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Old 02-08-2020, 08:37 PM   #1
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Norfolk, VA to Carrabelle, FL March-May 2020

We have been asked to bring a friend's vessel home after 18 months of its being marooned in Norfolk. He is too busy to git-r-dun. We have never cruised the AICW south of Norfolk, but once at Stuart, FL we are in quite familiar waters.
The vessel is a custom built trawler 55-feet long, 5.5 foot draft, 19 foot beam, 55 tons, powered by a single John Deere. The bow thruster and stabilizers and windlass are hydraulic powered off the Deere.
I have ridden the vessel for a day once several years back and also installed the Garmin chart plotter and interfaced it with the Robertson AP a few years back. So I am not unfamiliar with it.
The owner intends to splash it on 13 March at Cobbs Marina in Little Creek basin and conduct sea trials to check out the engine work and basically everything else with another friend of ours who has extensive knowledge of the vessel. I wrote the trials plan for them to follow from flares to reefer and from anchor light to prop.
We will arrive in Norfolk the following week for a two-day turnover before the owner must depart on March 21st and oversee any remaining trials and repairs before departing.
While not in any hurry, we will make open ocean passages as they present themselves with excellent weather.
See ya on the waters.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:52 PM   #2
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good wx prevailing, no reason not to be outside as long as you have watchstanders, Looks like a capable coastal cruiser.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:57 PM   #3
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Don't want t completely miss the AICW, but with 5.5 foot draft...... We'll probably only load half the fuel for the first part of the trip. Capacity is 2000 gallons.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:04 PM   #4
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If you need some help Rich, let me know. Have done that trip a few times in a similarly sized and draft boat. Are you going to be in a hurry?
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:05 PM   #5
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Sounds like a lot of fun. You have certainly given yourselves enough time!

Did the Norfolk to FL run in 2018. Sadly because of the weather had to do it all inside coming back.

Managed the upwards JAX to Beaufort outside though in flat calm.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:17 PM   #6
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5.5 draft isn't going to restrict you anywhere on the ICW... just pay more attention south of Charleston.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:51 PM   #7
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I've done that entire stretch several times (other than crossing from Tarpon Springs to Carrabelle). As mentioned, 5 1/2' will only impact you between Charleston and the Florida line. Many of the historically troublesome areas have been dredged in the last couple of years. At most, there are a few areas best avoided at the bottom 1/3 of the tidal range. With the exception of the Gulf of Mexico, there probably aren't any areas you can't transit with less than 30+ knot winds. Some of the sounds may get uncomfortable with their short period steep waves, but that's comfort not safety.

I'll be leaving Fort Myers end of March for Chesapeake bay. While I'm sure you have this all mapped out, if you need any information on specific areas or anchorages, don't hesitate to reach out.

Hope to see you along the way!

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Old 02-08-2020, 11:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
If you need some help Rich, let me know. Have done that trip a few times in a similarly sized and draft boat. Are you going to be in a hurry?
Thanks for the offer. We do not plan to hurry.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by menzies View Post
Sounds like a lot of fun. You have certainly given yourselves enough time!

Did the Norfolk to FL run in 2018. Sadly because of the weather had to do it all inside coming back.

Managed the upwards JAX to Beaufort outside though in flat calm.
A flat calm would be great. The admiral is not what I would call the best of sailors.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Sailor of Fortune View Post
5.5 draft isn't going to restrict you anywhere on the ICW... just pay more attention south of Charleston.
As long as an offshore wind doesn't blow all the water out at a low tide around Shem Creek. The owner ran aground there going up.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
I've done that entire stretch several times (other than crossing from Tarpon Springs to Carrabelle). As mentioned, 5 1/2' will only impact you between Charleston and the Florida line. Many of the historically troublesome areas have been dredged in the last couple of years. At most, there are a few areas best avoided at the bottom 1/3 of the tidal range. With the exception of the Gulf of Mexico, there probably aren't any areas you can't transit with less than 30+ knot winds. Some of the sounds may get uncomfortable with their short period steep waves, but that's comfort not safety.

I'll be leaving Fort Myers end of March for Chesapeake bay. While I'm sure you have this all mapped out, if you need any information on specific areas or anchorages, don't hesitate to reach out.

Hope to see you along the way!

Ted
I am guessing the Lake O route across the state will be viable with adequate water levels that time of year. Otherwise, around we go through Florida Bay, and frankly there are some areas along the inner keys I was close in a 4-foot draft and would rather avoid in this one.
I'll try to keep up with our progress here, but don't want to get too entangled with a keyboard at the end of every day. I keep family and friends updated on our cruisinthrough blogspot. So maybe we'll meet along the way. Thanks for the offer; we may well be asking about marinas etc.
BTW, there are 149 bridges between us and home, and we can clear anything 20 feet or above with the mast down. Owner says it is a one-man job.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:59 PM   #12
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This trip will leave only the Hudson and connections to the Trent Severn as the only parts of the Great Loop I have not traveled. Maybe I need to find another delivery going that way.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:06 AM   #13
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A flat calm would be great. The admiral is not what I would call the best of sailors.
Chesapeake! The Outside Run – With a Ton Of Fun Along The Way! | AtAnchor.com
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgano View Post
I am guessing the Lake O route across the state will be viable with adequate water levels that time of year. Otherwise, around we go through Florida Bay, and frankly there are some areas along the inner keys I was close in a 4-foot draft and would rather avoid in this one.
I'll try to keep up with our progress here, but don't want to get too entangled with a keyboard at the end of every day. I keep family and friends updated on our cruisinthrough blogspot. So maybe we'll meet along the way. Thanks for the offer; we may well be asking about marinas etc.
BTW, there are 149 bridges between us and home, and we can clear anything 20 feet or above with the mast down. Owner says it is a one-man job.
Between Norfolk and Fort Myers there are around 20 bridges I usually need to get opened for my 15' air draft (this assumes the normally open railroad bridges are open), for a 20' air draft, that number will be more but not doubled. Make sure you have updated bridge information. In the last 5 years, 10 to 15 bridges have been replaced with taller ones or eliminated. Important to have a good source for bridge tender information such as Waterway Guide or Active Captain. While getting the correct channel for the state bridges is pretty easy, some of the railroad bridges are remotely opened and use a different channel. Sometimes the tenders will leave a normally open bridge closed if they don't think there is any boat traffic.

Ted
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Between Norfolk and Fort Myers there are around 20 bridges I usually need to get opened for my 15' air draft (this assumes the normally open railroad bridges are open), for a 20' air draft, that number will be more but not doubled. Make sure you have updated bridge information. In the last 5 years, 10 to 15 bridges have been replaced with taller ones or eliminated. Important to have a good source for bridge tender information such as Waterway Guide or Active Captain. While getting the correct channel for the state bridges is pretty easy, some of the railroad bridges are remotely opened and use a different channel. Sometimes the tenders will leave a normally open bridge closed if they don't think there is any boat traffic.

Ted
Excellent insight. I have an Excel file I generated by "flying" the whole route in CE with Active Captain and WW Guide looking at every single bridge noting its schedule, mile mark, height, phone, distance between bridges, etc. I did this for the 1400 mile trip up the rivers to Lake Michigan in 2017 and had it printed and next to the chartplotters. There were few surprises, but as you say, you must be vigilant. Happy to share my efforts with anybody who wants a copy. Just ask at richgano@gmail.com. Hopefully, I won't be seeing all of them but will correct any errors I see.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:42 AM   #16
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There are a few bridges that have had their schedules changed in the last couple years.

The George Musson in New Smyrna Beach, Fl and the North Causeway in Ft Pierce, Fl were changed from 20 minute draws to half hour draws. Not sure if the guides have been updated.

There may be more....

Also, I believe the draw in Surf City. NC is now a 65'er.

My air draft is 23, and there are a load of bridges it seems that at a half tide or lower, and or a higher center clearance...I can make it. But it's a little stressful if my timing was a bit off with a following tide and the tide gauge is unreadable, or missing and the tender won't give any info. The first year I lowered my mast below Palm Beach because of all the bridges....but after one run of the timed openings and so many other boats requesting opening, I have bothered since.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:52 AM   #17
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Thanks for that. I am going to study it at length with CE on the dual screen and mark that route on CE to have it handy anytime the weax permits outside running. I can do the math using the departure and arrival times times once plotted in CE, but do you think we are talking 8 knots +/-? With a hug pilothouse equipped with its own reefer and a high bunk behind the helm, we can run over night with the admiral doing 2-3 hours at a time at the helm at night and longer in daylight. We can sustain that for easily 48 hours in really go weax. Otherwise, the ditch in daylight only.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:58 AM   #18
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There are a few bridges that have had their schedules changed in the last couple years.

The George Musson in New Smyrna Beach, Fl and the North Causeway in Ft Pierce, Fl were changed from 20 minute draws to half hour draws. Not sure if the guides have been updated.

There may be more....

Also, I believe the draw in Surf City. NC is now a 65'er.

My air draft is 23, and there are a load of bridges it seems that at a half tide or lower, and or a higher center clearance...I can make it. But it's a little stressful if my timing was a bit off with a following tide and the tide gauge is unreadable, or missing and the tender won't give any info. The first year I lowered my mast below Palm Beach because of all the bridges....but after one run of the timed openings and so many other boats requesting opening, I have bothered since.
I will enter that info today. I remember going through downtown Chicago in '17 with an air draft soooo close to those numerous bridges. Standing on the flying bride seats, I could touch them. Nervous barely describes the feeling. With this hefer, I will not be nearly so daring.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:16 AM   #19
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If you're a FaceBook kinda person, the group ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423 is a great resource, as are the actual guide he publishes, as well as the blog and tracks/routes he and his wife provide based on their many runs up and down the ditch.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:34 AM   #20
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We will arrive in Norfolk the following week for a two-day turnover before the owner must depart on March 21st and oversee any remaining trials and repairs before departing.

Might pass, sometime along then. We start back north circa 4 March. Happy to kibitz if there are any of the touchy places you want info about.

Can't remember if you've followed some of the AquaMap discussions, but we did find the USACE survey overlays very useful on our southbound trip in Nov.

-Chris
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