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Old 25-01-2010, 07:55   #1
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Maiden Voyage Offshore, Sailing from St. Augustine - Advice Appreciated

Greetings All!

My husband and I are relatively new to sailing (sailed various boats 16-25ft in ICW with a club for one year; took ASA 101 and 103), have been sailing Hunter 33 for last 2 months, with 3 short offshore sails out of St Augustine Inlet.

We would like to make our first offshore sail from St Augustine to Cumberland Island in March, anchoring overnight in Jacksonville in route.

Any advice, comments?

We are newbies and have 3.5-4 days for the trip.

Also, when is the best time to enter and leave an inlet relative to tides and wind? Do you always enter when tide is coming in and leave as tide is coming out?

Thanks in advance for any and all help.

Sybil


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Old 25-01-2010, 08:30   #2
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St Augustune to Cumberland is an easy 12-14 hour sail, why not do an overnight? Check weather to make sure no Nor'easters. Sailors generally follow the ebb and flood tides because you can get a faster passage in/out of inlet. Avoid situations with strong winds opposite tides at the inlets, the waves can be square and bumpy. If you do choose to anchor, most people stop at Sister's Creek.

Sounds like a fun trip.
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Old 25-01-2010, 08:31   #3
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Sorry I misspelled "St Augustine".
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Old 25-01-2010, 08:45   #4
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My first question is why are you planning to stop at Jacksonville? Unless you have a specific reason I would avoid it. The only good anchorages well inside up near the trout river which means a long trip in and a long trip out. Also the currents there have a pretty bad reputation. If you are going in against the tide, you might only be making a knot or two which will make it a really long trip. I would press on to Cumberland sound. I have easily done that trip during daylight in March. St. Mary's inlet is really well maintained and easy to get into.
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Old 25-01-2010, 08:54   #5
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I also forgot to mention, don't worry too much about the direction of the tide. The timing difference is nt that great between St Augustine and St. Mary's. This trip will take about 12 hours or so. Tides run about 12hurs and 25 minutes between highs or between lows. So if you leave ST. Augustine on an outgoing tide you'll arrive at St. Mary's on an outgoing tide. What you save on one end you pay for on the other. As Wildebeest3 said just watch the weather and try to avoid a wind opposing current situation if you can.
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Old 25-01-2010, 10:17   #6
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Thank you so much for the help!

Thank you so much for the advice Wildebeest3 and Captain Bill. How far off shore should I stay from coast?
Thanks,
Sybil
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Old 25-01-2010, 10:48   #7
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Five miles, or so. Keep enough room to claw off the leeward shore, while still using the land as navigation reference.

Check out the North Florida Cruising Club for any mentoring or great tips. The First COast is a wonderful place to feel like you are cruising, yet still be near home.
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Old 25-01-2010, 10:53   #8
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You don't have to go far off shore on this trip. You can stay just a couple of miles off if it makes you feel more comfortable as this is your first trip offshore. If there is any wind from the easterly half that is kicking up the waves keep in mind that Deeper water is better. Shallow water tends to make the waves higher and steeper. If the weather is good and the wind allows it you can just head directly at St. Mary's from St. Augustine. If there is any sea running from the east I tend to aim at the third marker from the breakwater at St. Mary's. That keeps you in reasonably deep water all the way. If there are no seas running you can head between the first and second set of markers. There is some shallow water (11ft) on this route that can pile up the waves a little if there is a sea running. Do be on the lookout for large ships going in and out of Jacksonville and keep clear of them.

If you want to get out of site of land then you can head a little further off shore. If the wind is from the west sticking closer to shore will keep you in smoother water while allowing you to take advantage of the wind for a faster sail. I recommend at least a mile off shore especially around Nassau Sound. I always stay outside of the 6A nun at Nassau sound.
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Old 25-01-2010, 10:55   #9
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First Coast Sailing has links to all the local clubs. I recommend you come up and meet the good people at the North Florida Crusing Club. Lot's of local knowledge. They have a really good "Offshore Challenge" that might be fun for you.
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Old 25-01-2010, 12:55   #10
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Sybil -
On the other hand -
I think 12 hours is optimistic for your boat. Sea buoy to sea buoy maybe, but you will need a few extra hours to up/down anchor, go in/out the inlets, etc. If you're new to cruising trying to navigate into an unfamiliar anchorage after dark, pick a spot to anchor, and make sure the anchor is down securely can be stressful at best. Hell, it can be stressful even after you've been doing it for years. It's all much easier in daylight, especially if something goes wrong and you have to redo it. In Jax you might consider anchoring north of the Sister's Creek ICW bridge, on the east side of the channel. This gives you a some room to get a bit out of the current, although you still might consider two anchors set up and down current. Leave yourself enough swinging room in case the wind blows you toward shore.
The real drawback to this plan is that it cuts into your time at Cumberland Island, which really deserves two days itself.
As other posters mentioned, the only thing to worry about with tides is to avoid strong winds opposing tidal currents. Normally that's not a worry. When passing through long inlets like Jacksonville or St. Marys having the current with you can make a lot of difference timewise.
Familiarize yourself with the charts for the St. Marys inlet/Kings Bay sub base area. Be prepared to find some differences in the markers. Be very cautious about exploring north of the sub base, I believe there has been shoaling reported.
Otherwise, take your time, relax, and enjoy!
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Old 25-01-2010, 14:22   #11
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Thank you so much for the replies and great detailed information, Wildebeest3, Captain Bill, and FSMike! When you give time frames like 12 hours, how much wind speed are we assuming or is this motoring time?
I will check out First Coast Sailing, and North Florida Crusing Club, Wildebeest3.
Thanks!
Sybil
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Old 25-01-2010, 15:43   #12
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Sybil,

Hope you enjoy Cumberland! Do you already have an idea of where to anchor there? If you have pets and decide to take them with you on the island, you may want to spray them with flea stuff (!) Otherwise, you'll have a heck of a time getting rid of the fleas from your boat, house, pets, etc

Where do you guys sail from in St Augustine? I am at Camachee Cove.

Have fun!

Sailndive
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Old 25-01-2010, 16:30   #13
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Hi Sailndive,
We're sailing out of Camachee Cove, too! We do have a dog but he stays behind at permanent residence (where we work) when we go sailing. We come to St. Augustine to play but don't live there.
I don't have an idea of where to anchor at Cumberland. Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Sybil
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Old 25-01-2010, 16:44   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sybil View Post
When you give time frames like 12 hours, how much wind speed are we assuming or is this motoring time?
Sybil -
When time estimates are given it's all about distance vs. boat speed, whether driven by sail or engine. This is where other people giving advice falls apart. It's time for you guys to drag out the charts, measure the distances, and decide what speed your vessel can maintain in the conditions you will be in. Nobody else can do that for you. Anything the rest of us tell you is all a guess because none of us will be sailing your boat. It will be just the two of you.
You can do it, so study the situation and trust yourselves.
I always aim to get the anchor down before the sun, so we can enjoy a sunset cocktail. Hey, it's cruising not racing.
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Old 25-01-2010, 18:24   #15
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Thanks FSMike,
I've been doing just that. I think we'll anchor at Little Sister's, travel in the daylight hours and have that cocktail. Thanks for the help!
Sybil
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