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Old 12-25-2013, 06:01 PM   #1
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Galveston to Pensacola

I'm considering crewing on a sail boat for that trip. The captain is thinking of following the coast, maybe fifty miles off, for the trip. I've done the trip in our sailboat but always followed the Safety Fairways. Sailing outside of the Fairways, especially at night, makes me kind of nervous.

Any experiences or thoughts?

Bob
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:31 PM   #2
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Go to Marinetraffic.com and just look at all the traffic in that stretch!!! Then know there's thousands of oil rigs out there, some active, many not. Either run the Intracoastal or go REAL far offshore and then come in directly from the South.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:38 AM   #3
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That was my thinking also. We've done the ICW and the Fairways. Then somebody suggested just following the coast and I thought maybe I was missing something.

Bob
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:32 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great adventure as long as the boat is equipped for it and your crew mates are competent.
I have looked at the AIS target on Marine traffic and its pretty busy down there.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:54 PM   #5
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It's the stuff without an AIS, oil rigs, well heads, etc., that bother me. I might attempt this in the daytime but this will involve several overnighters. We'\'ve made the trip from/to Galveston and FL about five times and never even considered doing it along the coast. So I was looking to see if I was missing something and to hear from someone who has done it.

Bob


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Old 12-27-2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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If you travel about 50 miles offshore there are not that many rigs as you would think.The bulk of them are usually 20 miles or less. The big advantage of traveling 50 miles offshore is that you might get the Gulf Loop Current to hit you. If you get in it, it will move you along at 5 to 7 kts more than sailing alone.
Take the trip.
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:06 PM   #7
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Follow the fairway from Galveston out to the East- west lane. You'll be about 110nm offshore. Turn east until it ends near the channel heading for Southwest pass (around 60 nm offshore). This lane is busy with shipping but there are no rigs in the lane. Cutting through the "Rabbit Patch" has its perils.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:46 AM   #8
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If you do decide to stay only 50 or 60 miles offshore:

You Better have RADAR!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep in mind that most pipelines run north/south and so, the drilling rigs and production platforms also run North/south so they can tie into the pipelines. I don't keep meticulous records of this stuff so I am going from memory. When you are sailing east/west, you will see all the lighted platforms running north/south. From a distance this will almost look like a town from far away. When you cross an oilfield it will take about 30 minutes. This will happen about every 4 to 6 hours. south of La. The platforms should all be lighted with the operative word being "should". Don't Count on it. The manned platforms are well lighted and can be seen from 15 - 20 miles away (line of sight before they disappear over the horizon). The unmanned platforms are usually lighted on 2 diagonally opposite corners. These are the ones that may have weak lights or burned out lights. The unmanned platforms lights are normally blinking lights.

If you have any moonlight at all, the unmanned platforms can be seen by the silhouette of its shadow. If dark out YOU WILL NOT SEE THEM AT ALL!.
Trust me on that one.

When you are 50 or so miles out, there are not that many platforms to worry about but stay vigilant.

Have a safe trip.
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Old 12-29-2013, 04:39 PM   #9
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Bob
The two most dangerous hazards are floating debris ie ropes,visqueen,etc in a wheel at night and oil field equipment being towed at night.It is easy to not realize a barge is being towed by a very long cable connected to a tug.The cable will be unlit and just below the surface.The distance between the tug and the tow can be considerable. That said I would follow the fairways as others have suggested.Should be no problem with radar,VHF,Ais,and a chart plotter.
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Old 12-29-2013, 05:40 PM   #10
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Something like this?

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Old 12-29-2013, 06:17 PM   #11
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Exactly.Was headed to the Flower Gardens one night about 3am and had the tug captain not warned me could have been disaster
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