Winter is getting ready to wind to a close and I have been thinking about moving north this summer. I don’t really want to spend another hurricane season in our current location. Summers in North Carolina are hot and muggy with the occasional lightning storm, hurricane, tornado, or my favorite, the hurricane with tornadoes and lightning.

A lot goes into determining where and when to go when cruising. While cruising is often viewed as a happy-go-lucky, carefree endeavor full of sundowners on the beach and champagne sailing in light breezes and clear skies, there is a lot of planning that goes into deciding what the next port will be and the best route to get there.

Things we consider when planning for the next cruising season:

  1. The Forces of Nature: Weather, prevailing winds, and currents are something that must be taken into considering when passage planning. The longer the passage and the further away from a safe harbor you will be traveling, the more important these factors become. Where will we be during hurricane season?
  2. Obligations: Is there somewhere specific we must be at a specific date and time? Because we are still working, there are times when we must be near an airport, marina, or city. We may have friends visiting and we need to be where they will be flying in to meet us. Do we need any boat work that will require hauling out? (Fizzgig has a 25.5’ beam; not a lot of places have lifts that can accommodate her)
  3. What do we want to see and do: Are there places or attractions we don’t want to miss? Is there a land excursion we want to take that will require a marina stay?
  4. Immigration: If we are visiting a foreign country, is there a maximum length of stay? Will we need to leave the boat to renew a visa if we want to remain beyond an initial tourist visa? Do we need an agent to enter the country? What paperwork is needed for the country of entry? Do we need to get a pet permit and is a titer test required for Rover (our dog)? How much it cost to enter and leave the country?

This is how this summer currently looks under the broad strokes outlined above:

  1. The Forces of Nature: We want to be north of Cape Hatteras for hurricane season. One hurricane experience was enough for me. The weather is volatile on the US East Coast until the end of May/beginning of June. The best time to head north from North Carolina is, historically, in June. We want to be in Maine for July and August as this will get us far enough north for warm days and cool nights and a reduced risk of hurricanes. September is the best time to start heading south. Our insurance carrier requires us to stay north of Georgia until November 1st so we will stop there.

This gives us approximately one month to go from Wilmington, NC to somewhere in Maine leaving around June 1st. We will spend July and August in Maine and have September and October to make our way south.

  1. Obligations: Our daughter graduates high school at the end of May so we can’t leave North Carolina until the state is finished with her. My parents would like to visit us in Maine in July, and we have a friend who wants to visit us in Nantucket. In late August or early September, our daughter will need to be packed up and sent off to school which will require a marina stay. We need to do a haul out either at the start or the end of the summer; it may be most convenient to do this when taking the teenager to college if the boatyard has dry storage available. This could move our timing to move south up a bit.
  2. What we want to see and do: Ryan has a dream of anchoring with the Statue of Liberty in the background. I want to see the Salem Witch Museum and Boston Harbor. We want to go to Cape Cod, Nantucket, and stop near Washington DC to see some friends and coworkers. New York City would also be fun.
  3. Immigration: This will only come into play if we decide to go to Nova Scotia. Traveling to Canada is not currently an option for US citizens. If the borders do open, if it is only the three of us on board, we have Nexus entry into Canada. Rover will only need vaccination records for entry.

The above gives me a starting point for planning in more detail as we get closer to the time to leave. Part of being a cruiser is the ability to be flexible and change your plans. The weather is not always cooperative and sometimes life events put a wrench in the best laid plans. In many cases the details get worked out as we go along.

One of my favorite cruiser-isms is: A cruiser’s plans are written in the sand at low tide.

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