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Old 09-11-2012, 05:17   #1
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Chesapeake South in December?

The boat work is taking way too long and we will be stuck in Chesapeake Bay until mid December most likely.

Our plan was to leave by now and head from Norfolk to Bermuda, and then down to the Lesser Antilles.
What are the experiences and thoughts of others here on taking that route in December?

The alternative is to coast hop down to Florida and then Bahamas etc.
Getting around Hatteras and the Gulf Stream looks to be a potential nightmare, so experiences and thoughts are welcome here too, also good stopovers down the coast.

We can't get under the bridges and have a 6'6" draft so the ICW isn't an option.

Vic
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:56   #2
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

on the bright side at least you won't have to worry about late season hurricanes!

i haven't done that trip,so can only offer sage advice!
your best bet is still going via bermuda,but timing the 670 mile passage is critical,be prepared to motor like hell across the gulf stream,between two weather systems which for you should be a 4 day passage.

once in bermuda the weather is a lot warmer,wait for a period of lighter trade winds,every day will get warmer on your passage south,expect 20- 25 knot ne on the nose,be prepared to motor sail,untill you can ease off and point for st martin or antigua.

going south along the coast,you are very vunerable to winter northers,with few places of refuge,in wind against current and massive waves is not the best option,once in the bahamas you have a 800 mile slog direct to windward ,which translates to basically motorsailing all the way to the windward islands.

my opinion!
hopefully other snowbirds will chime in that have done both routes!
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:32   #3
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

Hi Alex,
Thanks for that. Sage advice indeed.

But something I'm missing here... if I'm heading south, wouldn't the NE wind be a help?

Vic
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:48   #4
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

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Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
Hi Alex,
Thanks for that. Sage advice indeed.

But something I'm missing here... if I'm heading south, wouldn't the NE wind be a help?

Vic
you are heading south in lattitude,but mostly east south east in direction!

the windward islands are about 1100 miles to windward of your current location,
going to bermuda give's a better angle to tackle the north east to east winds when heading east,also you may get sw winds with a passing low

also along the coast you will get land effect,where the wind blows up the coast or down the coast,ocean weather and the true prevailing winds you will only find after 100 miles off shore.
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Old 09-11-2012, 13:28   #5
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

worth having a look at these pilot charts for the north atlantic.
to bermuda your prevailing winds are mostly from the west, then from the east, for the passage south from bermuda.,and very little contary current.
giving a run to bermuda,then a beam to close reach to the antillies.

Atlas of Pilot Charts for the Major Oceans of the World
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Old 09-11-2012, 16:39   #6
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

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worth having a look at these pilot charts for the north atlantic.
to bermuda your prevailing winds are mostly from the west, then from the east, for the passage south from bermuda.,and very little contary current.
giving a run to bermuda,then a beam to close reach to the antillies.

Atlas of Pilot Charts for the Major Oceans of the World
Thanks Alex, That's a great resource

Vic
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Old 09-11-2012, 17:45   #7
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

no worries mate,it would be nice if someone that has done either or both the passages in december, and could add their view for a bit of first hand knowledge.
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Old 09-11-2012, 18:52   #8
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Atoll has done good. Get east but you don't want nastys as you approach the stream. Weather routing would be worth looking at. I would have several plans. Weather is clear jump and get east fast. Fall back to Bermuda if route/ weather patern is looking like it could be an out. Go south inside and plan for a lot of motoring.
Check yes I did this late November straight to virgin gorda. Got clobbered. We did not apply any of the above advice. Nor easter against the stream is bad. Hang on for days surfing fun yahoo holey **** bad /maybe fun . Except when I thought I sure hope crazy swede is laying against the wheel and we don't broach. Or god damn crazy swede is he letting out more jib. I truly thought I had no need to sail again. I had done sailing in every way and really felt that I should find something new to invigorate the endorphins. You just think well done that, and man swimming in warm clear water I just haven't done that enough.
Keep options open.
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:43   #9
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

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no worries mate,it would be nice if someone that has done either or both the passages in december, and could add their view for a bit of first hand knowledge.
erstarzinger?
Erstarzinger? sounds like an Austrian cocktail
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:46   #10
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

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Atoll has done good. Get east but you don't want nastys as you approach the stream. Weather routing would be worth looking at. I would have several plans. Weather is clear jump and get east fast. Fall back to Bermuda if route/ weather patern is looking like it could be an out. Go south inside and plan for a lot of motoring.
Check yes I did this late November straight to virgin gorda. Got clobbered. We did not apply any of the above advice. Nor easter against the stream is bad. Hang on for days surfing fun yahoo holey **** bad /maybe fun . Except when I thought I sure hope crazy swede is laying against the wheel and we don't broach. Or god damn crazy swede is he letting out more jib. I truly thought I had no need to sail again. I had done sailing in every way and really felt that I should find something new to invigorate the endorphins. You just think well done that, and man swimming in warm clear water I just haven't done that enough.
Keep options open.
Thanks..... I think!

Current thinking is to get to Norfolk, and then watch for a weather window to get across the Gulf Stream and hopefully to Bermuda before we get any bad weather from the north.

Take a breather there and then head south.

Vic
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:57   #11
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That's it think Bermuda but if its all good keep going. Use good weather when you have it.
I need add that I did this over 18 years back. Weather reporting was not as good and the owner captain was damn this we go.
I do think though you have more then one way to get their. So have options not expectations.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:09   #12
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

bear in mind also when leaving bermuda,about the third week of december you get the "xmas winds" which are a period of reinforced trade winds and can blow at 30+knots untill the trades get established,last for about 10 days as the azores high re-establishes it self.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:17   #13
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

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Erstarzinger? sounds like an Austrian cocktail
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my bad spelling...estarzinger!

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Old 10-11-2012, 07:19   #14
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

I did that trip last year, departed Norfolk on December 8th and arrived in St. Martin on the 16th. Initially I had planned on going to Bermuda but the weather wasn't good for that. Crossing the Gulf Stream was easy and once across the waters warmed up and the sail was a lot easier than the morning frosts we had prior to departure!

We used the SSB "Southbound II" network to get Herb's weather enroute but basically went straight for St. Martin insofar as the winds allowed us to make easting. The winds never went below 20kn and the seas were big (but not breaking) so the trip was pretty fast but rather uncomfortable.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:36   #15
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Re: Chesapeake South in December?

Vic,

Lots of numbers and directions being tossed about, some rather cavalierly IMHO.

Bermuda is in the same longitude as St. Thomas (65W) and is only 630nm ESE of the Chesapeake Bay. Pick your weather carefully while waiting in Norfolk or Little Creek. It took us 4.5 days.

Once in Bermuda you have more options. Wait for weather. Sail due south to the BVI or St. Thomas if you like (took us 5.5 days). From the BVI, St. Martin is an overnite trip across the Anegada Passage...about 100 nm.

Or, if the weather is right and you feel like it, head a little further East directly for the Leeward Is. instead of making landfall in the Virgins.

December should be fine, so long as you're very careful to watch the weather and -- as others have said -- get across the Gulf Stream fast.

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