Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Oriental NC
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Re: Best route from Norfolk to Miami this Nov/Dec
I suppose it depends on what your plans and constraints are. Maybe you need to be at beaufort SC to meet family/friends? Or perhaps you enjoy a leisurely "motor boat ride" down the ICW? Maybe you are looking for a longer offshore experience? Are you solo or do you have crew? Do you need to be in Miami at a certain date? These would all factor into your choice.
in regards to the ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort NC, it's a fun trip, deep enough, some locks and draw bridges. You'll get to sail some in the Albermarle Sound, Pungo River, Pamlico River, Bay river and Neuse River. Continuing on the ICW south from Beaufort NC there are some shallow spots, but check Active Captain or Waterway guide for that. Pay attention and you'll be fine.
All things being equal, I agree with Kriss, go outside at Beaufort NC (not SC) and make the hop to Masonboro inlet (Wrightsville beach). That is a long day. I Dont think you'll be able to do it daylight this time of year unless your boat is much faster than mine (ok ok most boats are faster than mine :-) ) Both Beaufort Inlet and Masonboro Inlet are well marked, wide and deep. I'd give them plenty of respect at night and be very cautious of entering either in wind-against-current situations.
If you have a good weather window leaving Beaufort you could consider setting a course to go around Frying Pan Shoals (Cape Fear) and continue further south on the outside if that's your thing. There are a number of good bail out spots between cape fear and Miami (there are also some really bad ones so do your research and know which inlets are safe).
I've done this route a number of times and I prefer hoping offshore. I find that the ICW can be tedious and exhausting, but also interesting and fun in it's own way. no right or wrong here, and I'm pretty sure that no matter what you decide it will be better than a day at the office :-)
1977 Bristol 29.9