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Old 07-11-2016, 08:23 AM   #1
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ICW or out and around?

So the wife and I are pretty close to pulling the trigger on a trawler and we're looking to travel in it. If I wanted to go from Va to say Charleston or Savanah, would you recommend the ICW or go out and around? I was thinking about going out and around, the ICW seems too cramped and shallow. At night I would dive into the ICW or somewhere protected to drop the hook, but that's about all. But reading other people's blogs and comments, they pretty much only go ICW. What say you?
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:34 AM   #2
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Depends on the weather. If it's good, outside.


Weather is usually not a limiting factor for ICW travel.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:37 AM   #3
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Sorta like driving interstates or back roads. What do you like to see or not?

Plus in a 6 to 8 knot boat, some outside legs can be longer than just sticking to the ICW.

If you haven't done the ICW and stopped in many of the places and taken in the sites, history, restaurants, people...etc...etc.... I say you are missing something.

If just in a rush to get some place...then it still can be a coin toss.

After a dozen or so trips, I can see people jumping out just to relax on autopilot...many miles at 6 knots and I like the break....but I do like seeing neat new places every night if I can.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:48 AM   #4
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The in and out passages add a lot to some segments.
You may be a salty dog but your wife will probably enjoy slower trip with many interesting stops to explore along the way
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:53 AM   #5
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The answer will depend . How big is your boat? How fast is your boat? How experienced are you? How experienced is your crew? What time of year are you going south? There are only about 12-15 really safe Class A inlets. You may have to go more than 100 miles to reach one. The conditions at an inlet can change very quickly, and inlets kill boats and people.Can you accurately predict the wind and seas at an inlet that is 100 miles and 12 -24 hours ahead of you? Can you safely stay at sea in your boat for several days if the weather gets bad and you are far from a class A inlet? The reason that most people go inside is that weather is seldom a problem on the ICW, it is mostly protected waters except for Chesapeake Bay, Albemarle and Pamlioco sounds . You can make 50 to 80 miles a day n November's short days, and watch the weather. If you get a good window you may bump out and run along the coast. With a good window you can bump out through a class b or even C inlet if you have good local knowlege, and if you enter at a class A inlet then you will be sure that the entrance buoys are as charted. Not so with B and C inlets. If you have not run the ICW before and you are headed south in the fall, consider attending the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous. It is a great source of information and camaraderie for ICW travelers. Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous - Home
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:53 AM   #6
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I guess that's true. I guess it's about the journey, not the destination. We may just have to add a couple of days to our journey. They kids may enjoy the ICW as well.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:58 AM   #7
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It would be a boat between 42 and 50 ft long, 6 to 12 knots and I can predict weather fairly accurately. I have a lot of experience, my wife doesn't have as much offshore experience. I would be doing it in the summer when he boys are out of school as well.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:07 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SaltyDawg86 View Post
It would be a boat between 42 and 50 ft long, 6 to 12 knots and I can predict weather fairly accurately. I have a lot of experience, my wife doesn't have as much offshore experience. I would be doing it in the summer when he boys are out of school as well.
Keep in mind the outside route is boring for most people. Especially kids.

If you, your wife and/or kids like to fish, don't forget to put some rod holders on your trawler as you are moving at trolling speeds offshore all day long. And that can add some excitement to the day.

I put rod holders up on the bridge. That way you don't miss a fish because no one is at or near the aft deck to hear the rod go off and it gives a good angle of pull on the lure and the fish once you hook up.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:11 AM   #9
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Another factor not yet mentioned is the number of sportfishermen with those high double flybridge arrangements, and other "go-fast" boats in your area. I have been in places on the ICW where the boating life became worse than miserable because of all the high speed boats piloted by rude people with absolutely no concern for others.
........ there were times I wished for a torpeedo tube in the bow, or an RPG!
They can be truly ignorant, and sometimes I would go "outside" just to escape them for a day. - seemed to get worse the farther south one got on the ICW.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:14 AM   #10
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How old are the kids? Old enough to take a watch at the helm? I'd figure about 12yr old and may be able to keep a helm watch while on AP and give you a break while offshore. I find long offshore runs with two as crew can be a bit tiring, but with three everyone gets lots of breaks.

I like to change it up. Some offshore, some inshore. I try to avoid Georgia, lots of miles in switchbacks and the scenery does not change much. If you have seen five miles of Ga, you have seen it!!!

After a day or two of being in seas, just keeping balance can wear you down. Then it is nice to get inside for a break. But inside you have to be much more attentive on navigating, which can be tiring in itself.

Chesapeake Bay through NC usually better inshore as you have to go pretty far offshore to clear the shoals, and if weather picks up the inlets are not very good.

The ICW behind Myrtle Beach is a long boring trench, but get into the Waccamaw River and that is beautiful.

Weather is the big deciding factor. Getting bounced for hours is simply no fun.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:26 AM   #11
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Is there a list of inlet classifications?

Have been on the water my whole life and gave heard people refer to them, but never a "ckassification" index or listing.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:30 AM   #12
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If you have never run the ICW before take the inside route. You could spend weeks just cruising the Chesapeake. The most interesting parts of the ICW are from Norfolk through Georgia. There are many interesting towns to stop along the way. When we had a slow trawler we took board games and card games for the kids to play along the way. They loved the towns.

The ICW through Georgia once you learn to appreciate it is beautiful. Miles of marsh where you seem miles from anywhere. It will be hot, so be prepared for no see'ems and green head biting flies. (These are the South's secret weapons for Yankees coming South.)

I think the ICW is an experience not to be missed. Enjoy.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:42 AM   #13
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As said above much depends on the boat, the speed, the rough water capabilities, the weather and the experience of the crew. We do not travel the ICW very often, but then we don't go 6 knots either and we have several with experience on board capable of taking the helm. We use the ICW primarily to get from a near inlet to the destination. Only in extreme conditions do we stay inside for long distances.

As to the inlets, I find the majority of the inlets to be quite easy to use. I compare to the inlets between San Francisco and Cape Flattery where they can become un-navigable more quickly and there are fewer in the same distance.

At the speeds we travel, outside is much faster than inside and more peaceful. We don't find it boring, less so than we find covering long distances inside at slower speeds. However, our normal cruise is 20 knots.

You'll have to figure out what you and your family enjoy. I would think at first that might include a mixture just to experience both. For areas new to you, the inside may have appeal. Also occasionally to see changes. We cruise dozens of times a year between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and West Palm and Fort Lauderdale. The majority is outside, but occasionally we do go inside just to see changes. Same reason we'll occasionally drive on A1A rather than 95.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:50 AM   #14
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Inlets

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Is there a list of inlet classifications?

Have been on the water my whole life and gave heard people refer to them, but never a "ckassification" index or listing.
I am not aware of such an "official" list. The Class A inlets are all weather inlets and the buoys are charted. These tend to be the shipping channels such as Charleston and Jax, etc. Class B inlet are buoyed, but the buoys are moved frequently so that they are not always charted. Sapelo and St. Augustine are examples. These inlets are not safe in rough weather even with local knowlege. Class C inlets generally have few if any nav aids and require local knowlege even in good weather. Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Jupiter inlets are examples. They must be avoided in bad weather.

Perhaps someone on this list has a better listing?
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:06 AM   #15
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I have heard that as an accepted "rule of thumb"...just was wondering if there was one more obscure document that I haven't seen yet.
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Is there a list of inlet classifications?

Have been on the water my whole life and gave heard people refer to them, but never a "ckassification" index or listing.
"We have all heard the term "All Weather Inlet" and the term "Class A Inlet" seems to be the nom du jour lately. Both of these terms have become popular in describing what "someone" thinks is an inlet safe to enter or exit under any weather conditions.

I say "someone," because I have been going to sea now for more years than I care to admit to and I have yet to find an official definition of either one. I have searched the libraries, the blogs, the bibles of navigation like Bowditch, and even Googled the terms: the results "Zero, Zip, Zilch point Sh..!" Ok, you get the idea. So, how can anyone classify an inlet as "All Weather or Class A" when apparently no definition exists to compare it against?

Many people in the past have tried to rank inlets based upon their ease of use. While this is a great idea and would definitely provide the mariner with a valuable tool in voyage planning, the results of these rankings are still very often subjective in nature."


And more inlet information than you may ever need:

http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA444810

Inlets Online

http://oceanscience.net/inletsonline/map/map.html
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:53 AM   #17
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If you are destination oriented and in a hurry/time limited, then go outside.

If on the other hand you are a cruiser/traveler/explorer, go inside. You could easily spend months on the trip you describe. The dismal swamp is worth the time, and the Albemarle Loop is bucket list trip for many.

Either way, enjoy your time afloat.

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Old 07-11-2016, 11:12 AM   #18
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Having done some of both: inside the ICW and outside in the Atlantic, here are my thoughts on a Portsmouth to Charleston trip:


Don't go outside around Hatteras- It is a long way outside, it is more than a daylight trip and weather outside Hatteras can be unpredictable.


Beaufort to Masonboro Inlet- This is about the only daylight leg that makes sense on your route.


All of the other good inlets require a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to get in and out and just aren't worth it.


If you travel further south there are much more opportunities to get in and out to go outside, but not on the trip you are talking about.


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Old 07-11-2016, 02:33 PM   #19
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While I'm an inside guy while pleasure cruising, couldn't imagine doing it during the summer without air conditioning. To me, a good part of enjoying the ICW is doors open enjoying nature. If I have to stay cooped up inside to be comfortable, think that detracts a lot from the experience. To me, the ICW is a spring and fall thing, Monday through Friday when everybody else is either at work or back to school. Follow fall South in October and spring North in April.

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Old 07-11-2016, 02:38 PM   #20
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I have a 9 year old and 2 year old, it will be a long time before we can cruise far in spring and fall.
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