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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 09-09-2006
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Nighttime Anchorage

I am buying a boat in coastal North Carolina and it is a 2 day trip down the ICW to the marina we plan to keep it in. I have never spent a night on a boat at anchorage so we were planning on stopping at a marina. There are few marinas on this stretch of ICW so if our schedule gets off we might need to anchor up for the night. I've boated at night, but don't want to be boating at night in unfamiliar waters in a unfamiliar boat.

What do I need to know so that we are prepared for our first night in unfamiliar waters in a unfamiliar boat.

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Old 09-09-2006
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A chart, and a good guide book would help, as they usually show anchorages, as well as marinas. Try to have a Plan A, B, and even C, so you aren't scrambling to figure out where to go. Also, become as familar as possible with the boat before embarking. Especially things you would need in the dark. Make sure your ground tackle is in good order.
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Old 09-09-2006
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Also be certain that your nav lights, anchor light, handheld spotlight and a couple of good flashlights are in order and that you have adequate batteries to power them. Oh yeah, and a signalling device such as a horn!
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Old 09-10-2006
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If you are going to be cruising the ICW, Skipper Bob has two useful books that will help "Anchorages Along the ICW" and "Marinas Along the ICW" . The 1st lists all the bridges as well, which you will need to know. You can find out more at http://skipperbob.home.att.net/. As mentioned above you'll need charts. You'll have to ensure you have adequate anchoring systems, as well as the items mentioned above. You don't give your full itinerary, which might be helpful for someone to recommend marinas &/or anchorages.
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I'm taking the boat from Collington Harbor near Kitty Hawk to Bath Cr. I don't know if I will make it to Belhaven the first day. I'll be sailing a Catalina 30. I think I might end up anchoring in the upper part of the Alligator River before I get in the Alligator-Pungo Canal.
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Old 09-10-2006
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The above are great recommendations. Definitely check out the ground tackle, and if you have any doubts about it, get it replaced. Definitely check the lights, and electronics, and carry flares, flashlights, a good spotlight and a good airhorn.

Knowing where you are and where the recommended anchorages are key to being safe. Good charts, cruising guides and a GPS are good for helping you know where you are. You're far less likely to get run over if you're in a marked anchorage area.

One last recommendation: A cockpit-level anchor light of some sort is a good idea, as a masthead light is often missed by powerboats, looking around for lights.
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Old 09-11-2006
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Skipper Bob's book !!!!
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Old 09-11-2006
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Looking at Skipper Bob's "Anchorages Along the ICW", the Alligator River area doesn't seem great until Mile 101.1 - both wind and bottom conditions seems iffy if you're not pretty comfortable. (The Alligator River Marina at Mile 84.1 says it had the lowest price for diesel in June 06, just as an aside!)

I'd get the books... Unless you can run to Coinjock, Columbia or Elizabeth City, you can get them on the internet. There's structural info like bridges and shoaling, but also things like "lots of crab pots" and where you can land dogs. And they're pretty inexpensive - the Anchorages one was $16, the Marinas $14. Well worth the money! BUT...you will need them in conjunction with charts, since he references everything by mile marker.
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Old 09-11-2006
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Z Factor...You will NOT make Bellhaven on day one. You have two choices:
Stop in Alligator River Marina which is on the Northwest side of the bridge and quite safe and nice...OR
Proceed south on the Alligator river and just after where it takes a sharp bed to the right and BEFORE you enter the canal, there is a nice, protected anchorage area where you can drop the hook outside of traffic lanes in about 8ft. of water. The next day, you'll have an easy run to Bellhaven.
Most important thing to remember...make sure you do not drain your starting battery with all the stuff you use on board the night before and your anchor light! Assuming you have at least 2 batteries, use one and reserve the other for the next mornings engine start!
Further note: As you are approaching the Alligator River entrance from the Albemarle...the chart will show AR#1 followed by AR#3 on a close line pointing to #5. NOT TRUE!! AR# 3 has been moved WEST to avoid a growing shoal and many boaters head to #5 THINKING it is #3 and run aground. Be sure you find #3 and round before you head for #5 or your first night at anchor may not need one! Good luck...Cat30's are great boats!
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Old 09-14-2006
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Most folks do not run the ICW at night. With all of the unlit markers it's too easy to run out of the channel. Also, along streches of the Alligator Rv. you may encounter "deadheads" (tree stumps) that you won't see at night. With the days getting shorter, choose an anchorage 40-50 miles from your starting point. Skipper Bobs' is very easy to do this with. A nice short cruise. Save your money and anchor out, you'll be glad you did.
Marc
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