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solosaler 10-05-2009 09:01 AM

ICW/outside, southbound, single handing
Lurking a long time, great site. I'm looking for some quidance on making a solo run down the ICW. Been sailing a long time, so thats not an issue. Boat will be 40' drawing less than 5', autopilot and windlass. I'm planning on 30-50 miles a day depending on conditions. What areas to be concerned about?
Other thoughts are to run offshore from Cape May to NC, 240+/- miles being aware of shipping lanes on both the bays. Thanks.

PBzeer 10-05-2009 10:33 AM

Were it me (weather permitting of course), I would run outside to the mouth of the Chesapeake, then go inside and down through NC, coming back outside at the Beaufort Inlet. From there, a two night trip to Charleston, or north end of Hilton Head if you're making good time.

Say Charleston though, and a day trip, outside to North end of Hilton Head. From there you can do overnight hops outside to St Augustine, then Fort Pierce, then Miami (I would go past Government Cut and come in at Cape Florida).

That's my usual route, weather permitting. Southport NC to Georgetown SC gives you the most beautiful and ugliest stretches of the ICW (Waccama River and Myrtle Beach).

ottos 10-05-2009 02:49 PM

Take what I say with a grain of salt, and check out other threads here on SailNet. It's been discussed often.

You don't say where you're starting from or how tall your rig is.

I don't have a great deal of specific info on the ICW in New Jersey other than to expect there to be unmarked shoals. Download the Local Notice to Mariners to keep current on conditions. You probably want to run outside as much as possible, weather permitting. Keep in mind that if the weather goes bad, you may be safer staying outside. NJ inlets can be harrowing. Trying to cross one in deteriorating conditions could mean trouble. The two safest inlets in the south are Cape May and Atlantic City. Barnegat is legendarily bad. Most inlets are not charted because they shift often, and the CG has to remark them. Avoid crossing these inlets when tide and wind oppose each other - this can quickly lead to tall breaking waves.

Ocean City has a 35' bridge, So definitely plan on going outside from the Great Egg inlet on down to Cape May.

PBzeer 10-06-2009 08:17 AM

Just a clarification, the ICW doesn't actually start until Portsmouth, VA. That's Mile 0.

justified 10-06-2009 08:42 AM

Not alot to add to what PBzeer had to say, Hes right on the money.

Safe sail and clear nights


ottos 10-06-2009 09:42 AM

There seem to be varying opinions, but the USCG has marked the buoys and daymarks along the coastal waterway with the yellow symbols denoting the ICW. Also check your Coast Pilot3 chapter 3 page 163.

But Wikipedia calls the New Jersey start 'unofficial'.


The waterway runs for most of the length of the Eastern Seaboard, from its unofficial northern terminus at the Manasquan River in New Jersey, where it connects with the Atlantic Ocean at the Manasquan Inlet, to Brownsville, Texas. The waterway is toll-free, but commercial users pay a fuel tax that is used to maintain and improve it. The ICW is a significant portion of the Great Loop, a circumnavigation route encircling the eastern half of the North American continent.
Encyclopedia Britannica extends it to Boston! :eek:


The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway serves ports from Boston to Key West, Fla. The route is linked by several essential man-made canals, including the Cape Cod, Chesapeake and Delaware, and Chesapeake-Albemarle. The lowest controlling depth is 6.1 feet (1.9 m) in the Dismal Swamp Canal of Virginia and North Carolina. During World War II, the route became important as a means of avoiding the submarine menace along the coast. Commercial traffic (oceangoing vessels and barges) serves the heavily concentrated industrial areas north of Norfolk, Va; whereas, to the south, the waterway accommodates mainly pleasure craft traveling to the Florida resort areas.
I guess there's a back story here. Anyone care to elaborate?

stpetersburgsailor 10-06-2009 11:18 AM

I saw that too Otto
ICW is a generic term for starters as my wise Chinese girlfriend pointed out last night on a related discussion

basically, the Eastern US's ICW is a protectd waterway going south, and north of the Ches it has many areas where you are on open ocean, so how is that an ICW Ency Brit??

I do love Wiki/Ency Brit for my European football bios however :)


norsearayder 10-06-2009 12:28 PM

the annisquam river 26 miles north of boston is the start of icw according to national geographic,i have the book in hand to get the river spell correcr...rayder

CapnMikel 10-06-2009 05:16 PM

Well the iCW that the Army Core of Engineers maintains does start at Norfolk/Portsmouth at zero.
Every 5 miles thereafter is a white sign which states [SM 5] [SM 10] etc
at least the ones which are still standing. They seem to die off in certain areas & pick back up. You can see those mile markers on your charts too.
I sailed the entire ICW (at least mile zero to mile 1195/ Marathon- Boot Key Harbor) on the INSIDE for my 1st trip last March. Coming back/North I took advantage of the offshore currents & most of Florida & Georgia. My crew got off in Edgewater, FL & I single handed from there North (not that fun).
Next time I will sail with another boat or 2, a better dinghy, solar and wind power (experience is the best teacher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

solosaler 10-06-2009 07:34 PM

pbzeer: good stuff thanks. now looking at outside to oregon inlet.
ottos: taken your post w/grain of salt. not looking to enter any nj inlet. been/done. btw, search system was used a bunch before my post. did you make the run w/boat from avalon/stone harbor last week?
mike: why do you say you'd buddy boat next time?
thanks all.

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