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2Newts

Savannah/Charleston/Pensacola Sailing Advice

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I'm looking for help from anyone who knows the sailing community in Charleston SC, Savannah GA, or Pensacola FL. 

Here's the story: we live in NYC with grade-school age kids. School starts next week in-person, but we are not expecting that to last long - we think we'll all be back on remote learning by Halloween. And the idea of a winter in the northeast with everyone at home trying to work and study is just way beyond daunting. So we are thinking of renting a place in Charleston or Savannah, or maybe even Pensacola, from November or December 1 onward. We know these communities by reputation only but have visited none of them. But we like the idea of a smaller, walkable city by the water that has decent winter weather. One of our deciding factors if we do this will be whether there is a decent year-round sailing community and whether there are year-round programs for younger kids. We'd probably be looking to charter or otherwise secure the usage of a boat for evening/weekend races plus we'd love for the kids to get more time in Opti's, which they missed out on this summer on Long Island Sound as most programs were canceled. 

Recognizing that the above may not be possible, I'd love to connect with any Anarchists who know these communities and can help guide us with information and/or contacts. 

Thanks so much, 

2N

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Next to nothing in Savannah, there is a small phrf scene. A small club in one of the upscale communities that has a few j24's and Rhodes 19's. The yacht club has a bit of a youth scene and even sunfish for grown up's

 Sadly the yacht club is about $20k to join.

I think Charleston is way more active.

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I have had several employees that lived in Pensacola- most recently retired lives on the island, others lived in Gulf Breeze. Invited sailing one time when visiting but had to decline due to business obligations. Have vacationed on the beach a few times. It can still be pretty cool in Pensacola December/January/early March. 
 

I think there are couple posters on here from area that might chime in. If not I can make inquiries through my contacts around there. 

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Interested to see the responses, Eastward migration is on the table, racing friends have made the move to Lake Lanier, would like to get more general knowledge of other racing scenes 

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I believe Fl has a more active winter season over Charleston and probably greater likelihood of boats for charter.  Charleston has some PHRF activity in the winter and dingy frostbiting every other weekend after New Years.  It's pretty quiet between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  I can set you up on a loaner Laser and probably Y-Flyer, (they just re-established a decent active fleet here) in Charleston. 

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I've kept boats, raced, and sailed in all three locations.

Ranked by Sailing activity, both adult and jr programs - 1 Charleston, 2 Pensacola, 3 Savannah

Ranked by best beach and water access - 1 Pensacola, 2 Charleston, 3 Savannah

Ranked by coolest town/community - 1 Savannah, 2 Charleston, 3 Pensacola

Since you are re-locating from New York, I would recommend Charleston.

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11 hours ago, Latadjust said:

Interested to see the responses, Eastward migration is on the table, racing friends have made the move to Lake Lanier, would like to get more general knowledge of other racing scenes 

Lanier is great.  Charlotte/Lake Norman has some decent activity. Charleston is very active.  Small little Beaufort, SC has decent activity as well and South Carolina Yacht Club in Hilton Head is active.  There's others including Augusta Sailing club and Columbia sailing club.  

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As you can see, I'm based out of Lanier.  Powerboat traffic has been insane this year, but most of the racing is evenings in the summer, and every weekend over the Fall/Winter/Spring.

Wed night racing draws 30-40 boats and runs from April till October.  The biggest OD fleet is the Melges 24's.  Consistently get 8-10 out racing at least once a week.

Moonlight races on full moon weekends.  Also lots of dinghy/laser activity, and full time junior program at Lake Lanier Sailing Club.

PM me if you need more info.

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I love Pensacola  area   check out Ft Walton as well  the Yacht Club is awesome ....pretty sure they have a youth program as well 

 

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This is all very helpful, thank you. 

3 hours ago, BFD said:

Don't move to Charleston.  Too many people.

Ha! Sorry, one of these cities is getting our refugee caravan from the big apple. 

2 hours ago, Mikey Don’t Like Sh*t said:

I've kept boats, raced, and sailed in all three locations.

Ranked by Sailing activity, both adult and jr programs - 1 Charleston, 2 Pensacola, 3 Savannah

Ranked by best beach and water access - 1 Pensacola, 2 Charleston, 3 Savannah

Ranked by coolest town/community - 1 Savannah, 2 Charleston, 3 Pensacola

Since you are re-locating from New York, I would recommend Charleston.

This is incredibly helpful. I love well-reasoned and simple advice. And since we'd be driving down in the fall and back in the spring, Charleston has the added advantage of being the closest to NYC. 

2 hours ago, RobbieB said:

Lanier is great.  Charlotte/Lake Norman has some decent activity. Charleston is very active.  Small little Beaufort, SC has decent activity as well and South Carolina Yacht Club in Hilton Head is active.  There's others including Augusta Sailing club and Columbia sailing club.  

The lakes won't work for the boss. She says it has to be the ocean. ;) And what the boss says, I do. But if we end up headed toward Charleston I'll DM you. 

1 hour ago, THOR said:

I love Pensacola  area   check out Ft Walton as well  the Yacht Club is awesome ....pretty sure they have a youth program as well 

 

Will do. Plus, our cat is named Thor so there's another point for Pensacola. Kids named him after Noah Syndergaard. 

 

Thank you all. Greatest source on knowledge on the web is always on SA. 

2N (+ family)

 

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2Newts,

    I live about 15 miles from the Pensacola Yacht Club in Orange Beach just over the Alabama line and can attest to the whole area and the PYC as being well suited for your sailing interests. My Mom has a big house on Lake Lanier as well so I am familiar with those waters as well but haven't spent much time under sail as during the warm sailing weather what little wind there is gets knocked out of ones sails by the idiots in the go fast powerboats. That can sometimes be an issue down here on the Redneck RIviera but at least you can get away from them. The lake level gets lowered in Lanier during the winter months which is rather unsightly but it is rather cold for sailing. Mikey is a better authority on the Lanier sailing scene than I am. The Coast here is much more temperate in the winter months.

    You might want to take a look at this kids sailing program sponsored by the City of Orange Beach which I have come close to taking a coaching/teaching job. I think they are still conducting the program in this Summer of COVID but check the dates as I think it is a Summer out of School sort of schedule. 

https://www.orangebeachal.gov/facilities/wind-water-learning-center/youth-summer-sail-camp

    Pretty good effort by a small drinking village that reputedly has a fishing problem...

The Wind and Water Center

811_5-10-13-2.jpg

 

https://obparksandrec.com/windwaterlearningcen/newhomeforsailcamp.html

 

 

Wind & Water Learning Center | Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

 

For the adults (kids too) here is the local low key yacht club just North of Orange Beach across the Intercoastal Waterway know as 'The Point Yacht Club'. They have a pretty good fleet of club racers and is one of the last hangouts for the Buccaneer Class. Not a blue blazer sort of club but they have activities all year round and a great family environment.

Who could resist an event called the 'Cheeseburger Regatta?

image.jpeg.006d644f38d4a9903faad83cd99355bf.jpeg

http://www.pointyachtclub.org/about/

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPSmadbSD67YbaPZnLSt08PXOtvligfsqxHW8_n4SIqrIf5li3G5sLYC56PDVpalg?key=b050Vm4xWmc5NXVXNHZRS3dkZHd0Zlp5RnBoci1B

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23 hours ago, 2Newts said:

I'm looking for help from anyone who knows the sailing community in Charleston SC, Savannah GA, or Pensacola FL. 

Here's the story: we live in NYC with grade-school age kids. School starts next week in-person, but we are not expecting that to last long - we think we'll all be back on remote learning by Halloween. And the idea of a winter in the northeast with everyone at home trying to work and study is just way beyond daunting. So we are thinking of renting a place in Charleston or Savannah, or maybe even Pensacola, from November or December 1 onward. We know these communities by reputation only but have visited none of them. But we like the idea of a smaller, walkable city by the water that has decent winter weather. One of our deciding factors if we do this will be whether there is a decent year-round sailing community and whether there are year-round programs for younger kids. We'd probably be looking to charter or otherwise secure the usage of a boat for evening/weekend races plus we'd love for the kids to get more time in Opti's, which they missed out on this summer on Long Island Sound as most programs were canceled. 

Recognizing that the above may not be possible, I'd love to connect with any Anarchists who know these communities and can help guide us with information and/or contacts. 

Thanks so much, 

2N

Having done a bareboat charter out of Pensacola in Mid March one year, I can tell you it was a *cold week*.  Down to 38F a couple  of nights.  It did eek out 60 and sun a couple of days, but we now have a saying in our house, "it ain't as cold as Florida!".

So, it might be warmer than NYC in January, but sometimes not by much.  It ain't South Florida, is what we learned.

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Pensacola is the syphilis capital of America. Add my ex living in Gulf Breeze and FUCK THAT, even if the sailing and Gulf is nice.

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19 minutes ago, trimfast said:

Pensacola is the syphilis capital of America. Add my ex living in Gulf Breeze and FUCK THAT, even if the sailing and Gulf is nice.

What a tool trim, then it must be your ex responsible for your bullshit facts! Pensacola is rated No 61 by the military studies and who should know better. Go fuck yourself if this is all you can contribute...

BTW, can you give me her phone number?

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I am closing on a 2 bedroom on James Island at end of September.  Out of Towner and entire deal being done by distance.  

My Realtor is Paul Quigley pquigley@century21.com   Now I know the area but cannot be in Charleston .  So far he has done a superb job.  He is based in Mount Pleasant. Background is construction.  Set me straight on one property with big issues.  If you have any thoughts of Charleston to buy this guy is perfect for out of Towners.  . Happy to find low cost property in the best areas

 

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9 minutes ago, Rasputin22 said:
30 minutes ago, trimfast said:

Pensacola is the syphilis capital of America. Add my ex living in Gulf Breeze and FUCK THAT, even if the sailing and Gulf is nice.

What a tool trim, then it must be your ex responsible for your bullshit facts! Pensacola is rated No 61 by the military studies and who should know better. Go fuck yourself if this is all you can contribute...

BTW, can you give me her phone number?

Thisse dossentte seeme licke a discussione foire publice consumptione...........

Allso seemes licke herre numbere mabey readilley availlabelle in localle restroomes............. juste sayeng....                        :)

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10 minutes ago, Kent H said:

Set me straight on one property with big issues.  If you have any thoughts of Charleston to buy this guy is perfect for out of Towners.  . Happy to find low cost property in the best areas

Gladde thinges wentte welle........... howe muche koolle aide didde you drick?                                  :)

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Oh huge amounts.  I was ready to make an offer just by what I saw from Zillow.  Paul shut down that idea quick.  Charleston is a great place.  But a building code has not been a priority.   Water finds its way into all sorts of places.  Mold, bugs, sinking structures.  This guy drives a pickup, looks like a Contractor but saved me big time. 

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2 minutes ago, Kent H said:

Oh huge amounts.  I was ready to make an offer just by what I saw from Zillow.  Paul shut down that idea quick.  Charleston is a great place.  But a building code has not been a priority.   Water finds its way into all sorts of places.  Mold, bugs, sinking structures.  This guy drives a pickup, looks like a Contractor but saved me big time. 

Gladde to hearre,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,                        :)

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Curious why the wife insists on an ocean instead of a lake.  To me that means beaches and Pensacola has some of the best beaches you will find.  Nothing in GA or SC comes close.  As for weather Pensacola also will be much warmer in the winter.  I have gone to the beach in Panama City New Years Day and went swimming.  Not sure if it makes any difference but FL has no state income tax; unlike GA and SC.  I am not sure how to assess schools for kids since COVID-19 has made a mess of everything.  I do know the FL teachers union is suing to prevent schools opening.  Last I saw the guv in SC said schools will only teach remotely.  In any case this seems to be in flux.  I worked in Gulf Breeze for a while; it is much more upscale than Pensacola proper but I really liked the area.  Later worked in SE GA in several places including Brunswick and Savana.  Seems like the cost of living was lower in both places.  Can't really speak to Charleston except for visits.  I spent many years doing IT/GIS consulting and have to say I liked Pensacola/Gulf Breeze best.

Keep in mind that while sailing is of interest most of us spend a lot more time doing something else.  But in terms of sailing Pensacola is close to Niceville and Panama City which have sailing opportunities as well as places to the West.  Both Charleston and Savana are fairly close and there is some overlap but not that much else I know of.

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If it’s really warmth you want, all of those are too far north. Sarasota has its sailing squadron, St Pete YC is active, or even something like around Miami would probably be more what you are wanting in a winter avoidance. 

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On 8/28/2020 at 8:53 PM, Kent H said:

Charleston is a great place.  But a building code has not been a priority.   Water finds its way into all sorts of places.  Mold, bugs, sinking structures.  

TRUE!  My house was built in '77.  Every time I crack open a wall there's a nice surprise to contend with!  Fortunately at 12' elevation I'm on the "high ground" around here, but ad on's and a poorly laid pool deck through the years with no thought regarding drainage has been fun to deal with, but a well placed sump pump will do wonders.  

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Super helpful, all around. 

It's not so much warmth that we are after as it is the lack of cold plus some sky color other than battleship gray. And why near the coast and not at a lake? Well, it's complicated and would require me to actually understand what motivates the boss, but she just really loves the ocean whether that's being on a sailboat, on a motorboat, on a beach, or just in a city/town with a connection to the sea. 

Keeping in mind that this would just be a rental for ~4 months, we also see this as an opportunity to get to know somewhere new to us. Yes we have considered further south in Florida but it gets complicated since she has some family in Miami and the closer we get to that the closer we get to "why did you pick ____ when you could have just come here to live near me. I never get to see my grandchildren and you are a horrible daughter." So there's that. 

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On 8/28/2020 at 10:37 AM, BFD said:

Don't move to Charleston.  Too many people.

And too much traffic and a lack of parking.

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On 8/28/2020 at 7:08 PM, trimfast said:

Pensacola is the syphilis capital of America. Add my ex living in Gulf Breeze and FUCK THAT, even if the sailing and Gulf is nice.

I would have thought Gainesville as the syphilis capital with Tallahassee a close second and that retirement community in Fla a close third.

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St Pete or Sarasota Fl. Much nicer towns than Pensacola and just as good sailing/beach. 

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Considering it's the Florida panhandle, Pensacola is reasonably cosmopolitan compared to many towns in L.A. ("Lower Alabama" ;-), due in large part to the presence of the Navy for both aviation and ships, and it being a commercial ship port.

I don't know the racing scene there, but it is the terminus for the 'Race to the Coast" from New Orleans. Yes it can get cold in winter but mostly it's warmer days.  Beautiful beaches, short winters, and a sizable scuba diving community as well (my main reason for a visit).  

Yup, you're in Hurricane alley, but so are the other two.

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I don’t agree. having lived in both P’cola and Mobile (AL), Mobile is (to my surprise) far more cosmopolitan. Mobile is a larger port, and it has a real university, maybe these are why.

Y’know, NOLA does have an active racing fleet (see NOYC.org) and its water no browner than Charleston or Savannah, food is FAR better, of course the nightlife, culture... coming from Gnu Yawk, might find NOLA more to your liking, actually 

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On 8/28/2020 at 7:08 PM, trimfast said:

Pensacola is the syphilis capital of America. Add my ex living in Gulf Breeze and FUCK THAT, even if the sailing and Gulf is nice.

Well, you sure about that?  Here's a color-coded map for STDs in general, Pensacola comes off better than most places (and New Orleans among the worst, uh-oh) 

https://www.innerbody.com/std-testing/std-statistics

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5 hours ago, nolatom said:

  a sizable scuba diving community as well (my main reason for a visit).  

 

what's to dive in Pensa?   go out to the dive bombing ranges and look for duds?

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10 minutes ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

what's to dive in Pensa?   go out to the dive bombing ranges and look for duds?

A sunk Liberty ship.  The remains of a WW1-era freighter (known as the "Russian freighter", though it wasn't Russian) that was intentionally sunk during WW2 to test out a "drone" attack boat loaded with explosives.  Some bridge rubble that makes good creature habitat. A number other sunk wrecks:

https://www.google.com/search?q=pensacola+diving+sites&rlz=1C1GCEB_enUS914US914&oq=pensacola+diving+sites&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l3.9518j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Some reef, but unremarkable.  No coral, it's still too cold.

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22 hours ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

what's to dive in Pensa?   go out to the dive bombing ranges and look for duds?

The highlight is a sunken carrier oriskany ,the  big O. Plenty of other stuff and lots of artificial reefs in Alabama coast waters which are very close including sunken US tanks which are pretty cool.    

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The big dive event in Pcola these days is the Lionfish Spearfishing Tournament. Last years was moved just down the road to Destin.

Emerald Coast Lionfish Tournament

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I live in Hilton Head SC north of Savannah. I keep a daysailor in a wet slip here, and the sailing is very nice in the local rivers and sounds. However, for dinghy racing, myself and 3 guys from Savannah are all members of the Beaufort SC club and drive an hour there to do so. Most active fleet is MC Scow for adults, and the usual Opti, Laser, and 420 for the kids.

Savannah doesnt have much racing, is NOT on the ocean, and the walkable part of the city is on the river where you rarely see a sailboat, but rather huge container ships. SYC is an upscale country club type place, very nice,  great docks, but definitely not a community sailing vibe. Charleston also has the container traffic in the Cooper River, but the Ashley River side of the peninsula is where both Charleston Yacht Club and James Island Yacht Club are located. The usual small dinghys for kids, Lightnings and Y Flyers for adults, and a pretty good PHRF scene. It would certainly be the choice anywhere on the coast of the Carolinas or Georgia.

I am unfamiliar with Pensacola, but Sarasota has a great dinghy racing club and venue and a great non resident membership deal, and year round sailing. HOWEVER, rumor has it they may call off all fall racing. Clearwater has a big community sailing program. Don't know south fla at all.

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The Sarasota Sailing Squadron is the heart of all racing in the area. There’s some out of the Bradenton YC but very little if any out of the Sarasota YC. Adjoining the SSS is a youth sailing venue. Not sure if that is part of SSS or SYC. About an hr North there sis lots of racing in and around St Pete including the St Pete Sailing Center, SPYC (home of the St Pete NOODS), and the Davis Island YC. 

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On 9/1/2020 at 9:13 AM, Max Rockatansky said:

I don’t agree. having lived in both P’cola and Mobile (AL), Mobile is (to my surprise) far more cosmopolitan. Mobile is a larger port, and it has a real university, maybe these are why.

Y’know, NOLA does have an active racing fleet (see NOYC.org) and its water no browner than Charleston or Savannah, food is FAR better, of course the nightlife, culture... coming from Gnu Yawk, might find NOLA more to your liking, actually 

NOLA is great, but at some point it's worth mentioning the distances and times:

Charleston - NYC: 11-12hrs' drive (775mi)

Savannah - NYC: 12-13hrs' drive (870mi)

Pensacola - NYC: 18-19hrs' drive (1210mi)

NOLA - NYC: 19-20hrs (1300mi)

It's easy to forget that FL is as long E-W as it is N-S.  It means those Gulf Coast are just that much farther from NYC.  While I don't think nonstop flights will be coming back that soon, if they were, the flying time from Charleston to NYC is only about 90mins.

From Charleston, it takes as long to drive to NOLA as it does to NYC. 

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On 9/1/2020 at 12:50 PM, nolatom said:

A sunk Liberty ship.  The remains of a WW1-era freighter (known as the "Russian freighter", though it wasn't Russian) that was intentionally sunk during WW2 to test out a "drone" attack boat loaded with explosives.  Some bridge rubble that makes good creature habitat. A number other sunk wrecks:

https://www.google.com/search?q=pensacola+diving+sites&rlz=1C1GCEB_enUS914US914&oq=pensacola+diving+sites&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l3.9518j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Some reef, but unremarkable.  No coral, it's still too cold.

Haven't dove the freighter in many many years and even then it just looked like a large pile of scrap metal.  The natural bottom starts in about 80' but lots of it out there if you know where to look. 

My folks live on the east side of town and it is still pretty nice but the West side of Pensacola is getting pretty bad from what I hear violent crime is up.  I visit every month or so.  

It all depends on what you are looking for.  I do not think anyone has ever accused Pensacola of being a cultural center.  

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Re the Russian freighter, true enough, but those three firetube “Scotch” boilers are a cool piece of history, and tracing the tailshaft pieces is fun.  And for the longest time, I hadn’t heard the real (and at the time, Classified) story as to why the hull was so shattered.

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On 9/8/2020 at 2:31 PM, jewingiv said:

NOLA is great, but at some point it's worth mentioning the distances and times:

Charleston - NYC: 11-12hrs' drive (775mi)

Savannah - NYC: 12-13hrs' drive (870mi)

Pensacola - NYC: 18-19hrs' drive (1210mi)

NOLA - NYC: 19-20hrs (1300mi)

It's easy to forget that FL is as long E-W as it is N-S.  It means those Gulf Coast are just that much farther from NYC.  While I don't think nonstop flights will be coming back that soon, if they were, the flying time from Charleston to NYC is only about 90mins.

From Charleston, it takes as long to drive to NOLA as it does to NYC. 

Yep, this matters. Sarasota/St.Pete, which some people have mentioned, are similar distance as Pensacola but have more active winter sailing programs. 

So I think it comes down to either Charleston or Sarasota/St.Pete:

Charleston: The drive is reasonably short enough that the wife can make it in one day with the kids while I take longer trailering the motorboat down; we probably forego sailing in the Jan-Mar time frame due to the weather and non-existence of any winter programs other than frostbiting, but at least we have the motorboat to go fishing and otherwise get out on the water on nice days. 

Sarasota/St.Pete: A much longer drive and too far to take the motorboat, but there very well could be youth sailing programs in the Jan-Mar time frame and very well could be round-the-bouy racing in which we as a family could participate. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, 2Newts said:

Yep, this matters. Sarasota/St.Pete, which some people have mentioned, are similar distance as Pensacola but have more active winter sailing programs. 

So I think it comes down to either Charleston or Sarasota/St.Pete:

Charleston: The drive is reasonably short enough that the wife can make it in one day with the kids while I take longer trailering the motorboat down; we probably forego sailing in the Jan-Mar time frame due to the weather and non-existence of any winter programs other than frostbiting, but at least we have the motorboat to go fishing and otherwise get out on the water on nice days. 

Sarasota/St.Pete: A much longer drive and too far to take the motorboat, but there very well could be youth sailing programs in the Jan-Mar time frame and very well could be round-the-bouy racing in which we as a family could participate. 

 

 

Be aware that "frostbiting" in Charleston feels a lot more like late October sailing in metro NY than true Jan/Feb frostbiting.  Water temps in the 50s, air in the 50s/60s and sometimes even 70s.  The only downside is that there is not a huge amount of breeze in winter, which makes it a bit more like SF.  The flip side is that weather is often great for hopping in your motorboat and exploring the uninhabited barrier islands (including possible camping on one of them) without the drawbacks of either bugs or party flotillas.  The sea breeze starts to return in March alongside warmer air temps.  

The College of Charleston offers community programs as well as membership that allows local sailors to take their boats out for a sail.  They're open year-round and have a large (I believe 12) fleet of J/22s:

https://sailing.cofc.edu/community-outlets/

 

 

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