Sailing route from Florida to Virgin Islands

December 14, 2021
Capt John s Cruising the

Going south in late autumn from such New England harbors as Newport, Rhode Island, through Bermuda is basically playing Russian roulette. In 2011, the bullet finished up in firing chamber, and thus, two boats and one life had been lost. (See “Hard Lessons discovered when you look at the North Atlantic, ” February 2012.) It's occurred several times in past times, and it surely will occur once again if sailors keep after that same course. The North Atlantic isn't any place for a cruising boat with a shorthanded team whenever autumn gales rile the sea.

My first visit to Bermuda was in the 1954 Newport-Bermuda Race, and I’ve already been back to the island many times since. A large number of times I’ve gone south into the islands from the U.S. East Coast, but just once, in 1960, whenever I had been young, silly, and overconfident, did we sail south via Bermuda. Other trips jumped faraway from Morehead City and Beaufort, in North Carolina. I’ve been after news of this autumn south exodus to your Caribbean for 57 many years. While some years saw 2 or 3 boats lost, also many years, none, I’ll say with confidence the lasting average in the last 57 many years is just one ship lost on a yearly basis. Regarding life lost, we quit counting about 30 years ago whenever my 29th friend or friend ended up being lost while bound for Bermuda. Joshua Slocum, 1st guy to sail across the world singlehanded, had been lost at sea in November 1909 while on the way into the east Caribbean. Their great-nephew, Bret Slocum, died in Tropical Storm Gilda in 1973 while en route on islands. It ought to be mentioned that within the last few twenty years, even more November and December hurricanes have been recorded than completely in the last 120 many years.

Now with EPIRBs, great life rafts, long-range helicopters, and vessels which can be called to help and take team off sinking boats, the human being casualty price moved down—but deaths nonetheless happen. When the climate transforms, waves get in sync, therefore if their particular heights tend to be working 20 feet, you have to occasionally anticipate rogue waves of 40 feet. That’s why in heavy-weather conditions, all crew must cut onto safety outlines before they show up out from the hatch and remain clipped on until they’re back the companionway. Although a beneficial watercraft and a seasoned, hard staff of four up to speed can make the management of 40-knot autumn blows possible, the wise skipper should anticipate worse and try to plan voyages to reduce to the very least any potential for getting caught in places where gales of over 40 knots should be expected.

Sailors heading south to Bermuda in November should stop asking for climate windows, and weather condition routers should end providing them: These windows don’t exist except for 90-foot sailing rocket ships that can attain Bermuda in three days. U.S. East Coast weather condition becomes therefore unstable in November that forecasts are good just up to 48 to 60 hours.

In September 1964, Yachting posted “Going South, ” 1st of most likely 300 articles that I’ve written. We recommended likely to Bermuda in September, as soon as the climate is reasonably steady, making the vessel here, after that flying back again to Bermuda in December to continue the trip south from there. For November departures, I suggested setting sail from Morehead City. From there, I said to head east-southeast before butter melts plus the investments fill in, typically between 66 degrees and 65 degrees western, after that go south. That article is still proper these days, and in case sailors had followed that advice, it could’ve saved untold everyday lives and saved the underwriters a lot of cash.

An alternate for ships incapable of pass in bridges across the Intracoastal Waterway is jump off from Little Creek, Virginia, just within the lips regarding the Chesapeake. Wait here for a-weather window which will allow you to get across the Gulf Stream, then follow the same east-southeast course, forgetting about Bermuda. The 350-mile cruise from Newport to minimal Creek can be achieved direct in two to 3 times cruising offshore, you can also take about five days and go inshore via longer Island Sound, through nyc, along the nj coast, then tuck inside and sail along the Chesapeake to minimal Creek. Either way, it is a beneficial shakedown for boat and staff; any zero either are rectified before the last jump-off.

From minimal Creek to St. Thomas, within the U.S. Virgin Islands, the cruising length is all about 1, 380 miles and will just take eight to 11 days, based climate and vessel. From Morehead and Beaufort, the journey should just take a comparable time. The fantastic advantageous asset of setting off from Morehead would be the fact that you’re into the Gulf Stream and out of the opposite side in 24 to 30 hours. You’re also below the worst of this North Atlantic’s gale area. My Imray-Iolaire Chart 100 covers this route and includes climate and routing information.

Newport to the islands by these channels is quicker as a whole some time less costly than via Bermuda. Money in Bermuda vanishes as quickly as an ice cube on a blacktop road at high noon into the tropics! Plus, by preventing Bermuda, there’s no potential for your crew jumping ship, an all-too-common event after a rough sail from Newport.

For anyone who is delayed in Morehead/Beaufort by consistent gales, one option is to continue along the I.C.W. to Charleston, South Carolina, a three-day voyage.
This puts you further far from St. Thomas than from Morehead, therefore the Gulf flow is really offshore and past an acceptable limit for a dependable weather condition window. Rather, head south within the Stream, where you’ll discover either no existing or possibly a small countercurrent helping you as you make your way to about Jacksonville, Florida. Near Jacksonville, the flow is near shore and quite slim, and you can mix it and be out the other side in 24 to 36 hours.

After that proceed with the sailing directions provided to me in 1956 because of the belated Bob Crytzer, who’d been a captain within the U.S. Navy and ended up being the man which marketed me Iolaire for $3, 000 down and $1, 000 a year for four years, without any interest no repossession term: “Wait until a norther is predicted, and take off 24 to 36 hours before it shows up. This may allow you to get across the flow. Shorten sail prior to the norther hits and ride it eastward. Because the norther dies on additionally the easterly fills in, it’s difficult on wind on port tack. Then see in which you make your landfall, at either St. Thomas, the east end of Puerto Rico and also the Spanish Virgin Islands, or even the western end of Puerto Rico.”

This travel can be carried out in nine to 11 days. In the event that you wind up reaching only the western end of Puerto Rico, all remains really. Go to Puerto Real, to your Marina Pescaderia, where you can arrange to obvious Puerto Rican customs. After some R&R, mind eastward along the south shore of Puerto Rico, benefiting from the land and sea-breeze as I describe within my book Puerto Rico, the Spanish, U.S., and Brit Virgin isles, really the only guide that addresses the spot in a single volume. You could benefit from the south coastline of Puerto Rico in addition to Spanish Virgin Islands so much that you’ll maintain no hurry to reach the British Virgin isles all things considered.

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