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Old 18-04-2013, 10:50   #1
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The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

I recently bought a neglected Columbia 26 and am currently repairing it. After repairs I think I'll have a safe coastal cruiser. everyone I talk to at the marinia seems to think I need her in voyage condition to get her from the Chesapeake to Florida via the coast. They say my wife and I will probably die if we don't take the ICW. Most of them are bay sailers that spend most thier time in dry dock working on thier boats. They seem afriad to get out to sea in thier own fine boats. I'm a inexperiance sailor. But I grew up in Florida playing hookie on the beach watching people 1/2 mile offsore in sailboats less than 20'. But that much fear in so many people has to come from somewhere. Or maybe it's easy to be afraid of what you don't know. The bay is 200 mles long and many go 30 or 40 years sailing and never leave the bay! Most sailors have the ocean much more accessible and the devilish persona these fine people give the atlantic doesn't exist for them. After a few months practice should I take the safe but slow route down the ICW or fast and furious a mile or so off the east coast?
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Old 18-04-2013, 11:06   #2
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Re: The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

If your boat and rigging is solid, and you watch the weather carefully, no problem. If anything you may consider the inside route to Beaufort, NC, thus avoiding the long haul around Hatteras, the most dangerous stretch by far. The sailboat navigable inlets are few and far between around the cape.
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Old 18-04-2013, 11:12   #3
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Re: The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

If taking a Columbia 26 or similar down the east coast of the US was certain death there would be a lot fewer members on this forum.

I have a friend with a Columbia and it seems pretty well put together. As long as you don't sail out into the teeth of a hurricane and your boat is in reasonably good condition then the risk is minimal. Not as safe as sitting at the dock but not death defying and foolish.

Just a few cautions.

1. Check the weather before you leave. Might look good now but something nasty could be just over the horizon.

2. Make sure the important parts of the boat are in good condition. This includes at a minimum: rigging, steering, sails, through hulls, engine, bilge pumps.

3. Steering includes wheel or tiller and any links all the way to the rudder and the rudder and rudder post itself.

4. Through hulls. Included in this all the hoses that attach to the through hulls and the other end of those hoses on the engine, etc. Make sure all the through hulls open and close easily. Make sure all the hoses are in good condition and clamped (or double clamped) with marine grade, SS clamps.

5. Rigging. Check the wires and the end fittings, probably swage fittings on a Columbia. These require close inspection, maybe worth hiring a pro if you don't have the experience. One fitting that lets go would probably cost you the mast.

That covers some of the basics. Have these covered and take off. Don't forget the charts.
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Old 18-04-2013, 11:27   #4
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Re: The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

See "Cape Hatteras" and "Graveyard of ships" and check out threads about heading north and south inshore versus offshore.

The trip CAN be safely made. But if you have to ask whether your boat (and crew) are capable of the trip, that implies you don't know enough about the trip to be inherently safe making it. Of course the fact that you're asking before you go, says you certainly can plan ahead.

Reliability, weather window, little things will count because once you are out there, there's no convenient place to duck into if things go wrong. And even if there are inlets--you often can't get to or through them safely either.

ICW: long bus ride. Offshore: No risk no profit, right? <G>
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Old 18-04-2013, 11:43   #5
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Re: The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

I agree with sailing the NC sounds and out at Beaufort.

By the way, according to the old phrase it's, "Between the devil and the deep blue sea". ...and the devil is not IN the deep blue sea. In this case "the devil was related to the seam to be caulked near the keel while careening a vessel over for maintenance.
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Old 18-04-2013, 11:51   #6
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Re: The Devil In The Deep Blue Sea

Excellent points from CaptAlex and Hellosailor. Going around Hatteras can be a danger, hence the careful attention to weather. But in this case, taking the ICW is a shorter distance, it cuts off that corner and I think the better option.

Also the caution that once you are on the outside it may be problematic to get back inside is one to keep in mind.

Not to mention the ICW in that area is very scenic.

One last comment, it's not the boat, it's the captain. A good captain might safely make a passage in a so-so boat where a not so good captain might have trouble in the strongest boat ever built.
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