Chesapeake to Bahamas

mjsouleman

Member III
I am planning to take Discovery on my first open ocean voyage, Mid-Chesapeake to the Bahamas in 2020.

Discovery is an 1983 30+ with new engine (Nanni), new fuel tank, lines and filter.
New 135% Genoa and new double reefed main.

Electronics have not been updated and will not be prior this trip.

Distance: 850 miles

I could use some experienced advice from the Ericson crew.

MJS
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Hi,
That sounds like quite an adventure! As the owner of a1984 E30+ I'll be very interested in what others suggest, as there are good sailors on this site with extensive blue water experience.

Have you done any upgrades or changes other than those you mention in your post?

One suggestion, to go through the boat to identify any lockers, doors, panels that are more likely to open in rough water - - eg. Hanging locker, head door under the sink, sliding doors in the galley, bilge covers, anchor locker latch, cockpit locker latches, etc. and secure them properly.
Think carefully about tools and spare parts, thinking how you would solve any problem you can think of that might occur. Consider pros and cons of items like spare alternator, starter, sails, dinghy, especially as space and storage is a bit limited on a 30 foot boat.

There are pretty advanced, not too expensive, ways of communicating your position and progress to family or others back home, and getting help if needed - - the experts here are more current regarding options.

Good luck in your planning!
Frank
 
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mjsouleman

Member III
does anyone have a cruising guide handy?


I spoke with a true cruiser the other day and it was his advice that from the Chesapeake Bay area, travel down the ICW to south Carolina. From there jump into the gulf stream and ride it. Expect a 7 day journey.

MJS
 

nquigley

Member III
does anyone have a cruising guide handy?
I spoke with a true cruiser the other day and it was his advice that from the Chesapeake Bay area, travel down the ICW to south Carolina. From there jump into the gulf stream and ride it. Expect a 7 day journey.
MJS
There's this ... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1999722949/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
... might come in handy for the next step too.

Also, check out this guy's You Tube channel - lots of passages to/from/through the Bahamas:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTmJcC_Yw3IL7Bvtf_7nTLw/videos
 
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gadangit

Member III
It looks like your trip could go a couple ways. I've heard there are some interesting stops along the ICW, so if that interests you jumping off in South Carolina makes sense. But that route will not be very efficient as miles per day goes. Stopping and starting every day, plus the required attentiveness of being in the ICW might be a little tiring. But is certainly an interesting option. I've stopped in at Beaufort, NC and Charleston, SC on different offshore transits and found them both to be worth seeing.

If your goal is to get to the Bahamas and you are already declaring your boat ready for offshore work, I would suggest leaving directly from the Chesapeake. From the entrance you are a long 24+ hours offshore from Cape Hatteras, but that means you will be able to pick your weather window with some good precision.

The gulf stream is not your friend, so if that weather window is perfect you might consider getting across there. From there you are just sailing offshore and enjoying the good life.

Not sure where you are planning on making your entry in to the Bahamas?

How are you getting weather updates?

If all the stars align I'll be making the trip over early 2020 myself. I'm planning on making Chub Cay our port of entry. How long we stay is based on how those stars align.

Chris
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Offshore Communication Options

Offshore communication today is important and easy and relatively cheap, but does require coping with options.

If not a single-sideband aficionado, a satellite telephone is the way to go, and Iridium now pretty much the obvious choice.

I prefer a standard handset phone, the Iridium 9555. The alternative is Iridium Go, which utilizes a smartphone for calls. I concluded I did not want to be dealing with an iPhone when abandoning ship into a dinghy. But the Go is popular.

The satphone, waterproof and reliable, is how you call for help while sinking. Also, if she is still speaking to you, your spouse.

The satphone also downloads Gribs (wind predictions files) and surface analysis charts, probably every day.

That requires a laptop computer to be connected to the satphone, and a compression service (because straight satellite phone time is expensive). I use UUplus ( http://www.uuplus.com/ ). It's a small company and they answer the phone and will walk you through installation and usage. .

The UUplus software and the variety of weather predeiction products take some familiarization. Allow a month, well in advance of departure, to set up the system and get used to it. UUPlus is is the means of sending and receiving emails and texts. Photos are slow and not recommended.

So: a satphone (or Iridium Go), a service such as UUPlus, and a laptop. Once familiarized, good to go.

I have bought all this stuff in the past but now I believe in renting it, unless heading off for a year or so. I had good experience with this small company, which answers the phone: Preferred Communications—410 Central Avenue—Butner, NC 27509Phone: 1-919-575-4600—

Both UUPlus and the satphone require a monthly contract. A time card must be purchased for the satphone. I chose 200 minutes, but my usual daily download of weather and email was only a minute or two, thanks to UUplus. However, if the card runs out offshore, the satphone is useless.

I had success renting the Iridium 9555 handset, and with it the auxiliary "buoy" antenna. This is to be temporarily installed on a 4-foot piece of PVC pipe on the transom, with a wire run to the nav station belowdecks. The aux antenna allows the phone to be used belowdecks, rather than standing in the wind and pointing the handset antenna at satellites. It also eliminates blockage of the satellite by the sails on some points of sail.

We are all different and a satphone are not the only solution. Weather files can also be downloaded by shortwave. Single-sideband radio, if set up, can do it all. Each system requires practice before departure. Trying to figure out transmission issues on a pitching boat in howling rain is an unnecessary challenge.

So, my opinion is: research and decide. Rent, don't buy. Study up well in advance.

And do contract with a weather professional ashore, so when that gale or hurricane appears unexpectedly ahead you can call for advice and routing to avoid. It won't happen and you'll never have to make that call--but it is good to know he's there.
 

gadangit

Member III
We are using the SiriusXM Marine Weather service. It overlays on the chartplotter for local weather radar, lightning strikes, etc., even out in the gulf stream. It also has the normal NOAA offshore zones that you can click and read the offshore forecast just like on your computer. Also has a nice automatically updating grib file. I highly recommend it. For a few dollars more you can get music to listen to as well.

We also are using the Garmin InReach so family can follow along on the map. With the unlimited text messaging you can answer questions like: where do you guys anchor? when we are 300 miles offshore. Helps to while away the passage texting. I know Lisa really valued that feature.

Some version of satellite communication might appear on our boat at some point. Kinda depends on how free from our jobs we can get.

Ain't none of it cheap, but it takes the edge off the anxiety.

Chris
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
If not a single-sideband aficionado, a satellite telephone is the way to go
Despite being a semi-avid HAM, and having a lovely ICOM M802 SSB somewhere in the garage... I concur.

SSB might be a decent fallback, but the downsides are
-- complex to install, tune and keep healthy
-- somewhat dependent on atmospheric conditions, but mostly
-- no way to "reach out and touch someone specific". You have to hope someone is listening when you broadcast

If I were going offshore, I'd definitely go the satellite route.

If I didn't need realtime voice (e.g., just wanted to send messages and/or position), the Garmin InReach might be worth considering. Real-time GPS tracking/location, with the ability to send messages (through the satellite), and distress signalling. All in a package that you can ciip to your harness. It even has some rudimentary capabilities as a backup tool for navigating. The biggest downside as a communication tool is a bit of latency - it can take 10 minutes or so to send your message through the system, and another 10 to download a reply from the satellite.

$.02
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
I've had and used the Inreach Mini since they came out. Not expensive to buy or use and it'll sync with your phone to show maps on the phone screen plus do messages. The little device by itself can do messaging but it is a pain to keep hinting for each letter. The Iridium satellite system has been rock solid all over the world, which is a downfall for the Globalstar network which the SPOT devices use. Both types of device need daily charging. I keep the Mini either on my PFD or top jacket pocket. I've messaged the family from South Africa, Ethiopia, Guyana, and some deep backwoods in West Virginia where satellites can be shadowed and the Mini always hooks up. (Some places take longer)

Till retiring 2 months ago I also could travel with an agency sat phone and those are also Iridium based. On an island in the middle of the Pacific was like making a regular cell phone call. Brilliant! As Christian wrote, the downside is that cost could be quite steep.
 

mjsouleman

Member III
Going offshore, I have 2 communication requirements (wishes):

1. download weather grids
2. email family to let them know I am safe

I am currenlty looking at all options but let's begin with Satphones.


First: Rental Vs. Purchase cost

The Iridum 9555 rental with what is termed full accessories is for 2 months and 200 minutes = $612
[FONT=&quot]
Kit includes: Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- 2 Fully Charged Batteries[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- AC Charger[/FONT][FONT=&quot] - DC Charger[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- Red, Yellow or Black Protective Phone Case[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- Custom Satphonestore Travel Bag[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- Exclusive 9555 Quick Start Guide[/FONT][FONT=&quot]- Optional Easy Return Label
[/FONT]
An outright purchase of the same Iridium 9555 is about $1200

Expected use is twice a year for 10 years

On first glance it seems logical to make an outright purchase.

Any thoughts from you experienced guys?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Expected use is twice a year for 10 years

Would you have to maintain an active satphone contract at all times? (worth checking that). If you let a contract lapse, the phone loses its utility in case, say, of a forest fire or hurricane. My several friends who own satphones complain that they're now lying dead in a drawer. Also, 10 years is a long time commitment for consumer electronics.



 

gadangit

Member III
Going offshore, I have 2 communication requirements (wishes):

1. download weather grids
2. email family to let them know I am safe

I am currenlty looking at all options but let's begin with Satphones.


First: Rental Vs. Purchase cost

The Iridum 9555 rental with what is termed full accessories is for 2 months and 200 minutes = $612
[FONT=&amp]
Kit includes: Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- 2 Fully Charged Batteries[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- AC Charger[/FONT][FONT=&amp] - DC Charger[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- Red, Yellow or Black Protective Phone Case[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- Custom Satphonestore Travel Bag[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- Exclusive 9555 Quick Start Guide[/FONT][FONT=&amp]- Optional Easy Return Label
[/FONT]
An outright purchase of the same Iridium 9555 is about $1200

Expected use is twice a year for 10 years

On first glance it seems logical to make an outright purchase.

Any thoughts from you experienced guys?
If it were me, I would rent a phone for the first trip and consider that the cost of dipping the toe. If you love it and are convinced this is your future, then you have the experience to help make an informed decision.

I think there are less expensive options to get messages out, tracking and current weather information. But with no voice...

Chris
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
Mark -

I really just use my Inreach mini for the family to track me and the SOS button is reassuring when paddling offshore. While we've tried the texting we haven't used it much for that. My point with this is that it'll meet one of your two "wants."

BUT/AND

It is supposed to be able to download weather, so may be worth checking into to see if it is lame or will meet your needs. It may also be possible for a family member to text you the current wx map as an image.

https://www.rei.com/product/140110/garmin-inreach-mini-2-way-satellite-communicator

Bob
 

mjsouleman

Member III
Christian
10 years is my sailing life expectancy not the electronics.


Bob,
Thanks for the info, having weather info and family communications are minimum requirements for me, but I will follow your advice and follow up with the manufacturer.

This would be a good agenda item for the first Chesapeake Bay Ericson Club

Mark
 
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