Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Washington, NC to Jacksonville, FL Trip

The preparations for the trip to Florida are coming to a close. Now we are just waiting for a good weather window. A lot has been done to the boat to get us this far and a lot of additional planning has been done to ensure safety and comfort. Folks have been asking about the trip route. I have gone ahead and saved each leg in chart form so you can see what we are planning. If you want to see a chart in more detail, just click on it and it will allow you to see all of them more closely.

You will find that there are 5 Legs in this trip. I have broken it out this way for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the first two Legs are in the relative safe waters of the Pamlico River and Sound. By taking our time a bit up front, we can be sure all boat systems are working as expected and that we feel comfortable leaving the Ocracoke Inlet into the Atlantic. It also allows the crew to get used to the sail plans, inner workings and everything else in a more comfortable atmosphere of a river and protected sound. Now don't get me wrong, the Pamlico sound can certainly get nasty, but our choice of weather window should help to alleviate that possibility.
Secondly, by breaking the trip up into 5 Legs, it will allow us the most rest between stops and keep the over night passages to a minimum. There are only two of us, so being sure we feel comfortable to handle these Legs are of the utmost importance.

So lets break the Legs down so you can understand the charts below.

Leg 1 - McCotters Marina in Washington, NC to Indian Island, NC
This Leg is the shortest and easiest of all the Legs. At 18 nautical miles or so, it will give us a good idea of how the boat is set-up and reveal any issues in calm waters of the Pamlico River. We will anchor off the back side of Indian Island the first night.

Leg 2 - Indian Island, NC to the Ocracoke Inlet.
Another relatively short Leg of the trip at around 38 nautical miles. We will leave at first light and make our way across the sound stopping at Ocracoke inlet for the night. We will have a little more time on Leg 2 to make sure all of the systems are up to the task of our off shore legs. Looking forward to this sail quite a bit.

Leg 3 - Ocracoke Inlet to Charleston, SC
As you can imagine, Leg 3 will be the longest of the Legs at 254 nautical miles. It's also the Leg that will have us off shore the furthest at around 50 miles or so. If you look at the chart, you can see the land between Cape fear and Cape Lookout going in quite a bit, making a letter "C". Since it would increase our mileage significantly following the coast line, we will go straight across therefore being out quite a bit from land. Once we cross Frying Pan Shoals off of Cape Lookout, we are free and clear and can hug the coast a lot closer. We would want to do this as the further south we get, the closer the Gulf Stream curves towards land. At 3 to 4 knots in a northerly direction, we certainly wouldn't want to fight that the whole way. As well, the closer in we go, we will catch the southerly eddies created by the stream helping us along. A win-win in my book.

Leg 4 - Charleston, SC to Jacksonville, FL Inlet
The second longest Leg of the journey at 175 nautical miles. It should be a pretty easy sail, but one of the two over night passages we will encounter.

Leg 5 - Jacksonville, FL Inlet to Flemming Island Marina.
This will be a nice sail down the St. John's River the whole way. You will see that there are 2 charts for this Leg, A and B. That was just because it was to long to include on one chart and make anything legible. This is about a 32 nautical mile trip where we will need to go under a few bridges as we near downtown Jacksonville. With a mast height off the water of about 46 feet, we won't have to worry about clearing any of these as they are all around 65 feet. The train bridge is shorter however but they leave it open unless a train passes. Either way, we could easily throw out an anchor or pull into the waterside area and grab a bite if we had to wait. From there it's a clear shot to the marina and hot showers.

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