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Old 05-01-2020, 01:28   #1
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Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

I am planning to sail my 2007 (but new to me) Lagoon 420 from North Carolina to the Abacos in November 2020. After Charleston what are the best places to stop before West Palm Beach in terms of easily accessible marinas with good facilities and interesting places to spend say up to a week. As you can see, in my old age, I am looking for a comfortable and easy trip but going outside the ICW weather permitting. I had the mast reduced when I bought the boat, last year, for ICW use and that has worked well for the fixed height 65' bridges ... with caution. I live in North Carolina so it is the area/places South of Charleston I do not know and welcome any advice please? Thank you, Mike.
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Old 05-01-2020, 06:08   #2
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

We grabbed a mooring ball in St Augustine this year and really enjoyed the area. It was an easy two night trip from Charleston.
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Old 05-01-2020, 06:22   #3
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

eweb101 - thanks for that!
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Old 05-01-2020, 07:03   #4
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

Fernandina beach has a number of moorings and a decent entrance.. about 170nm +/- should make this comfortably a 24hr+ passage from Charleston.. ie leaving at first light should see you arriving in daylight.. wait for a front to pass and it will be a good sail.

St Augustine, New Symrna Beach (ponce de leon), FT Pierce inlets are best used in daylight so time your departure & speed to suit (imo)..

If you are going to the Abacos then am not sure why further south in FL is necessary
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Old 05-01-2020, 08:39   #5
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

Hey Mystic38 - thanks for the advice. A couple of NC based experienced sailors I have spoken to have suggested either fort Pierce or West Palm Beach as good
"Jump off" points for West end & Freeport on Grand Bahama. Very recently I spoke to a delivery skipper who actually urged me to go further South to Miami for the jump off - he advised that would give me a benefit of the North going Gulf Stream! I am originally from the UK and my experience is Sailing Wales/Ireland/Scotland in the Irish Sea on a 31' 1978 Westerly Berwick so this (Florida/Bahamas) is an area I have very little experience of ... but the Irish Sea did give me experience of tidal streams of up to 8 knots and tidal ranges of over 15 feet!
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Old 05-01-2020, 11:26   #6
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

I suggest one of the Southern Cruising Guides as a very helpful starting point in planning.
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Old 05-01-2020, 11:57   #7
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

We usually avoided Georgia by sailing outside direct from Charleston to Fernandina Beach which has a good inlet. It took us overnight because we are slow. If you wanted to go inside part of the way Beaufort SC is an nice town and I think Port Royal is a reasonable inlet. You might go outside from Port Royal to Savannah and stay in Thunderbolt. The sounds of Georgia on the ICW were a problem for us because we have a 6' draft and we couldn't get through them in one day. We always enjoyed Jekyll Island but the inlet is not one that is good to do without local knowledge.


From Fernandina, St. Augustine is nice for a stay, but I would definitely not use that inlet, and I don't know how going through Matanzas is now.


We have come helped by the current 90 nm from West End to Ft Pierce (and it is a good inlet) but I would not do it the other way around although others do. You can go outside from Ft Pierce to Miami and leave from the No Name Harbor area - we usually went to Bimini first before we sailed north to Grand Bahama or went across the Banks to the Berry Islands and Nassau.
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Old 05-01-2020, 12:59   #8
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

Quote:
Originally Posted by grandmaR View Post
From Fernandina, St. Augustine is nice for a stay, but I would definitely not use that inlet, and I don't know how going through Matanzas is now.
St Augustine has a fine, straightforward inlet - best during daylight for your first time and a bit choppy on an ebb tide (damn rough with a Nor’easter and large swell). Sailboats cannot transit Matanzas inlet due to shoaling and the low A1A bridge.
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Old 05-01-2020, 14:15   #9
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

St. Simons Sound is well marked and straightforward. A lot of cruisers with tall masts come thru here to Brunswick Landing which is protected and has nice facilities. There are lots of happy hours with free beer and good folks there plus a quaint downtown area.
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Old 05-01-2020, 15:58   #10
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

I've done that route twice (Charleston to West Palm). You didn't say what your draft is, but as you're a cat, I assume less that my 5' 6". You could stop at Hilton Head (various marinas, but I used Skull Creek), at St Simons (Morningstar), or go straight from HHI to Fernandina (Amelia Island Marina is nice), also Camachee Cove near St Augustine is a very nice marina. I do not recommend any marina at Daytona unless it's just overnight, as that is a rough town. New Smyrna Beach City Marina is good, as is Harbortown Fort Pierce. And of course anchoring is an option most places along the way.

There are multiple choices around West Palm. I stayed at Riviera Beach one time, but the current rips through there, so watch the tides. Last time, I started from further north, and then exited the inlet at about 9PM.

Enjoy the Abacos! I hope they are recovering; I want to go back next year, or even this year maybe. By the way, next time I go to the Abacos I'm skipping the coastal / ICW route and going offshore from Cape Fear direct to Abacos.
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Old 05-01-2020, 16:49   #11
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

Oh, and as to jump off point, West Palm to West End Grand Bahama is fine, but starting further south is not a bad idea, and I would not cross from Ft Pierce to West End - you would be fighting the Gulf Stream current, and that is really not a good idea in a sailboat, though I suppose it depends on your horsepower. Last time I went West Palm to the Little Bahama Bank entrance (see Explorer Chartbook), and I was prepared to go to Matanilla Shoal to avoid fighting Gulf Stream current. From there, you can check in at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle (if Green Turtle is doing customs check-ins again). But again, I'm a 36 foot monohull with a 37HP engine, so your boat and engine power may indicate a different approach.
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Old 05-01-2020, 19:50   #12
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

lots of good advice. No need to go further south than Ft. Pierce. From there go to a way point about 10nm north of memory rock around the sound to Green Turtle Key to clear immigration and customs. I live in Florida and have gone to the Abacos many times. The time spent going further south than Ft. Pierce could be about the same as the time to Green Turtle.
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Old 05-01-2020, 21:54   #13
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

There are some ICW bridges with questionable 65' clearance. You can google for comments on which. I have a '99 Fountaine Pajot with a 66 1/2' mast. No ICW for me.
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Old 08-01-2020, 10:28   #14
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

EVERYONE - thank you very much for your help! Mike.
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Old 08-01-2020, 10:44   #15
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Re: Sailing South from Charleston to West Palm Beach

Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach are OK to stop at. There's anchoring available both places, or marinas. I like the little bar/restaurant at Ft Pierce Harbortown. They have music sometimes.
It's a day trip from the Lauderdale area down to Biscayne Bay outside, often a good sail and a good jump off point to the Bahamas from Biscayne.
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