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kymbie 06-10-2008 07:09 PM

ICW in Texas
We're going to be sailing a boat from Corpus Christi to Clear Lake in a few weeks and are currently debating on whether to take the ICW or sail out into the Gulf and along the coast. The ICW looks preferable having heard horror stories of abandoned wells and bits of oil rigs that are not marked, and don't have lights, out in this area of the Gulf.

I have read that the ICW is supposed to be maintained at a minimum of 8ft depth, is this actually the case? Our boat has a 6 1/2 ft draft so we are a little worried about risking the ICW, has anyone made this trip recently?

Any other advise regarding our options would be most welcome.


arenuiwaka 06-10-2008 07:19 PM

Hi I sailed outside just recently. I didn't see any unmarked rigs until i got around louisiana. It is a nice sail and pretty basic You can always hug the coastline if you are scared of rigs they are not to thick in the firs couple of miles. The ditch kinda sucks, You should deffinetly sail

camaraderie 06-10-2008 07:31 PM

No...the depths are NOT sufficient in the Gulf ICW to carry 6.5....wouldn't do my 6' in places. I would guess 5ft. can be carried on the Florida west cost section...MAYBE 5.5. But you can always come in and go out on planned day hops with no problems. Check you mast height vs. the bridges too as usually 6.5 draft means a tall pole too!
Get a copy of Skipper Bob's guide and use his WEBSITE for shoaling updates etc. that have take place since last revision.
Skipper Bob

EDIT:PARDON ME...I mis--read the post and thought you were headed to FL west coast! My comments ONLY apply to that coast! Skipper Bob is good for all though!

PBzeer 06-10-2008 07:35 PM

Most of the people I talked with while I was in Texas, prefer going outside. What you might want to consider, is going inside the first day, then finish outside, as that is the most congested part, with the most navigational hazards on the inside. Then it's about 6 hours up to Clear Lake.

retclt 06-10-2008 07:38 PM

I'd sail outside for sure if the weather is good and you have enough crew for watches. It's actually kind of cool out there at night. You are always in sight of lit rigs. About 6 or 7 miles out is good. Most of the small stuff I've seen is within a mile of shore and closer to Galveston. I have personally never heard of anyone running into anything. If you do pop in to take the Ditch mid trip be very careful of the depth going in to and around the Port Oconner area. Stay centered and don't take short cuts across channel bends and corners.

The Ditch from Port O to Galveston is very nice. Just be nice to the lady that runs the Colorado River Lock . . . she can be short tempered at times. Oh . . . and call ahead to make sure the locks are open.

Go outside . . . it's a great trip!!!

Cams right about the depths. You're fine once you're in the ditch. They maintain it pretty well for the commercial traffic. It's just dicey getting in and out of it.

PBzeer 06-10-2008 07:49 PM

Where are you planning on going on Clear Lake? Definitely honor the markers once you get out of the channel and into the lake proper. With a steady norther' blowing, I've seen the depth drop as much as 4-5 feet, as it blows all the water out of the lake and the bay.

kymbie 06-11-2008 08:04 AM

Thanks for all the great advice.... I have Skipper Bob's guide to the Gulf Coast on order!

As long as the weather looks good we'll probably try the outside route, I don't mind the lit rigs (except it reminds me of work). It is only me and my husband but he is very experienced and I'm getting there :-) and don't mind a bit of night sailing.

We're looking at putting the boat in Watergate Marina once we get to Clear Lake - this is all of course assuming that the survey goes well next week and we proceed with buying the boat.

Finger's crossed

johnshasteen 06-14-2008 10:17 AM

You can either go up the ditch, from Corpus to Galveston there's plenty of depth - it ranges from 10 feet to deeper. Off shore is fine as well - it's a broad reach with the prevailing S or SE winds. This coming weekend we are going to sail Paloma from Port Aransas to Freeport, a short hop of about 150 miles. For you, it's another 40 miles from there to the Galveston Light, then 6 miles up the Galveston jetties and then the long trip up Galveston Bay.
Watergate is okay, but has a lot of tourists walking the docks and things disappear - it's also a bit of a motor through the channels to get back to the bay for sailing. You can't sail in Clear lake and you must stay in the channels until you get into the bay or you will run hard aground. You might check Blue Dolphin or Seabrook Ship Yard for a slip, they are both more private than Watergate and much closer to the bay.

kevin81 06-14-2008 11:36 AM

I did the trip in February - CC to Clear Lake and came up the ditch. I never saw depths under 8 feet except in an anchorage off Matagorda Island. The only "downside" of doing the ditch is only do it in daylight. From Port O'Connor to Galveston the tow traffic increases and you wouldn't want to pass a tow on one of the turns at night. I've done it offshore too and there are unlit rigs. If you do it offshore do it under a full moon (like the Harvest Moon Race) so you can see the unlit rigs.

Go to the TMCA website that has distances in the ditch and offshore. Under Cruising go to Destinations.

As for marinas I can't say that Seabrook is any safer than Watergate. I keep mine at Seabrook and it's not gated either. The one advantage at Seabrook is in the winter months the tide is lower and in most areas of the marina it is deeper than Watergate - i.e. you could get stuck in Watergate and not be able to get out and sail in the bay because of low tides.


PBzeer 06-14-2008 11:49 AM

You might also check Portfino for open slips. Puts you closer to the bay.

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