October 31 to November 4, 2002
Carolina Beach Harbor, NC, to Stuart, FL.

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Sunrise on the "outside"

(Click on a photo for a larger version)

The weather forecasts predicted 25 knots of northerly winds for the next several days and we decided to take advantage of this window in order to get as far south as possible. Most of the snowbirds that we had seen around us the last days, however, continued along the Intracoastal Waterway as we headed out on the ocean from the Cape Fear River. We only detected two other sailing vessels, which apparently made the same decision as we. We could hear a couple of the boats continuing on the inside, talking on the VHF. The general opinion seemed to be that the forecasted winds would be too strong.

Scorpio is a heavy boat, however, and we need more wind than modern light hulls. When sailing to windward we have found that the ideal strength of the wind for us is around 18 knots, but 25 would be just fine on a run. Nontheless, the forcast proved wrong, which is not extremely uncommon. As it turned out we ended up motoring most of the time and although we were disappointed because of the lack of sailing we had a relaxing journey. here on the outside we could engage the autopilot and let it do all the steering while we either took a nap or read a book. On the ICW one had to stay at the wheel constantly from sunup to sundown.

Not bad for a Dorado!

We left the ICW at mile marker 310 (number 0 is in Norfolk, VA, and 1,095 in Miami, FL) and returned to The Ditch again at Fort Pierce, FL, at marker 965, 3 nights and 4 days later after an uneventful sail. Going outside had saved us approximately 10 days. The average daily run on the ICW had been 40 nautical miles (depending on how many opening bridges one had to pass each day), which means that the 570 nautical miles on the ICW would have lasted some 14 days. We had covered the distance in 4 days. If you tried the calculator and failed to get the mathematics correct, donít worry; the ICW markers are statute miles, not nautical.

After a night at anchor in Faber Cove at Fort Pierce we again followed the ICW to Stuart, where we took a mooring at the municipal arina, called Southpoint Anchorage. This is a good spot to stay for several days and provision before a crossing over to the Bahamas. They only charge 6$ a day for the mooring and for that you can use the showers, laundry- and Internet facilities of the new marina building. We have stayed here several times before and even left the boat unattended for two weeks during a visit to Finland.


Southpoint Anchorage, Stuart

It was only early November by now and we were already in central Florida. But we had an appointment in Nassau, The Bahamas, within 3 weeks. Friends from Finland were coming to sail with us for a week. Now we had ample time for provisioning and weather watching before crossing the Golf Stream. This time of the year cold fronts arriving from the continental US with frequent intervals can make a crossing impossible for several days in a row.

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