Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC - SailNet Community
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Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Hi folks,
I am currently on the way to NC (home) from Florida panhandle. I bought an Island Packet 35 there in late January of this year. Spent four months repairing and refitting her. Left Pensacola on June 3, sailing on the outside to the Boca Grande inlet. Took the Lake Okeechobee Waterway and came out on the Atlantic side in Stuart. Spent over a week in Stuart, getting some repairs done and waiting for a part to my windlass. From Stuart took the ICW north. Passed Charleston SC this morning. I have a few observations and notes to all those who might take the same route. Have some nice pictures on my Facebook page, Kris Sailor, if you are interested. Stay tuned...

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Plato
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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Number one issue for my boat on the Lake Okeechobee Waterway was the air draft. There is one bridge, just past the Port Mayaca lock on the east side of the lake, that is about 49 feet in clearance, depending on water level in the canal. My mast is 48 feet, plus the very expensive wind instrument, VHF antenna and the Windex vane. So I didn’t want to take any chances and took it all off. Squeaked under the bridge with maybe a foot to spare, it’s hard to tell. Reinstalled the gear next morning while anchored on the canal.
Draft is a second big issue. My boat draws 4.5 feet and I touched bottom several times while on the lake. And the lake water level was relatively high, the lock attendants told me.
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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Leaving Pensacola, there were two of us on the boat, and it was very helpful. We sailed or motorsailed in light, variable winds. My crew left in Stuart. Itís good to have 2 people while going through the locks, but we saw a guy on a 32 to 35 foot boat handling the locks by himself. They allow that. The main reason I took the ICW was lack of crew and insufficient experience single handing this boat. But I also wanted to see it. And sure enough, there is plenty to see along the way. Beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife. From manatees and dolphins to all kinds of birds. Some stretches were breathtaking while others were kind of boring. Here again, draft was a big issue. Lots of shallow places, at times less than 5 feet, especially during low tide passages. Very tricky navigation, too. Maps donít always reflect current conditions. You really need to learn how to read the meandering channels, avoiding shallows. Yes, I have run aground. Two or three times. Fortunately, I was able to pull myself off using the current and engine. The low tide passages were really, really challenging. Traffic is a challenge as well. Some of the big power boats will throw a four foot wake behind them, even when they do slow down. But mostly they donít.

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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Most any bridge makes my butt tighten up.
65 ft...higher, doesnt matter

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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

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Originally Posted by RegisteredUser View Post
Most any bridge makes my butt tighten up.
65 ft...higher, doesnt matter...
Ha ha! I know the feeling. After clearing the Port Mayaca railroad bridge I took a huge swig of my special medicine to celebrate. The craziest bridge I did was a double span lifting bridge in Georgia where only one section of the second span was open. The lifting bridges hang somewhat over the passage, so you must make sure you are passing through the middle or your mast can hit the overhanging half of the span. On this particular bridge only one of the two spans was fully open, the second span had only one half open. It was absolutely nerve racking

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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

This is the double bridge I was talking about
https://historicbridges.org/bridges/...ndsexpressway/
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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Which brings us to the subject of bridges... lots and lots of bridges. The nice ones are the modern ones, with fixed spans of 58 feet or more. Or the mostly open railroad bridges, which can sometimes be narrow. Some bridges open on demand. You call them on channel 9 when you have a visual and they will open as you get close. Sometimes you have to slow down when you are really close. This can be somewhat challenging when there is other traffic or when current is strong. Most bridges have deep water on their approaches and enough room to make a loop if they are not ready for you yet. Then there are bridges with fixed schedule, mostly on the hour. If you miss, you have to wait an hour. Always call them ahead and ask their schedule. Make sure you know the name of the bridge or the name of the road or street they carry. A lot of times they will not respond if you donít use their name. Some have a really strange schedule, and if you are not lucky, you can wait for a couple of hours or be done for the day.

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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Yesterday was super crazy. Sunday near Myrtle Beach. Insane traffic and a very long day. I typically motor from 6 am to 6 pm. Yesterday I just could not find a place to anchor. Narrow canal, lots of traffic. Tried one spot, but dragged anchor. Not able to set enough scope. Ended up hard aground.... pulled myself off using current and reverse. Found a good spot as it was getting dark, at 8:25 pm. Outside Little River, SC.
Fueled up in a nice marina, Cricket Cove Marina. Great service. Entered NC , got past Cape Fear River, and currently anchored outside Wilmington NC. Found a yard to haul out in Oriental NC. Will try to get there before holiday. They allow live aboard while on hard and working on your boat. Reasonable rates. Tomorrow will try to do at least 12 hours. Sometimes going is slow as the tides are strong. Seen tidal currents at 3 knots today. About 2 knots is average for this area.

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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

Made the trip from St Pete to Norfolk mostly outside. Easy peasy and a fast trip. Stopped at Fort Lauderdale to let crew off, Charleston to have a good time and tucked into the intercostal at Elizabeth City. Loved the scenery of the Dismal Swamp cut but the Intercostal was a real pain. Regular waking by power boats, constant vigilance at the helm to stay in the channel, and had to motor the whole way. So much more pleasant and faster going outside.
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Re: Pensacola, Florida to Oriental, NC

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
So much more pleasant and faster going outside.
I totally agree. I made it to Oriental in time to be pulled out before holiday weekend. But it was a lot harder than I thought. Run aground several times. Fortunately I was able to free myself using current and engine every time. Too much stress.

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