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Old 24-01-2006, 18:37   #1
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Tampa to Galveston NEED Advice...

Hello to all!

Purchased that Morgan O/I 415 in St. Pete, FL. In about three months planning to sail her from Tampa Bay to a home port in Galvestin, TX. I need any and all support possible. Any idea's on specific months that are best to cross the Gulf? Any tips on Gulf navigation? Weather? Electronics? You name it, I need an answer for it.

Have about two years sailing experience on a 25' in an inland lake and plan on hitting the books hard between now and then!

Will have a crew of 4 including myself and spouse. Both have the same experience. The other two have less experience than we.

Am I completely out of my mind????????? Probably so, but you only live once, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. So please don't be to hard on me. Have a nice life insurance policy to benifit my grown children.....

Will greatly appreciate all the responses.
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Old 25-01-2006, 13:04   #2
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I haven't done it but see no reason why you can't. Read Coast Pilot 5 for starters. Also check the Pilot charts to check up on the prevailing currents for the month of your trip.

I'd think the best months would be April and May, weather's warm, the summer southerlies are more prevalent, but before hurricane season. During the summer is okay, but you want to keep an eye on the tropics. Also summer, aside from the storms is pretty light air, calm hazy mornings and moderate southerly by afternoon most days. Good for boats going west like you.

Your track will take you close to the Miss River delta, considerable ship and oilfield traffic, maybe you should try to pass by during daylight, then you're in oil platform country the rest of the way but you'll get used to it. Don't be afraid to use your radio to identify rigs and traffic if need be. The safety fairways on your chart are for the ships, I'd stay away from them in a sailboat so you don't have to keep wondering if that big ship actually sees you. A radar reflector would be a good investment. On the chart the platforms make it look like there's hardly any place to sail, but they're really very far apart. Take along NOAA chart 11340 with the 1116-A overprint, it gives the USGS block designations that the rigs are numbered after, makes a backup nav aid accurate within the 2-mile size of these blocks.

GPS will get you through, take a hand-held spare as a backup. You can use your depth sounder as a nav aid too, remember the closest land is usually straight down and you'll pass the continental shelf twice.

And when you're near port, remember to find out and switch VHF channels to the local navigation channel.. outside, of course it's 16.

Be flexible and get a good favorable weather forecast before leaving. No guarantee, but puts the odds with you. It's about 650 miles, so if you average say 5 knots, it's about 5 to 6 days.

Hope this of help and enjoy both the planning and the sailing.
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Old 25-01-2006, 13:40   #3
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Another few things I thought of, probably still leaving much out...

Do as much sailing as you can beforehand, on your boat and on friends' boats. Pick their brains, no question is too dumb to ask. Get on some short overnight trips, get out of sight of land and back, think ahead to what you'll need. Try out all your gear, sail changes, man-overboard drills

Check the amount of fuel and water you have/need, carry extra on deck in plastic cans if needed.

Get an inflatable liferaft and a "bail-out" bag with provisions, water, radio, charts. Better safe than sorry.

Do you have radar? If so, it'll make fog navigation less stressful. If not, don't be afraid to anchor and wait it out. Some platforms may not have working fog horns, and a few may be unlighted, even this long after Katrina and Rita.

Hope this of help. Keep reading, learning, and asking.
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Old 26-01-2006, 08:57   #4
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We're planning to depart New Orleans to Corpus Christi mid-February. Coast Pilots 5 is a must and available for free download. Also atlas of Pilot Charts for the Gulf shows what to expect in generalities.

Have been asking anyone who knows about what to expect. Many capped oil rigs which are now often unlighted pipes rising to 30ft above the water. Many people have recommended that we not sail at night due to these and numerous unlighted dolphins/mooring bouys placed by the oil rigs.

A call to the Galveston Yacht Club & marina may lead you to some who've made the trip and would be happy to discuss.

Also, check out the National Data Bouy System website for real-time and historical weather bouy information. For example, here's the link to the W Florida bouy about 100nm WNW of Tampa. http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=42036

GREAT info on sea conditions in the Gulf. Many other bouys along your intended route.

Since you are small enough for the ICW there are several places you could ride the ditch if conditions turn sour. I recommend Skipper Bob's "Cruising the Gulf Coast" book for its detailed information on ICW marinas, etc.

Last but not least, if you stay near-coastal and cross Mississippi Sound on the ICW route be careful of debris from Katrina. I'm told that it's still swirling and is a significant hazard to navigation.

Most importantly - bring lots of your favorite beverage and enjoy the trip!!
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Old 26-01-2006, 09:10   #5
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Green (a first name would be nice...):

Concur on the April/May timeframe with early May optimum since fronts will be mild and few, and Gulf convective activity infrequent.

You'll find the pilot charts at http://pollux.nss.nima.mil/pubs/pubs...html?rid=10499

You'll find the Coast Pilot at http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/coastpilot.htm

Nigel Calder's dated W Caribbean Cruising Guide has a good chapter on Gulf weather conditions, passage planning info and a used copy should only cost a few bucks via Amazon's resellers.

If you feel you lack experience for this run, you might want to consider the longer shorter-hop route and enjoy some of the stops along the way. Much easier to adjust to weather systems but more time, obviously.

Finally, I'd not like to do this run without radar. Give that a good think if heading straight across.

Jack
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Old 26-01-2006, 16:29   #6
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Thanks so much for all who have posted so far....I am printing out and taking your advice very seriously.

Keep the advice coming, for I will need all the help I can get......

I do have a new Raymarine radar with chart plotter, VHF, Raymarine depth, Auto pilot, Asimut electronic compass, Magellan GPS.

Again I cannot thank you enough for some very sound advice and look forward to hearing more.
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Old 30-01-2006, 20:04   #7
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Made the St Pete-Galveston trip in my 36-foot Westerly ketch, mid-June some years ago. Pretty much followed the rhumbline, except for a detour to Grand Isle, La, for fuel and refuge from a tropical depression that popped up in the Bay of Campeche. Actual time spent underway was a week. We had light air on the nose, and an adverse current, I think, for the first four days. Course took us too close to the Mississippi River passes, and we threaded through the oilfields with great trepidation. Fortunately, no fog in June! Next time, I would a) have radar; (b) sail well south of the rhumbline, to avoid the densest areas of platforms as well as the loop current (if in fact that's what it was). Agree mid-April to June 1 is your best bet for weather.
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Old 31-01-2006, 07:56   #8
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That's a good point to mention the Gulf current. The main current originates as does the Gulf Stream in the Yucatan Straits, the Gulf current basically heading N or a bit W of N. It splits as it approaches the Gulf Coast with one side doing a complete counterclockwise circle of the Gulf while the other side does a narrow clockwise circle down FL's W coast. There are both warm and cold eddies which spin off that basic circulation and these are very dynamic, so avoiding them or 'playing' them is all but impossible. However, the main current streams are worth noting on the internet just before departure as their strengths and specific locations wobble about a bit. E.g. when leaving Tampa, you might have to buck the S bound current for a ways before being 'released' but you'll get some of that lost SOA back if you enter the N bound main stream a bit S of your intended course line. As you near the LA/TX coast, you may be able to use the CCW current a bit.

Calder's NW Caribbean Guide does a nice job of discussing all this along with a discussion of seasonal weather patterns. It's so old now that a reseller on Amazon would probably ship it for only a few bucks, if you can't borrow one.

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Old 11-02-2006, 05:47   #9
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If you have the time, then you should consider taking the "coastal" route: Tampa -> Anclote Key -> Appalachicola -> then coastwise on to Texas. The longest leg will be Anclote to Appalach and that is about 140 nm. Might make sense on a new boat with a raw crew.

Limiting your exposure to only 25 to 30 hours really makes planning the weather easier. The Northern Gulf can get fairly nasty when the fronts start barreling through in late winter...big square, messy waves.

If you go coastal from Appalach, the only constraints that you need to watch are bridge clearances..as low as 48' in Fort Walton.

Lot's of beatiful coastal cruising in the area.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:17   #10
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From your posts, I would suspect you are not only unused to the long distance crossings, but also to working and navigating with the radar. From the descriptions above, knowledge and experience with the radar is essential, dont set off until you can navigate back into your own port just using the radar (and somebody on deck using his eyes for safety!) The same is also true about recognising where other ships are going to be a problem (CPA) - again experience with radar is the only way to be able to do this safely.

If you can get somebody else to show you how to plot, and use the beast that would be a bonus. No good having the tools unless you know how to use them, and a radar assisted collision is a frequent phenomenum even today.
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Old 26-05-2006, 08:41   #11
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Say Green - did you ever make the trip? How did it turn out?
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Old 31-05-2006, 06:44   #12
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Have not been able to make the trip yet. Boat is still on the hard waiting for hull to dry for new gel coat........Will I need to wait for fall now for crossing? Boat yard says will be at least another month before ready.
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Old 06-06-2006, 18:20   #13
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As long as there's nothing out there with a name or a number let her dig Capt. Depending on your hight and you stay fairly close in you will have plenty of places to hide if something comes up. We made the trip fom Tampa to Fort Walton in January. Brr! picked our weather so well that we didnt get to sail much summer time would be nice you get a good breeze out of the SW every day starting around lunch and dying off just before dark. gouing west will mostly be a beat and unless your pretty much right on the beach,with in five or ten miles you will have the current on your nose. If you get alot of west current move inshore you can generally get out of it. at leat thats how it works from Appalach to Mobile from there on you have the River to deal with.


hope you have a good trip
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Old 07-06-2006, 10:57   #14
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Hey soul searcher,

Can your 40LRC make it under Destin bridge? Last summer we had to go in at Panama City....

Curtis
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Old 07-06-2006, 11:18   #15
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A new radar, without experience using it, and without sea trials, is only an illusion of safety.

I'd strongly suggest planning to take the boat out for sea trials after everything is installed, spend two days sailing her (either overnight or two full day trips) and then figure you may need to spend two or three long days in repairs, because there's always SOME thing. And of course, it will take you two more days to get parts to you. (OK, in the best case, cell phone from the boat, overnight fedex of parts, second day spend installing them.<G>)

A "new to you" boat can surprise you. Do a careful rigging inspection, and if any cotter pins, etc. have been taped over--remove them and make sure you are inspecting the parts that actually secure things. I had a couple of hours to kill one day, decided to replace some old tape, and found a pin holding a forestay--held in only by the tattered tape. (When I get bored, I've been known to deal with little things like dressing line ends and replace chafing.<G>)

Look for chafe, check your spares, make sure you have fuses, see how the engine reacts after a good long run. Sometimes they're fine for a half hour or hour, but they'll overheat during longer runs. That's all part of why a longer sea trial should be considered essential before making a delivery trip like you plan to make.

What boat yards say, and what they really do...Well, there are some gems but "dollar late and day short" describes all too many of them. Take nothing for granted, and the worst that will happen is that you'll "waste" an extra two days enjoying sea trials on your boat.<G>

If the yard runs late, or we have a bad early storm season, you may be forced to delay. Since you're all novice crew and the boat is both untried and new to you, play it conservatively. If the weather window isn't what you want--postpone. And find out what the proper reefing points are for that boat. If the wind is blowing 10-12 and keeps coming up a knot every hour, remember that at 14? 15? 16? you should already be reefed--and reef early. If you can get polars for the boat, you may be surprised to find out how early you should reef to get the best handling and speed out of her.
It may also seem a bit anal, but don't be afraid to make a "commissioning list" for yourself. Just like a pilot's checklist for take-off and landing, everything from checking the battery water level and charge state, to opening the raw water intake and the other through-hulls. As you go through the list you'll find there's a lot to do on a boat that size, and when you are new to the boat, or relying on new hands, you can be SURE that things weren't forgotten, if you've got a checklist with them.
Got spares? Spare belts, spare oil, spare coolant? Bottled water, in case your tank leaks or gets contaminated? Spare diesel filters, because there may be old stuff in the tanks that won't shake loose until you've been in rough water for three days--but then will clog the filter?
And if you're not familiar with changing the filters and bleeding the diesel, pay someone for the hour to do it with you, in the yard. Depending on the engine you may need new crush washers (you've got those in your spares?) when you do that, too.

SEA TRIALS.<G> Then you can relax and have a good, safe, FUN trip home.
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