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Old 01-18-2015, 09:55 AM   #1
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Solomons to Florida - Newbie on ICW

It would be easy to get all my questions answered and get all kinds of tips and guidance and never post on the forum, but somehow that seems rude, like eavesdropping on private conversations. So I'm jumping right in and letting everyone know I'm reading and I really appreciate all your posts, past and present.

We've had Pleasure Island now for a couple of years, and I've posted on the forum before, for problems that have come up. 1988 Marine Trawler, 34', single diesel, cruise about 8 kts.

Now we are relocating, Solomons, MD to Palm Coast, FL (mm 802 on ICW). The trip down the ICW will be my first significant trip on the boat and I am really getting excited as the date nears. Two old sailing salts and myself will be doing the trip. Between the three of us we have about close to 100 years of boating experience (my God we are old), but 90% of it is sail. We don't everything, but we are confident in our skills. None of us have been on the ICW south of Norfolk.

It is not a sight seeing, take a day or two here and there trip, but it's not a delivery, get it there quick trip either. I have a 17 day window in my life to get the boat there, and our planning estimates a 13 day trip. I think that is doable as long as there are few unforeseen or major problems. Your opinions on the timetable are welcome.

I will continue to browse the forum, search for answers to my questions, and post when I can't find something. Your input will always be welcome and considered in our planning and execution.

Larry
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Old 01-18-2015, 10:05 AM   #2
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Good luck and enjoy your trip!
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Old 01-18-2015, 10:08 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. 49. As you are well aware, a schedule is the LAST thing you want on any particular voyage. 800 odd miles over 13 days or even 17 days may be a bit ambitious unless you can pretty well guarantee that you will be traveling EVERY day. 50 to 60 miles PER DAY can be done but please allow time for, as you mention "...unforeseen or major problems...". I can easily see the shorter daylight hours, tides and weather events eating into your itinerary so be prepared to "store" your vessel if you run out of time and then continue to your destination at a later date. Other than that, have a great time.
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Old 01-18-2015, 10:14 AM   #4
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Your time frame looks good, weather and how many hours a day you will be cruising will be the determining factor. Did that trip in reverse last spring, 13 days from Fort Myers to Norfolk. Days were longer in April and didn't miss any until I reached Norfolk, running 7+ knots. When will you leave as the days are very short now and temps can be quite cold? Are you marina hopping or achoring out?

Ted
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Old 01-18-2015, 11:02 AM   #5
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Your time frame looks good, weather and how many hours a day you will be cruising will be the determining factor. Did that trip in reverse last spring, 13 days from Fort Myers to Norfolk. Days were longer in April and didn't miss any until I reached Norfolk, running 7+ knots. When will you leave as the days are very short now and temps can be quite cold? Are you marina hopping or achoring out?

Ted
Ted is right about the shorter day light of winter. That plus the fact that you will probably average more like 6 1/2 or 7 knots with a 34'boat will make for few miles traveled. Seems ambitious to have a fixed 17 day window. Where in South Florida?
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Old 01-18-2015, 12:35 PM   #6
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We plan to leave on March 20th. Sunrise will be around 0700; sunset 1930 for the trip, so we figure 10 to 11 hours per day travel time. 13 days for your trip from Ft. Meyers to Norfolk is encouraging, we are planning averaging 70 sm per day, and I am aware that the rule of thumb is to plan for 50. It is ambitious, but we have some flexibility. Not going to South Florida; Palm Coast is considered Northeast Florida, sits between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:08 PM   #7
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Anchoring out or marina hopping? It's easy to plan 70 miles a day, but there will be stretches where you won't find a marina or achorages for 20 or 30 miles. So planning becomes very important. Also, while you may plan 8 knots, long stretches against strong head winds and an opposing tide may drop you below 5 knots ground speed for hours. Remember to factor in bridge and lock schedules as most of the ones you will be encountering are not on demand, or have restrictions for rush hour traffic.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is very doable for you. But a 70 mile planned day can end up less than 40 after waiting almost an hour at a couple of draw bridges and bucking a head wind, 2 to 3' chop and maybe some tidal currents. You may also get the day when everything seems to be going your way. Did almost 100 nautical miles one day. Ended up running 2 hours in the dark when a couple of anchorages didn't pan out. The most important take away from my trip was to have multiple alternatives whether anchoring or marina hopping. Would rather have a short day then ever have to run most parts of the AICW at night again.

Ted
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:46 PM   #8
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Was planning on taking my trawler from Chrisfield MD to Fort Myers the first week of January. Had unrealistic expectations on the time required to paint the boat. So it's not going South this Winter. Anyway, had laid out my planned days and anchorages for the trip with most below 70 miles and only a couple above based on shorter day light hours. My plan had me passing Palm Coast on day 14 for what it's worth. Happy to share the information or answer questions on any of the sections.

Not trying to tell you how to run your boat. Planning a 7 knot cruise verses 8 knots may reduce your fuel consumption by half. From a planning stand point, there will be many areas where wake restrictions will require you to go slower. Planning to go slower and going faster when you can if you want, is a far more realistic approach. On most days on the AICW, planning a 7 knot cruise verses 8 knots will add less than an additional hour to a planned 70 mile day in my experience.

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Old 01-18-2015, 02:08 PM   #9
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I have done that trip the last 3 years from early Dec to Christmas (plus days spent with family and friends that I didn't count in).

Average 6.3 knots with as little daylight as you can get and nasty weather too at that time of year...though March isn't much better and maybe worse wind wise...but warmer.

It takes me around 18 days but I can easily see doing it in 13 to 15 days...but that is moving everyday for most daylight hours if running 7 knots or less and a few tidal current rivers like the Cape Fear and the Waccamaw don't hurt you too bad (certainly North to South is better).

It also means bypassing fun places and running the full day to a reasonable destination . Not many short days planned into a 13 day schedule with a trawler.
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Old 01-18-2015, 02:25 PM   #10
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With a tight schedule like that it is most certainly a delievery. And you need to treat it like one to make it in that time frame.

Run long days where you want to get any fueling you need to do done in the evening so there are no delays in the morning. Try and stock up with as many supplies as you can before you leave so you don't have to waste time going shopping very often. Bypass certain areas, like Georgia, by running offshore. Consider doing some over night runs when the weather permits. Work on timing your arrivals to bridges to minimize your wait times. Etc, etc.

It's really to bad you don't have more time to enjoy the trip.
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:10 PM   #11
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A outside run if wx co-operates such as Cape fear to savannah or Jacksonville, give an easy overnight passage to get you back on track.
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Old 01-18-2015, 05:53 PM   #12
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Wow, great information guys. We plan on anchoring out most of the time, fueling up twice when tanks should be around 1/2 full. I would be very interested in seeing your plan that puts you past Palm Coast on day 14. Planning 7 knots sounds like a smart idea and I am starting to look at stretching it to a planned 15 days. I hesitate to run outside as we are single engine. What's your opinion there? Three of us certainly could do an overnight, but I've flown single engine over open water and experienced "automatic rough"; not sure the added level of anxiety would be worth the savings in time.
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Old 01-18-2015, 05:59 PM   #13
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... I hesitate to run outside as we are single engine. What's your opinion there? Three of us certainly could do an overnight, but I've flown single engine over open water and experienced "automatic rough"; not sure the added level of anxiety would be worth the savings in time.
He started it not me. If the boats running as it should, with good weather, why not? Worst case you have to call Tow Boats or equivalent. The jump that SOF mentioned would be a good one to take some miles off.


PS Hobo is a single.
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Old 01-18-2015, 06:07 PM   #14
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Unless you have some reason to doubt your single engine....running 20 to 40 miles offshore should be no big deal..if it is..why did you buy a single as you will be worried every time you pull away from the dock?

You can relax and do the ICW as planned and make it if your days vary between 50 and 75 miles...running offshore with an autopilot can be more relaxing..but not necessary unless you fall behind.
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Old 01-18-2015, 06:49 PM   #15
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I would not plan on running off shore and here is why:

Weather: End of March is unpredictable at best as far as good weather. Weather windows are small that time of year. Being at the right place at the right time to take advantage of a 1 or 2 day nice weather Window is a big gamble. If you loose a day or 2 waiting to go outside, you might as well have kept going inside.

Boat size: Nothing against your boat. My guess is that you have little to no experience with your boat in the ocean, let alone at night. End of March is not the time to figure out the government blew the forecast and your getting your ass pounded in a 34' boat at night and any inlet you are planning to go in at night you have never been in before. You want to go offshore in your 34' boat at night for the first time, wait till June or July to make this trip.

Itenarary: This trip is very doable within your 17 day window. You can afford 3 or 4 blow days and will likely not need all of them as you are traveling inside. Heading outside may cause you to wait and then make a bad choice because your running out of time. Staying inside allows you to stick to a tough but manageable schedule. On all but the most horrible weather days you will be able to cruise with a few exceptions.

That's my opinion; it worth almost what you paid for it.

Happy to share my plan with you.

Ted
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Old 01-18-2015, 07:12 PM   #16
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We had already decided to not run outside, for all the reasons you stated, Ted. I really would like to get to where Larry is with his confidence, though, I want to use the boat offshore some in good weather. Once in Florida I will pick some good weather days and head offshore out of St. Augustine. I admit to being a chicken and will take baby steps to get there, building my confidence in myself and my boat.
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Old 01-18-2015, 10:45 PM   #17
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My plan (you would be foolish to follow it without doing your due diligence):

I use Active Captain. Everything I'm listing below can be found on Active Captain.

Day 1: Get to Norfolk. Stop at Top Rack Mile marker 9 +/- and top off fuel and water. Likely the cheapest fuel on the trip. This may not be attainable in one day from Solomons, MD. My plan was to leave Chrisfield at Sundown the night before and take a leisurely cruise down the bay and get to Norfolk early afternoon. Adjust your plan according to your comfort level. After fueling back track to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal MM 8 +/-. Anchor for the night at "Deep Creek Basin" MM 9 +/-. I choose the Dismal Swamp Canal as it's protected all the way to Elizabeth City, 2 draw bridges, and 2 locks. You can do day 2 in all but a hurricane it's so protected. The Albemarle and Chesapeake canal is fine but there are several draw bridges and more open water Sounds to navigate if the weather is bad.

Day 2: Need to be at the Deep Creek Lock MM 12+/- by 8:00am for the 8:30 lock through. The Lock operator will lock you through the lock and then open then open the Deep Creek Bridge for you. Follow his directions, channel 13 vhf. Call him as soon as you arrive so that he confirms you are there. Travel the canal (6 knot speed limit) 22 statute miles to the South Mill Lock. Need to be at the South Mill bridge by 1:00pm to lock through at 1:30pm. The Lock operator will move you through the bridge and then the lock. Chanel 13 vhf. Call the lock operator as soon as you arrive at the bridge. From the Lock to Elizabeth City is about 18 miles. Elizabeth City bridge opens on demand but restricted during rush hour. Lots of anchorages around Elizabeth City, pick based on wind direction. You have traveled 41 miles today, navigated 2 locks and 2 draw bridges to MM 50.

Day 3: Leave early and follow the AICW 76 miles to the Pongo river anchorage MM126. There are several anchorages there depending on wind direction. Be careful at MM 80 Alligator inlet. Draw bridge at MM84. Longer day 76 miles to MM 126

Day 4: Follow AICW 62 miles to Cedar Creek Anchorage MM 188.

Day 5: Follow AICW 57 miles to Mile Hammock Bay anchorage MM 245. You will be going through Morehead City which can be a busy place and stopping next to Camp Lejeune marine base. One Draw bridge MM 240.

Day 6: Follow AICW 64 miles to South Port NC MM309. Draw bridges at MM 261, MM 278, and MM 284. Pick a marina here as you will likely want to pump out, fill water and reprovision. Tina's Pocket at MM 306 is a good anchorage also.

Day 7: Follow AICW 77 miles to Sandhole Creek anchorage MM 386. Draw bridges at MM 347, MM371.

Day 8: Follow AICW 69 miles to Dewees Creek 1 MM 455. Study the charts carefully; lots or wrong turn possibilities.

Day 9: Follow AICW 65 miles to Fenwick Cut West or Racoon Island anchorages depending on wind direction MM 520. 2 bridges with 31'+ clearance. Be careful at Elliott Cut MM 472 +/-.

Day 10: Follow AICW 65 miles to Turners Rock anchorage MM 585. One bridge 30' clearance. One draw bridge MM 580.

Day 11: Follow AICW 68 miles go about 6 miles up the Darien River to the city of Darien MM 653. Free public docks with water and electric and food stores within a mile. Hell's Gate is MM 602. Be careful here!

Day 12: Follow AICW 58 miles to Cumberland Sound South anchorage MM 708. Several good anchorages there depending on wind direction. At MM 680 a 4 mile detour into Brunswick will get you to Ocean Petroleum. Usually the cheapest diesel south of Norfolk until you get to Mexico.

Day 13: Follow AICW 57 miles to Pine Island South anchorage MM 765. Draw bridge at MM 739. Tidal water flow in Sisters Creek MM 735 through MM 739 can be over 2 knots. Be prepared for the bridge at MM 739. Clearance closed is only 24'!

Day 14: Easy day to Palm Coast.

There are more bridges that may slow you down that I didn't list as they are normally open.

Ted
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:28 AM   #18
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I would not plan on running off shore and here is why:

Weather: End of March is unpredictable at best as far as good weather. Weather windows are small that time of year. Being at the right place at the right time to take advantage of a 1 or 2 day nice weather Window is a big gamble. If you loose a day or 2 waiting to go outside, you might as well have kept going inside.

Boat size: Nothing against your boat. My guess is that you have little to no experience with your boat in the ocean, let alone at night. End of March is not the time to figure out the government blew the forecast and your getting your ass pounded in a 34' boat at night and any inlet you are planning to go in at night you have never been in before. You want to go offshore in your 34' boat at night for the first time, wait till June or July to make this trip.

Itenarary: This trip is very doable within your 17 day window. You can afford 3 or 4 blow days and will likely not need all of them as you are traveling inside. Heading outside may cause you to wait and then make a bad choice because your running out of time. Staying inside allows you to stick to a tough but manageable schedule. On all but the most horrible weather days you will be able to cruise with a few exceptions.

That's my opinion; it worth almost what you paid for it.

Happy to share my plan with you.

Ted
I wouldn't wait for good wx to go outside. If he does have a favorable forecast and can jump outside at Cape Fear, he takes advantage of a .7-.9 kt favorable current, which in his boat is significant. If he stays close to shore, he rides this current that is inshore of the west wall of the gulfstream with plenty of bailout spots if so chooses.
Just because it is in the "Ocean" doesn't mean it is any more dangerous that ICW travel. Surely with his 100 years of seagoing experience aboard, someone has been at sea at night at least once?
As for it being March, yes it is the windiest month but you still get plenty of days of reasonable wx for coastal travel.
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Old 01-19-2015, 08:18 AM   #19
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It took us 6 weeks to get from Daytona to Norfolk last summer, 2 1/2 months from Key West. We enjoyed the trip and smelled the roses along the way. Your schedule is agressive and certainly a delivery schedule IMHO. We had great wx the whole way, you likely won't.
We did the Dismal swamp route but won't southbound this summer, too many deadheads.
Make sure you watch your water supply, the marinas north of GA may have no water avail.
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Old 01-19-2015, 08:37 AM   #20
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FWIW...

When we moved back north from Miami in 2001, we brought our previous boat up on a "leisurely delivery" schedule. 17 days total, but including a 2-day layover at Thunderbolt, so the crew could do some sightseeing in Savannah.

Two offshore runs at speed, good weather, one from FLL (Dania) to Conch Bar, the other from Wrightsville Beach to near Beaufort. Then it turned out the Chesapeake was glass-smooth on the final day, so we compressed 3 planned days into one.

Didn't seem like we were rushed, but then again Savannah was the only break.

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