Captain Frank Nicolois packed up his gear and began his trek south from Staten Island Marina on his client’s Princess 62 to his final port of Fort Lauderdale. Every year hundreds of boaters migrate to warmer weather, with Florida and the Caribbean being the top two destinations. In fact, Viking Yachts CEO Pat Healey believes that over 70% of all Vikings in the U.S. end up passing through South Florida on a yearly basis!
A trip from New York to Florida can be an incredibly rewarding journey. Dolphins and whales can be seen swimming in your wake as you cruise southward while coastal towns to the west provide amazing scenery. Some, like Capt. Frank, are able to make it in just a few days by running outside and avoiding the ICW. “Running boats to Florida was something I used to do all the time, but lately it has become ‘by special request’ from my customers,” says Frank. Being the premier brokerage firm in the Northeast and a dealer for brands like Viking, Princess, Prestige Yachts, Absolute, and HCB Center-Console Yachts, many of SI Yachts’ customers make the voyage south and often rely on team members like Frank for guidance and tips on where to stop. “The number one thing I tell my clients is to pick the best weather,” he continued. “Normally I try and leave at the end of October or beginning of November depending on what the forecast looks like.”
Frank’s course included only 4 stops on his most recent adventure south, Virginia Beach, Morehead City, Charleston, and St. Augustine, before finally reaching Fort Lauderdale. Each destination is selected based on the convenience of several factors like ease of inlet access, fuel availability, dockage, and restaurants. “I try to run at least 200 miles on average each day, but with the Princess 62 I was able to reach 250 miles. That gives me 8 hours of running which is plenty of time to make it to your next destination for relaxing and a little sightseeing. The key to a successful trip like this is to plan ahead and know where you’re going to stop.”
If you’re considering making the trip south without the help of an experienced captain, here are some tips from Capt. Frank himself on making your voyage more enjoyable and efficient:
- Always do a service check-up before your trip to make sure everything is in working order. It’s smart to have a selection of boat service companies along your journey just in case. When in doubt, call us at SI Yachts and we’ll figure out how to help you.
- Make sure all safety gear is on board and in working order – epirb, life jackets, life raft, first aid. You never know when you might need it.
- Fall days are shorter and trying to navigate in an unfamiliar inlet can be difficult. Leave as early as possible in order to make it to your next stop before the sun goes down.
- If you’re goal is to make it south as quickly as possible, bring food that is easy and requires little preparation. I love a good poptart at first thing in the morning!
- Schedule a celebratory cocktail and dinner at the end of each day’s trip. If the weather turns rough, it could make for a long day and having this to look forward to makes for a more enjoyable trip.
- I like to stay near shore. Getting in the ICW ends up taking too much time with no wake zones and boat traffic.
- If it’s not too inconvenient, more your life raft into the salon where it’s easily accessible at a moment’s notice. You can never be too careful no matter who new your boat or yacht is.
- Tell a family member or friend your route and then check in with them once you reach your destination each day. If you don’t arrive, they can call the coast guard and let them know your float plan.
- Engine checks while running are key. Put some ear muffs on and climb down into the engine room and just look around. Is everything running ok? Make sure to look in the bilges as well.
- Trust the buoys over your GPS. There are several inlets where GPS shows you on land which is a bit scary. Use common sense and watch the navigational beacons coming into an inlet.
- Last of all, get to know who you’re tied up next to at each marina. Friendships are often formed and you can even end up running south with them which adds an extra layer of safety to your trip.
Owning a boat or yacht is about making memories with your loved ones that last a lifetime. What better way to spend a week or more on the water than cruising to tropical destinations. Since 1964, SI Yachts has been helping boaters achieve their dreams whether it be through the purchase of a new or used yacht, selling a client’s yacht through our Diamond Listing program, or servicing your boat in our world-class marina. SI Yachts is also an active advocate for swimming safety for kids while boating. Give us a call today at (718) 984-7676 if you have any questions about your current boat, your desire for a new one, or with advice on how to make the cruise southward in the Fall.