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Old 07-07-2020, 10:45   #1
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Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Hi everyone! I'm planning on sailing down this weekend from Massachusetts down to Florida.

I'm pondering whether to sail the boat close enough to shore (as to avoid the rough seas of the Gulfstream and being able to anchor or head to port if any damage occurred), or to just go offshore for the whole trip instead (and not have to worry about shallow waters and busy waterways).

Taking the ICW is out of question as I have an electric motor with limited range and that I'd like to finish the trip as quickly as safely possible.

I and the boat are also prepared to face rough weather and easy sailing is not my priority during this particular trip. No windvane, but I have an autopilot to help.

Just wondering what's the route with the best balance between speed and safety.

Any insights? Thanks for your input
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:56   #2
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastien972 View Post
Hi everyone! I'm planning on sailing down this weekend from Massachusetts down to Florida.

I'm pondering whether to sail the boat close enough to shore (as to avoid the rough seas of the Gulfstream and being able to anchor or head to port if any damage occurred), or to just go offshore for the whole trip instead (and not have to worry about shallow waters and busy waterways).

Taking the ICW is out of question as I have an electric motor with limited range and that I'd like to finish the trip as quickly as safely possible.

I and the boat are also prepared to face rough weather and easy sailing is not my priority during this particular trip. No windvane, but I have an autopilot to help.

Just wondering what's the route with the best balance between speed and safety.

Any insights? Thanks for your input
Id stay slightly offshore but not all the way out in the stream but tuck in for Hatteras

Kinda a odd time of year to head south
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Old 07-07-2020, 11:17   #3
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

I sail from NJ to the keys every year. Heading south you want to avoid the Gulf Stream as it is going against you. That being said, there is plenty of room between the coast and the stream most of the way. It is a long run to single hand without stopping. In recent years I have taken to stopping every 3-4 days at places with convenient inlets, usually Beaufort, NC and St Augustine,Fl. From Boston, I would take the canal and probably run straight from Block Island to Ocean City, Md or Cape Charles,VA. South of Fort Pierce, Fl, you are stuck hugging the coast as close as the shoals and boat traffic will allow.
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Old 07-07-2020, 11:53   #4
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

You will arrive in Miami in time for the hurricane season, at this time of the year most boats are heading north...Hurricane plans?
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Old 07-07-2020, 12:09   #5
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

this time of the year you are just as likely to get little to no wind....especially at night, so if you have limited motoring ability, you are going to drift around for a while...a good reason to stay out of the stream....but the stream will be many miles offshore...
there is a weak countercurrent that runs south close to shore along the eastern seaboard.
other than avoiding know hotspots, Cape Hatteras, Fear, etc, staying reasonably close to shore is likely your best bet as you can often get a nice westerly land breeze to help you on your way...reasonable close is loosely defined....but I think 3-5 miles should do the trick..
while hurricane season is just around the corner, peak season does not occur till around Sep.
The Gulf Stream does not get close to shore until you are south of Ft.Pierce...
many places to pull in if so warranted....
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:39   #6
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Why not gunkhole all the way down?

Unless you're on a tight schedule, my friends do this every season in part to get out of the heat and humidity of Florida (and then there's those pesky storms).

They have fun motor/sailing past the Statue of Liberty, up the Chesapeake, visiting Annapolis, and then through Pamlico Sound, Wilmington, Charleston...stopping in Brunswick and St Augustine. Especially with your limited motoring distance, single handing and variable weather...jeez, make it an adventure.
If it kicks up or goes dead calm, you can bail. Hope you have AIS/radar if you plan on doing the overnights.
Just a few thoughts gleaned from friends who don't do the slow crawl down the ICW either, but use it when it's necessary.
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:42   #7
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

I've sailed this area a dozen or more times between Florida's Ponce Inlet and Rhode Island. As has been mentioned, tuck in close around Hatteras. Avoid the Gulf Stream. It will seriously set you back. But do remain well offshore until entering Florida waters.

St. Augustine is a good place to tuck into for a break. But if your intent is to avoid layovers, set the outer limit of Cape Canaveral as a waypoint; then Ft. Pierce and stay close inshore from there south. My feeling: You really should get some sleep before getting in to these near-shore waters.

Good luck.
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:48   #8
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

I would consider getting some good gulf stream mapping every couple of days. Either inside or outside of the gulf stream you may be able to hop eddy to eddy and pickup a couple of extra knots. You definitely don't want to run against the stream nor counter eddy.
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:55   #9
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

When I look at the weather for "this weekend" it looks like a strong SW flow south of Cape Hatteras, or north of it as well, depending on when you are there. This of course is typical of summer but further enhanced by the remnants of a post tropical depression. This also bring significant swells depending on where you are.



Check the Coastal Pilot for a list of the inlets you can easily pull into.
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:24   #10
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

wrong weekend; tropical depression coming up the coast...also you don't mention the boat so as to consider anchoring opportunities
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:34   #11
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastien972 View Post
Hi everyone! I'm planning on sailing down this weekend from Massachusetts down to Florida.

I'm pondering whether to sail the boat close enough to shore (as to avoid the rough seas of the Gulfstream and being able to anchor or head to port if any damage occurred), or to just go offshore for the whole trip instead (and not have to worry about shallow waters and busy waterways).

Taking the ICW is out of question as I have an electric motor with limited range and that I'd like to finish the trip as quickly as safely possible.

I and the boat are also prepared to face rough weather and easy sailing is not my priority during this particular trip. No windvane, but I have an autopilot to help.

Just wondering what's the route with the best balance between speed and safety.

Any insights? Thanks for your input

Gee... you can do anything you want

East of the stream the water is warm , the weather better and very little inshore shipping traffic

West of the stream gives you coast station. Weather , internet and many ports to visit
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:35   #12
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Get a honda generator to charge batteries when needed. Get 3-4 gas cans. Stay west of gulf stream. Tuck in when you start seeing things that aren't there. Your autopilot will need some power as well.
The honda gives you a backup plan if needed. If it only runs 2-3 knots, you will still have steerage. Heck, go to Harbor Freight and get one of their honda competitor generator.

Always better to have and not need than need it and not have. I love redundancy. Having power is having choices.
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:58   #13
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Sebastien,

1) Actually, I'm going to be a bit contrary here....see below (but first, an important point!)



2) Of course, just like hlev00 and MIRELOS mention, "this weekend" isn't the best time to be heading south off the US East Coast....and even if there wasn't a tropical Low off the coast, just the southerly winds would mean you'd be sailing to windward the whole way!



We don't know you, nor your boat, so please take no offense....some will write things like "I and the boat are also prepared to face rough weather and easy sailing is not my priority during this particular trip."....and while they might actually be experienced, etc., and their boat may be well kitted-out for offshore sailing, the reality of a thousand-plus miles offshore to windward might be more than they are actually "prepared" for??


So, Sebastien, please have a look at the weather for this weekend....whether you head offshore, cross the Stream and get into some warm water / warm weather (preferable route); or hug the coastline (long and frustrating route), this weekend weather (and for that matter the weather for the next 6 days or so) isn't really conducive to this voyage...

https://www.weather.gov/marine/offnt1mz

https://www.weather.gov/marine/offnt2mz

https://www.weather.gov/marine/offnt3amz

Now, if you're aware of all of this, and this is a "delivery"....well, go for it! Just make sure you, and especially your boat, are ready for making good headway to windward for > 1000 miles.... (you know some boats just don't make much VMG if closer than 45* - 50* to the True wind...and that is going to mean a LOT of tacking, and not many miles-made-good each day!)





3) Okay, back to #1....answering your question...
My advice is going to be contrary to many others here (based on my experiences and desires....I'm a "warm weather sailor", with lots of offshore / ocean crossings, many windward miles offshore / across the Atlantic, etc...)...


Assuming you have the winds to sail, and/or your boat can make good headway to windward???



I'd head offshore....depending on when you leave and where the Stream position is (is predicted to be), head for approx 69.5*W to 70*W by 38* to 39*N, and then turn South and/or perpendicular to the Stream....once you're across the Stream, take the Rhumbline down to the NE Providence Channel (Hole-in-the-Wall Pass) east of Abaco....then turn West and head for Miami, either via Great Issac light and then across to Miami, or even better, you could head across the Bank and come out by South Riding Rock and then across to Miami (guess you could go out thru Bimini as well, but I think South Riding Rock is the best of the 3 routes)

This route keeps you away from the Stream, and may also put you in some slight (weak) southerly eddys....it also keeps you in warm water (once you cross the Stream up by 69*W to 70*W and 38*-39*N), and pleasant weather....and no shoals to worry about, and once past the main E-W passage lanes little ship traffic...


I know, I know....this doesn't give you any place to "pull-in" and rest....sorry about that, but....but, if you really meant this: ""I and the boat are also prepared to face rough weather and easy sailing is not my priority during this particular trip."....then this is the route that I'd take....


Hope this helps..


fair winds.


John
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:31   #14
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

this is today's image of the Gulf Stream

Goodgle " Mike's weather pages" and you will find it there, plus all sort of other wind speed, direction, information, etc, etc
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:43   #15
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Re: Sailing Boston to Miami single-handed. Hug the coast or cross the Gulfstream?

Sebastien,
In addition to the links to the Offshore Waters forecasts (where you'll of course also find the coastal waters forecast links), I thought maybe everyone would like to just read a few sentences from this morning's synopsis?


As the Mid-Atlantic waters are in the middle of your passage, and once south of there (and after the tropical Low moves off to the Northeast), your weather will be moderating....so, here's the synopsis:

Quote:
1102 AM EDT Wed Jul 8 2020 .SYNOPSIS FOR MID ATLC WATERS...A warm front over the NE waters will move north of the area late today and tonight. A low pressure system currently centered along the South Carolina coast will move slowly NE today, along the North Carolina coast tonight and Thu, and then N near the Mid-Atlantic coast into the weekend. This low will likely become a tropical or subtropical cyclone within the next couple of days. The possible tropical cyclone should be located near the Delmarva coast Fri, should approach the southern New England coast Sat, and then move N of the waters by Sat night. Behind the low, a stationary front is expected to be lingering over the northwest waters, stretching over the Carolinas, for Sunday, with the northern part of the front pushing east over the northern waters as a cold front Sunday night. Mariners should monitor the latest forecasts regarding the low moving along the coast during the rest of the week.
I hope this helps, but unless this is a real "delivery", my advice is to wait a few days for better weather...

John
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