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Old 05-06-2017, 12:14 PM   #1
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Starting the ICW

Here is a question for those on the other side of the country. While our longer range plans are to ship the boat to the east coast and enjoy a few years traveling the ICW we were thinking about starting sooner (while still working) and fly back and forth in between one or two week trips. If we decided to take this route where would the best location be to start our journey if we wanted the best part of ICW west of Florida? Is Texas or the gulf states worth the time or do start around the panhandle of Florida? Important to us will be easy access to marinas every night and leaving the behind for up to two months at a time. We would start in the fall after hurricane season. Thanks

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Old 05-06-2017, 12:38 PM   #2
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I know that I will get bombed for saying this, but I would avoid Texas, Louisiana and maybe Alabama and start in the Florida panhandle and work down to Key West. And if time is critical then go straight to the Tampa Bay area and work south.

The Texas/La ICW really isn't very pretty. Mobile Bay is ok, but not spectacular. That is why I say start in the panhandle.

There are good marinas down the SW Florida coast, but don't leave your boat in Key West. It will cost a fortune.

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Old 05-06-2017, 12:53 PM   #3
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Depending on the season. If summer I would start in Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake could be good for a couple of seasons. Then work South with the weather. I like the Florida Panhandle, but would concentrate on the East coast.

If winter, of course, I would start in South Florida. Probably the SW area from about St. Petersburg South. Then work down to the Keys. If you select the East coast, the Bahamas are well within reach. Then work your way North with the weather.

One note to remember. SW Florida is shallow water country. Stay in the marked channels.
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Old 05-06-2017, 01:34 PM   #4
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Hurricane season runs until 30 November. If you launch north and/or west of Tarpon Springs, you will be faced with some daunting weather when you want to cross the Gulf. So I would recommend, the Tarpon Springs-Clearwater-Tampa-St Pete area or further south.
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:12 PM   #5
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Hey guys give our area a break! Start off in Lake Ponchartrain visiting New Orleans along with the North Shore...plenty to see and do! When tired of the Lake head east to Mississippi Sound, great anchorages along with well maintained marinas. From there Mobile Bay to Pensacola with abundant marinas and 4-5 star anchorages. Destin is a nice stop then on to Carrabelle and the jump off to Tarpon Springs. I would not skip this part of the Gulf Coast to West FL. just my .02. Yes the ICW can be a bit boring from Lake Charles to New Orleans if you are just passing through. However there are some very interesting stops if not in a hurry along this route. Lake Arthur Yacht club is a great stop over and so is the Delcambre marina. Rent a car a visit the heart of Cajun country for several days. A day or 2 in Houma is well worth it then on to New Orleans. Some of the nicest people you'll find live along this route!
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:33 PM   #6
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The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway runs from the Portsmouth at the mouth of the Chesapeake to Key west. It is a run I have made many times. Along this route you can get to a marina every night and can find lots of convenient places to store your boat while you head home. There is an annual migration north and south, driven by the weather and the seasons. Boaters generally start to leave the Chesapeake about the first of October. This allows you to explore the Carolinas and Georgia after the bugs are gone and yet the temperature is mild and the days are long enough. By December the days are very short and it can be cold.

Generally, insurance policies have some date and latitudinal restrictions to keep you out of the southeastern states during hurricane season. But those dates and lines are quite varied, so check you own policy. Florida is pretty stinking hot in the summer anyway, so plan to explore Florida in the later fall through spring time.

If you ship your boat east for some summer cruising, ship the boat to the Northeast or Great Lakes. Summers are pleasant and the cruising is terrific. The Chesapeake can get a bit hot and muggy in July and August. But we have lived here and cruised summer and winter for 31 years. It is doable. but spending the summer a bit further north or east is a good idea. That leaves you September and OCtober on the Bay. Ths are the two best months for cruising the Chesapeake, except for May and June, which are spectacular.

If you ship your boat east in the fall, then send her to the West Coast of FL. Take time to explore the Gulf and Florida, and then join our northward ICW migration in the spring.
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Old 05-06-2017, 04:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
I know that I will get bombed for saying this, but I would avoid Texas, Louisiana and maybe Alabama and start in the Florida panhandle and work down to Key West. And if time is critical then go straight to the Tampa Bay area and work south.

The Texas/La ICW really isn't very pretty. Mobile Bay is ok, but not spectacular. That is why I say start in the panhandle.

There are good marinas down the SW Florida coast, but don't leave your boat in Key West. It will cost a fortune.

David
I live near Galveston Bay, and this is correct if you're looking only for pretty beaches. But there's a lot of interest, at least to me, along the Texas and Louisiana Coasts.

Where I live, a gallon of milk costs more than a gallon of gas. What do you need for a gallon of milk? A cow, and some grass.

What do you need for a gallon of gas? Well, come to Texas and Louisiana and you'll see. Billion dollar offshore facilities, work boats of every description, and oilfield workers. Drilling rigs and refineries. Not pretty, but fascinating.

And there's some really good food, and people, in South Louisiana.

Come see some other cultures, right here in the US.
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Old 05-06-2017, 04:52 PM   #8
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Starting the ICW

John it's time for my 2 cents. Stay on the west coast for another year or two. Take the boat down to the Sea of Cortez and enjoy the good life. When the time comes either haul it across Mexico or go through the canal.

If Central America has no appeal my plan B would be trucking it to Corpus Christi Texas and start there. Life is to damn short to wonder if you shoulda _______.

No regrets. Enjoy.

If there are legs you do not wish to cover for some reason hire a delivery captain to move the boat while you and the bride are enjoying San Diego.
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Old 05-06-2017, 07:53 PM   #9
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I love the Florida panhandle going west to the Riglets of Louisiana down to the Mermentau River. The best place is going west of Houma thru the cypress swamp down to Morgan City. Very pretty and lots of wildlife. And like Cotton said-good food and people. I plan to run the ICW to its southern most point in June, starting at Vermilion Bay.
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:32 PM   #10
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A common pattern is to go north in the summer, and south in the winter. But if you are only going to be on the boat for a week or two at a time, that will constrain how far you can roam over the course of any given season. But I don't see any reason why you couldn't base yourself out of some location for a month or two or three, then move on to some other location, etc. You will just move slower than someone cruising full time, or for a month or two at a time. But I do think you will want to get north in the summer to get out of the heat, humidity, and the worst of the storms, then get south in the winter where you can keep boating year-round.

Bottom line, I see no reason why it can't work, provided you don't need to move very far very fast.
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Old 05-06-2017, 10:35 PM   #11
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It's a matter of where you want to go, what you want to see. Have you spent time in New Orleans, in Galveston/Houston, in Mobile? If I'd never been to any of those places, then I'd see them all and start further west. If I'd see them and had no reason to return, I'd probably start in the Tampa Bay area. Every city has something to offer. It's just places to explore are closer once you hit the west coast of Florida, while the further west you go the more spaced out they are.
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Old 05-07-2017, 07:48 AM   #12
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"Important to us will be easy access to marinas every night ."

WOW that's like driving the interstates to cruise the country.

Why bother if all you see is a marina dock ?

You will enjoy the AICW more if you take part in it , and anchor out to experience it.
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Old 05-07-2017, 08:52 AM   #13
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John, we spend about 12 weeks on the ICW each year. October and November, and April and May. Cristina and I seem to average 3 nights per week in marinas. Over the years, we have stayed in 50 different ICW marinas between the Chesapeake and the Keys. Each one is in an interesting town and worthy of a visit, whether you choose to anchor there or take a slip. Like you, we travel with a dog (pad trained0. If our choice is either to anchor in the reversing current of Beaufort, or take a slip at one of the great marinas, we frequently take a slip. It allows us easy access to walk the dog and to enjoy the attractions, restaurants, museums, parks and historical sights. It is much easier to land our bikes and go exploring. Certainly there are lovely anchorages such as Cumberland Island, Sapelo Island, Topsail Sound, Tarpon Basin, etc., with no marina option, but since it is necessary to do laundry, reprovision, get water and pump outs regularly, that takes you to marinas quite often and since there are so many charming towns along the way, you can spend years on the ICW and not ever anchor if that's your preference.
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Old 05-07-2017, 09:51 AM   #14
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Slightly off topic but since your plans seem to involve flying to where your boat may be moored then traveling on the boat it might be appropriate, given the recent air travel situations. Dr. Walter Bradford Cannon of the Harvard Medical School (physiology Dept) investigated what some called acute stress response and he renamed it and it became known in the 1930's as the "Fight or Flight" response. Dr. Cannon had today's air travel situation pegged long ago.

Don't miss the TX and LA coastal areas. Good food, good people, plenty to do and see.
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Old 05-07-2017, 01:36 PM   #15
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Slightly off topic but since your plans seem to involve flying to where your boat may be moored then traveling on the boat it might be appropriate, given the recent air travel situations. Dr. Walter Bradford Cannon of the Harvard Medical School (physiology Dept) investigated what some called acute stress response and he renamed it and it became known in the 1930's as the "Fight or Flight" response. Dr. Cannon had today's air travel situation pegged long ago.

Don't miss the TX and LA coastal areas. Good food, good people, plenty to do and see.
Wifey B: Also include thoughts of ease of flying in and out in your plans. We fly to and from our boats a lot. Flying from South Florida to Grand Cayman or to Panama City, Panama is easy. Flying to Seattle takes forever but fairly simple. Flying to Ketchikan, Alaska isn't fun or easy. Neither is flying to Lake Pickwick, TN. Oh, I'll tell you about that one in a minute. Flying to NYC so easy.

So, like if you're on the FL coast and you're going to Apalachicola and Carabelle and then across to Tampa, St. Pete area. Look at flights. You're likely to find a heck of a lot easier in and out of Tampa even though further from your home.

Now, about Lake Pickwick.

-We can drive it in 13 hours. Could get up and leave at 7:00 AM and be there at 8:00 PM

or

-Charter a plane at $20k plus and do it in 4 hours.

or

-Fly commercial to Memphis. Sounds simple. Not. No direct flights so either connecting in Atlanta or in Dallas. 5 hours. And then, rent a car and drive an hour and a half. Then have to turn it in somewhere. Oh, and don't forget being at the airport either 7 days early or 1 or 2 hours depending on current mood. So, leave for airport at 9:00 AM. Fly from 10:30 to 3:30. Rental car at 4:00. Drive till 5:30. Then to location by 6:00. Arrive 2 hours earlier than driving. From leaving home till settled in 9 hours.

-Fly to Muscle Shoals, AL. Two connections. 9 hours, then a 1 hour drive so total about 13 hours.

The proverbial, "You can't get there from here." Chattanooga or Nashville would be easy. Not Pickwick.

Just keep it in mind.
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Old 05-07-2017, 01:52 PM   #16
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Wifey B: Oh and do check airlines and planes if you have a choice.

American Airlines (AAL) is planning to decrease the front-to-back space between some of its economy class seats by another two inches.
The airline says it plans to add more seats on its coming Boeing (BA) 737 Max jetliners. To do that, it will shrink the distance between seats, also known as pitch, from 31 inches to 29 inches on three rows of the airplane, and down to 30-inches in the rest of its main economy cabin.

American isn't the only big airline heading in this direction. United Airlines (UAL) is considering a similar move, according to a person briefed on its evaluations. United declined to comment.

The move signals a new step in the shrinking of U.S. airline cabins, and comes even as carriers are promising to improve overall customer service.
With the change, American will become the first large U.S. carrier to offer legroom with a pitch that's nearly on par with ultra-low cost carriers Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and Frontier Airlines. Those seats are an industry minimum 28-inches apart.



I don't know how tall you are, but hubby couldn't fit in those seats if he tried at 6' 4 1/2" and sort of all legs. I can't even fit comfortably. Could wear my basketball knee pads I guess.

Unfortunately, we have no choice but to fly first class.

Guess they read that part about Americans no longer growing taller due to poor nutrition. (Yep, it's true. I couldn't make this s... up if I tried).

They say average man is 5'9" and woman is 5'4". Well except non-hispanic white is 5'10" and 5'5" as is African American. But then wonder how..what if you're from Norway, Sweden or the Netherlands? Oooh.

Serious question now. How tall are some of you and do you have trouble on today's airplanes?
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Old 05-07-2017, 03:31 PM   #17
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Serious question now. How tall are some of you and do you have trouble on today's airplanes?
I'm 6ft. Do I enjoy the cramped seats? Of course not. But I fly out of Houston, so my longest lower 48 flight is under 4 hours, and I rarely have to connect. I flew Spirit to San Diego last week for $27 one way (plus $10 for an aisle seat) (same when I flew to Ft. Lauderdale for the Miami boat show a couple of months ago). For those ridiculous fares, I'll put up with some discomfort. And apparently so will others. Notwithstanding all the bitching, Spirit flights are usually packed.

On a long flight overseas, I dread the discomfort more, but not enough to pay $100-200/hr for a larger seat. Ohh, for the old days.
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Old 05-07-2017, 03:37 PM   #18
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I was once 5'8" but now 5'6". Gravity is doing its job. Height aside, I grew up in the day of ladies and gentlemen who dressed nicely to fly on an airline. Flight attendants were really there to make passengers feel special and safe. I flew a lot, a real lot.

Fast forward to today, and I hate to fly commercial. I drive almost everywhere that doesn't exceed 1,500 miles one way. I don't like the whole process at the airport even though I am TSA PRE. I don't like the passengers dressed like they don't give a crap about their personal appearance or hygiene and I could go on and on. If I must fly, it's first or business class for me.
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Old 05-07-2017, 03:46 PM   #19
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Flying use to be fun-I must have been stupid in my younger years. I dread the whole experience now. I've aged. With all the electronics attached to me I have to get a pat down whenever I go through security. AND it's always a ugly guy doing it, never the nice looking babe standing next to him
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:14 AM   #20
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If you put out 7:1 rode it would take a lot to drag the anchor in that mud. I found it holds like glue!
The Bahamas or keys can be tricky because the bottom may look sandy but it's just a small amount of sand over coral rock.
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