What’s Better than “Half Tide Rising” on the ICW?

19 Jan

Travel on the ICW is made simpler if you follow the mantra “half tide rising”.  If you are headed towards and planning to transit one of the infamous ICW “trouble spots,” the advice is: enter the area on a rising tide and exit the area before the tide starts to drop precipitously.  Often you will find that your daily route planning has you transiting several challenging sections with bridge schedules controlling your pace and limiting your travel to half tide rising is just not practical. It is important to have good charts and access to up to real time tide ...

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Gift Ideas for Cruisers

5 Dec

Is someone you know planning and preparing for a long cruise in 2020?  Whether the plan is to cruise to  Maine, Canada, do “the Loop”, or heading down the ICW, here are a few ideas which cruisers  might find to be thoughtful and useful gifts.

  1. Stabilized Binoculars – There is some debate about what is the best set of stabilized binoculars. There is no debate that stabilized binoculars of any sort are an asset. We found that a pair of Cannon 10×30 binoculars has been superb  for 11 ICW transits.  The numbers mean it has 10 times magnification and a
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ICW Southbound October 30, 2019

30 Oct

We are southbound in the ICW once again. So far, the fall 2019 trip has been very easy. I’m reminded that those of us who study and write about the ICW use terms like “problem stretches,” “trouble spots,” the “Rock Pile” and “Hell Gate”, all of which can give an air of danger and  cause unwarranted apprehensions about making this trip.   Boats have been making this trip for over 100 years, long before we had near real time depth readings for our charts and before the advent of the wonderful electronic navigation tools that we have today.

So far this ...

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Navionics Sonar Charts –  Adding color to facilitate reading the chart depth

26 Sep


Navionics Sonar Charts (NSC) have proven to be an invaluable tool for cruisers.  NOAA charts are the basis for all American charts. They are invaluable: NOAA has very limited budget for surveying the ICW.  The NSC adds crowd sourced charts are built on the NOAA charts with the addition of bathymetry  supplied by cruisers.  NSC are crowd sourced surveys. The NSC charts are finely detailed.  The details can make it difficult to actually tell which depth contour you are crossing; is this the 8-foot contour, or the 12’ contour? Here is the New River ICW Inlet crossing NSC with ...

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ICW Observations and Updates September 2019

23 Sep

SEPTEMBER 26, 2019  UPDATES based on early southbounders are in Italics. 

The following is a list of the known ICW trouble spots.  Several places which are now clear but have historically been a problem are listed here because there are many references to these trouble spots in  ICW guides. Several of these have been dredged recently.  This list will give you updated information and keep those historical trouble spots flagged.  It is likely they will shoal in again. Fortunately hurricane Dorian made no significant changes to the ICW inlet crossings.

Charts are often slow to display updated bathymetry whether it ...

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7 Sep

I am working on a seminar for Cruisers’ University and Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous regarding the tides and currents in the ICW. When cruising, I find the NOAA Tides and Currents NOAA/CO-OPS ODIN page to be very handy, particularly in the ICW as there are many tide stations which show the projected tide level along with the actual tide level. This can be mighty handy information when you are transiting some of the known shoal areas. For instance, if you are travelling through Snows Cut NC, today, September 7, 2019 you will have nearly a foot more water than predicted (Wrightsville ...

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Storm Lines: Doubling up

2 Sep

One of the first steps to prepare your boat for heavy winds, is to double up on your lines.  A dock line has three points of potential failure.

  1. The line can chafe and fail.
  2. The boat cleat can fail.
  3. The dock cleat can fail.

Adding a second line on top of your primary dock line does NOT double your security. If you have your back up line attached to the same strong points on the boat and the dock, then the only one of the three failure points that you have covered is the potential chafe failure, you have not ...

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Hampton ICW Snowbird Rendezvous

22 Aug

October 17-20, 2019

The very popular and successful “Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous” is returning to Hampton, VA, after a year’s hiatus.  This rendezvous draws cruisers from across the North East, Mid-Atlantic and eastern Canada for four days of social functions and ICW cruising-related educational seminars. It is the place to meet, socialize, learn about cruising the ICW and buddy boat with fellow ICW travelers. This event,  sponsored by the City of Hampton, is a cruiser organized and run event.

Learn the secrets of traveling the Intracoastal Waterway from Tom Hale, (SAIL Magazine, and co-leader of the SAIL Rally down the ICW ...

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ICW Caution Areas July 2019

25 Jul

A cruise down the ICW is relatively easy to navigate.  There are some sections which have historically been  shallow and prone to shifting with constantly changing channels. This list covers many of the known problem stretches.  With up to date Navionics charts and with Aqua Map Master cruisers have available better charts and better information than ever before.  The following list covers includes some recently dredged areas which are already  shoaling in.  You can take time to mark  your charts  now so that you will have advanced notice  of these areas when you plot your daily route this fall.  If  ...

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Tablet Navigation on the ICW

14 Jul


July 12, 2019

There has been a sea change in small craft navigation over the past few years. Today boats circumnavigating the globe with a tablet as their chartplotter. For those of us cruising the ICW the changes are no less revolutionary!   The impact of tablet navigation apps will affect cruisers differently based upon their experience, their existing navigation tools, and the cruising grounds.

Most ICW cruisers have an installed chartplotter.   Tablet navigation allows you to scan the area ahead and around you looking for new options and destinations, while the chartplotter continues ...

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