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post #21 of 26 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: Snow Birds?

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Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
We didn't learn about the condition of the ICW or the possible closure of "The Loop" until after we bought our boat.

It wasn't our first choice to buy a boat on the Pacific, but NOW, I don't think we would have minded it at all.
What is this present "condition" of the ICW that you're referring to? What is your draft?

There is no other coastline of such length in the entire world better suited to doing the Snowbird Routine, than the East coast of the US. No one in their right mind would assert that the West coast is friendlier', or better suited, to sailing north and south with the seasons in a small sailing yacht, than is the Atlantic seaboard, with its multiplicity of estuaries, inland and protected waterways, and evenly-spaced harbors...
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Re: Snow Birds?

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Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
What is this present "condition" of the ICW that you're referring to? What is your draft?

There is no other coastline of such length in the entire world better suited to doing the Snowbird Routine, than the East coast of the US. No one in their right mind would assert that the West coast is friendlier', or better suited, to sailing north and south with the seasons in a small sailing yacht, than is the Atlantic seaboard, with its multiplicity of estuaries, inland and protected waterways, and evenly-spaced harbors...
We have a 5' draft and are reading news articles concerning the problems with the ICW and how the commercial companies were saying they at least a grounding a day with barges.

I've talked with a couple of loopers here at this Marina who said they had issues on the ICW.

I was trying to find the article I read that talked about Commercial traffic that had to bypass the ICW and go into open waters because the ICW was so shallow. I was trying to find it because I know that some "know it all" is going to want to argue and say there is nothing wrong with the ICW.

They don't dredge it, if you get caught on the ICW at low tide you'll be laying on your side for 6 hours waiting for it to come back up, the channels are poorly marked or not marked at all in areas....

Concerning the Atlantic vs The Pacific coast, this is what a licensed Captain told me. I've never sailed anything other than a Hobie cat that was beach launched on the Atlantic, so I have to assume he knows what he is talking about:

The west coast isn't that bad for navigation really. The Pacific is a
little rougher than the Atlantic, but the east coast has way more hazards.



This article from 2004 talks about the Bush Administration killing the funding for dredging on the ICW and based on what I keep reading, that funding has not been returned by the current administration.

If it was this bad in 2004, how much worse is it after 10 years of neglect?

That being said, I don't have a lot of navigation or boating experience and the idea of going up the ICW doesn't sound relaxing or fun at all to me.

Further Reading: Intracoastal Waterway needs dredging to stay open [Archive] - SCDUCKS.COM Forums

Intracoastal Waterway needs dredging to stay open to commerce
By BRIAN HICKS - The (Charleston) Post and Courier
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* External Link The Post and Courier | Charleston SC, News, Sports, Entertainment

CHARLESTON, S.C. --
A few years ago, Capt. Jim Donnelly didn't think the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway could get any worse.

His tugboat was running aground regularly as the federal government allowed the waterway to silt in, ignoring its own law that requires a 12-foot channel at low tide.

Then, on a trip through Charleston a few months back, Donnelly saw just how much worse it's gotten.

"Just north of the Ben Sawyer Bridge, I saw people wading across the Intracoastal Waterway," Donnelly said recently.

In the past three years, commercial traffic on the waterway has dried up even more. Many captains won't travel the route anymore and consider it closed south of Morehead City, N.C.

Some of the larger recreational boats that travel the coast have been forced offshore into the more dangerous, and unpredictable Atlantic.

Now, after six straight years of budget cuts, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is barely more than a third the depth it should be. Unless something changes soon, the East Coast's maritime highway could become the nautical equivalent of a dirt road, grounding $10 billion in commercial and recreational commerce and cutting off some of Charleston's supply of fuel, building materials and transit-boat business.

"It's getting worse out there," said Benjamin "Bos" Smith, operations manager of Stevens Towing. "It's like having a road - if you don't maintain it, you can't use it."

Since 2001, the Bush administration has slashed most money to the waterway by using a funding formula that doesn't consider recreational traffic.

Counting only commercial traffic, much of which has been forced offshore by shoddy conditions in "The Ditch," the waterway doesn't qualify for dredging and maintenance money.

Danny Pelletier, a deckhand on the Island Express stands at the end of barges as they are beached on a barrier island in Lockwoods Folly after the tug they were attached to ran aground.

The waterway, which is made up of natural and man-made channels, is open to the ocean at countless inlets and requires constant dredging to fight off the accretion and erosion caused by the tides. A lack of funding leads to shallower channels, which lead to less traffic, which proves the argument for cutting the money. It is the classic Catch-22, say the tug operators and officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the waterway.

"There's just no way we can compete with the Mississippi River," said Jimmy Hadden, the Corps of Engineers local project manager for the waterway. "Basically, we've been getting caretaker money. I've probably got a 4-foot controlling depth."

That means at low tide, there are spots along the channel that are 4 feet deep. Corps officials have estimated that the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which runs 1,200 miles from Norfolk, Va., to Miami, needs more than $100 million in work.

The limited work that has been done on the waterway since 2001 has come from congressional additions to the budgets. For South Carolina, that has amounted to an average of about $800,000 a year. It's been enough to monitor the problem and spray for mosquitoes but little else. The last dredging project was done near Georgetown in 2005.

This year, the Senate version of the federal budget includes $3.8 million, and the House and the president's versions of the budget include $872,000.

Donnelly said that for his tug, the Island Express, to make a waterway trip, his barges must have shallower drafts than they used to. A few years ago, the tug could make the trip up the coast with barges that had a 9-foot draft. Now, they can only load to a 7.5-foot draft.

"That's a big difference when you get paid by the ton," Donnelly said.

Even if South Carolina can get money to make a dent in the dredging, it does little good without other states getting the same. The Corps of Engineers says that the waterway needs to be considered one project, instead of making each state fend for itself.

Georgia hasn't had any dredging in about six years, according to waterway supporters, and behind Jekyll Island, the channel is mostly mud at low tide. If not for a military fuel barge that still makes the run, pushing mud the whole way, the waterway would probably be gone there.

Of course, South Carolina is not far behind.

If something doesn't change soon, Smith said, it may not be just his tugboats and other commercial traffic that can't get through.

"We only go through the waterway behind Breach Inlet on a rising tide," Smith said. "It's getting so bad that before long, a sailboat won't be able to get through. We've just got to ask ourselves: Is this a valuable resource or not?"
Information


Here is another article saying basically the same thing from 2007

After six straight years of reduced federal funding for the waterway's maintenance, several portions of it have filled with silt, grounding several large boats and discouraging commercial and recreational marine traffic.

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post #23 of 26 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: Snow Birds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
We have a 5' draft and are reading news articles concerning the problems with the ICW and how the commercial companies were saying they at least a grounding a day with barges.

I've talked with a couple of loopers here at this Marina who said they had issues on the ICW.
Being concerned about "a couple" compared to the thousands who take it each year tells me that you're over thinking this. What are their reasons? Masts too high? Draft too deep? They just hated the motoring they had to do? The ICW isn't for everyone for all sorts of reasons. Some prefer sailing more than motoring so they travel on the outside. Others hate waiting around for bridges to open. Some don't like to deal with the large power boats in narrow channels.

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Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post

I was trying to find the article I read that talked about Commercial traffic that had to bypass the ICW and go into open waters because the ICW was so shallow. I was trying to find it because I know that some "know it all" is going to want to argue and say there is nothing wrong with the ICW.

They don't dredge it, if you get caught on the ICW at low tide you'll be laying on your side for 6 hours waiting for it to come back up, the channels are poorly marked or not marked at all in areas.......
Don't compare the needs of commercial vessels to recreational boats. Again: over thinking. Some commercial vessels need deep channels. In the Chesapeake the commercial channels are at least 45 feet deep. If those channels went away, sure the commercial traffic would stop but it wouldn't impact any recreational boat, most of which don't consistently sail within the channels anyway.

And if you find yourself grounded, what's the problem waiting for the tide? Happens all the time.

There is tons of support for boaters traveling the ICW and the The Loop. Local knowledge, flotillas of people who go together to help newbies on their first trip, radio nets, etc.

I understand that you're trying to get as much information as possible before sticking your toe in, I'm the same way. I'm sure that I don't "know it all" but I've sailed part of the ICW and have friends who take it every year and I think I "know enough" to say that before you talk yourself into a lather, I would suggest that you try researching the folks who are out there and happily experiencing the bi-annual commute with no problems that can't be overcome. Don't just pay attention to the negatives without proper context.

St. Augustine is a popular stop for snow birds and has an extremely strong support system for assistance, local knowledge, etc.

St Augustine Cruiser's Net

Mark Doyle and his wife are a great ICW resource. They sell cruising guides to the ICW and on my trip provided a lot of helpful information to us concerning inlets, marinas, etc. We had their book open in the cockpit and received almost daily emails from them as they were following our trip up the coast.

If you Google "Wally Moran ICW", he has all sorts of support for new ICW cruisers. One of his videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40Z_RvztdT0

And his ICW blog: LiveBloggin' the ICW

Donna



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post #24 of 26 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: Snow Birds?

New England is the snowbirds place to be during hurricane season, IMO. However, we're not immune. This past season was the first out of the past four that I didn't haul for a near miss. I think it was Earl that really had the potential to be the next big one, but it just grazed us.

Nevertheless, for a cruiser, you learn of these coming at least a week off and you can escape to either the Hudson or Maine and there are literally hundreds of hurricane holes between.


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post #25 of 26 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: Snow Birds?

The cost to step the mast at both ends of the Erie Canal on a boat your size is much, much, much, much less than the additional cost in fuel, provisions, and general boat wear and tear, of continuing up the coast,then up the St. Lawrence.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere:


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post #26 of 26 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: Snow Birds?

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Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
They don't dredge it, if you get caught on the ICW at low tide you'll be laying on your side for 6 hours waiting for it to come back up, the channels are poorly marked or not marked at all in areas....
Donna is right, you've been given some wrong and outdated information by some folks who don't know what they're talking about...

Sure, there are some tricky/trouble spots here and there, but the ICW will pose few difficulties for anyone with 5' draft, and who's actually paying attention :-)
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