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Old 18-09-2009, 08:01   #1
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Brunswick, GA to Mobile

I'm buying a '94 Hunter Legend 37.5 in Brunswick, GA, and need to get her to Mobile, Alabama. My choices are trucking her overland (booring) or sailing down the ICW to Miami, then back up the west coast (much more fun)

I'm thinking of breaking the trip up into 3 legs - Brunswick to Miami, Miami to Clearwater, Clearwater to Mobile. How much time do I realistically need to plan for each leg of the trip? I'm new to cruising, so I have no idea how far you can comfortably expect to travel per day.

Any trip advice and things to look out for would also be appreciated!

Lee Scott
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Old 18-09-2009, 09:01   #2
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There are lots and lots of threads on ICW travel so do some searching and you will find everything you could possibly need to know.
I did the trip from Jacksonville, FL to West Palm Beach last spring and a cruising guide to FL that covered the whole trip was quite helpful in finding places to anchor, get fuel, food, etc. I can't recall the name, but it was a whitepaperback ~1.5" thick. You can find it at any retail marine store.
Here is a summary of each days run we made.
St. Augustine - New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach - Titusville
Titusville - Vero Beach
Vero - Ft. Pierce
Ft. Pierce - West Palm
The ICW can be pretty challenging to sail unless it is downwind due to the amount of winding you have to do, so plan on lots of motoring.
We anchored out each night, but there are plenty of marinas along the way if you prefer to be tied to a dock at night.
Good Luck,
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Old 18-09-2009, 10:53   #3
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There are a lot of variables including the amount of daylight, whether you are planning on sailing inside (on the ICW) or outside (the Atlantic or Gulf), the weather, availability of anchorages and/or marinas, number of crew, breakdowns, waiting for bridges etc. But in general, if you are motoring up the ICW, you can probably plan to make 50 to 80 miles a day assuming you can motor at about 7 knots and you are stopping at night.

I can't tell you much about the trip to Miami and only a little about the trip from Miami to Clearwater, but for the leg from Clearwater to Mobile you will need at least seven days and two or three weeks would be better. You could probably sail/motor directly from Clearwater to Mobile in about 3-4 days assuming you motored any time boatspeed dropped below 5 knots, but it sounds like you are more interested in doing day hops.

From Clearwater to Carabelle there is no ICW. You have two choices, either one of which takes you out on the Gulf. You can either go overnight from Clearwater to Dog Island/Carabelle (about 24 to 30 hours - anchorage at Dog Island, marina at Carabelle), or you can make a series of 50 to 80 mile hops along the coast. The first hop is from Clearwater to somewhere near Port Inglis (the best spot to anchor here for a quick over night stop is probably the unfinished Cross Florida Barge Canal), then to the Steinhatchee, then to Carabelle/Dog Island.

From Carabelle/Dog Island you can take the ICW to Port St. Joe (assuming your mast height is less the 65'). Your mast height will prohibit you from going all the way up the ICW to Pensacola because of 50' bridges just east of Panama City and beween Ft. Walton and Pensacola. You will have to go outside at Port St. Joe and come back in at Pensacola.

At Port St. Joe you will have to go back out on the Gulf to Panama City (a short 25 mile hop) for the night (good anchorages and marinas), then outside to Destin ( 50 miles from PC).

You can go into Destin Harbor and anchor or get a slip, but cannot continue onto the Choctawhatchee because of the 50' bridge across the entrance. Be very careful going into the Destin pass. Try to get there with plenty of daylight, and preferably some sun so you can see the shoals. Call someone on the VHF and ask for local knowledge. This pass shoals regularly and is often dredged so the deep water could be anywhere. Sometimes is it ouside the markers!

From Destin it is another day (50 miles) on the Gulf to Pensacola where you can rejoin the ICW. From Pensacola, you can travel up the ICW (assuming your mast height is less than 65') to Mobile Bay taking either one really long day or two shorter days. Lots of great anchorages (and marinas of course) along here. Lulu's Homeport is about halfway and makes for an easy way to break it up.

In any event, it is a great trip and you will have a wonderful time, just watch the weather and leave yourself as much time as possible. Trying to stick to a fixed schedule on a sailboat is one of the biggest reasons people get trouble. At a minimum, it will convert a great trip into a miserable trip. Worst case it can be a disaster. Take as much time as you can, go when the weather is right, and be prepared to leave the boat somewhere if the weather turns nasty. You can always come back and pick it up and continue on your trip.

Claireborne Young publishes cruising guides to all the areas you are considering going and would probably help.

Also, try googling "cruising the great loop". Loopers cover this exact route you are planning on doing (although usually in the other direction) and you should be able to get lots of information from them.

Have a great trip and enjoy your new boat!
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Old 18-09-2009, 13:18   #4
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We leave Jacksonville in front of a northern storm. We reef the main, and throw out a wee bit of headsail, and get to Miami in a hurry. We make from Mayport to Miami in 40 hours. 7 days down the ICW. Depends on how much time you have to get her home? Trucking her might be the most reasonable answer, and yes it would be boring, but she would be home with no wear.........i2f
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Old 18-09-2009, 15:21   #5
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I anticipate we would sail outside part of the way, and motor inside part of the way. Once we get to Mobile, the boat will be heading for an inland lake for a few years, so if I don't do the trip now, I won't have the opportunity again for a while. I've always wanted to do this trip, so it would be as much for the experience as it would be just to deliver the boat.

I'm trying to come up with legs that are about a week long, and end up some place that it's actually possible to fly in and out of. Since none of us are retired yet, we still have to work and all that.

It looks like Brunswick to Miami is doable in a week if some sailing can be done outside. Miami to Clearwater, or Ft Myers, I'm not sure how long that would take. I think my mast is too high for the shortcut across Lake Okechobee, so I'd have to go around the keys anyway. If we can plan it right, that leg will be the one where we dilly-dally as much as possible, but we'd still need to be able to do it in 2 weeks max.

Once I get to the Tampa Bay area, I'll be in more familiar waters from there back to Mobile, so I'd probably sail outside as much as possible to make better time.

Time to start studying the charts and reading up!
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