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Old 23-10-2009, 18:55   #1
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New to offshore cruising...i have a 1981 27' Watkins...I really dont want to take the ICW but not too comfortable heading out 100+ miles across the planning on leaving Lewes, DE either end of november or waiting it out until early in need of some experienced advice, opinion, or suggestions on this passage...
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Old 23-10-2009, 20:14   #2
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I really don't want to take the ICW but not too comfortable heading out 100+ miles across the stream...
The devil you know is not always worse than the one you don't given you don't really know either. Being uncomfortable might be common to both. Lots of big water down the ICW and enough potential in November to make you humble. Chesapeake, Albemarle, and Pamlico are not small water. The chop in high winds is legendary. Winds counter to the Gulf Stream are already known by reputation. If you don't have the offshore experience then you probably are not ready for 24 X 7 operations either. If you don't have crew then you already have a problem.

When you don't have the experience then getting more is best done under the circumstances you can manage on your terms rather than throwing caution to the wind. November and March both share the issue of picking your battles. You can get it wrong either way and pay dearly.

The ICW in November would be easier and it might not be easy. In March it might sure as anything be cold. April is still cool if not cold. The water in November would be warmer. Wet and cold can kill you sure as anything.

You really don't want to get too outside your own experience in March and November. Being in a hurry would be the thing to fear most. Having less experience is not a problem but thinking it does not matter would. Work from what you know and you'll still get a handful of new experience if not real adventure.
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Old 23-10-2009, 20:28   #3
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Old 23-10-2009, 21:02   #4
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My question is why you don't want to take the ICW and what is your destination when you leave Lewes? You mention crossing the stream but if you are just headed south along the coast you will not actually cross the Gulf Stream.

The ICW may be a longer, slower trip but (almost) anywhere, anytime you have a problem you can pull out of the channel and drop a hook until you figure it out or get help. Once you leave Lewes going outside you're committed to the offshore route until you reach Norfolk. Any problems you'll have to deal with on the fly.
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Old 25-10-2009, 13:12   #5
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I lived for 20+ years in Delaware and the winters are not the time to be out on the water. Leaving in March is still cold and breezy. I would head from Lewes up to the C & D Canal and then down the Chesapeake to Norfolk. There are many great and fun places to stop along the way so that any bad weather does not force you to be out in it 24/7.
- - From Norfolk the ICW south can be a pain if you are in a hurry. But if you are not, then again there are fabulous stopping places regularly spaced for an 8 hour motoring day. And you will acquire the knowledge and lore to share with others who have done the "ditch." If I am not in a hurry I like to do the "ditch" just because it is so interesting and there are so many places to stop and have fun.
- - The Chesapeake, the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound can offer some challenging sailing as was mentioned by others. Even the Alligator River has been known to snap at boats.
- - The first real decision point is Beaufort/Morehead City where you can go "outside" and sail the coastline as far south as you wish and the weather permits. Cape Fear/Frying Pan Shoals needs to be crossed just landward of the "R-16" outermost buoy and then you can return to hugging the coastline. I usually make a stop at Charleston as I just love that town. But Georgetown up the Winyah is also a great little stop.
- - I will do almost anything to avoid the ICW through Georgia as you snake every which way but south in that area of the ICW. My next favorite stop is Fernandina Beach/St. Mary's Entrance. Love that little town.
- - From then it is either back outside to hug the coastline as far south into Florida as you wish. Or take the ICW - the mileage is the same - actually a little shorter in the ditch - but - you cannot run the ditch at night and there are the bridges, so the time is significantly longer. But again somehow they managed to space the great stops just the right distance for a day's motoring in the ditch.
- - Going north back to Delaware then going out into the Gulf Stream make sense.
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Old 25-10-2009, 13:23   #6
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Osirissail has it right...stay inside...There is far too much potential trouble offshore, from the weather, either late or early in the year.

Christmas in Charleston would be lovely.

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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