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Old 09-29-2014, 05:33 PM   #1
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NJ to Ft Lauderdale Trip

Itís time of the year again to start planning a trip south for the winter. Having previous experience on the trip to SC I have pretty good idea and plans up until Hilton Head area.
Based on my findings, Iíve learned that majority make the jump from Charleston to St. Marys, Jacksonville area.

In another thread, FF mentioned about the Gulf Stream, so having limited knowledge about it, Iíd like to ask for some opinions on this leg. I understand that itís constantly changing stream, but is there a commonly determined distance of the Gulf Stream from the coast, between SC and FL?

Base on my preliminary findings, being somewhere no greater than 30NM offshore should keep me just off the edge of the stream. Is this accurate observation? How far offshore do most of you stay on this leg?

Depending on how things go, Iím looking at couple of jumping off points on SC side: Georgetown, Charleston, St Helena Sound or Port Royal Sound. Iím considering the following as possible landing points: St. Marys, Jacksonville, St. Augustine or possibly Daytona Beach.

Any advice on this leg would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-29-2014, 06:17 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. AF. I have no idea if this will help at all BUT the data does seem to be "current"...Bwahahaha..... Gulf Stream Tools
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:08 PM   #3
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That is a really nice graphic of the stream. I often run from Cape Fear south, and duck into Charleston, or stay out and run to Fernandina. I run about 10-30nm off the beach to avoid the stream. Sometimes there are eddies that you run into that decrease your speed, sometimes it increases it.

Once you get to Canaveral, the stream gets close and you might as well be in the ditch, or run close to the beach.

Try to time it so no-way, no-how do you end up in the ditch between Charleston and Fernandina. It is beautiful, no doubt. But takes forever to deal with all the switchbacks compared to offshore. Try to pick nice offshore weather for that leg.
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:52 PM   #4
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Gulfstream location data is available daily from NOAA and broadcast on VHF Marine weather stations. As far as where to jump out side I like Charleston because the inlet is good during even marginal weather. The Mayport/St. Johns River entrance is navigable in just about any weather and well buoyed. St. Augustine can be a nightmare, shifting channel, buoys missing, moved, etc. The last time I went in there in a 7ft. draft boat we touched twice in the trough and the starboard channel market just outside the north jetty was a 50ft. Sea Ray missing the bottom of it's hull after running aground on it's maiden voyage. St. Johns/ Mayport has fuel right inside and would be my choice.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:01 PM   #5
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There isn't a 150nm-200nm port to port leg where the Gulfstream comes into play. Or 300nm for that matter. If you've never made the trip and have the time, it is a shame to miss the SC and GA ICW and all the gunkholing and exploring opportunities therein, other than a few very short inlet to inlet spots (like Wassaw to St. Catherines). I always regretted it when my time mismanagement (weather permitting) caused me to do longer off shore runs in that area. I'm even glad to have done the inside in FL, especially northern FL a few times, though in S FL, once or twice was more than enough for us.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:55 PM   #6
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There is no reason to be 30 nm offshore between Charleston and the Florida border. Even at night, we're typically 6-10 nm offshore in that area.

You're possibly going much faster than trawlers go too since it seems like you're considering this jump as a day hop. That's a definite overnight for us.

There are a couple of very good inlets to consider - Port Royal (Hilton Head, Beaufort), and Saint Simons Sound (Brunswick) are worthy of stopping. There's plenty to see all around.

I also agree that staying inside on the ICW brings a lot of interesting destinations - Jekyll Island, Savannah, Beaufort, along with some beautiful anchorages.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:24 PM   #7
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I just found this link, which seems very helpful: Ocean Prediction Center - Product Loops

I just looked at Active Captain and Mayport does look like a great option.

Even though my boat has a planing hull, on such a long trips I treat it as "fast trawler" and cruise at 8-9kts, I go fast only when I need it. So, I thought that if not an overnight, this leg of ~150NM+ will take around 17-20hrs.

Going on the outside from Cape Fear is an option. But, I kind of liked the ICW for the exception of some spot. I did it solo both ways and at least I had some entertaining scenery. Although, Waccamaw River seems to go forever. I will consider jumping outside as it will save time.

I was considering passing Charleston, but I have the troubled ICW spot just north of Charleston. If tides are not right there will be 2.5' of water in the middle of the channel. If going on the outside from Georgetown (I did this heading south last fall), then stop in Charleston seems quite a bit of a detour (approx 20-25NM if going in and out of Charleston Harbor Inlet). I think that if I'll be heading to Charleston, I may stay inside until Hilton Head area. We did the trip from Charleston to Beaufort, Hilten Head and Savannah earlier this year. Stayed in ICW and enjoyed it very much.

Regarding comments about doing ICW in GA, from what I've read and heard from friends who did it, I was advised to skip it. Besides, I'm pressed for time and wish to save time/distance where I can.

After entering FL I plan on staying inside most of the way, unless I'll be advised otherwise.

Keep your suggestions coming, they're all helpful.
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Old 09-30-2014, 04:48 AM   #8
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Chart 11009 shows the approx location and current of the GS from Cape Hatteras to West Palm Beach.
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Old 09-30-2014, 10:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Although, Waccamaw River seems to go forever. I will consider jumping outside as it will save time.

I was considering passing Charleston, but I have the troubled ICW spot just north of Charleston. If tides are not right there will be 2.5' of water in the middle of the channel. If going on the outside from Georgetown (I did this heading south last fall), then stop in Charleston seems quite a bit of a detour (approx 20-25NM if going in and out of Charleston Harbor Inlet). I think that if I'll be heading to Charleston, I may stay inside until Hilton Head area. We did the trip from Charleston to Beaufort, Hilten Head and Savannah earlier this year. Stayed in ICW and enjoyed it very much.

Regarding comments about doing ICW in GA, from what I've read and heard from friends who did it, I was advised to skip it. Besides, I'm pressed for time and wish to save time/distance where I can.
Always interesting to hear various personal perspectives. We enjoy exploring places that are best experienced (or only experienceable)by boat. So our opinions are virtually the reverse of most of the above:
  • We found North Carolina from Morehead City to South Carolina to be one of the most skippable sections of the ICW, weather permitting. (Beaufort to Masonboro inlet, then inside to Southport/Baldhead, then back out to Little River, or do a long haul Beaufort straight to Charleston, the latter not being my cup of tea)
  • The Waccamaw west of Myrtle Beach is one of our favorite destinations on the whole ICW. We loved anchoring and exploring with the dinghy for a few days there. Then Georgetown being one of our favorite town stops. As noted heading back out from G'Town is a big detour unless you are going a lot further past Charleston.
  • We like the Low Country above and below Charleston, some favorite anchorages and we like McClellanville as a dock stop . One advantage of not being a slave to a schedule is playing the tides, which I consider part of the sport.
  • Again, for us, Georgia was a destination, lots of wilderness anchorages, side trips to explore. A lot of good inlets if you want to mix it up a bit, but it took a few trips for us to bring ourselves to miss some of our favorite spots. Though after one trip, we almost always took Wassaw Sound out from Thunderbolt and came back in St. Catherines to Walburg Creek, and its a pretty trip.
  • If you haven't done Florida on the inside, then by all means do, just to see it. But in our opinion, once you get past Jacksonville it is mostly "no need to do that again", passing through areas better explored by car.
  • And, one more time, the most dangerous and fun depriving thing you can have on a boat is a schedule.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
Chart 11009 shows the approx location and current of the GS from Cape Hatteras to West Palm Beach.

Thanks for the tip! GS is in fact clearly visible on the chart.

Chart 11009

I just downloaded extra maps on Navionics App on my iphone, but don't see the CS on their chart. I wonder if my MFD chart will have it.
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
Always interesting to hear various personal perspectives. We enjoy exploring places that are best experienced (or only experienceable)by boat. So our opinions are virtually the reverse of most of the above:
  • We found North Carolina from Morehead City to South Carolina to be one of the most skippable sections of the ICW, weather permitting. (Beaufort to Masonboro inlet, then inside to Southport/Baldhead, then back out to Little River, or do a long haul Beaufort straight to Charleston, the latter not being my cup of tea)
  • The Waccamaw west of Myrtle Beach is one of our favorite destinations on the whole ICW. We loved anchoring and exploring with the dinghy for a few days there. Then Georgetown being one of our favorite town stops. As noted heading back out from G'Town is a big detour unless you are going a lot further past Charleston.
  • We like the Low Country above and below Charleston, some favorite anchorages and we like McClellanville as a dock stop . One advantage of not being a slave to a schedule is playing the tides, which I consider part of the sport.
  • Again, for us, Georgia was a destination, lots of wilderness anchorages, side trips to explore. A lot of good inlets if you want to mix it up a bit, but it took a few trips for us to bring ourselves to miss some of our favorite spots. Though after one trip, we almost always took Wassaw Sound out from Thunderbolt and came back in St. Catherines to Walburg Creek, and its a pretty trip.
  • If you haven't done Florida on the inside, then by all means do, just to see it. But in our opinion, once you get past Jacksonville it is mostly "no need to do that again", passing through areas better explored by car.
  • And, one more time, the most dangerous and fun depriving thing you can have on a boat is a schedule.
George,

The difference in the opinions is due to different goals/agenda for the trip. In my case it's nothing more than a delivery trip. Since we're working family with kids in schools, schedule is the thing we live by. It makes things difficult, but it's my job to find a way to make it work and finding the balance. When we'll have more time, then of course I'll take very different approach, even for a delivery trips.

Regarding the ICW, don't forget that my view is based on comparison to northeast sections of ICW. No question, there are sections which I wish to skip, but overall i think its scenic enough, especially if you're going solo for some legs of the trip. I happened to be solo twice between Charleston and Coinjock and then between Morehead City and Charleston. After Alligator River canal and Neues, the stretch between MHC and Georgetown seems scenic enough.
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:32 PM   #12
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Silly me, I just realized that even Active Captain show the approx location of the Gulf Stream. What a great tool!
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:51 PM   #13
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Silly me, I just realized that even Active Captain show the approx location of the Gulf Stream. What a great tool!
You owe it 5 reviews now!
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:19 AM   #14
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You owe it 5 reviews now!
Absolutely! Anything I could do to help AC.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:27 AM   #15
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....

There are a couple of very good inlets to consider - Port Royal (Hilton Head, Beaufort), and Saint Simons Sound (Brunswick) are worthy of stopping. There's plenty to see all around....
Thanks for mentioning Saint Simons Sound. I just added this to my float plan as one of the possible entry points, in case if I need to get back in sooner than originally planned.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:50 AM   #16
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Thanks for mentioning Saint Simons Sound. I just added this to my float plan as one of the possible entry points, in case if I need to get back in sooner than originally planned.
There are only 5 inlets I'd pass through in any weather at any time of day/night between Charleston and Jacksonville: Charleston, Port Royal, Saint Simons, St Marys, and St Johns. All the rest, IMO, need consideration for safety depending on conditions.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:56 AM   #17
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Many inlets....if you have the luxury of following a large shrimper in...are a little less scary...

Unfortunately they won't always talk to you and coming across one running an inlet can be very hit or miss.

If there's assistance towing around...sometimes they will guide you through...but that's a case by case issue too.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:59 AM   #18
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There are only 5 inlets I'd pass through in any weather at any time of day/night between Charleston and Jacksonville: Charleston, Port Royal, Saint Simons, St Marys, and St Johns. All the rest, IMO, need consideration for safety depending on conditions.
Thanks for clarifying the inlets. I was just reviewing the other options (inlets in the leg) and reading that others are local knowledge only and would fall under "plan C" category.

It looks like the closest points for conservative passage are Port Royal to Saint Simons Sound (Brunswick) ~ 80NM

I can clearly see your point that it's just following the shoreline and no need to be too far out, unless my offshore leg starts much earlier (e.g Charleston) to somewhere south of Jacksonville.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:17 AM   #19
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A quick question on terminalogy. I'm reading a note on Deboy Sound Inlet.

"...When approaching the sound, vessels should stay in a depth of 5 fathoms or more until the entrance buoys are sighted. If there is too much sea to cross the bar, vessels are advised to enter via St. Simons Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway..."

What in this case is the meaning of "the bar"? Is this a reference to a sand bar?
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:42 AM   #20
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Yes
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