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Old 08-29-2017, 08:26 AM   #1
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ICW Norfolk to Beaufort

Good morning- we need to head south towards Florida from the Chesapeake Bay in a week or so. We are considering making the trip from Norfolk to Beaufort in the ICW. Our single engine trawler has a 6'8" draft and 18' beam. I've read all of the notes for the various sections of the route on Active Captain and I've had experienced captains tell me it's "a nail biter but do-able". Anyone out there done it in a deep draft vessel? Any advice?

Many thanks!

Jeff
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Old 08-29-2017, 08:51 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. bp. I think with that draft you would be limited to the Coinjock (Virginia Cut) stretch of the ICW rather than the Dismal Swamp route but best to check. I vaguely recall a controlling depth in the 6' range for the Dismal.

Can't even hope to remember any other spots further along other than watch the tides VERY closely through the "Low Country"...
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Old 08-29-2017, 09:20 AM   #3
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I believe the Virginia cut project depth is 12 feet as some pretty deep draft barges go through there.

Once to the Albemarle Sound, you can always just take the Outer Banks route versus the ICW if uncomfy with the narrow cuts and tree stumps. But barges do use the ICW.

My guess is the shallowest spots you will hit is from just north of Coinjock in Currituck sound till you hit Albemarl Sound.

Study the charts and controlling depths is the onlt way to feel safe and follow up with a call to the ACOE for recent soundings.
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Old 08-29-2017, 09:35 AM   #4
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I assume you re talking about Morehead City/Beaufort NC. We draw 5 ft and came thru there last spring. There were a few shallow spots north of Coinjock, but you should be OK if you are careful and do this part at high tide.

The Dismal Swamp canal is still closed to all traffic, but it is not deep enough for you anyway.

We prefer the Pamlico Sound route rather than the Alligator River. Manteo is probably too shallow, but you will have no problem getting into Ocracoke.

The best marina on the whole ICW is River Dunes, just north of Oriental.
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:17 AM   #5
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There is no real tide in the sounds behind Hatteras..half foot at most so it is more what the wind pushes around so be careful if you have strong northerlies for a few days prior to the Currituck sound run, but the controlling depth is supposedly plenty deep.
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Old 08-29-2017, 11:19 AM   #6
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I assume you re talking about Morehead City/Beaufort NC. We draw 5 ft and came thru there last spring. There were a few shallow spots north of Coinjock, but you should be OK if you are careful and do this part at high tide.

The Dismal Swamp canal is still closed to all traffic, but it is not deep enough for you anyway.

We prefer the Pamlico Sound route rather than the Alligator River. Manteo is probably too shallow, but you will have no problem getting into Ocracoke.

The best marina on the whole ICW is River Dunes, just north of Oriental.
You had me until River Dunes Not to sidetrack the discussion, River Dunes is, indeed, a nice marina, but it is in the middle of nowhere and there is no reason to miss the wonderful town of Oriental when the Oriental Inn Marina is right there in the middle of everything.

Anyway, back on topic. The rest of this post I agree with whole-heartedly. While we don't have your draft, we just did this route twice this year. When you cross the Albemarle Sound, head south down the west side of Roanoke Island and right down the middle of the Pamlico Sound (watch the weather carefully, the sound can get snotty... but let's be honest, you have little to worry about in a 55 Nordy!). Turn west up the Neuse River and south at Oriental into Adams Creek until you get to Morehead City/ Beaufort. You will find no depth issues the whole way (assuming you can read a chart and follow the markers)

The sound route is certainly the quickest way, but really, until you get south of Onslow/Swansboro, NC, there aren't any trouble spots to worry about. Even the Alligator/Pungo/Pamlico/Bay River route is easily passable with your deep draft if you want to stop and smell the roses along the way.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:10 PM   #7
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We did this with a 6ft draft a few years back - no problem. Apart from being alert the WHOLE time, only 2 comments. (1) Follow channel markers - not the magenta line on the chart (2) Keep as far to the inland side of the channel as possible when near any/all inlets because they are all shoaled with incoming sand.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:33 PM   #8
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We did this with a 6ft draft a few years back - no problem. Apart from being alert the WHOLE time, only 2 comments. (1) Follow channel markers - not the magenta line on the chart (2) Keep as far to the inland side of the channel as possible when near any/all inlets because they are all shoaled with incoming sand.
Between Norfolk and Beaufort, there are no inlets except for the outer banks ones that are WAY off the ICW (Oregon, Hatteras, & Ocracoke)

You are right about the magenta line... ESPECIALLY at the north en of the Alligator River. However, the channel is clearly marked. It zig-zags a little, but standard seamanship will get you through there.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:38 PM   #9
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I have done the trip back and forth from New England/ Northeast to Florida over 30 times including this area you talk about. One trip was on a 62 Nordhavn. I would avoid the Alligator River and canal and take the sound route if weather permits. The sounds are shallow and waves get close together and steep with NE or East winds.
My brief tips are for all of the ICW.
Keep looking behind you to make sure you are still in the middle of the channel.
Keep to the outside of the curve in most situations, do not cut short to the next marker.
At every inlet, wherever the ocean meets the ICW, be careful of shoaling.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:53 PM   #10
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use active Captain

I have made this trip a few times, twice with a sailboat with 6-foot draft, once on a Kady Krogen 48 and once on my, new-to me trawler with a bit more than four foot draft.

I recommend that you use Active Captain with the data overlaid on a nautical chart. I use my iPad with Active Captain and Garmin Blue Charts. When looking at hazards and comments, follow the advice of Bob423. He is always spot on. This is not a casual/general comment. He has written an ICW guide that is available on Amazon and takes meticulous care in what he does and writes.

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Old 08-29-2017, 01:15 PM   #11
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I just did Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort NC and back ten days ago. At Swansboro and Sneads Ferry, right where the inlet flow crosses the ditch there was definitely some skinny water. I was following the markers, but still saw areas at 3-4' at high tide. I think the deep water favors one side or the other (apparently the other!!) but did not have local knowledge.

With a deep draw boat, I would consider going out Beaufort and running offshore to WB or points south.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:22 PM   #12
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We've traveled the ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort, with drafts of up to 6'6". It's really not difficult with reasonable watch and navigation. It's one of the very few places we actually choose to do the ICW vs. Outside. The least depth we've encountered has been 8'.

There are some areas along the way we do enjoy. We like Elizabeth City, Belhaven, Oriental, and we like to do a side trip along the way to New Bern. Coinjock is a decent stop on the way. Now, here's where you'll get two different opinions as you discuss it. There's a group that thinks Coinjock is a must for their Prime Rib. Huge Cuts of Prime Rib at a low price. I don't join that group. Prime Rib is my favorite food and I found their's to be priced correctly and very disappointing. Wasn't bad as there is no such thing as bad Prime Rib, but it didn't meet the publicity. They refer to it as "World Famous." I'd love to hear how they determined that.

I would plan the route to be certain all my travel was in day time and I would wait if foggy or rainy, especially since you're not familiar with it.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:25 PM   #13
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I just did Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort NC and back ten days ago. At Swansboro and Sneads Ferry, right where the inlet flow crosses the ditch there was definitely some skinny water. I was following the markers, but still saw areas at 3-4' at high tide. I think the deep water favors one side or the other (apparently the other!!) but did not have local knowledge.

With a deep draw boat, I would consider going out Beaufort and running offshore to WB or points south.
I would definitely go outside from Beaufort. In fact, I prefer doing outside from there all the way south. But even those I know who like to run inside, prefer to run outside there. Then you can explore Bald Head, Southport, Wrightsville and Wilmington.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:35 PM   #14
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Greetings,
I second Mr. BB's appraisal of Coinjock's prime rib. Good price, very poor beef.
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Old 08-29-2017, 02:01 PM   #15
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Greetings,
I second Mr. BB's appraisal of Coinjock's prime rib. Good price, very poor beef.
Had you heard it praised as I had by so many and then been so disappointed?
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Old 08-29-2017, 02:37 PM   #16
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Yes......
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Old 08-29-2017, 03:23 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr. BB. Yes indeed, we did go based on "word on the street". 1st time, New Years Eve. VERY busy so I put the poor quality of the meal (quite tough for PR) down to an overworked kitchen. 2nd time, decided to give them another chance. Not any better. 3rd, and final time we tied up there for the night and I was too tired to cook so in the off chance that it was a 3rd time's a charm scenario, bit the bullet once again...Got a slab of meat that cost $40 and quite literally, was 1/3 fat! Not marbled throughout the cut but a full 1/3 was one solid chunk of fat. Be warned.
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:12 PM   #18
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...and this ,my friends, is the epitome of a thread drift! From ICW navigation to prime rib dinners in 12 posts!
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:27 PM   #19
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We recently completed the route from Florida to home in Maine. My suggestion is that you try to start each day about an hour before low tide. That way you will always have a rising tide, and should have no problems if you pay attention to the channels.
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:45 PM   #20
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We recently completed the route from Florida to home in Maine. My suggestion is that you try to start each day about an hour before low tide. That way you will always have a rising tide, and should have no problems if you pay attention to the channels.
What??? No way! You'll run into multiple tide cycles travelling most of the waterway in a day unless you have a really slow boat & a really short day! As mentioned previously , the OP is only headed from Norfolk to Beaufort (I'm assuming NC & not SC) so tides aren't too much of an issue on that stretch.
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