Advice Heading South on the ICW - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 54 Old 01-24-2007 Thread Starter
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Advice Heading South on the ICW

This thread will be used to post questions and advice on the passage south on the East Coast ICW. Let's try to keep this ICW specific along with advice on outside jumps along the inlets. Hopefully this can become a good resource for the thousands that head north and south each year on this incredible natrional resource.
I'll be putting together some initial thoughts on preparation for the trip shortly but anyone with questions or experience is welcome to chime in here.
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post #2 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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My initial question would be, why?

52-foot Tayana ketch confined to the ditch? Sail her!
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post #3 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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The best advice is to get unlimited towing insurance. This is the best $120 you'll ever spend. I have run aground a few times and was fortunate to get off by myself all but once when a passing 27' sailboat was kind enough to pull me off. I have never used the insurance so far (been going up and down since 1990) but it's worth it just for the peace of mind. Bear in mind that getting hauled off just once will usually cost at least $500.

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post #4 of 54 Old 01-24-2007 Thread Starter
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Aasem...the advice is not for me.
Vasco...yep...I second that notion. If it is a first trip...you probably will end up being booted from the insurance!
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post #5 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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When transiting from Long Island Sound through to NY, How is the East River and what advice can you offer for that area?

Dave
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post #6 of 54 Old 01-24-2007 Thread Starter
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OK...For first timers down the ICW.
The waterway between Norfolk and Miami is about 1200 miles. Minimum depths are about 6 ft. but most often you will be travelling in 8-15 feet of water. There are a few REALLY shallow spots and we will deal with these separately.
Bridges are 65' or more or are opening bridges. There are always tales of low bridges and indeed on unusually high tides or after lots of storm rain, bridges will get "lower" so you do need to pay attention to local conditions but I've carried 64' through the entire waterway and never scaped an antenna. The one bridge hat does NOT conform to this is the Julia Tuttle bridge in Miami which is 57' and if you have a tall mast you need to jump outside at Ft. Lauderdale for the 30 mile trip into Miami to avoid the bridge.

The waterway is quite well marked with red triangular markers and green sqares and most of the waterway is narrow and not suited to sailing. You may be able to sail about 10% of the time so a GOOD engine and clean fuel tanks is essential. Beause most of the waterway is so narrow, it is also protected and even small boats can do the trip quite safely if they can wait a day or two in bad weather to transit the open sections. There are hundreds of anchorages along the way so the trip doesn't have to cost a lot of money and the marinas can provide a welcome break now and then along with fuel, water and repairs. Most cruisers try to make about 50 miles a day so it is possible to "do" the trip in 3 weeks but you will miss a lot of good stuff if you don't stop and rest and enjoy some of the neat towns and places along the way. Night travel is NOT recommended as many markers are not lit and barge traffic can be hazardous.

There are dozens of "waterway guides" & charts out there. My personal favorites are the Maptech ChartKits for navigation and Skipper Bob's Guide to anchorages on the ICW...which also provides detailed shoaling and bridge opening and clearance info. The Maptech Charts are good for offshore jumps too which a lot of the guides do not cover. If you plan to go offshore for some of the trip...Steve Dodges Guide to SE US inlets is the bible. All of this stuff is available at www.bluewaterweb.com if you can't find it locally. If you want additonal detailed info about marinas and towns along the way, the mid-Atlantic and Southern waterway guides are good to have.
Since shoaling and bridge closings and schedules can happen AFTER the above stuff is published, before leaving you should mark up your charts with the latest problem spots and advice from online sources. The two best I've found are:
Tom and Mel Neal's East Coast Alerts Here
Skipper Bob's Update Page Here

Chartplotters are GREAT BUT do not follow the magenta line. Navigate from marker to marker staying mid channel and round your turns off. Move to the green or red side of the channel based on your notes. Chartplotters WILL leave you aground in the ICW if you rely on them.

OK...that's it for now. Questions...comments...alternative opinions?
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post #7 of 54 Old 01-24-2007 Thread Starter
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Brezzin...here's the info you need.
http://www.sailnet.com/forums/cruisi...ight=hell+gate
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post #8 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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Perhaps this might be better in the Special Interest section as ICW? Have a sticky for general ICW info, then there could be individual threads more specific to certain locations and situations. Just a thought

John
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post #9 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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I brought my boat down from Charleston to Hilton Head Island last October, and touched bottom twice when I got a little too caught up in the scenery. Good idea to have your tow insurance up to date, and a little extra fuel on hand. I also found a massive blank on my Garmin when heading down the Coosaw River just north of Beaufort, SC. Definately have physical charts on hand, as this part of the ICW is not well mark; in fact, the markers are miles apart precisely where the Bluecharts are a no-show.
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post #10 of 54 Old 01-24-2007
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Dave-
"When transiting from Long Island Sound through to NY, How is the East River and what advice can you offer for that area?"
Get the charts and get the "Eldridge" guide, it will give you gobs of specific information all the way down the NJ coast and into the Cheaspeake including tides and currents.
As to the East River itself...piece of cake as long as your boat is under control. Currents in the Hell Gate can run a full 6+ knots so you do want to make sure you are going through at slack--or, prepared for the ride. In the East River itself sailing can be tricky, there are all sorts of devils blowing from the canyons of Manhattan and sometimes square waves several feet tall in the East River itself. Plus, heavy barge traffic that can't stop or maneuver much.
That's not to say it is a hard ride, on the contrary it is a piece of cake--IF the boat can be trusted and you are keeping your eyes open, and checking the timing and wx. Any reasonably prudent sailor can do it without any problem.
There is a new 9/11 security Exclusion Zone by the UN building, get too close to it and they claim they'll blow you out of the water. And recently, a work barge anchored in the west channel just north of the Queensborough Bridge, working with two water turbines down below. Still--nothing to worry about, just know they are there.

Also check the charts carefully, there are a number of "General Anchorage" locations marked like Little Bay (just E of the Throggs Neck Bridge) where you can anchor, free, and get a nap or wait for the tides to turn as needed.

Last edited by hellosailor; 01-24-2007 at 08:40 PM.
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