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Old 06-06-2020, 11:18   #1
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Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

The original plan was to leave New York in November and head south to the Bahamas. However, due to some annoying work circumstances, we may only be able to leave New York in April/May. Should we wait until November 2021 to set sail or are there any good routes (north or south) to take in April/May?
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Old 06-06-2020, 12:37   #2
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

Hurricanes are now well charted and as long as you act early/quickly are avoidable. The problem is once you get south where will you go and what will you do if one comes along. The question is why leave relatively safe NE with great summer cruising for hot and storm prone points south. I'd use the time to cruise the boat in the NE, test out the systems, make any alterations that use dictates and head south in November with a better prepared boat.
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Old 06-06-2020, 12:45   #3
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

You don't say what you are sailing. If you have ICW friendly draft and bridge clearance then it is pretty easy to get from Cape May to West Palm Beach via the ICW. Just wait for a good weather window to run down from NY to Cape May, which is likely a single overnight depending on where you are leaving from. Then take your time sailing up the Delaware bay, down the Chesapeake and then down the ICW. From West Palm Beach it is a daysail to West End Grand Bahama (with appropriate weather), and then daysails down through the Abacos to Eleuthera and the Exumas.

If you are not ICW friendly you can do more or less the same thing with several offshore hops. Getting around Hatteras might require 2 nights but the rest of the way you could restrict it to single night hops if you wanted. If you are not in a hurry and wait for decent weather to go offshore there is no inherent problem with the season. Lots of people will be coming back from the Bahamas during those same months. It will be slower going southbound as you won't get the push from the Gulf Stream. Also, if on the ICW remember the days are fairly short in April and into May so your daily mileage will be a bit limited.

The big question is if you want to be in the Bahamas during hurricane season. Dorian hasn't already faded from memory, has it?
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Old 06-06-2020, 13:33   #4
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

April and May are delightful times to head south. It is quite possible to find favorable weather for heading south. The journey can be made using short hops or a longer offshore passage.

A reasonable plan is to run south to the Bahamas if you can get away early enough to make the 6 or 7 day direct passage worth the effort, then turn northward let's say mid to late May, getting north well before tropical weather materialized.

If the Bahamas dont work put try for Charleston. Hang out and enjoy, then start working north. May and June are fantastic on the Chesapeake. By July it is getting hot, and it is time to run up to Maine.

About the first of September start working south from Maine. Take your time, find some places you have never been to. Get to the Chesapeake in October to enjoy spectacular sailing and local festivals. Take a week in October for maintenance and provisioning with the idea of being ready for moving south about the first week in November.

You will then decide if your goal is get to Florida/Bahamas for the winter or head into the Caribbean. If the Carribean, then enjoy your winter in the places of your choosing, with the plan to be in the Bahamas in April, and moving north to start the circuit again by say late May.

How is thg that for a plan?
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Old 06-06-2020, 16:04   #5
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

We have a Freedom 39 with a 5'9" in draft and a 58' mast. Not sure how ICW friendly that is so we'll have to do our homework. I appreciate everyone's input.
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Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
You don't say what you are sailing. If you have ICW friendly draft and bridge clearance then it is pretty easy to get from Cape May to West Palm Beach via the ICW. Just wait for a good weather window to run down from NY to Cape May, which is likely a single overnight depending on where you are leaving from. Then take your time sailing up the Delaware bay, down the Chesapeake and then down the ICW. From West Palm Beach it is a daysail to West End Grand Bahama (with appropriate weather), and then daysails down through the Abacos to Eleuthera and the Exumas.

If you are not ICW friendly you can do more or less the same thing with several offshore hops. Getting around Hatteras might require 2 nights but the rest of the way you could restrict it to single night hops if you wanted. If you are not in a hurry and wait for decent weather to go offshore there is no inherent problem with the season. Lots of people will be coming back from the Bahamas during those same months. It will be slower going southbound as you won't get the push from the Gulf Stream. Also, if on the ICW remember the days are fairly short in April and into May so your daily mileage will be a bit limited.

The big question is if you want to be in the Bahamas during hurricane season. Dorian hasn't already faded from memory, has it?
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Old 06-06-2020, 17:10   #6
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

You will be just fine down the ICW in that boat. We have a 44’ with 6’ 6” draft and 63’ air draft and made it.

The ICW allows you to do some and skip going outside some as you wish. And doing it is a worthwhile experience in its own right.

Frankly, and we are nutz, we left Delaware heading South April 2, froze our asses off for a while. Got the boat to New Bern NC and put it on the hard there while we delivered another boat to Newfoundland. Then came back and went to the Bahamas. But you could just mosey down the ditch taking in the sights. Do Thanksgiving in St Marys and Christmas in Vero. Can be a great social undertaking.

Then slip over to the Bahamas when you are ready. Or make the longer passage from further North to the Virgins. I’d skip the Thorny Path having done it once, never again.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-06-2020, 05:46   #7
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

You make a good point. There is a lot of good sailing up here we haven't explored.
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Hurricanes are now well charted and as long as you act early/quickly are avoidable. The problem is once you get south where will you go and what will you do if one comes along. The question is why leave relatively safe NE with great summer cruising for hot and storm prone points south. I'd use the time to cruise the boat in the NE, test out the systems, make any alterations that use dictates and head south in November with a better prepared boat.
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Old 07-06-2020, 05:49   #8
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

Oh good. It's definitely a trip we're doing. The question is just when. What was the issue with making the journey from further north to the virgin islands?
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You will be just fine down the ICW in that boat. We have a 44 with 6 6 draft and 63 air draft and made it.

The ICW allows you to do some and skip going outside some as you wish. And doing it is a worthwhile experience in its own right.

Frankly, and we are nutz, we left Delaware heading South April 2, froze our asses off for a while. Got the boat to New Bern NC and put it on the hard there while we delivered another boat to Newfoundland. Then came back and went to the Bahamas. But you could just mosey down the ditch taking in the sights. Do Thanksgiving in St Marys and Christmas in Vero. Can be a great social undertaking.

Then slip over to the Bahamas when you are ready. Or make the longer passage from further North to the Virgins. Id skip the Thorny Path having done it once, never again.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-06-2020, 10:36   #9
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Hurricanes are now well charted and as long as you act early/quickly are avoidable. The problem is once you get south where will you go and what will you do if one comes along. The question is why leave relatively safe NE with great summer cruising for hot and storm prone points south. I'd use the time to cruise the boat in the NE, test out the systems, make any alterations that use dictates and head south in November with a better prepared boat.
+1. We bought our boat in the Caribbean and were encouraged to explore the area between Trinidad and BVI before sailing the boat back to the Great Lakes. We did. For two seasons. We haven't been back. Which was the point. You are in the NE. Explore it while you are there and the weather supports it. It's worth it.
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Old 07-06-2020, 12:53   #10
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

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We have a Freedom 39 with a 5'9" in draft and a 58' mast. Not sure how ICW friendly that is so we'll have to do our homework. I appreciate everyone's input.
ICW 65' and 8-10 feet generally (couple shoaling areas)

If you have insurance be sure it covers the summer south of Hatteras.
read the policy clearly and understand the exact wording. some are interesting and dubious wording.

If a Hurricane comes be aware that many island marinas expel transients, many anchorages become closed by the government (exposure, reef protection) and if room is available, haul out includes tie downs.


This year with the virus many vessels are stuck in the islands so room is tight.
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Old 08-06-2020, 05:47   #11
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Re: Sailing out of New York in April/May...crazy or possible?

What about going North for the summer to New England. Cooler weather and less chance for hurricanes. Then late summer, early fall back south and cruise the Chesapeake. Head south from there in late October either offshore or via the ICW to wherever you want to jump off from to the islands.
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