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Old 01-26-2008, 10:28 PM   #1
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My husband and I and our 16 year old son are planning a trip this summer from Beaufort,NC to Rhode Island (outside). We are longtime coastal cruisers, primarily in NC waters, and sailed our boat (Shannon 43') to Bermuda last summer. That was our first major offshore sail, and we had a blast and did fine. We had two other crew members for a total of 5, and that's what we will probably do here. We will do everything to make sure the boat is ready to travel safely and now we are starting to plan the trip.

We want to get to our northerly most destination, probably Rhode Island, and then do shorter coastal cruises for the return trip. We have 5-7 weeks available for the round trip and my husband will fly home occasionally to work.

For the northerly route, we would like to take the offshore route from Beaufort, NC to Rhode Island. Should we go outside of the Gulf Stream before heading North, or use its flow to help us make progress up the coast? Or do we want to stay inside of the Gulf Stream? Some people have advised us to take the ICW north to the Chesapeake, and then go outside. We'll never become comfortable with our offshore skills if we aways choose motoring over sailing. However, we will follow that route if it is unadviseable to go outside from the beginning.

Any advice and discussion about this trip will be much appreciated.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:20 AM   #2
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No reason not to go outside the whole way and I would use the stream where it helps and you'll find yourself inside the stream as you head up the MD coast northwards. The gotcha is that you DO NOT want to be in the stream in any kind of northerly wind [NW, N, NE]. It will create very dangerous seas very quickly. So pick your weather window and go. I would consider Block Island as a good stop or there is always Newport.
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Old 01-27-2008, 12:00 PM   #3
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Are you familiar with GRIB files? What I like about them is that they are easily read graphics of wind force and direction, and they can give 3- and 5-day forecasts (though I wouldn't make decisions that depended on a five-day forecast). Weathered in last summer on the west coast of Sweden, the GRIB files I downloaded predicted the one (1!) day weather window we needed to cross the Kattegat. Nobody should totally rely on any navigation aid of course, but used judiciously they can help your planning immensely. And it's free.

http://www.grib.us/
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Old 02-01-2008, 05:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the confirmation of our offshore plans. I definitely need to get up-to-speed with the GRIB files, and weather forecasting in general. For our Bermuda trip the Cruising Rally Association took care of the weather updates, but this time we're on our own. My husband has already starting using the Ugrib software on his PC and is getting familar with that. My MacBook is more limited when it comes to navigation software/download options. Any suggestions as to which paper charts are most likely to be needed for the southern New England area? We'll have the electronic versions, but always have the paper for backup.
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:46 PM   #5
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If going outside just take note of someplace to duck in. I use the web out of the Bahamas, and NOAA to guide me through weather. When I get close to shore, about 10 miles, I can use my internet for weather. The VHF is a fine tool also.

When we first started travelling in, and out of Florida the first couple of times my wife demanded the ICW. Once we went outside, and she saw how fast we covered ground. We never go inside anymore except to avoid weather. I would rather have most of the open ocean to drive through than a bunch of bascule bridges, markers, and a few idiots crowding the ICW. All potential bumps, and boo boos.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:35 PM   #6
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I agree that the ICW is a nuisance, crowded by fishing boats and go-fast boats with amateur drivers who raise terrible wakes. Unfortunately our little power catamaran needs quite calm seas to go outside, so we do much of the east coast inside the ICW. With a 2.5' draft, we can go just about anywhere, though, so we can really get

We use the MapTech C-Map chartkits, with the added bonus that the new chartkits provide a companion CD with the paper charts. the CD has Offshore Navigator Lite, and the chartkit charts as electronic charts. I load it all on the computer, plug a GPS receiver into a USB port (cost about $70.00), and I have a full-size screen chartplotter. The boat came with a diddly chart plotter, 3"W X 4"H. My computer screen is 8"H by 13"W, much easier for these old eyes to read.

I still prefer paper charts, but the advantage of the charts on the computer is the instant answer to 'where are we?' and 'what does that mark mean?' Since we travel faster than a comparable size sailboat (though at 12 knots, we're no speedboat), having the instant vision of where we are is convenient, especially in some of the marginal places we manage to find ourselves.

You can also download free NOAA charts for use with Maptech's software, which is a nice bonus.
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Old 02-02-2008, 07:01 AM   #7
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Hi, all,

We also use the MapTech C-Map chartkits and the same setup Jeanne mentions with laptop and cheap USB GPS to follow along on-screen (when I'm feeling "high-tech" that is). Its a great combo of paper charts and electronic plotting. I always am most comfortable with using the paper charts. In addition to the usb one, we have an old gps that just gives lat/long and its funny but I'm so much more comfortable just glancing down the companionway at it and looking at the paper chart that I often keep with me in the cockpit in a clear plastic protector behind the dodger...old fashioned , low energy use, and simple.

We do download all the free NOAA charts for areas that we're going to--or thinking of, but have found the C-Map kits to be great. Now, here in SoCal there's a kit that includes everything from San Francisco CA down to a point on Baja Mexico. I'm told that other people really don't like the free MapTech software, but I find it very good for what we need. Nothing fancy, but nothing fancy needed.

Have a great trip up to RI.
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