Also, the possibility of deep lows off the north coast creating north-east winds and packing waves in the stream is also considered, so I will keep an eye on that as well.
Does anybody have any experience to share? Is October/November a reasonable window? I am missing something?
Any help is greatly appreciated!
Why are you in a rush to sail to New England in November? Most 27' sailboats are stored, not sailed in the winter in New England. For most of us, New England is best sailed May-October. Why not keep the boat in NC until April and then sail it up? Unless I had to get the boat up to New England this year, I would do that instead.

As far as sailing Ft Pierce to Beaufort, I essentially made the same sail (Ft Worth -> Wilmington) in early March a few years ago. I've sailed across those latitudes in the North Atlantic every October/November for the last few years, sometimes without incident, sometimes with. I have a few pieces of advice:

1. Don't leave Ft Pierce when there is any wind forecast out of the north for the next few days. It'd make for bumpy going in the gulf stream.

2. Don't leave Ft Pierce when there are any tropical depressions threatening that area for the next few days. Aslo, in a 27ft boat, even a potential gale in the forecast would be enough for me to delay.

3. If there is potential trouble brewing 3-4 days out and you're getting restless in Ft Pierce and want to put some miles behind you, make coastal day-hops up the FL coast on good weather days until it looks like the weather is clear for 4 days.

4. Even with an eye on the medium range forecasts, things can change in a hurry. Familiarize yourself with using the Iridium to download and view GRIBs before you leave. If anything pops up on the weather forecast while you're out there, figure out quickly what your plan is e.g. will you run for land (where, exactly -- carry charts for the whole FL, GA and SC coast), or go/stay outside for it?

5. October is different from November. October you're much more likely to get tropical depressions ruining your day, but you probably won't be too cold south of Hatteras. In November, the NC coast is often in the 40s and damp. Dress for it.
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Old 31-08-2016, 11:23   #5
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

Thank you everyone for the good advice. The plan is to leave October 15th, so the chances of tropical storms are low, and the weather up north at the beginning of November won't be (at least statistically) that cold.
Yeah, it's a lot of statistics, let's see how things turn out. ICW is almost always an option.
Cheers!
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:11   #6
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

Consider hiring a weather router--reasonably priced. Commander's Weather has been great for my. Atlantic Coastal trips
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:08   #7
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

You do realize, that in the big picture it's likely cheaper to have the boat sailed up via a truck, right?
As by big picture, I mean the costs of;
- New/extra clothes for everyone
- ditto on safety gear; both personal, & for the boat.
- Plane tickets, & rental cars at one end or the other. Plus hotels, & other various travel expenses.
- Stocking the boat with; food, supplies, sleeping bags, & spares.
- Charts, various boat consumables, like; oil, fuel, galley gear, an enhanced first aid kit...
- And then of course, there's the wear & tear on; the boat's engine, sails, standing & running rigging. The fasteners & bedding which secure all of the deck gear.
- Also, to be prudent, add a ship's heater/heating system. As well as; Storm sails, a drogue with chainplates for same. Gumby suits. A dodger? Extra tankage? Another house battery?

So even if one is careful, the tally can get pretty big, very, very quickly. As the cost of food alone, for 3 guys, for a month, when working up appetites round the clock, could reach $2k... without much dining out that is.

I'm not trying to discourage you. Simply play Devil's Advocate by presenting a few facts is all.
Heck, barring a run in with something meteorologically nasty, the trip will likely generate some lifelong good memories. And such a trip is on my mind at the moment too

BTW, what do you guys recommend as the top 3 or 5 weather resources for just such a trip?
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Old 01-09-2016, 12:59   #8
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

I personally would not go north of the Chesapeake after October 30, particularly in a small boat. In the fall of 2014, we had ice in the cabin in North Carolina in mid-November!

New England is just in a different climate zone. By mid-November, most boats have been hauled for the winter. Sure, there will be the odd beautiful day, but air temps will be sliding and in general it won't be any fun. Just not worth it, imho.
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Old 01-09-2016, 13:18   #9
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

I think I would have to chime in on the side of 'this is not a great idea.' The cold fronts are something you can deal with, you can stay close enough to shore that you can duck inside if one approaches. But you will have to wait at least 3 days, or else be hard on the wind. The bigger problem is hurricanes, and mid October is hardly out of the woods, in fact, it's just the end of the "peak," starting mid August and ending mid October (have a look here, for a timely story...)

The peak of the hurricane season – why now? | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Unless you have a hurricane plan in place at regular intervals up the coast, you do stand a chance of losing your boat, or worse (assuming you value your life more than your boat). It's not that easy to establish a transient hurricane plan; most of the local options will be taken up by local boats, and you'll be last in line, leaving you quite exposed.

BTW, 4-5 days from Ft Pierce to Beaufort NC is what I might calculate going in the other direction, but you will have the stream and the prevailing winds behind you (almost any time of year) and you'll move along more quickly than that, under most conditions.

Can you make it? Yes. But why is it necessary? As others have pointed out, you might be better off shipping it. If you just want the adventure, wait until spring. That's my 2 cents, as someone who's been through a fair number of hurricane seasons, and sailed that route and seen how unforgiving it can be when the weather turns ugly.

Pete
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Old 01-09-2016, 13:27   #10
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Re: Sailing east coast northbound in October/November

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
BTW, what do you guys recommend as the top 3 or 5 weather resources for just such a trip?
On the web, passageweather; or, with internet access, use a tool that downloads and displays GRIBs -- there are many.

At sea, the twice daily weatherfax.
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