Join Date: Apr 2005
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Re: ICW - Bypass Georgia?
We have traveled the ICW, let's see, 11 times. Once, we went around Georgia. The folks who run aground simply aren't staying in the middle. I'll admit, that can be tricky. You have to pretend that your boat is about 200 feet long - like a barge with a tug. When you come to a mark, you do NOT immediately turn. You start a long gradual turn. Just like a tug / barge. It works. It really does. Barges do it and they draw a lot more than most of us. A boat drawing more than six feet can still do it, but has to be extra careful. We seldom see less than 7 feet.
Boats which have run aground will insist that they were 'right in the MIDDLE of the channel.' I always ask them, "So, were other boats passing you?" "Um, well, yes, I guess." is the usual response. "So, then, who was in the middle of the channel?"
We draw about 4 1/2 feet. (Also a Morgan Out Island.) We set our depth alarm at 6 feet. The rule is, on our boat, when the alarm goes off, the throttle goes to neutral. And we start looking for more water. If we do run aground, it's only a gentle bump and we can back right off.
Single handing off shore for the 24 or so hours can be done. But then you pull in and drop anchor and spend a day or more recuperating (while everyone on the inside catches up to you.) Not that outside is so bad - but, of course, you have to watch the weather, and you have to watch out for fishing fleets. You can gain some time by traveling off shore far enough, when heading north, to catch the stream - but the time you gain you lose heading out that far and back in that far. Unless you use the stream to go even farther - like Beaufort, NC. But that's a long way to single hand, and no prudent sailor would travel without a deck watch.
There is a lot of controversy about inside / outside around Georgia. You have to be extra careful where you anchor in Georgia because of their 8 or 9 foot tides. If your timing is good (read: lucky) the currents will be with you and you'll make good time on the inside. But just as often, you won't. We like the scenery - but it tends to get a little monotonous compared with most of the rest of the ICW. And sometimes the sounds can get a little bouncy.
I'd sum up by saying, if you're in a hurry, and can stay up the 24 hours and get going soon after you come back inside, then outside is the way to go. If you aren't in a hurry, and like to sleep every night, and don't mind tending the helm pretty much constantly, then inside is your best bet.
Either way, I'd never do it without my Saltwater Suzi helping. Cause, when ya gotta poop, ya gotta poop.
Saltwater Suzi and Cap'n Larry
"A sailboat is a fickle mistress. You’ve got to buy her things. You’ve got to understand everything about her. What you don’t know she’ll use against you." -Captain Larry
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