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Old 01-11-2013, 07:07   #1
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From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

I just lucked (hopefully!) into a 45' custom-built Sharpie with gaff-rigged main and yawl-mizzen and plan to bring her up to Cape Breton Island next May from Wicomico River.

I have daysailed several years in a wooden racing sloop, 30', in the 80's, but only recently day-sailed again this summer in a 24' Westwind Paceship sloop. I can sail but am not the world's best at it, though now am interested in becoming skilled over time. I learned more in 2-3 months this summer than in 5 years when much younger, when I used to go out, have a blast every time, and never really paid any attention to anything.

Of course there is no end of advice I might be offered here in terms of what cruising eqpt I need etc. etc. That is somewhat welcome although really most of us have to deal with that sort of thing on our own.

At this point the plan is to go up day-sailing, leaving in early am and finding anchorage in late afternoon before dark, ideally sheltered anchorages with no marinas, people etc. to reduce costs and complexity. A quiet trip up, one day at a time, basically, under sail, using 9.8 hp Tohatsu outboard only if really necessary, ideally not at all.

However, I am very interested in feedback/suggestions on three main issues:

1) Single-handing vs. having crew

2) Finding sheltered anchorages on way up - esp to Nantucket but perhaps also past N up to Maine before crossing Bay of Fundy. Is it possible or is everything on East Coast now too built up? And what is it like on the waters only a few miles off shore during the day in May? Is it packed with trawlers and freighters everywhere all the time or what?

3) Qualities of a Sharpie, albeit these vary from boat to boat and I don't have all details on this one yet (they will come in soon, though). For now I know she is 45' long with optional 5' bowsprit, already cutter-rigged with one boomed staysail, self-tacking, in place, with 300lb metal centre-board and some cement ballast, probably about 1,000 lbs or so but not sure about that. Weight is about 10,000 lbs. Gaff-rigged main and yawl, tender is a 'pusher' which attaches to stern somehow and on which is the motor, so main vessel is not powered legally speaking.
I have read quite a bit about Sharpies though not (yet) sailed one (!). I know they are not recommended for blue-water sailing, albeit larger ones can be modified and this is a larger one with some ballast. But I am wondering if it would be fine - as I suspect - to cross over from Nantucket to Yarmouth if the seas are lower than 3 metres (beam is 10') and wind greater than 15 and less than 30 knots. In theory she should do about 10 knots or so on a beam reach, possibly more, and since the crossing is about 150 knots, it could be done in a long day's sail. In theory. So any stories of large Sharpies in blue water, or crossings to Nova Scotia and typical weather/wave behaviours are welcome.

4) I might also be looking for crew if can't find local person or two or family member or two. I don't have other sailors in immediate circle, just possibles. So if anyone from that area with good sailing experience would like to make the passage up with me to Cape Breton, we could certainly explore that. A lot would depend on personal chemistry for this would not be a commercial relationship.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:55   #2
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For the Maine part find a Taft cruising guide to the Maine coast. Lots of nice places to anchor. Maine to NS in May I would want to have Radar as you can expect fog. Another sailor on board would make it a lot more fun and safer. Fair winds.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:56   #3
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Im at work and can't write much now.

Last year I crossed Delaware to Shelborne in 7 days.

Last two years I have come back from Shelborne across Gulf of Maine.

First thing I would do is go buy Annie Hill's "Voyaging on a Small Income." Not a sharpie, but similar.

PM me if I don't get back to you in a couple of days.
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Old 01-11-2013, 14:01   #4
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Caper, especially with your relative lack of experience, I would not even consider taking such a trip on a 45 foot boat that lacks an auxilliary unless I had crew. I also suspect that your theoretical estimate of performance - '10 knots, possibly more', is a bit optimistic. You don't provide the LWL, but assuming it is 36 feet, your theoretical hull speed would be 1.34 X 6 (the square root of 36), or 8.04 knots. Yes, most boats can exceed their theoretical hull speed, but your description of the rig (and unknown sail condition, etc.) leave some serious doubts that she would sail that fast.

I also think you must be very careful about the conditions to which you subject the boat. Using your figures, assuming the displacement is 10,000 lbs., then with ballast of only 1300 lbs. she has an extremely low ballast to displacement ratio of 13%. She will also likely have very little form stability as the BOA is only 10 feet and, if she is like many Sharpies, the BWL is probably a couple of feet less than that. With what I suspect to be a relatively flat bottom, she will also likely produce some serious pounding when going to windward in any kind chop, or sea.

Is she capable of making such a voyage if one keeps a very careful eye on the weather and reefs the sails early? No doubt. But I would want some real experience on the boat in the more sheltered waters of the Chesapeake before I undertook the voyage. I would also want some experienced crew - and you are fortunate, as Cape Breton has a number of yacht clubs that may assist you in not only route planning, but potential crew members. Having said all of that, once you get her to Cape Breton I have little doubt that she will make a great boat for Lac Brador!

Good luck and keep us posted on your new acquisitioin as well as your plans!

Brad
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Old 01-11-2013, 15:00   #5
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Thanks, all.
Seagull will check into the Taft. As to radar, unless I can pick something like that up for less than $500, it's not an option. I lead a frugal life.

Hpeer, look forward to further communication.

Brad, I will get LWL but suspect it is more like 40 and more when heeled. Am aware of the ballast/blue water issues with Sharpies generally, but not specifically having never sailed one. Also, don't have precise enough info yet on mine (but will in a week or so hopefully).

My experience began with a cruise from Maine to North Carolina on professionally skippered yacht back in 1982, so is a tad more than my description, but that said, this would be a stretch. And THAT said, sailing from one day to the next and not overnight is just a series of day-sails so not that big a deal. AND THAT said, undertaking something that is as stretch is okay as long as you are not fooling yourself that it's a walk in the park.

In terms of speed calcs, the 1.34 is for heavy displacement vessel, not a Sharpie, especially a relatively light one like mine. More like 1.6 I believe, or slightly higher. So 10-11 knots is about right, though of course that is too optimistic for an average speed over several days.

But once up there, will be considering Nantucket - Yarmouth if, once I know her better (and 1-2 weeks in Chesapeake Bay learning her is on the menu), I know how she handles in 15-25 knots, and if there is a nice South / Westerly forecast for 2-3 days with 1-3 metre seas, well, I suspect it wouldn't be such a huge undertaking. (It might even be a blast!)

But it's more like 230 NM not the 150 I posted above, so that changes the timeframe considerably from a long day to a definitely 2-day deal, if not more.

As to pounding, I'll find out, but can put up with anything for a few days. The prevailing winds then should minimize that sort of tack but you never know. Also, when heeled, there is the chine effect. The pounding happens more when anchored, I have read. It can be quite irritating, I am sure. Have to find out if this one is truly flat-bottomed, but suspect it is given it's an (experienced) amateur build.

Naturally would prefer to do this with more experienced sailor on board, but if not, will be prepared to bring her up myself since paying someone else is out of the question.
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:25   #6
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

What's your air draft? See if you can make it under the bridge over the Cape May Canal. 55' I think.

Consider running up the Cheaspeake, through the C&D canal, down the Delaware Bay. That will keep you inside for a while. If you can do the Cape May canal so much the better. If you can't consider Laying in Lewes, DE until you get a good window. Just gettin down the Delaware Bay can be a very long day if tide and wind don't cooperate.

Then you have a run up the Jersey coast. That will be a long day run unless you go into Atlantic City. But that will depend upon the tide. I'm guessing you will have a tough time getting in against the current.

Next is Sandy Hook, where you can anchor. Then time yourself to make Hell Gate with a good tide.

As you work out Long Island Sound you start to loose anchorages on the East end of the island. You might be better running the mainland coast, but others know that better than me. At the East end of the Sound you will once again run into strong currents. fishers Island is a convient anchorage to get through The Race. Then up through the Cape Cod Canal, there are anchorages near Marion, CT along the way.

I would run across Boston Bay to Marble Head or Salem, but I don't know about anchoring there. You will probably have to take a mooring.

Then across to Shelbourne. Make damn sure you take theEast passage around McNutts, you won't make the West side. Up the NS coast is ok, lots of places to stop. You can duck inside through Canso, pretty run. Then over to St. Pete's.

Long trip. Tiring if you are alone.

Where you gonna keep her in CB?
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:51   #7
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Speaking fromMarblehead South we were surprised at how few boats and ships there were, NewYork Harbor excepted, that's just nuts. But still they come up fast and too many power boats have no sense, or so it seems. So you have to be wary. I came down the coast alone this year, CT to Cape May, but was real tired at the end of the trip when I had to deal with the seeming mayhem of Cape May.

Being impatient will get you in trouble if anything does. It's doable, if you don't push too hard. I did think you are over estimating your rate of progress by a lot.

You have the prevailing wind on your side, or should. But I spent two weeks in St Pete's in May/June with stiff NE winds last year.

P.S. We have a big wood lot up in Lower Washabuck!
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Old 02-11-2013, 15:35   #8
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

hpeer, thanks. Lots to digest and research there. This is early days yet, but as it gets closer and I have done more research, would appreciate being able to PM/phone if that's ok?

No doubt I am being ambitious, but that was only in terms of the possible hop from Nan. to Yarm which I probably won't attempt in this boat anyway, rather going up to Maine. If I do this, I estimate it will be 2-4 weeks, probably more like 4.

If I go alone - which would prefer not to - will take it easy in the sense that will only go during daylight hours and leave plenty of time for finding and anchoring, meaning will have to become quite familiar with coast from charts etc.

I assume there is marine radio with local weather forecasts all up the coast.

Did you ever try Tom's Cove?

To start with in CB will keep her in Gabarus, which is near where I live. Later want to have her mainly in Br. D'Or lakes first couple of years, using both as liveaboard and day-sailer there. Hopefully I'll see you one time at your woodlot! And if you know of any private docks with power hookups available at local CB prices, please let me know!

Don't have precise air draft yet but mast is 34 ft so probably around 40; things are kept low because she is a Sharpie.

One rather nice feature the owner-builder told me is that when wind gets too much, he just drops the main and sails on 'jib and jigger' (foresail and mizzen/yawl) and she is perfectly balanced and still very fast. It seems one of the tricks with this sort of light displacement vessel - which generally we are not used to but are more common in Asia for millenia - is that they have to keep moving, i.e. not so good at heaving to, and need nimble play on heavier seas, but if well handled, precisely because they are so light, they can do better than heavier boats in adverse conditions. That said, am under no illusions that will master this vessel in a few days and be able to instantly master all the intricacies involved. But that said, even though primarily got her as affordable liveaboard for Br. D'Or, I must say the sailing characteristics of Sharpies, along with the relatively long size (50' with bowsprit) are intriguing. How often does one come across something mainly purposed for liveaboarding that might also be lightning fast? Intriguing...
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Old 02-11-2013, 16:02   #9
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

I live on the west coast, but read this and other forums a lot (between working on my boat - new hot water heater, new plumbing, general other just plain fun maintenance...).

From what I've read, and from www.activecaptain.com, it seems clear to me that a lot of traditional anchorages between NY and MA, through CT and RI have been replaced with mooring fields. These are NOT free.

Weather along the coast? C'mon, there's always the WX on your VHF!!! I had no clue whether or not you were kidding...

Hundreds of thousands of people have done this trip and many have blogged about it. You should become familiar with reference sources for the ICW, both govt and private/intenet.

If you go thourhg NY harbor, you'll need to research Hell(s) Gate - I used to live there, but only drove over it on the Triboro and Throgs Neck bridges.

There's a parallel thread with some freshman skipper who thinks he can average 10 knots from NYC to FL east coast, and the feedback he's gotten from knowledgeable sailors has been he simply hasn't done his math, 'cuz his projections are half of what would be the bare minimum for the trip. Your approach is wiser, much wiser. If you have a schedule, either do NOT go, or break the trip up into stages, regardless of solo or crew.

You could also Google The Great Loop, which includes many stores of parts of your voyage.

It seems that you are still about to learn about your boat. Regardless of type of propulsion, you will need a solid electrical system unless you're going all lamp oil!

In that case, we don't know what you know or don't about electrical systems. If you don't, you'll need to. You could start here and then buy some books, too. Electrical Systems 101 Electrical Systems 101

Good luck, fair winds (but don't "depend" on them to do what the wind charts say...).
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Old 02-11-2013, 17:07   #10
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Stu,

thanks for reference on the active captain, moorings etc. That is very interesting and just the sort of thing I was concerned about. One of the challenges with researching this sort of thing is that things change rapidly and much of what one reads is out of date. I am sure that once I am out in Chesapeake that owner/seller and others there will have much to say, but prefer to do most research before undertaking the journey.

Similarly viz radio - just wanted to check it was still in operation and that it wasn't assumed everyone was on the internet or something. You never know.

Not intending to go inland waterway. Unless I'm wrong, can't get over to Mass-Maine above NYC inland, no? In any case, would prefer not to motor alot a) because only have 9.8 hp Tohatsu mounted in pusher dinghy on stern, b) because I don't like or like to use motors and c) because I can't afford enough fuel to use them for more than a few hours, either to get to nearest anchorage when becalmed or to help with mooring.

I have no idea as to speed because have no idea what the winds will be like of course. I assume about 5 knots per hour average is low and 10 knots is high so am assuming about 7.5 = 75 per day = about 120 km in about 10 hrs per day. But those are averages so in terms of planning specific anchorages, rather useless. Clearly, therefore, best to have 2 people if not 4 or 6. One thing I am clear about though is that I prefer not to try to impose my will or schedule on Mother Nature in the marine environment and therefore need to be flexible and be able to just let things be. When I do this I will be able to keep going until it is done and, barring unforeseen expenses, will be able to do so. As long as I can find mainly free anchorages on the coast. (If that is no longer possible, then maybe I'll have to find a NS fisherman willing to motor down and motor me back!)

Anyway, thxs for your contribution, much appreciated.

As to electrics, have solar panel and I think 8 6v batteries to run bilge pump and running lights and laptop (with pre-saved charts hopefully). I plan to have hand-held GPS, ideally with chart displays if can afford. Overall approach is to keep things simple and low tech since that fits style and budget. (The vessel was just purchased for $1500. That's my sort of budget! Anything much more and couldn't have been considered.)
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Old 02-11-2013, 17:24   #11
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

That radio business has prompted another beginner question: are there easy/cheap ways to get internet on sailboats these days in coastal areas in the US? I googled this sort of thing but go nowhere in terms of specifics.

Am interested only in terms of having charts, not entertainment, email etc. I don't want to buy 20-30 paper charts for the journey unless absolutely have to.

Going to the Active Captain site and seeing the charts there is what prompted this query...
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Old 02-11-2013, 18:09   #12
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For internet on the coast of Maine Verizon has the best signal and 3G service. An IPad with GPS ( same model has Verizon capability) would allow you to download free or very inexpensive chart plotting apps. I think the Garmin app even include Nova Scotia.
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Old 02-11-2013, 18:25   #13
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Sounds like an interesting boat. Can you post a picture of her?
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Old 02-11-2013, 18:29   #14
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Seagull. Thxs.

Yes, I suspect going with Garmin and just having good charts with GPS is a good way to go.

I must say, that active captain site is informative in terms of what is where. This will help greatly in getting a better feel for what is out there. Has been over 30 years since was in that neck of the woods (East Coast just below NYC where I used to live, albeit as compleat landlubber in 70's), and apart from one quick trip on a sailboat in '81, am entirely unfamiliar with the marine aspect of it.

Can already tell it's going to be much harder than I first thought to find secluded anchorages and perhaps will have to abandon that comfy little visualisation! I was merrily imagining that the coast was largely empty because I can see very view towns on the map.


Where I sail (Gabarus Bay) I am the only sailboat on the water within about 30 miles one way and 50 another, certainly the only one there this year. There used to be over 100 tall ships anchored where I set up my solitary (free) mooring, and 3,000 residents. Now only 75 residents, and no sailboat moorings, albeit a small protected harbour with wharves etc. for 8 lobster boats.

Living in economically impoverished, low population zones, one forgets what the 'real' world can be like!
Pics are at top of thread I think. If not, shall post a couple. I don't have many yet but hopefully will get more soonish.

Will have to learn how to paste in pics. Later.

I couldn't see how to insert pics so uploaded what I have into a new gallery. I believe this is the link but if not it should be with my profile.

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...lbums3375.html
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Old 02-11-2013, 18:36   #15
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Re: From Chesapeake to Cape Breton in May 2014 in a 45' gaff-rigged Sharpie yawl

Went up to Maine last year didn't find to many anchorages although I did manage some as I only draw 27". There were moorings everywhere, people are putting them in so you can't anchor in their back yard and towns are putting them in for revenue. I suggest getting some crew. We did Cape May to Block Island in about 50 hrs.
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