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Old 03-25-2014, 06:34 PM   #1
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ICW- Your Best Tips

Hello,

We are planing our voyage from Annapolis to Marco Island, FL, (via Okeechobee waterway) this fall of 2014.

Here is a little background and some of our ideas that may help explain our situation:
I had some limited experience on the ICW 20 years ago, but it was in a go-fast boat. I do have previous and recent formal training in piloting & seamanship.
My 1st Mate (aka: 1st and last wife) only has the 130 hours of boating we have experienced together on our boat. We do not presently belong to a yacht club.

We know and plan to set no hard deadlines and are comfortable with "taking as long as it takes" to really savor the trip. Yes, we want to stop and smell the roses. We plan to avoid bad weather as we can.
We prefer marinas to anchoring and aren't too worried about the added expense, even though I'll gladly save a buck whenever possible. We certainly have anchored out overnight which we greatly enjoyed.

So, here's our very broad question:

With all of the vast experience that you "old salts" possess, what would be the 3 or 4 BEST TIPS that you can offer?

Topics may include:
Navigation, shoaling, hazards, passing / overtaking techniques (Yes, I read the fasinating TF thread), weather, "can't miss" stops, marinas, restaurants, great anchorages, security warnings & other cautions, equipment & supplies, iPad / iPhone apps, fueling, locks & bridges, publications, socializing, VHS, AIS, radar,
your mistakes, your successes, or anything else that would be at the top of your lists.

Obviously, we're taking this very seriously while still anticipating the fun!
Thank you in advance for your insight!
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:09 PM   #2
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My ICW tips - There are several good guides to cruising the ICW. Some go into great detail, others are just lists of marinas or anchorages. There is also a DVD set. Buy several and study them. Also join Active Captain and look at the information and reviews. Here's another good source: Cruiser's Net

I'm assuming you have a good chart plotter and depth sounder. Make sure you have the charts for the areas you will be cruising.

We will be going the other way from Charleston, SC to the Chesapeake Bay this spring if everything goes according to plan.
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:19 PM   #3
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Have made the trip several dozen times and have much of it commited to memory.

Have done it by trawler last 2 winters taking 4 months between Ft Piece and NJ (to from over that time).

If inexperienced the best tips are to have towing insurance, a thorough check out of propulsion equipment,...you know all the typical jibberish most people and guides are going to feed you.

As far as "not to miss stops"...lots will chime in and give you great info...others's will try to convince you of their preferences.

You have a wonderful world unfolding before you. You get to go places I-95 can only dream about if you travel that way.

If you are a military buff...there are gteat stops...if just history...then those and others. If you love wildlife...there are great parks with displays and tours along the way.

Much to much to even try here...if you like...send a PM and we'll trade e-mails to phone numbers and if you like I can lay out quite a bit...but much to much to type...and I'm only one tiny reference...but may be ableto give you a decent strawman to which you can add/build form other and other sites.

The basics could easily cover 2-3 hours and some nice cold beers...once specifics are determined..another 3-4 could sew up a nice trip. If you have someone nearby that has done the trip multiple times...well worth the afternoon to sit down with them if they are the type for remembering details and have a breadth of experience and knowledge.

But first and foremost...get familiar with these and learn to use them on the fly...

https://activecaptain.com/X.php

Waterway Guide | waterwayguide.com

Cruiser's Net

ps..will probably be stopping in Herrington Harbor in a couple weeks if you would like to stop by to shoot the ....
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:26 PM   #4
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Psneeld said it all, and said it very well. There is an old saying about "you cannot jump into the same river twice," and by the same token you cannot travel the same ICW twice. Low spots will change, marinas will change, bridge schedules will change, etc. But it is a great trip, and (although others may disagree, I suppose) once you get down to about North Carolina, and then all the way to below Jacksonville, Florida, it is just plain magic. No other word for it. IMHO.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:25 PM   #5
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Just prior to any departure date you may want to check with the Army Corps of Engineers as to the depths within the Okeechobee Waterway. There are times that you may have trouble going through there in a canoe. Marathon in the Conch Republic is not a bad spot if you divert and go around.
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:11 AM   #6
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Two broad tips: Prepare your boat and equipment carefully prior to departure. Included in this is the tip to be sure you understand your boats systems. Secondly, prepare your cruise, in the long term and short term. Prior to each day, review and plan your day, keep a back up plan at the ready.

Have fun, its a great trip.

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Old 03-26-2014, 08:39 AM   #7
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............ Secondly, prepare your cruise, in the long term and short term. Prior to each day, review and plan your day, keep a back up plan at the ready.
It's been said that one of the most dangerous things you can have on a boat is a schedule. While I might have a general idea of where I will end up each day, as a practical matter,, somewhere between noon and 3:00 or so I'll start to decide where we will actually end up. And of course, that affects where we end up the next day.

Keep in mind we are cruising for pleasure so it doesn't matter what day we get to a particular destination. Some folks won't have this freedom.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:13 AM   #8
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When in doubt slow down. Better to kiss the bottom slowly than run up on a slightly higher bottom you could have avoided had you moved over a few feet. There are only a couple of places where having the tide really matters but we draw 5'6" so that may not be an issue for you.

Remember that when transiting a bridge the boats with the tide have the right of way. We were waiting for two sailboats to come at us under the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine and a trawler behind us got impatient and pulled around us and almost clobbered them. He apparently wasn't listening to the radio when I confirmed with the bridge tender that I should wait for them.

And that brings me to item #3, when in doubt get on the radio and ask - be it a tug and barge, a bridge tender, or a fellow recreational boater.

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Old 03-26-2014, 09:15 AM   #9
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Just remember if travelling during the "busy season" of the North/South exodus....prime marinas (which the PO did mention they preferred) sometimes fill up fast...having a good idea to where and when you want to be is a good idea so you can call ahead for reservations. Even if not during prime...sometimes boat clubs or rendezvous call fill up your marina of choice.

So having a schedule is not a bad thing and neither is living by it...Just don't DIE by it...

Almost no matter how bad the weather gets...the ICW isn't much more than uncomfortable...not dangerous except for a few stretches of bad water and others that you must cross but rather quickly. For those you just have to make a good judgement call.

As for travelling with a dangerous boat...again..you have to even know the danger exists and then see where you can get it fixed...usually something that will interrupt a schedule for anyone and not hard to figure out.

So trip planning as Sortie suggested is a good idea...just have the backup plan as he suggested....the ICW just isn't much to worry about if you have towing insurance, a credit card and capable of reasoned thinking.

The best part...we are all here to help as many have gotten lot's of good advice along their trips to keep them going and having fun!!
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:38 AM   #10
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My I recommend a very entertaining and informative video series on Youtube, which was produced by a fellow member and former Praire 29' owner? Lookup on Youtube the user "Flagold" and check out his ICW series of videos. I believe they are titled "Great Loop Trawler Videos" and there are 10+. You can follow his trek from Jacksonville through the Okeechobee waterways. Lots of good informaton that can help you.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:42 AM   #11
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Most everything covered, only a couple explicit additions:

- Lay in a good supply of appropriate spares

- Learn passing technique

And then I'll recommend you DO stay out on the hook occasionally when suitable anchorages permit.

I found the prime rib good, but over-rated. All those cruising guides will explain, if that's semaphore just now.



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Old 03-26-2014, 11:47 AM   #12
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Two words of advice as the advice given already has been great....

1-When in doubt, don't? You don't have to....do anything at anytime. You can afford to be conservative. If you have doubts about today being a good day to move on, then just stay where you are. Doubts about the tide being too low to move into a marina, then just relax and wait. Yes, if it's foggy and rainy you can use radar and move on, but why? Is there some reason to spend the day being uncomfortable? I doubt it.

2-Enjoy. Each and every area. Each and every port. Read of what others have enjoyed. Use trip advisor. Check out cruising guides for fun things to do. Get out and walk. Take a taxi to town. Take a bus across town. We actually have a list of things we'd like to do in all the ports along the way, even some we might not get on this trip. Typical day stopped, we may get three in, leave others for next time. Get weathered in, we've never run out of things to do and enjoy. Sometimes it's just walk around the old downtown and the unique shops. Meeting the local people. Last time we were delayed in Apalachicola we were blessed with the opportunity to meet so many local artists and artisans and see their studios, see where they created. Get the stories behind their art and how they even got inspired and into it. The other day we decided not to tackle the gulf and enjoyed cruising the bay in our tender. Today, we've just been using a relaxing day to catch up on some other things we need to while enjoying one of our favorite marinas. There is something new to enjoy and experience at every turn. Even if you are delayed a week sometime for a repair, then use that week to go a little deeper into what makes that community special and unique.
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Most everything covered, only a couple explicit additions:

- Lay in a good supply of appropriate spares

- Learn passing technique

And then I'll recommend you DO stay out on the hook occasionally when suitable anchorages permit.

I found the prime rib good, but over-rated. All those cruising guides will explain, if that's semaphore just now.



-Chris
Which one???????

On getting "waked" / vandalism
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:26 PM   #14
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Which prime rib?



I should have made it "techniques" (plural).

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Old 03-26-2014, 04:28 PM   #15
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Geez, you guys are great! Just what we need.

Another question, should we put off until mid-summer updating our Raymarine GPS charts, paper charts, and Skipper Bob?

Thinking the later we wait the better chance we have of getting current information?

Please keep these great tips coming!

Thank You All!
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:36 PM   #16
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Which prime rib?



-Chris
Don't go there! Coinjock no doubt... do it once to find out for yourself what all the noise is about!

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Old 03-26-2014, 04:41 PM   #17
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The biggest joke along the ICW is restaurants....all depends on your tastes...

I'm just pissed my 4 months coincide with the closed shrimping season.

How can you travel over 3000 miles of Atlantic seaboard and barely be able to find a single fresh shrimp.

If it weren't for the occasional guy selling out of the back of pickups...all I'd ever see was grocery store shrimp.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:52 PM   #18
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If it weren't for the occasional guy selling out of the back of pickups...all I'd ever see was grocery store shrimp.
We too are shrimp chasers and you're right about the back of a pickup. I was really surprised at the lack of fresh fish markets all the way down. Everything must get wholesaled out. Our town dock wholesales to locals but we do have one market next to the dock for retail of everything brought in on local boats plus a selection the shipping company brings up the coast bound for the Fulton Fish Market.

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Old 03-26-2014, 04:57 PM   #19
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We too are shrimp chasers and you're right about the back of a pickup. I was really surprised at the lack of fresh fish markets all the way down. Everything must get wholesaled out. Our town dock wholesales to locals but we do have one market next to the dock for retail of everything brought in on local boats plus a selection the shipping company brings up the coast bound for the Fulton Fish Market.

Dave
Actually found the little out of the way fish markets...still no shrimp..

Even went to Sunbury Crab just south of Savannah...guess what wasn't on the menu for my crab lovin' girlfriend from Baltimore!!!!!!!!!! The crabs were in hiding according to the owner....

Holy seafood Batman!!!! Must be a conspiracy!!!!
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:36 PM   #20
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......... Even went to Sunbury Crab just south of Savannah...guess what wasn't on the menu for my crab lovin' girlfriend from Baltimore!!!!!!!!!! The crabs were in hiding according to the owner....
You can't get blue crabs in restaurants in Charleston. Even at the Crab House or Crab Shack. I've seen a picture of a bushel of blue crabs on the Crab Shack menu cover but they are not on the menu.

You can buy all you want at a seafood store though. Cook them yourself.

On line restaurant reviews are pretty worthless. I suspect the employees write them themselves and write bad ones about the competition.
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