As far as we can tell, during this era of climate change the best time of year to travel along the US East Coast is Memorial Day (last Monday in May, for you non-US readers) through Labor Day (first Monday of September). I'm not saying the East Coast weather is "lovely" during this time - because I do not do well at all with Central-American style high heat and humidity - but during the summer there are no significant weather events that prevent boat travel for prolonged periods. Except of course for hurricanes, but gosh, those are so well forecast, you have plenty of time to get yourself and your boat far enough inland to avoid them. So if you want to cruise the US East Coast, have at it from June to September.
Back when we were first fantasizing about visiting the East Coast, we'd felt we wanted to see as much of it as we possibly could - and we wanted to cruise as far north as Newfoundland. I'd even wanted to be screeched in. But once we landed in Florida reality intruded.
For us, our Florida refit lasted well into July, 2011, so we'd spent almost half of the optimum season for easy travel along the East Coast. We'd already come a far distance (from our slow, coastal-cruising point of view) - Panama to Mexico to Florida in two months - and that travel plus the refit work plus the more intense pace of US urban life tired us out. We'd spent large dollars for the refit so had fewer funds for extended travel. It was growing hotter and more humid; by July lightning storms were becoming more frequent. Hurricane season was pressing upon us.
Instead of sailing north as fast as we could and seeing less than we wanted to, we decided to go somewhere safe and affordable, where we could live aboard for the rest of hurricane season and do some local tourism. Our search of the whole East Coast led us to one destination: Brunswick Landing Marina in southern Georgia, several miles off the Intracoastal Waterway. Brunswick is the perfect place for a boat to hide from a hurricane: easy, deep access from the Atlantic, up St. Simons Sound and a river tributary; and over 70 miles west of the Gulf Stream where hurricanes travel. The Marina has very hip staff, lots of docks - all good and new, with all kinds of cruiser amenities. Bonus: Brunswick Landing Marina is an easy overnight trip from Fort Pierce, Florida, sailing offshore. We could hardly wait to get there.
Our departure from Stuart took some time: to negotiate the shallow St. Lucie River to its intersection with the Intracoastal Waterway and head north to Fort Pierce, about 25 miles away, we needed to leave at close to high tide which was at about 1p.m. Why head to Fort Pierce? Because the Fort Pierce inlet to the Atlantic was the nearest place we could take a boat with The Fox's draft out to sea. The Fort Pierce inlet is deep-ish, well marked, straight and short. Of course it's the place to get offshore.
Before we left Stuart we had take on fuel. Before we could take on fuel we had to wait an hour while a lightning storm cell rolled past. Once the lightning cleared and we fueled up, we were on our way in the early afternoon on a falling tide. We still had enough water to reach the ICW and make for Fort Pierce. To make this afternoon trip more entertaining, a second lightning cell followed us out of Stuart and gave us many non-fond memories of Costa Rica.
Long story short, the trip was wet and dark, puctuated by frequent flashes of lightning from close overhead. The two of us were all nervous-like, from being blinded by the lightning flashes and staring at the depth sounder. It was Such Fun.
Rapidly getting wrung out and strung out, we looked for possible anchorages along the ICW but found none that corresponded favorably to our 6'3" draft. Light was almost gone by the time we reached Fort Pierce's main transient anchorage and dropped our hook about 4 inches off the ICW. (And in about 4 inches of water.) Lucky for us the weather kept the boat traffic light, so we were in no big danger. And so to bed.
Next morning we made tracks for Brunswick...