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scottmacc 10-08-2006 13:30

Beaufort,NC to USVI
I've been trying to bring this trip together for a few years now. Something always seems to take priority though. This finally may be the year. I understand the preferred route is offshore toward Bermuda then hang a right. Though daunting, at least there are no coasts and little trafic to run into. My questions have to do with timing. I know November is the time of year mosts choose to go but I'm wondering how long the window is? Is waiting 'til January 1 too long? How about 12/1? I know the weather along the NC coast will be chilly by then but will it warm up once the Gulf Stream is crossed?
Also, are there loosely fit "caravans" heading south that time of year? It may be nice to have others in radio range. I'm not talking about the things like West Marine sponsers with too many rules and requirements. Just wondering. Any constructive advice is appreciated.

btrayfors 10-08-2006 13:59

Hi, Scott:

Hope things come together for you this year.

Conventional wisdom and most experienced skippers like to wait til the end of hurricane season before leaving East Coast ports. This is/was (depending on who you talk to) around November 1. I've left in this timeframe and had a good trip via Bermuda from the Chesapeake.

The problem with waiting longer than this is the increased possibility of "northers", i.e., strong fronts which form to the north and affect waters as far south as the Caribbean. The "Christmas Winds" in the islands are an example. Usually, they only blow for a few days, but they can blow much longer, with winds up to 40-45 knots or so.

Delivery skippers make the trip at most any time of year, but they're daredevils :smiling:

With the crazy hurricane seasons we've had extending longer into the fall (and apparently having trouble getting kick-started this year), a later departure might be desirable. But, I wouldn't want to wait too long. If it were me, December 1 would feel OK.

You might want to consult one of several "bibles" on passages south....there are a number of published references. Also, if you get a chance, discussing it with Herb (Southbound II) via email or phone might be a good thing to do, or one of the several weather routing services.


scottmacc 14-08-2006 18:00

Thanks for the reply Bill. I've seen books discussing the trip south via Fla and the Bahamas, but not anything specific to heading east and hanging a right. I know if I was departing from New England, Bermuda would be a stop along the way. Was wondering If my route should include a stop there or skip it. Maybe that depends on how the trip is progressing?

btrayfors 14-08-2006 19:24


The decision to stop or not in Bermuda is up to you. Yes, the progress of the trip can be a deciding factor, as can impending weather. Hopefully, you will be monitoring weather along the way.

In a CD30, your trip from NC to the VI will be a bit long anyway (say, 13-16 days or so), so the stop in Bermuda would be a pleasant break. Also, Bermuda is a great place to hang out and wait for weather


kimberlite 14-08-2006 19:53

i would leave as close to november 1 as possible. the weather really picks up in december.
Do you have a ssb to speak to Herb?
with a 30 footer you will need to stop in bermuda for diesel ($6.00- a gallon last may) and water. plus a good stopover for weather. then get on I65 and head south.
see ya in the Carib.
fair winds

minisailor 02-10-2006 10:56

Read your thread on a trip from Beaufort NC to the Caribbean with intrest as there is possibly 5 boats leaving for this trip Nov, 1st from Beaufort. My boat is currently hauled out in Moorehead, city and I will launch it sometime around the 11th to 15th of this month to get ready to go around Nov 1. If you would like more details of the trip email me at
Good sailing

scottmacc 10-10-2006 06:15

Atlantic Charts
Getting closer and have been revieiwing my charts for back-up to the gps/plotter. I have a copy of the Cape Hattarass to Florida Straights chart that shows eastward to about 67 degrees. I also have the Bermuda appraches chart just in case I stop there. I also have the charts for the Virgin Islands. Trouble is I have no charts for the open water between 67 degrees and 65 degrees, not for the trip south on 65 between Bermuda and St. Thomas. I know it's open water but would like to mark my progress along the way. What chart is available for this?
Also, for those of you that know St. Thomas, is there a preference for approaching via Pillsbury Sound or Virgin Passage? Thanks, Scott

Vasco 10-10-2006 07:01


for open water all you need is blank plotting sheets for the right latitude.

btrayfors 10-10-2006 09:13


Try to time your arrival for the daylight hours. While St. Thomas itself is very well lighted along the north shore, the outlying islands are not. DO NOT DEPEND ON GPS readings when you try to thread through the outlying islands, unless you can SEE THEM.

Pillsbury Sound is preferable, because it's a nice run, good scenery, protected water, and is to windward of Charlotte Amalie. Once you get into the Sound (preferable through the Middle Passage), there are no navigational hazards except Current Cut (between St. Thomas and Great St. James Islands...go either side) and Cow and Calf Rocks off the end of St. Thomas...well marked on the charts and usually awash.

The Virgin Passage is quite a bit to leeward of Charlotte Amalie and other destinations on St. Thomas. If the wind is blowing (typical tradewind conditions), you don't want to do any more windward work in a 30-footer than you have to; it can be damned rough and wet.

Chart number 25640, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, picks up at 19N...plenty of room north of the islands. Before that, use plotting sheets such as this one:

to keep a DR plot.

Happy sailing,


scottmacc 10-10-2006 12:21

Thanks for the help. Now if I only room on my little boat to open the charts ;O)

scottmacc 11-10-2006 12:16

Ok, I picked uo some plotting sheets (always nice to learn something new), and also found a chart that covers the S.E. Coast of USA including the bhahmas, Bermuda, and Geater Antilles. So my whole trip is on one sheet, plus I have all the local charts for my potential landfalls. Now I'm playing with actual courses. Using my GPS plotter, I plot a course from Marker #4 at the southern tip of Cape Lookout to S.W. Breaker at the southern tip of Hamilton Island,Bermuda. The GPS shows the heading as 110 degrees (true). When I plot the same course on the large chart, it shows the heading as 104 degrees (true). My GPS (garmin gpsmap 276c) is only using the base map not the chip for the Atlantic/Bermuda. Could the base map be this incorrect? Or, is a paper chart covering this large an area just not precise enough? I'd appreciate any of you with chart plotters letting me know what course heading you get between these to points. By the way, I'll be ordering the Garmin MUSO28R Bermuda chip as backup.

btrayfors 11-10-2006 14:14


It's not surprising that you're getting mixed results. Chart plotters simply aren't set up to accurately compute bearing and distance over long trajectories. Bermuda is almost 600 nautical miles from Cape Lookout.

The best way to obtain bearing and distance between any two geographic points is to use a calculator for Rhumb Lines or for Great Circle Bearings, as desired. You can find these calculators online or a part of many navigational programs, or you can extract the formulae from any navigation text and do the math yourself.

If you choose the two points you have mentioned....

Cape Lookout (actually, nun/bell buoy R14) at 34 deg 18.15N 76 deg 24.21 W


SW tip of Hamilton Bermuda (this is approximate...I don't have a nautical chart here for Bermuda) at 32 deg 14 min N 64 deg 53.3 min W


the Rhumb Line bearing is 102.1 degs true and the distance is 590.8 nm.

The initial Great Circle bearing is 98.9 degs true, distance is 590.5 nm.

Also, be sure your GPS is reading True if that's what you want. The default for most GPS units is magnetic, not true.


kimberlite 11-10-2006 16:46

this chart covers the whole area.
i don't know if this chart is still in print.
i have made a number opf copies of the original and use one on board and one at home so they can track my progress.
it covers the USA from new england to the caribbean including the entire east coast and bermuda. it is chart # int dima 403 se coast of n america incl the Bahamas and greater antilles
fair winds,

kimberlite 11-10-2006 16:47

my chart plotter will give me course and distance across any ocean. they are raymarine units.
fair winds,

kimberlite 11-10-2006 16:53

you don't want to plot a course to hamilton bermuda
There is a humongous reef on the north coast of Bermuda.
You have to skirt the northern edge of the reef and go to the east end of the reef. if i remember it is kitchen shoals buoy then on to the spit buoy then request permisssion from bermuda harbor radio to enter the cut.
from there in St georges you clear in. then you can go back out and follow the channel around to Hamilton. i have always stayed at the St Georges dinght club (12 times) as i like the people there and hamilton is far and a big town.
fair winds,

scottmacc 11-10-2006 17:38

Bill & Eric,
thanks for the information. I'm trying to gather as much info as possible and it becomes a little overwelming at times.
I do have the 403 chart, found it yesterday in a book store of all places. In addition, the charts I have for Bermuda specify to stay well clear of the North,West, and South coasts, and to make landfall from the East. It states that if approaching from the North or NW, use the headings as you describe, however, if coming from the West, stay south of SW Breaker until parallel to to Gibbs Hill light before tacking to the NE along the east coast up to the Narrows and Town Cutinto St. Georges. This seems logical to me since making landfall in Bermuda is only a safety valve as I plan on turning south at 65 degrees. I appreciate the knowlege you share from your experience. 12 trips is quite an accomplishment.

kimberlite 11-10-2006 18:05

bermuda harbor radio
when you get within VHF ch 16 range or if you have a SSb on board you are supposed to call Bermuda harbor radio.
their vhf goes out at least 100 miles and their Radar even further.
you check in with them and they will ask you a number of questions about your boat, your crew, your safety equipment ,and communications equipment. They will guide you into bermuda if necessary and provide emergency help if necessary. if you stop in Bermuda , drop by their headquarters, it is on the hill above St Georges. Visitors are always welcome.

when do you expect to pass by Bermuda?
fair winds,

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