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Old 03-05-2009, 16:51   #1
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East Coast FL to Montauk NY

Leaving Ft. Pierce on May 23 '09. Time is limited so plan to run the ocean and hopefully get a nice push from the Gulf Stream. I've been advised to range far offshore from Cape Hatteras. I'd like to talk to anyone who has done this trip...
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Old 03-05-2009, 18:57   #2
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Old 03-05-2009, 19:44   #3
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Old 04-05-2009, 10:57   #4
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Oceansong,

I've only done the trip from Florida around Hatteras once, but at the advice of a friend who's done it a dozen times or so with no problems, here's what we did.

Before departing, I engaged a weather routing service (Commanders Weather). They prepared daily weather briefings for the route and advice on timing. We left the Abacos and entered the Gulf Stream at about Cape Canaveral. All the way up the Gulf Stream, we stayed near the northern wall. I got it's coordinates from the Web and plugged them into my laptop's route planning software. My theory was that the weather intensifies as it moves from west to east across the Stream. Also, if it got really bad, we could bail out to the west and head for an inlet for refuge. We could see lightning storms to the east at night, but never had any where we were.

Nearing Hatteras, the plan was to round it if the weather forecast looked good, or head into Beaufort if not. The weather was good, so we went around Diamond Shoals in about 60-70' of water. It was a great trip and the Stream added up to 4 kts to our speed over ground.

I disagree with the philosophy of giving Hatteras a wide berth, as long as you have a good handle on the weather situation.
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:27   #5
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1000 sea miles, more or less, and "quickly" often can be a conflict even if you have adequate crew (4?) and are prepared for more than moderate weather.

Besides Hatteras, be aware the most of NJ can be a dangerous lee shore with a shallow bottom extending way out beyond where you would expect, so there can be rough water and no chance to run into an inlet for quite a long ways.
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Old 05-05-2009, 19:04   #6
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Thank you both for your reply. I checked the weather information service (Commanders Weather) and I'll consider it. I was also thinking about the new satelite weather/gps systems. I do have a crew of 4 - 5 but time is limited and I'm eager to get the boat to NY so would prefer to keep pushing. Do you get good weather information w/ SSB?
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Old 05-05-2009, 21:16   #7
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Offhand I don't have the URL, but NOAA has a web page that lets you access the historical data from all their sea bouys. This is a bit more detailed than the old pilot charts.<G> You can look at the data from the bouys closest to your route, and get a good idea of what wx has been in that area in past years on the same days or weeks. Which is no guarantee of what you'll get--but a good indicator of what is likely.

If you are familiar with Excel or similar, you can download the data files, sort them, massage them, and pull all sorts of good information out of them. (i.e. average winds, max winds, sea states.)
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:04   #8
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You can get pretty good weather data via SSB and Pactor "modem", but it's going to be limited to text and GRIB files. And you'll need to be able to interpret it. You won't have access to all the graphic-based weather data that you can find on the Internet. If you're not competent in interpreting the weather forecast sources in that area, you can do yourself a disservice by thinking that you'll have the information you'll need.

The advantage of a weather routing service is that they are professional meteorologists, and they will customize their forecast just for you. You can interact with them via SSB email, or even better by Sat phone, and ask questions and discussion alternatives. It's pretty cheap insurance for a passage like that. Rounding Hatteras is nothing to take lightly.

If you make the wrong decision in that area from Hatteras to the southeast, you can really get hammered. A friend of mine spent three days lying ahull a couple of hundred miles SE of Hatteras, taking knock-downs every now and then. It was in early May. He finally limped into Wynah Bay. Two other boats were lost in that storm. All looked fine when he left the Abacos. He didn't use a routing service, just his SSB. He decided to stay east of the Gulf Stream, thinking it would be better out there. It was worse.

I think I paid $300 for my routing service. Cheap insurance.
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Old 06-05-2009, 17:21   #9
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Oceansong1,

I have no idea how your vessel is equipped, nor exactly how much input/advice is polite to contribute......but, I'll try to be polite....
Last year I answered a question very similar to yours, so I'm going to "try" to modify the specifics for you, and past it here....

My personal opinion....
Hiring a weather router is a mistake....
Use your own judgment, based on your own research/knowledge, the current weather, and the forecast weather.....and you'll be much better off, as well as learning a LOT, in the process....


Also, you don't "need" any fancy electronics.....although a depth sounder, boat speed indicator, and GPS are VERY nice, you "can" do this with paper charts, a wristwatch, binoculars, etc......and I'd add a good VHF radio as well.....
But, my thoughts / recommendations are based on your having depth sounder, GPS, VHF Radio, etc......but nothing too exotic....(although a SSB radio is alsoVERY nice to have....)

Your exact course / headings will, of course, ultimately depend on your weather, when departing and along your route.....but here's some general info that may help....

SAIL WITH THE WIND AND WEATHER YOU HAVE.....
AND TRY TO FIND FAVORABLE CURRENTS...
USE THE FOLLOWING INFO FOR PLANNING.....

The pilot charts are very good.....and I advise you to look at them for May/June......
These will give you an accurate general idea, based on historical weather / currents....
My opinion is to use the pilot charts first, before you look for weather routers, etc....
And also prior to searching for computer models, etc...
This will give you some idea of how offshore weather and currents are
affected by weather systems.....

Also NOAA Weather broadcast of VHF will provide updated positions of the
Gulf Stream, which should be helpful, especially while underway.....

Planning weeks in advance can provide a general route, since the weather (primarilywind directions) upon departure and while sailing, will affect your exact route.....
So, here's a general route to follow, assuming you've got favorable winds.....

1) Out of Ft. Pierce, head easterly about 15 - 18 miles....

2) Turn North just east of the 100 fathom line....
And, head for 30* 00' N x approx. 79* 40' to 79* 50' W.......

3) Then turn NNE staying 20 -25 miles east of the 100 fathom line.....
And, head for 31* 30' N x approx. 79* 00' W......

4) Then turning more NE'erly near 32* N, to follow the main axis of the Stream,
as you head for 33* 00' N x approx. 76* 40' to 76' 50' W....
This will keep you far enough off Frying Pan Shoal....

{ Historically / Typically you can count on a 2.5kts+ AVERAGE speed in the main axis of the Gulf Stream, which is usually only 20 - 25 miles wide.....
From South Florida, up to 31* N.... typically flowing almost Northerly,
along 79* 40' W to 79* 20' W, before turning NE'erly......
But, that doesn't mean you will always find it right there....
And North of that it meanders even more.....}

5) Continue NE'erly, following the main axis of the Stream....
And head for 35* 00' N x 74* 40' W....this should keep you far enough off the Cape, but still get a decent push from the Stream.....

{ The fact is that, the Gulf Stream DOES meander around.....
especially North of 30* N......and using its push, is
very advantageous.....but you may find the location of the main axis
(with its 2.5 - 3.5 kts current) hard to predict.....
Currently it is well East of the historic positions, but no way to know exactly where it will be in a few weeks.....
So plotting an exact route/course weeks ahead of time, is difficult.....}

6) As you pass well east of the Cape, and wish to head NNE for Montauk, you should be aware
of the southern current flowing down along the coast, which meets the Stream, just NE of the Cape.....
And near this point, it merges with the Stream, and turns easterly and then ENE'erly.....
But you'll probably want to continue NE'erly.....trying to stay east of your Rhumb Line, until you pass approx. 36* N x 74* W....or possibly even further east.....to 73* W
Then turn North or NNE'erly for your rhumb line to Montauk.....
This should keep you away from the southerly current, and should put you in a favorable current, for the next 200 miles.....(and east of the 100 fathom line, until you near 39* 30' N...)

7) You may find adverse currents the final 100 miles or so.....(although they shouldn't be strong)
And, you should be aware of the WSW setting cross-current as you near Long Island / Montauk, but this also shouldn't be more than 0.5 kts.....


PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL OF THIS, ABOVE, IS APPROXIMATE, SINCE THERE'S NO WAY TO KNOW
WHAT WINDS YOU'LL HAVE WEEKS IN ADVANCE.....


Even without any offshore weather info, you can make a fast and safe near-offshore/coastal passage, getting accurate weather and Gulf Stream forecasts before your departure (use NWS and US Navy forecasts on-line before you leave, and if you don't mind computer model Gulf Stream forecasts, you could use passageweather.com....just be aware that it is COMPUTER-MODELED weather, without human forecast knowledge...)

www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm

And, listening to the NOAA VHF Weather Radio along the way, as they should provide you with adequate weather forecasts for coastal areas from 20nm to 60nm offshore.....

Also, remember, even if you're not equipped with an HF transceiver (Marine or Ham), you can get the offshore forecasts (for areas 60nm - 250nm offshore) broadcast from the USCG on HF, by spending about $100 - $150 on a portable SW receiver with SSB receive capabilities...and you'd also be able to listen to Herb's weather net on 12359 khz every afternoon, and get some real world info....

{ Comparing your boat speed (thru the water) with your GPS SOG (Speed Over Ground), will tell you what current you're in......make note of this, along with your position, every few hours, and you'll be able to tell where the best current is lying.....and of course, then you can determine whether it is faster to sail a rhumb line for your next waypoint / destination, or head out / in for better current.....}

If you get lucky, you may have a 2kts + favorable current most of the way to Hatteras, and probably some decent favorable currents after that.....

I hope this helps...

John
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Old 06-05-2009, 18:27   #10
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Weather Info

Oceansong1,

Two things I left out....

1) In addition to NOAA VHF weather, I mentioned USCG HF Offshore Weather Broadcasts......But, I forgot to include a few direct links....
Although, you can find ALL of these pages by going to the main page at
www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm
You might find it easier to follow these links, and then go to the main page, where you can look around at all the FREE (taxpayer supported) weather info available.....


So, here they are:

For USCG HF (SSB) Weather Broadcast info, times, frequencies....
www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm
It is the Offshore Forecasts that are of interest here.....


For reading these offshore forecasts online, prior to departure....
www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/wrdoffmz.htm
Click on areas of interest....

You can also read the coastal forecasts, online....
www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/usamz.htm
Click on areas of interest.....


2) For a long coastal / near-offshore passage as this, in late May, you'll be able to judge for yourself the weather you need and the weather you need to avoid......
But, remember, if you have a wind more than 15 kts. in the opposite direction of the Gulf Stream (say a North to NE wind), you will see steep / choppy seas.....which can be uncomfortable......


Just wanted to give you the best answer I could....

Fair Winds...

John
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Old 07-05-2009, 19:00   #11
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Hi folks, work gets in the way of these fun things but I'm back. I am open and appreciative of advice, much can go wrong in these long voyages and it's good to hear the many different opinions of people who've been there, so by all means, advice away and do not worry about being polite; I am grateful. I found a friend who will help me with the SSB. The boat is new to me, bought it in the Bahamas then sailed it to Ft. Pierce - doing it in episodes to accomodate work. This will be my last leg, from Ft. Pierce to NY. What are thoughts on obtaining fax on location of the stream just before I leave, such as Jennifer Clark's to ascertain the shifting position of the stream?
Thank you for the volume of information. You've laid out a sort of pilot on the trip. I'm alloting 7 to 10 days total ocean run, hope that's enough.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:52   #12
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Jenifer Clark is a good source of such data. You can also find free Gulf Stream charts produced by the U.S. Navy here and here. Coordinates of the north and south walls can be found here, and you can plot them with your route planning software if you have it.

If you plan to rely solely on your SSB for voice weather forecasts, make sure you listen to them before you go, so you can fully understand what they consist of, and decide if they will work for you. They are broadcast on a schedule, for different zones of coastal and high seas waters.

In my experience, you will not find any specific forecasts for the Gulf Stream, and the Stream makes it's own weather. The NOAA coastal and high seas forecasts are not specific enough. That's why, even though I've spent years studying and learning about offshore and Caribbean weather, I would engage a professional weather routing service for a passage involving the Gulf Stream or a rounding of Cape Hatteras. Jenifer Clark offers such a service, as does Commanders Weather. Or you could use Herb Hilgenberg, who does not charge, although contributions to offset his costs are a way to thank him for his services.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:42   #13
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If you get a weather window (moderate winds without any north in them and certainly not on the backside of an offshore front) you can stage out of Beaufort NC and be in Norfolk in 2-3 days. Last time we did it was in SE's and S's off the Bermuda high just like we have at the moment) we flew a spinnaker 75% of the way in 10 knots of wind. The further out the more northerly current but the more you have to go in and out. Last time going south we were on the red buoys and in sight of Cape.

If the weather does not cooperate go inside at Beaufort and go up the ICW through the NC sounds...they are beautiful.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:45   #14
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Oceansong1,

You asked about making an offshore passage from Ft. Pierce to Montauk, so that's the info I've provided......
I'm hesistant to write in such a "absolute" way, but that's what you asked for and I feel for clarity's sake it's best.....so here goes....



1) WHEN MAKING AN OFFSHORE PASSAGE, YOU WILL SAIL WITH THE WINDS (and weather) THAT YOU HAVE OUT THERE.....
PLAN ON THAT, AND ALL SHOULD BE FINE....

In your specific case.....

IF YOU CAN FIND THE MAIN AXIS OF THE STREAM, THAT'S GREAT.....BUT IF THE WINDS AREN'T COOPERATING, THEN YOU'LL NEED TO MAKE YOUR BEST VMG (to destination), USING WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY.....


2) Read over the pilot charts.....(I cannot stress this enough.....it sounds simple and old fashioned, but it WILL give you a very good understanding of the typical / historic winds, seas, currents.....)


Then, get a feel for the weather, now.....by doing the following 5 things, now.....
AND, then again a day before departure.....


3) Listen to the NOAA VHF weather radio (both prior to departure and enroute)
4) Look over or print out a Gulf Stream Forecast from www,passageweather.com and/or NWS/NOAA
5) Read over the wind forecasts for your passage.....from NWS/NOAA, using the website links I provided earlier.....
6) AND, IF you have an SSB receiver (< $150) listen to the USCG offshore waters forecasts as well.....
7) Assess the forecast winds for you passage, and determine how well you'll be able to sail along the route I posted earlier.....



8 ) Then layout your courses based on the best weather info / Gulf Stream info available.......

9 ) Decide on whether you've got decent weather and favorable winds for your scheduled departure date.....and adjust your departure date if needed....

10 ) Leave Ft. Pierce around 0930 - 1030 EDT on May 23rd, with slack water or a just a slight out going tidal current......assuming you have favorable wind / weather predicted...

11) Listen to NOAA Weather radio enroute (and USCG HF Offshore weather as well, if so equipped), and make the best VMG you can toward
your destination, following as best you can the Stream and favorable winds....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Since your request was for info on your offshore passage from Ft. Pierce to Montauk, that's what I'm advising you on......

There should be NO problem at all in making the trip in 7 - 10 days.....

{If you get lucky, have good winds, and find the main axis of the Stream right away, you "can" make Cape Hatteras in 2 - 2.5 days (from Ft. Pierce).....I know, because I've done it.....
But, don't count on it... }

If you use the info available to your for FREE, both here in these posts and thru NWS/NOAA www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm and also www.passageweather.com and also have a listen to Herb's weather net at 1930z - 2100z daily (before and during your passage)......then there is NO NEED for any other weather router......

Please understand that I adore Herb, on 12359khz.....he's truly a genious and he can be of help to those looking for the "best weather" to get them to their destination, but he is NO substitute for knowing your weather yourself.....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Oceansong1, please understand that if you follow the advice I've written here, and if weather allows, follow the general route I posted eariler and/or follow favorable currents (Gulf Stream, etc.), then that IS what you'd get from a weather router......

Print out your own Gulf Stream forecasts, print-out, or write your own weather forecasts, sail the best VMG you can to your destination (following favorable currents and/or winds) and that's what you get from a weather router.....
And, you've done it yourself....and learned a LOT....


Okay, gotta' go now.....

Take care and fair winds....

John
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:53   #15
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Check in with Herb on and 12alpha SouthboundII each day. He's the offshore sailor's friend.
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