Should we even do the intercostal en-route south? From what I am reading... - Page 2 - SailNet Community

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  #11  
Old 01-17-2011
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Hi,

maybe his helps,

I went inside in Norfolk last year heading south because I was single handed. I didn t want to night sail outside. Seems you are accompanied, so perhaps not such an issue.

I had a 4.5ft draft and yes kissed the bottom in more than a few places - but hey that s part of the fun trying to get off right? Apart from just one spot the channel is very well marked. Bob s anchorages are great - peace of mind. The other non recommended spots often have strong tidal currants - especially close to inlets.

I had no time constraints which was the best way to enjoy many cool places I stopped at. As you can see my journey was more of a tourist route. One worrying aspect was that between May and July everyone was coming the other way! I must have waved to thousands .... many I believe getting their boats north for insurance reasons.

The USCG were great. No problem. No boarding. Once into Florida the bridges increase drastically in frequency, so going outside there in the nice clear water with the flying fish is a good idea. Squalls are frequent with thunderstorms (at least when I did it) so I felt more comfortable inside.

I, like most i suspect really enjoy being under sail. I think I was between Norfolk and the keys without engine maybe half the time? appox .... but then again under the slightest puff the sails were out. In florida with a distinctly narrower channel and more bridges it was more engine.

For me a truly memorable trip.

Ian S (Brit living in chile)
boat = Allied Seawind 1976
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2011
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Sorry, but I think you may be over-thinking this just a bit… I don’t see the need to choose so far in advance, or make the sorts of decisions best left until you actually commence your trip…

I’d definitely recommend going inside until Beaufort, at least. NC offers some of the nicest inland sailing you’ll find anywhere on the East Coast. Frankly, I find the Dismal Swamp route a bit overrated, especially if you are doing it as part of the herd in the height of the season.

Instead, I’d recommend going down thru Pamlico Sound if the weather favors it… Beautiful sailing, the chance to visit some places rarely visited by cruising boats. Don’t miss Ocracoke, one of my favorite places anywhere on the East coast… If you really want to bypass the start of the Ditch thru Norfolk, you can go down outside to Oregon Inlet, and into the sound from there… However, do not even THINK about this route unless you’re very confident of the weather, you are experienced running inlets like Oregon, and are fully prepared to stay out around Hatteras should conditions change…

From Beaufort south, simply let the weather dictate your route… there are some beautiful daysails to be had between there and Florida – Beaufort – Wrightsville, Southport – Little River or Murrells Inlet, Fernandina – St Augustine, etc… Each one of those bypass sections of the ICW which have become incredibly tedious, and offer beautiful sailing along the beach in the conditions that can often prevail in the fall…

One of the reasons the ICW turns into such a forced march for so many, IMHO, is the ease with which many people fall into groups traveling together – usually led by some “Guru” who’s done the trip previously, and will dictate the pace, and itinerary… Go at your own pace, try choosing anchorages by looking at a chart, than from a guidebook… At Beaufort, try to go out to Lookout Bight for an overnight or two, duck into Little River Inlet and anchor up inside the barrier beach to the east. A beautiful spot, virtually guaranteed you’ll have it to yourself… Traveling the Ditch can be a very enjoyable experience socially, but I think some folks wind up missing some great spots by getting caught too much up with that aspect, and the mindset of maintaining a minimum daily average…

IMHO, a trip south along the East coast should be no different than any other sort of cruising, best dictated by the weather, and your mood at the time…

Here’s more of my take on it, though some of this is perhaps outdated by now…

An Insider's ICW | Cruising World
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2011
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With all due respect Jon, and recognizing your experience as greater than my own, I think there are some inter-related factors that drive the thundering herd down the ICW in the Fall. Regardless of whether the Annapolis Boat Show in October causes one to dawdle, there is still an accumulation of the migration in Norfolk waiting for the somewhat arbitrary 1 November "end" to hurricane season imposed by insurance companies. By that time--certainly the last few years--it is usually quite chilly at night and often less than comfortable during the day. This leads to an impetus toward making miles toward warmer weather.

Add in the late starts so many get each day (punctuated by "it's too d&*n cold out, have another cup of coffee") and the stress level associated with making the next anchorage goes up.

In my mind, installing decent heat for the boat and negotiation for an insurance rider at some reasonable cost to proceed South a bit earlier would lead to a much more pleasant experience. At a bare (hah!) minimum a toilet seat somewhat above cryogenic temperatures adds greatly to civility and decorum aboard.

I did enjoy the ICW article. Thank you Jon for the link. I agree that full enclosures have a very real impact on the desire and ability to sail. I won't have one myself, and in fact rarely unfurl the bimini. A good dodger is eminently satisfactory, providing good protection and still allowing a good view to trim sails and take in the surroundings.

Janet and I greatly enjoy Ocracoke also. We also like Elizabeth City, Beaufort, and Charleston. Each is worth a few days exploration.

That said, if the goal is to reach the Bahamas and the ICW is only a means to an end I prefer launching from Norfolk and making the Abacos four days later.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
With all due respect Jon, and recognizing your experience as greater than my own, I think there are some inter-related factors that drive the thundering herd down the ICW in the Fall. Regardless of whether the Annapolis Boat Show in October causes one to dawdle, there is still an accumulation of the migration in Norfolk waiting for the somewhat arbitrary 1 November "end" to hurricane season imposed by insurance companies. By that time--certainly the last few years--it is usually quite chilly at night and often less than comfortable during the day. This leads to an impetus toward making miles toward warmer weather.

Add in the late starts so many get each day (punctuated by "it's too d&*n cold out, have another cup of coffee") and the stress level associated with making the next anchorage goes up.

In my mind, installing decent heat for the boat and negotiation for an insurance rider at some reasonable cost to proceed South a bit earlier would lead to a much more pleasant experience. At a bare (hah!) minimum a toilet seat somewhat above cryogenic temperatures adds greatly to civility and decorum aboard.
Good points, of course... No need to remind me of the effect of insurance dictating the schedules of many, the changes in policies over recent years have pretty effectively cut in half the number of deliveries I'm now able to do each fall, even before the switch was effectively turned off in that business a couple of years ago with the crash of the economy...

The new policies of keeping boats north of Norfolk until November seems counter-productive, to me... I'd bet a good case could be made for the exposure of boats heading south that late to fall northeasters, etc. might even be greater than to hurricanes over time...

I understand the herd mentality, it's completely natural the way in which it develops... People start making friends and buddy boating, nothing wrong with that, of course... I just think it often overcomes the temptation to linger a spell in a particular spot, or alter one's route, when groupthink overrides the itinerary one would normally choose if sailing alone...

Forgot to mention it before, but the single best boat mod I can recommend for a fall trip down the ICW is the addition of an automotive-style forced-air heater, one of those will hugely improve the quality of life aboard during a trip when most are doing so much motoring, anyway... These units are fairly inexpensive and simple to install, I'm always surprised how few boats making the trip late have bothered to do so...

There's much to be said for heading straight for the Bahamas, but unless one has an extremely favorable weather window, I'd still generally be inclined to make that decision at Beaufort, instead... Boats like mine and that of the original poster, 4 days from the Chesapeake to the Abacos isn't likely to happen. and since he seemed to indicate he wanted to do the Keys before heading to the Bahamas, I think waiting until Beaufort before deciding upon inside vs outside makes better sense, since he'll be staying inshore of the Stream, anyway...
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Old 01-21-2011
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go offshore

go offshore
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Old 01-21-2011
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Icw

IMHO The ICW is kinda like Disney World's Junger River ride....especially going through long canals. Look left, look right and you see the canal banks teaming with wild life. There are birds, deer, racoons, possum, snakes, alligators, lions, bears, elephants.......ok ok so there are no elephants but seems like there could be. Go for the ICW at least once....you'll see some kewl stuff.
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Old 01-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisncate View Post
Thank you all so much for the excellent, well written and well thought out replies. I think we will do "the ditch" on the way down next year. It sounds fun, and I think it will be.

Like everything else in life, my experience will be my own, just like all the positive and negative things I have read about the ICW in the past.

I look forward to knowing!

For more information on the ICW, take a look at Cruiser's Net
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  #18  
Old 01-24-2011
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Saltwater Suzi and I have traveled the ditch many times - occasionally outside parts of the way, but mostly inside. The inside / outside argument is always mostly opinion - some people hate the tedium of the inside, others like the beauty of the inside. Some hate the outside, because of fear, or, again, tedium (nothing to look at but waves and a distant shoreline).

Whichever you do depends entirely on what you want to do. Sometimes we have traveled two or three days on the inside while others have waited for weather for days to go outside. Like it has been said above - try the inside at least once. If you have a 'beltway' personality - where getting there as fast as you can is your only goal - then outside is the way to go. (Or a jet plane.)

A lot of people worry about running aground on the inside. We have learned how not to run aground. And we tell you about it on the Frugal Mariner - Intra Coastal Waterway Tips.

We, as well as someone mentioned above, are staying on our boat near Annapolis. If you would like to get together sometime, PM us.

If you decide on the inside, a publication you should have is Skipper Bob's Guide to Anchorages on the ICW. (If you stay at anchor mostly) Or his Guide to Marinas, if you have more money than you need and stay at Marinas every night. You'll meet a lot of power boat people that way.)

Either way, good luck, and enjoy the trip as much as the destination.
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  #19  
Old 01-24-2011
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BTW, it's Intra-coastal, not Inter-Coastal. Inter-Coastal would be from one coast to another - so you would likely be traveling to a foreign country. Like, say, New Jersey.
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Old 04-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisncate View Post
Thank you all so much for the excellent, well written and well thought out replies. I think we will do "the ditch" on the way down next year. It sounds fun, and I think it will be.

Like everything else in life, my experience will be my own, just like all the positive and negative things I have read about the ICW in the past.

I look forward to knowing!
Chris,
How will you do the ditch with no engine? I think it would be nearly impossible. I sailed from Annapolis stopped in Norfolk and went non-stop to Antigua West Indies. That is the way to do it. Total trip took 3 weeks. With no engine you want to stay as far from land as possible. You head to almost Bermurda and make a right turn, as they say in driving directions "you can't miss it" then head 180 deg, next stop Carribean.
Aloha
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