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Old 09-25-2019, 07:29 PM   #1
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Advice on cruising towrds northern Florida in Feb. 2020

My wife and I, both relatively newbies (150 hrs. on our Grand Banks 49 Classic) want to escape the cold and damp Virginia winters and spend 6-8 weeks in Florida, possibly Fernandina Beach area. We’d like anyone’s recommendations on how they would navigate the trip from Myrtle Beach down south.
Thanks a bunch!!
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:51 PM   #2
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I have done the trip several times. Faster and in some ways easierto go off the coast but ICW is a great option. No concerns about weather, sea conditions or serious ramification from breakdown using the ICW. Sounds like you have plenty of time so ICW would be my suggestion.
Get several of the cruising guides and with a good chart plotter and/or app and you will have no problem. They literally give you mile by mile guidance and all the info you will need. Other than some bridge timings and a few narrow or shallow spots there is not much to create stress. Plenty of places to stop along the way.
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:56 PM   #3
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I've done the trip a number of times in both directions. Very easy to do the AICW the whole way. You will need to stay up to date with shoaling information, Waterway guide is a good crowd source for that and is free. There will be some areas that you will only want to transit in the upper half of the tide cycle.

If you're looking for anchorages and marina recommendation, you probably need to be more specific in your request. I have an anchorage list that I'm happy to share if you want.

Traveling outside with your boat is also very doable. Depending on when you plan to leave, you may spend a fair amount of time waiting on weather windows. A combination of outside when weather permits and inside when it doesn't, also works. If you haven't done the AICW, it's a great trip as long as you're not trying to meet a schedule. Lots of great anchorages, marinas, and restaurants.

Ted
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Old 09-26-2019, 05:40 AM   #4
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Since obviously you've never made the trip before, then definitely do the ICW and take your time exploring. it's a fun trip. There are tons of threads on this forum about it. Get a copy of the Waterway Guide AICW edition, it is an excellent planning tool. Cruiser's Net (FKA Salty Southeast) is another good source.

We've made the trip in about every combination of routes, and prefer anchoring over docking, but have stayed at a few of the marinas along the way. When you can get down to specific wants/needs questions after reading these threads and the book let us all know. There is a lot of experience on this trip here on the forum.
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:12 AM   #5
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We’d like anyone’s recommendations on how they would navigate the trip from Myrtle Beach down south.

Another vote for AICW... and stop and smell the coffee everywhere along the way.

Waterway Guide and ActiveCaptain are both useful. In the latter, you might take some of the hazard markers with a grain of salt; some of the contributors seemed to get nervous if water depths got less than about 50' or so... OTOH, there are a couple areas where passing through at "high tide rising" helps (McClellanville, SC, for example).

Our preference is traveling about 30-50 NM (or so, plus/minus) at 7-8 kts on days we move... which makes for easy days...

-Chris
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:42 AM   #6
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I also think the AICW is a great way to travel Virginia to Florida.


For some really great, up to date info, check out Bob Sherer's blog.


Cruising Down the ICW 2018: ICW - Some Tips


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Old 09-26-2019, 10:02 AM   #7
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Sea Fever: you should definitely do it and prepare to have a fun trip! Be advised if you were actually considering Fernandina Harbor Marina; they are still closed and rebuilding from hurricane Matthew. They have a sliding schedule but are currently projecting possibly having some transient dockage open sometime in December.
As an alternative and depending on how much warmth you want you might consider going further south; perhaps St. Augustine or Cocoa Village, or if you don't want that much distance you might want to turn near Jacksonville into the St. Johns River... many options...
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Old 09-26-2019, 10:05 AM   #8
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Well, as others have noted, definitely take the ICW down to Florida, particularly in the autumn/winter months.

Assuming that you cruise at 8 kts and run 6-9 hours per day, these are some stops that you can make:

Myrtle Beach to Georgetown
George Town to Charleston
Charleston to Beaufort
Beaufort to Hilton Head
Hilton Head to Isle of Hope
Isle of Hope to Brunswick
Brunswick to Fernandina Beach

Both the Waterway Guide and Garmin/Active Captain websites are great resources to plan this trip. You can stay at marinas or find anchorages near any of the stops noted above.

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Old 09-26-2019, 10:52 AM   #9
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Highly recommend you get AquaMaps app with the USACE add on. Well worth the cost.
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Old 09-26-2019, 11:23 AM   #10
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Well, as others have noted, definitely take the ICW down to Florida, particularly in the autumn/winter months.

Assuming that you cruise at 8 kts and run 6-9 hours per day, these are some stops that you can make:

Myrtle Beach to Georgetown
George Town to Charleston
Charleston to Beaufort
Beaufort to Hilton Head
Hilton Head to Isle of Hope
Isle of Hope to Brunswick
Brunswick to Fernandina Beach

Both the Waterway Guide and Garmin/Active Captain websites are great resources to plan this trip. You can stay at marinas or find anchorages near any of the stops noted above.

David
Wifey B: You skipped Savannah. How dare you.

To OP too, you might want to consider coming further too. Jacksonville temps the last week of January this year-Highs 60 59 52 60 65 51 56. Lows 40 47 47 45 42 36 41. Don't think of all FL the same.

Perspective. If you drive from Norfolk to Key West, when you cross the state line into FL, you are just barely more than half way there. We're a very tall state. When I lived in NC I lived in a very wide state.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:41 PM   #11
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Wifey B: You skipped Savannah. How dare you.

Sorry you are right, Savannah is a great destination but a lousy boat stop. Yes there are a few berths in front of the hotel there, but Savannah is far off the ICW. Maybe a better choice is to stop at a marina in Thunderbolt, and take a taxi/Uber into Savannah for the day.


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Old 09-26-2019, 01:08 PM   #12
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I would take Isle of Hope over Thunderbolt or downtown Savannah any day. With loaner cars you can still see the town, it just depends on how long you're going to stay and what you want to see.

if the OP really plans to travel in February, a whole lot depends on the weather.... And their tolerance to cold.
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:21 PM   #13
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Great trip, just watch the depth specially in Georgia. I've travel AICW many times. Watch for low tides, some places less than 5 ft. deep in the middle of the channel. get yourself Coastal Explorer and USB GPS antenna for your laptop. Great planning and second navigation screen tool.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:26 AM   #14
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Wifey B: You skipped Savannah. How dare you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Sorry you are right, Savannah is a great destination but a lousy boat stop. Yes there are a few berths in front of the hotel there, but Savannah is far off the ICW. Maybe a better choice is to stop at a marina in Thunderbolt, and take a taxi/Uber into Savannah for the day.
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I would take Isle of Hope over Thunderbolt or downtown Savannah any day. With loaner cars you can still see the town, it just depends on how long you're going to stay and what you want to see.
Aside: thanks for those comments. I've stayed in Thunderbolt at the Palmer Johnson marina, nice place, but not close to town. We're considering a Savannah stop ourselves, this winter, and have heard from other sources that downtown docks aren't a great experience... so it's useful to hear current options.

-Chris
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:26 AM   #15
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If Isle of Hope still has loaner cars it's pretty nice.


If you are the last of the day, they used to let you have it all night.


Super Walmart close by via car.


The neighborhood is beautiful to walk around, especially during the Christmas holiday season
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:25 AM   #16
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Aside: thanks for those comments. I've stayed in Thunderbolt at the Palmer Johnson marina, nice place, but not close to town. We're considering a Savannah stop ourselves, this winter, and have heard from other sources that downtown docks aren't a great experience... so it's useful to hear current options.

-Chris
We love the downtown docks and love all around them plus like to take the Ribs and go explore on up the river from there.
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Old 09-27-2019, 11:43 AM   #17
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We love the downtown docks and love all around them plus like to take the Ribs and go explore on up the river from there.

Certainly looks like it'd be nifty, but...

I expect the experience might be different for you in your big boat versus us in our tiny one.

Friends who spent a couple days at the downtown docks a couple years ago in a boat slightly smaller than ours said they got rocked, rolled, bounced, and trounced 24 hours/day.

??

-Chris
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:28 PM   #18
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Certainly looks like it'd be nifty, but...

I expect the experience might be different for you in your big boat versus us in our tiny one.

Friends who spent a couple days at the downtown docks a couple years ago in a boat slightly smaller than ours said they got rocked, rolled, bounced, and trounced 24 hours/day.

??

-Chris
Wifey B: Yeah, can be a bit bouncy. The silly little Ferry runs till midnight and it just runs back and forth across and then a few feet on the main side. Across I understand to pick up at the Westin and Convention Center but the run between Morrell Park and City Hall. It's like a half a mile. But it's right by the docks on that side and that silly little Savannah Belle stirs up a lot. Then there's the riverboat cruises too but they're not as bad as the ferry.

Plus I think the City dock is screwed up now and not in use so on the south side just the river dock and river street dock. We use to dock up near the Hyatt Regency and then once down nearer the Marriott. But we've found it more comfy to dock at the Westin on the north side and take the silly little ferry across.

People at the Westin are very nice. And, for a smaller boat, if you can get permission, dock on the inside of the Westin dock. Then you're protected. A boat up to nearly 100' will actually fit on the inside.

Guess we've sort of gotten use to transient docks being bouncy in many places too.
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Old 09-27-2019, 02:33 PM   #19
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ut we've found it more comfy to dock at the Westin on the north side and take the silly little ferry across.

People at the Westin are very nice. And, for a smaller boat, if you can get permission, dock on the inside of the Westin dock. Then you're protected. A boat up to nearly 100' will actually fit on the inside.

Guess we've sort of gotten use to transient docks being bouncy in many places too.

Thanks for the tip; sounds like worth a call when we'll be in the area.

I suspect your "bouncy" is singificantly more "stabilized" than our "bouncy."



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Old 09-27-2019, 04:11 PM   #20
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Thanks for the tip; sounds like worth a call when we'll be in the area.

I suspect your "bouncy" is singificantly more "stabilized" than our "bouncy."



-Chris

Chris....I spent a month at Isle Of Hope years back. I really enjoyed the Savannah area...even did the "Forrest Gump" and "In the garden of good and evil" movie marathon and then went out and found all the movie shoot spots.


I have been downtown/riverfront many times since the 1980's. I would never take my boat there. I thought it was a great place back in the 1980's...not so much several years ago when I was there....less "local" flavor and all turisto bling now.



If I really wanted to enjoy Savannah, I would do Isle of Hope for a week (better rate I think) and use their courtesy car a few days and get a rental for a few to have the full day.


I have heard nothing good about taking a boat downtown from a load of cruisers...some may have had good experiences...but I go with the crowd when there is a better way suggested.


Call me if you stil have my number...or PM me and ask away.
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