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Old 17-01-2013, 19:06   #1
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Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

You dont see much information on the web about folks making passages from the Chesapeake to the Abacos in the spring. We are planning a 10 week cruise starting May 1st to the Abacos and possibly returing via Bermuda to be back in the Chesapeake around the 4th of July.

the boat: completely refit Beneteau First 35, with Hydrovane self steering, raymarine wheel pilot, radar, storm sails, life raft, sat phone, loaded with provisions and emergency equipment and supplies, new diesel engine, new main sail, storm trysail, and storm jib on a removable inner forestay.

the crew: Myself and my wife, experience- two round trip passages chesapeake to Bermuda in may\june. I am a life long sailor and have done 95% of the refit work on all my boats over the years. also skippered a Morgan 30 from Stuart Fl to the Chesapeake in May.

the planned route: down the chesapeake to little creek for final fuel and internet fix, weather etc. depart bay, work south to Outer Banks\Hatteras, go SE to cross the stream and then head straight for Man-o-war Cay. Spend 2-3 weeks in the sea of abacos and then head back out , rhumb line to Bermuda, spend 2-3 weeks there and then back to the Chesapeake- rhumb line toward hatteras then WNW to chesapeake.

Are we crazy or is this an ideal little cruise to paradise and back at the best time of year to do it ? should we skip bermuda and spend more time in the Abacos and then return home directly ?
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Old 28-01-2013, 19:05   #2
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

no one has a comment or response ? not even my spelling of Key in the title and Cay in the post ? It seems they might be interchangeable, according to many dictionarys and web discussion boards, let alone the pronunciation.

my reading of the guides indicates North Man-o-War Cay inlet is the most reliable safe passage in and out.

looking at the pilot charts, it looks like we might feel the easterly tradewinds below 30 deg N Lat. So leaving hatteras and gulf stream on a stb tack in the prevailing SW winds, and continueing SE untill the we get some easterly wind and then take a port tack into the Abacos .... of course you cant bet on the prevailing winds all the time.

Is this going to be a close hauled healed to the gunnel sail all the way ?
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Old 29-01-2013, 02:34   #3
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

Good day.

I've "commuted" from the Chesapeake to Abaco a handful of times. I don't take much issue at all with your plan as described.

I tend to stay a bit east of the rhumb line to get easting early. North Man-O-War cut is fine but please only run it in daylight. I've sat hove to waiting for good light a couple of times and that is time well spent.

Alternatively you can land at Green Turtle Cay. Regardless C&I will be easy at GTC or Marsh Harbour.

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Originally Posted by Anduril View Post
the boat: completely refit Beneteau First 35, with Hydrovane self steering, raymarine wheel pilot, radar, storm sails, life raft, sat phone, loaded with provisions and emergency equipment and supplies, new diesel engine, new main sail, storm trysail, and storm jib on a removable inner forestay.
Nothing for weather updates underway? I strongly suggest a small shortwave radio and free software like JVCOMM32. You can get synoptic charts over weather fax and listen to the Waterway Net and USCG voice weather forecasts. Once in the Bahamas you can listen to the BASRA HF net in the mornings even when out of range of the cruiser's net.

I periodically present a webinar at Seven Seas U called Offshore to the Bahamas.
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Old 04-02-2013, 18:47   #4
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

Thanks for the response. I do have a Sony ICF-SW7600GR SW radio. I'll look into the JVCOMM32 software, and how to connect to my laptop.

I will have a sat phone on board, so I can call up the offshore buoy weather forecasts.

I've also joined SSCA so will look for your webinars.

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Old 05-02-2013, 05:27   #5
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

You can get JVCOMM32 here: JVComm32 - Download page . It's free.

The biggest issue people have is the $5 audio cable between the radio and the laptop. The laptop end should be a mono plug. Your SW radio probably has a stereo headphone jack (because of the broadcast FM capability). Get a 1/8" male mono to 1/8" male mono and a 1/8" female mono to 1/8" male stereo. All available at Radio Shack.

I missed that your autopilot is a wheel pilot. If the seas are up or even if you haven't done a good job balancing the sail forces the wheel pilot may be overpowered and you'll end up hand steering for a while. Put some effort into balancing the sails and watch the weather before you leave Little Creek to be sure the seas haven't piled up too badly.

In Little Creek I use Vinings Landing Marina for fuel, water, a shower and Internet for weather before heading offshore. Vinings Landing is the last marina on the left in Little Creek, just before the bridge you can't fit under anyway. *grin* Aside from really nice staff I use Vinings Landing because it is the shortest walk to a grocery and West Marine.
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Old 05-02-2013, 19:07   #6
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

Thanks for the tip about the laptop cable and marina in Little Creek. I may not have mentioned but I have installed (last summer) a Hydrovane Self steering system. Trial runs so far show that it works pretty well, and looks pretty robust. On our trip to Bermuda in 2011, we did a lot of hand steering, the wheel pilot couldn't keep up and the noise was annoying.

Any tips on a watch schedule for two people ? 6 on 6 off during the day, 4 on\off at night ?
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Old 07-02-2013, 15:36   #7
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

Watch schedules are very personal. In my opinion rest time is more important than "up" time. 4 x 4 around the clock works for me but may not for you. Can you sleep in daylight to catch up? How long does it take you to fall asleep? Are you an your mate both "night" people or "morning" people or are you on different body clocks?
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Old 07-02-2013, 17:02   #8
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

I guess we'll just have to figure out what works.

Our trip plans have been shortened somewhat. I cant get away from my job for more than 6 weeks without taking a Leave of Absense with no guarantee of a job when I return. So it looks like an out and back either to Bermuda similar to our May 2011 or go for the Abacos. Depart Chesapeake May 15, depart paradise June 10. allowing 10 days water sailing">blue water sailing to get back and 3 days to work our way leisurely up and down the bay.

Any significant weather delay could upset this plan. Bermuda is a little shorter and would likely have more favorable wind directions.

what do you think?
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Old 07-02-2013, 17:24   #9
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

For me it is too much sailing too far away with too little time to enjoy cruising at the other end, but obviously that is a personal preference. In May you will still have some cold fronts sweeping down off the coast and one of those against the Gulf Stream can be unpleasant, so your plans could get upset at the last moment. When I have been coming the other way in May I found I could just get a weather window from Bermuda back to the U.S. in-between systems, but the timing was tight. With your new 6-week window I would vote for doing Bermuda, but have you ever done Maine in the summer? It is a great run from the Chessy up to Block Island and then do some of the islands before heading offshore from Provincetown up to Penobscot Bay, cruising Maine for a few weeks before beginning to work your way south again.
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Old 11-02-2013, 19:28   #10
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

well, six weeks plus a day or three is all I have. I can shift my start time by a week or so if the ocean is closed, though. I'm lucky to have an understanding employer from that respect. If I work over to the west and start back near the gulf stream, the trip home will be quicker. Just need to be realistic about the weather and making departure decisions. I'm starting to think I'll connect with a weather router for advice ... any recommendations?
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Old 28-04-2013, 16:08   #11
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

Decided to bag the trip for 2013. My companies policies changed so I can only get 5 weeks this year. Waiting for 2014 and I can save up 4 weeks of leave. Still getting ready though. I'm completing the installation of an inner forestay for a storm jib, a whisker pole system at the mast, a new mainsail\boom and mast pulpit.

I'm now considering a Si Tex Nav-fax 200 HF receiver. Does anyone have experience with this gear ?
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:13   #12
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Re: Chesapeake to Man-o-War Key May 2013

It may be interesting to know that we made this trip almost as planned in May-July 2014. With additional saved vacation we could now go for 10 weeks. After an additional year of boat preps, maintenance and upgrades - HF Fax and AIS primarily, we were ready to go.

The first week of May brought a change in the weather bring SW to W winds into the entire forecast and we left on May 6th. Departed the Bay on May 9th. After a blustery GS crossing we changed our destination to Bermuda, SW winds and waves made going south too slow and bouncy. We arrived in BM May 15th. We stayed in BM until June 1, enjoying some of our favorite areas and exploring others ( St Georges, Spanish Point, Castle Rhodes ).

We left BM in a squall, with winds out of the NE and had a fast run with the wind behind us down to 30 deg N, where we started to pick up some gentle trade winds which went southerly but allowed us to sail most of the way in. Coming in Man-of-Way Cay North on June 7, and getting into Marsh Harbor, also in a squall that afternoon. We spent all of June cruising the Abacos. Marsh Harbor to Little Harbor to Grand Cay and back to Great Guana.

We waited for TD 1\Hurricane Arthur to start its exit to the NE and left Guana Cay for home on July 3. We had a fast run mostly due North, (broad Reach\wing-wing ), converging with the GS at dawn on July 8 and at the Ches Bay Bridge Tunnel at dawn on July 9. We continued up the bay all the way to Solomons, and then home to Kent Island on June 10.

In retrospect, to make the Abaco’s in the first hop, We should have motored the ICW to Morehead city or Cape Fear and departed from there (as was advised by some). But a stop in Bermuda on either the trip out or the trip back was in the back of my head all along anyway.

10 weeks, may seem like a short time for some to commit the resources required, but 10 weeks is about the most I can muster without quitting my job.

Lessons learned: It is hard to sail south in the ocean into a SW wind, AIS and radar are good things to have, though AIS CPA alerts can be awfully annoying at the mouth of the bay. Extra fuel and fuel filters are good to have, I added 40 gallons of reserve fuel with 5 gallon jugs in BM ( many others were doing the same thing). The Abaco’s are a beautiful and quite easy place to cruise. It wasn’t as remote and deserted as we hoped, but we did find some pretty remote places. Great Guana and Green Turtle ( if you can get into the harbor at New Providence) are the only places to re-provision West of Marsh Harbor. There is next to nothing at Grand (they didn’t even have diesel fuel when we were there) and Walkers Cay is abandoned. There is a marina at Spanish Cay, but it has very poor protection from the south and the store is sparely stocked and very $$. (nice pool though). The zodiac is key to all fun, keep it in good condition and learn how to clean your own OB motor carburetor. We had an inflatable kayak, but never used it. We learned a lot about our own boat, how to pack and store and sleep, and what to take\not take by way of provisions. Organization of all the gear is always a challenge. The tool or part you want always takes an hour to find\uncover because its buried in the locker under a ton of other stuff…. Did I mention an inventory would be a very good thing to have?

You can see our entire route, plus some photos on the SPOT Adventure web site, search "Anduril 2014". I am calling this our Fantastic Voyage and even with the challenges and sometimes uncomfortable offshore sailing, my wife and I want to do it again... possibly deeper south into the "Far Bahamas" or north to Cape Cod and Maine or Newfoundland.

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