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Request for Advice, Coastal Camp Cruising


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Ever since I hooked up with you guys, I’ve had the bug to do some coastal camp cruising. I’m interested in any advice you’re willing to share on the what’s, where’s, and how’s of camp cruising the coastal waters in the area from Pamlico Sound to Charleston Harbor.  I’ll explain where I’m at with experience, and what my current plan is for next year.  Tell me what you think I should do.

 

First off, I’m 72, and in fairly good shape.  I will be doing this solo out of a Bay River Skiff 15.  I have a land tent, and no equipment for sleeping onboard.  I’ve done a couple of weekends in a Catalina 27 on Lakes Erie and St.Clair, and a one week charter in the Abacos.  Forty years ago (!), I took the Advanced Pilot class with the power Squadron, so I have an understanding of navigation and tides.  I still think y’all need to fix that tide thing.  That’s a hot mess!

 

Anyway, my plan for next year is to vet out my equipment list on Lake Hartwell, camping onshore at a campground.  Then, do a couple of nights camping at Buck Hall near Bulls Bay, north of Charleston (4 hours from home).  Then, camp at a marina campground in Atlantic, NC, to explore Core Sound and Drum Inlet.  After that, maybe an overnight at Cape Lookout, sailing out with my tent and lightweight camping gear.

What do you think?  What should I do to prepare?  What should I take?  Sorry, Chick, I will not be taking any Vienna sausages.  Where else is a good destination?  I’ve heard that Bath, NC is nice, for example.

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MANY years ago I considered an open boat with tent arrangement, or a removable cuddy. After all the considerations you are discussing, I'm sure glad all my cruisers would have cabins. Time to BUILD a

I don't care for the heat of June, July, August. Plus there are fewer bugs and fewer people in the off season, but those are personal preferences.   October and November are good. Water temp

Happy New Year Don,  it seems you’ve done your due diligence thinking through the tent selection and I now better understand the challenges. Choosing a side entry is a good choice with the tents

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Don,

Sounds like a great adventure. I have over the years done a number of trips along the coast north of Cape Lookout, including one multiday kayak trip form Harkers Island to Back Bay, which is near Virginia Beach. Usually I have sought out undeveloped areas.

Practicing with your chosen equipment at a drive in campground is a great idea. 

Invest in a good quality tent, it is essential for it to keep you dry and keep out the bugs. You do not want jamming zippers or leaky seams.

Sleeping on the boat has its advantages but if you can not make your sleeping arrangement free of bugs it is a problem.

Sleeping ashore with a good quality tent it is easier to manage the bugs, plus you get to stretch your legs and see the sights.

There were some places it was difficult to find a piece of dry ground suitable for setting up a tent.

I prefer early Spring or late Fall trips.

Though I am fond of traditional navigation techniques, dead reckoning, taking bearing etc, they are not terribly practical on a small boat. Add to that there are some stretches of the Pamlico Sound that are relatively featureless, or many of the features look similar, so even if using traditional navigation I like to have my GPS to back me up. Actually I navigate almost exclusively with my GPS and take a bearing, and mark on a paper chart now and then just for fun.

 

In my memory during daylight hours the bulk of the mosquitos stay in the shrubs, so if you keep to open ground you are relatively safe. As dusk approaches it is a different story. Some of my more difficult times were when I was unable to find a tent site until nearly dark.

 

I have been toying with the idea of sailing the North Carolina Challenge route sometime this Spring doing in several days the course that Alan did in 26 hours.

 

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21 hours ago, Thrillsbe said:

Ever since I hooked up with you guys, I’ve had the bug to do some coastal camp cruising. I’m interested in any advice you’re willing to share on the what’s, where’s, and how’s of camp cruising the coastal waters in the area from Pamlico Sound to Charleston Harbor.  I’ll explain where I’m at with experience, and what my current plan is for next year.  Tell me what you think I should do.

 

First off, I’m 72, and in fairly good shape.  I will be doing this solo out of a Bay River Skiff 15.  I have a land tent, and no equipment for sleeping onboard.  I’ve done a couple of weekends in a Catalina 27 on Lakes Erie and St.Clair, and a one week charter in the Abacos.  Forty years ago (!), I took the Advanced Pilot class with the power Squadron, so I have an understanding of navigation and tides.  I still think y’all need to fix that tide thing.  That’s a hot mess!

 

Anyway, my plan for next year is to vet out my equipment list on Lake Hartwell, camping onshore at a campground.  Then, do a couple of nights camping at Buck Hall near Bulls Bay, north of Charleston (4 hours from home).  Then, camp at a marina campground in Atlantic, NC, to explore Core Sound and Drum Inlet.  After that, maybe an overnight at Cape Lookout, sailing out with my tent and lightweight camping gear.

What do you think?  What should I do to prepare?  What should I take?  Sorry, Chick, I will not be taking any Vienna sausages.  Where else is a good destination?  I’ve heard that Bath, NC is nice, for example.

That sounds super fun. I've done quite a bit of this type of sail-camping out of a Sea Pearl. If you can figure a way to sleep aboard, you can increase the possibilities of trips a great deal. Sadly we live in a "Get off my lawn" society and places to camp become less and less. But you can literally drop an anchor 50 feet from a McMansion dock if you can sleep aboard. If you can't, stealth camping can work if you keep a low profile in populated areas. If you are in a remote location, the pick of spots increases, but the "safety in numbers" aspect goes down. This is exciting but a good reason to carry an EPIRB.

There was an extensive gear list in the NOV/DEC 2019 issue of Small Craft Advisor. If you can't find a copy, let me know. It's a bit overkill, but a good place to start to personalize your own list.
 

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Thanks for the i put, guys!  Keep it coming.

 

@Steve W— I was thinking of consulting the Watertribe list.  Is the other list similar?  My boat isn’t perfect for sleeping aboard.  I know that some have done it.  I tried unsuccessfully to make a boom tent. Maybe next year.

@Joe Anderson— I have a nice Kelty tent that will keep me safe.  Plus, I’m from the Lake Erie marsh— I know about the evening bite with mosquitoes.  Please specify which months.  I’m an engineer, and I’m also a little dense.

@Chick Ludwig— These Southern skeeters are a different breed.  Back home, they were big enough to kill with a shotgun (not really), but they started hurting as soon as they started biting.  Down here, they do their work undetected.  Nasty!  I’m looking forward to looking at charts with you.

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I don't care for the heat of June, July, August. Plus there are fewer bugs and fewer people in the off season, but those are personal preferences.

 

October and November are good. Water temperature is warm, but the days start to become significantly shorter. Watch out for hurricanes.

 

April and May are good. Water temperature especially early April is a significant safety concern. Lots of daylight hours.

 

I like to have a plan B or a way to adapt my destinations and schedule to the particular weather that is occurring on my trip dates. 

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 Now, I’m in a quandary.  I just watched Alan Stewarts excellent video on what to carry on your PFD.  That looks like about $1,000 worth of equipment on that vest.  The #1 most important piece of gear appears to be the PLB.  I see the value in carrying that, especially since I plan to do this solo.  But wow— $300.  Won’t the Spot Gen4’s SOS feature check the same box?  This coming year, I’m planning to “dip my toes” in this, to see if it will be worth investing more time and money in the future.  How can I do this safely?

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And let’s talk electronic navigational equipment.  Currently, I have iSailor with charts on my iPhone.  The charts have great detail.  It’s kinda hard to read in the daylight, however.  I have an old Garmin Map 76 (black and white screen).  It works fine, but doesn’t have maps in it.  I can enter and store waypoints, though.  @Alan Stewart— what are you using for a GPS?  Does it contain nautical charts?

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Don, you inspired me to post the boom tent cabin that I made for my BRS. It was a lot of work, Carla only got to spent a couple of nights on board in the Everglades. We enjoyed it a lot, we were with another couple with their BRS and day sailed after that. I spent a few night solo on board with it but I sold the boat to make room for my growing fleet.

 

If I got to do it again, I would go with the same lift up floor boards to sleep on but buy a good small tent to save the work. 

 

Living in the south I prefer to sleep on board. I recall the walk we took at Bulls Bay seeing the alligators and snake not to mention those thieving racoons etc.. 

 

It started as a basic boom tent with dropdown sides. I moved the mizzen mast with the sail rolled up forward to the reefing mast position. I made a yoke out of 1/2" ply to fit around the rolled up sail with a pair of holes that was tied around the mast. the aft end was made with a fork that slipped around the front end of the main sprit. and was shaped to fit the fork on the sprit. It turned out very secure. The pin at the aft end of the sprit fitted into a hole on the scissor crutch when it was opened and tied with a piece of 1/8" cord and a hole drilled through the sprit.

 

The top was made from grey Sunbrella with three battens. The roll was positioned over the sprit against the mast, lashed round the mast and the side strings of the forward batten were made fast on a pair of hooks under the gunwale using tiny tent guy toggles made out of 1/8" lexan for the 1/8" cord. I then rolled the top out to the middle batten and tensioned up the next pair of lines, rolled out the rest of the awning and tightened the last pair. I now had a good firm awning, which was a perfect shade.

 

For a sleeping platform, I cut two pieces of  3/8" ply to fill up the cockpit giving me a 6'5" bunk, the width of the boat. To stow them while sailing, I turned them into floor boards. They rested on little cleats glued around the perimeter of the cockpit to let the ply sit flush with the seats. There was a fore and aft beam glued under the starboard floorboard centerline offset to form a rabbet to take the port floorboard. When alone I just used the starboard floorboard, shown in blue. This gave me good seating and mobility and a good place to turn the port side into a bench for the galley.  With Carla on board we put the Porta Potti on one side of the trunk and the igloo on the other. The sides were made from some blue spinnaker cloth that we got cheap because it got screwed up in the dying process giving it a slightly striped appearance. All the vertical joins were connected with zippers and the centerlines were joined with velcro. The bottom edge was held with Dot snap fasteners under the gunwales. 

 

All told it performed very well. To work the anchor I just opened up the velcro center seam and stand in front of the mast. We would set it up similar to the render to shelter us from the late sun or privacy screen and still enjoy the view. If it was too windy for the stove, I rolled down the front half and moved the stove forward. I think that it was far more functional than a tent but you need to use it a lot more than I did to justify it. It obviously had a lot of windage but in reality it was not too bad. I never saw any wicked squalls but I thought I would drag the boat up the beach on rollers if I had to sleep on board in bad weather. 

 

Beside the tent roll which was 5' long and about 5" in diameter rolled up, the boom crutch was rolled with the tent and the ply yoke 5" wide and 9" long.

 

The floor board were stowed under feet. 

 

Tom also made an excellent tent for his BRS. It was also blue and from the same cheap roll.

 

 

1923163545_BRS15Boomtent.thumb.jpg.681fc54c94974e63696a514b86c3d503.jpg 

 

 

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Thanks, Graham, for the details.  I agree that a commercial tent would be the easy way to go.  In fact, I’ve had my eye on this one.  https://www.rei.com/product/168431/rei-co-op-passage-1-tent-with-footprint
 

I do have enough coated nylon to make a boom tent.  Have some skeeter netting, too.    I just need to do SOMETHING!  My problem is that I start thinking about access, zippers, etc., and I lose interest.  I like the idea of elevated floorboards, as well as the one open side for cooking and sanitary needs.  The tent above is 36” wide, however.  Maybe a bivy would be more narrow.  But thanks for the sketches.  Lots to consider.

 

I would much rather anchor out than stay so far away at Buck Hall.  Nice campground, but not convenient to the channel connecting to Bulls Bay.

 

I believe my first coastal trip might be to Bath, NC with my land camp setup.  We’ll see what happens.

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Hi Guys

You all must anticipate anchoring in very protected areas or at times with very light breezes to contemplate such a large tent with so much windage. My ideas for sleeping on my CS17 were based on a much simpler and lower windage option. My plan was a battened cover over a line from mainmast base to the mizzen snotter attachment, wide enough to drain the raindrops over the side with a bivouac tent underneath. I have the same lift up floor boards as Graham. 

My experience with yachts/multis with a lot of windage is that they are terrible at anchor in a lot of breeze.

I've never tested it so my 2c worth.

Cheers

Peter HK

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@Peter HK— Well, darn it!  Now you got me thinking again.  I hate it when that happens.  I could also use my main’s sprit as a ridge pole, running it from the deck back to the mizzen mast.  I can envision a conical section sort of cone-tent, putting a bug-off bivy underneath, as is in the photo.  The think I keep coming back to, however, is this.  If I need to fuss with my anchor, after my sleeping gear is in place, I need to take down my whole house to tend to my anchor.  I’d like to avoid zippers, since it’s beyond my sewing skillset.  Hmm...

 

Oh.  And since I have a 15’ boat, the area ahead of the mizzen is only about 78” (200cm).  The bivy (bivouac tent) in this photo is 84” long.

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She probably would cost that

much, if I bought a motor for her.  I was thinking more along the lines of a Core Sound 17 mark 3.  If I were going to a cruising stink boat, it’d be an OB20.  But Local Honey suits nearly all of my needs.  When you have as many hobbies as I do, something’s gotta give.

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Peter, if you think that my tent setup had too much windage, have a look at this.

 

They had a pair of Hobie tri's and always cruised together. They each carried their own condo while sailing but set them both up on the one boat, port and starboard to keep it balanced.

 

We did the Outer Banks 120 the summer before last. They said that the windage had not bothered them. We had thunder storms with squalls on two consecutive nights with the second putting us on a lee shore. I did see them walk the boat into deeper water when the storm woke me up but I think that it was more a poor choice of anchor setup.

Hobie tent sabin.jpg

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