Originally Posted by 420sailor
Kstepman, if we started in New England
and sailed down the coast towards Florida
would this be the time to get used to the boat or should we do that before we head
Your first task before buying
your boat is to find out if she is seaworthy
: that her hull
is sound and water
tight, etc. If not, and you do not have the time, money
, or interest in making her seaworthy
, then don't buy the boat.
Let's assume you purchased your boat, your next step is to find out what is wrong and right with her? Your next step is to take her out for a sea trial. You do this in confined, open water. (With a paid membership
to SeaTow, or TowBoat US.)
Make a list of those items on the boat that must work before setting out. Sails
, Ground Tackle, Head, Galley
, etc. if the sails' seams are going to rip apart, you want to have those seams stitched and any tares patched BEFORE heading out. Test you bilge pump
. Does it go on automatically or manually?
When you are satisfied that all the critical systems on the boat have been repaired or replaced. Make certain that you have a good VHF radio
, hopefully with an antenna
up top your main. In case you need a tow. Or the Coast Guard. Be prepared.
When you BOTH are certain that your boat is seaworthy, and you know how she handles in heavy and light wind and wave, only then head out.
Here come the answer to your question, depends on where in New England
you are. Your objective is to initially day sail, from one safe harbor to the next. Rule
of thumb in a boat your size is 5 kts / hr. From where you are, can you day sail to the next safe harbor (with a boatyard and resources). Then the next then the next.
By the time you depart New York
Harbor for Cape May, down the length of New Jersey
you start to run out of convenient safe harbors, and if you started in Connecticut, you are out of sheltered waters, and daytime only sailing.
Once you get to Cape May, NJ, you have an option, to continue sailing down off shore, or make a run up the Delaware Bay, to the canal connecting it to the Chesapeake Bay
. Of you go off shore, down the DelMarVa Peninsula, you completely run out of a safe harbor in an emergency
, until the mouth of the Chesapeake. That's 24 hours. If you cut in to the Canal, you have the option of remaining inland all the way down to Florida on the ICW
. it's more motoring than sailing. But, if your boat needs attention, the Chesapeake Bay is filled with boatyards
and sailmakers, chandleries, cranes, etc from Annapolis
to Deltaville, to Hampton. If you need them. And mike marker 0 for the ICW
is in Hampton. Whether you plan to sail coastal, or the ditch, may I suggest that you initially do not go on the outside around Cape Hatteras and Diamond Shoals, unless you are prepared to stand off shore by 80 miles or more. It's nickname is the Graveyard of the Atlantic. You can use the ICW and jump out again at Beaufort
, NC, South of Hatteras. On this trip, I would suggest that if you go outside, stay near coastal until you gain that confidence in your boats seaworthiness, and your seamanship. Many offshore
cruisers will head directly to the Northern Bahamas
, crossing the Gulf Stream
as it curves off and around Hatteras. Personally, I would wait. Get some more sea time on your boat and you.
So yes. You can work on non-critical repairs
as you sail or motor
down to Florida, if you start off cautiously, making certain that you start with everything working that you are going to need for a safe voyage before you head out.
That brings us to weather
. When are you planning this voyage? I trust not in next week from Maine
. You'll freeze. Instead, target getting to Hampton, VA or Beaufort, NC, by Nov 1 next year. Or find a boat now in S. Florida.
Any off shore sailing must consider the weather
. Pick weather windows of safe sailing. If you go down the ICW, weather becomes less of an issue, but it is still an issue. You need to be able to see the channel markets.
You won't always be able to find an anchorage. So, be prepared to pay for a marina slip for the night. There are anchorage guides to the ICW. Make sure your ground tackle works and your anchor
has good holding.
All down the ICW and the Bahamas, you can easily get by with 100'-120' of anchor line and a good anchor, with 15'-20' of chain. In the Caribbean, plan on 300'.