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Old 15-01-2012, 08:55   #1
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Roundtrip Beaufort NC to Martha's Vineyard in a month

Hi all,

I'm considering a trip from Beaufort NC to Martha's Vineyard and back this summer (mid-June to mid-July). I have many questions about this trip -- too many to post here -- so I'll try to stick to the main ones.

  • The trip up is to be a straight shot from Beaufort to MV, hitching a lift from the Gulf Stream.
  • I'm looking to get in touch with someone who has made the trip south from Martha's Vineyard to Beaufort in, say, 2 weeks or less, to get a view of their experience.
  • How's the weather in MV in that time frame? I expect some fog, but "nothing but fog" is a strong deterrent. We do have a radar reflector and a good 15-mile radar.
  • I would like to visit Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute with my kids. Is there a place to anchor or moor in Woods Hole (I would aim to enter/leave near slack-tide). Should I make reservations in advance?
  • Where's a good place to reprovision, rewater, refuel?
  • I've been told Nantucket is very crowded and expensive in this time frame, and was advised to go to MV instead, doing day-trips to Nantucket via the ferry. Good advice?
  • Best approach to MV from offshore?
  • Reeds vs Eldridge?
  • Best cruising guide for this trip?
  • Good places to eat? Must-sees?
  • Are there places I can duck-into on the outside of Long Island, and on the Delmarva Peninsula (we draw just over 6)?
Just a little background:
  • We sail on a weatherly 43' cutter-rigged sloop.
  • We have been to Buzzard's Bay and through Long Island Sound, though on a far more leisurely schedule, and coming up on 8 years ago, and then not to Nantucket, MV or Woods Hole, nor hopping down on the outside (which, I gather from the pilot chart, is against prevailing southwesterlies).
Thanks in advance,
Adrian.
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Old 16-01-2012, 07:03   #2
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Re: Roundtrip Beaufort NC to Martha's Vineyard in a month

Hi Adrian,

We did this trip 3 times with a max transit time of 10 days, so I'll try to answer some of your questions. I'm sure more experienced crowd will join in soon.


The trip up is to be a straight shot from Beaufort to MV, hitching a lift from the Gulf Stream.


Watch the weather well to make sure you don't run into problems off Cape Hatteras. One time it worked better for us to take ICW than wait out a 3-4 day storm with confused seas. Remember, that you're catching the beginning of the hurricane season, so good weather updates might be worth their weight in gold.
  • How's the weather in MV in that time frame? I expect some fog, but "nothing but fog" is a strong deterrent. We do have a radar reflector and a good 15-mile radar.
We did not find fog an issue offshore, and closer to Woods Hole it was there only in the mornings. But every year might be different.

-> For us, the best instrument for sailing New Jersey coast and around Long Island was AIS. There is A LOT of commercial traffic with a lot of badges, tugs, and other ships. At night in a bad weather the radar was not as useful as AIS targets, together with ship names, speed, and destinations. It was off New Jersey coast that we ended up within 1.5 nm of 6 (!) badges in 45 kn winds in the middle of the night. AIS was essential together with VHF ch 13 listening to badges coordinating their moves with each other. We have a transciever and noticed several times as ships altered their coure to steer around us. Very helpful when there is so much commercial traffic.


Note: high-speed ferries travelling at 30+ nk to and from MV and Nantucket don't (or didn't) have AIS, so a good lookout is essential as well.
  • I would like to visit Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute with my kids. Is there a place to anchor or moor in Woods Hole (I would aim to enter/leave near slack-tide). Should I make reservations in advance?
We stopped at Woods Hole at the end of summer, so some nice people let us use their mooring. In the mooring field in the Great Harbour there are 2-3 moorings for rent, but they are first-come, first-serve basis. When you're there, just ask some people who look like they live there. Some people anchor between the mooring field and Woods Hole, but it's rocky there. At lot of boats anchor at Hadley Harbour - very picturesque, crowded, and separated from the institute by a straight with strong tidal currents. You can try to get into Eel Pond, but I don't remember whether it can be reserved, and if so, where. Waterways Guide has the info.
  • Where's a good place to reprovision, rewater, refuel?
Waterways guide should have that info. I think we used Falmouth Harbour, but it was CROWDED.
  • I've been told Nantucket is very crowded and expensive in this time frame, and was advised to go to MV instead, doing day-trips to Nantucket via the ferry. Good advice?
We found both MV and Nantucket to be expensive, but that's to be expected. However, we did find less boats in Nantucket as it's further out than Martha's Vineyard (those that were there, displayed better anchoring techniques than ones at MV ). Maybe it was the timing. We also liked the atmosphere of Nantucket more so than MV's.
  • Best approach to MV from offshore?
We always took the most direct from Cape Haterras/Cape May. Watch weather and tides (especially wind against the tide). Note that south of Long Island at least 25 nm offshore you get confused seas with any storm in the Atlantic.
  • Reeds vs Eldridge?
For us it was Reeds.
  • Best cruising guide for this trip?
For us it was Waterways Guide Northern.
  • Are there places I can duck-into on the outside of Long Island, and on the Delmarva Peninsula (we draw just over 6)?
Possibly Atlantic City or Ocean City (Waterways Guide has that info). We never used them, instead stopped at Cape May - good stop to wait out weather and refuel/rewater.

Once we used Shinnecock Inlet on the south of Long Island to wait out a storm. At 4'9'' we touched the bottom once but turned out we were outside of the channel that changed just recently. The bottom is mud. The channel is tight. Waterways Guide says there is a sand dune just outside of the inlet if you approach straight on. It is there, and you will see the bottom between the waves. Watch out for it as it would be a nasty landing in the waves.


We always found the most uncomfortable sailing outside of the major bays (Chesapeake and Delaware) due to tidal currents against Atlantic swell. Also watch out for small weather systems coming out of the bays.

South of Long Island was the worst - every single time confused waves, forecast exceeded by 15-30 kn wth higher gusts, weather systems stalling or turning around, lots of commercial traffic. Maybe it was our timing

A few notes off the top of my head:
- Don't forget that there is a Labrador current coming down to Cape Hatteras, so your average speed will be lowered until Chesapeake.
- Same current will be just outside Beaufort NC, so need to get further offshore to catch Gulf Stream.
- Fishing on the north wall of Gulf Stream is amazing.
- There are lots of Navy ships doing exercises outside the Chesapeake, so listen to VHF ch 16 warnings.
- Monitoring VHF ch 13 once outside New Jersey and New York coasts will help figure out the traffic movements.
- If you need to wait out a storm, sometimes it's worth going inside. It took us 3 days to do Chesapeake/Delaware (2 days Chesapeake with a break waiting out some storm cells and 12 hours riding the tide at Delaware).
- Fuel/provisioning/rest stops we liked to use: Norfolk, Cape May. Easy to get in and out, lots of marinas, so space not as much of an issue (but call once in cell phone reception range to reserve a spot - Waterways Guide has the numbers).

P.S. We're not affiliated with Waterways Guide, just found it very useful on that stretch of the coast.
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