As cruisers, we learn to predict the weather in our home waters with relative ease: it becomes instinctive. In the summer cruising grounds your radius from home port is likely to be only 100 miles. You will probably stay within your local seasonal weather pattern. Cruising the ICW is quite different. If you watch the local TV weather forecast in the morning, its afternoon predictions will be practically worthless as by afternoon you will be 50-60 miles away. This morning’s weather center forecast for tomorrow morning will be different from the forecast at tonight’s anchorage. In short, you will get ... Read More
Anchors– Anchor designs have evolved greatly over the centuries. The Danforth anchor was a breakthrough design in the early years of world war II: a lightweight anchor with superb holding capabilities. After the war, it became the standard anchor for small craft. Its one weakness is that the flukes may get jammed with a stone, stick, or quahog and it will not reset if a wind or current reversal pops the anchor out. The various plow and claw style anchors were developed to address that possible weakness. However, their ultimate holding power did not measure up to the light weight ... Read More
As we move into the summer boating season, it is time for to start preparing your boat for a trip southbound along the ICW. This trip is, for most first time ICW travelers, the longest continuous voyage they have made on their boat. While it is true that the trip along the ICW is merely a series of day trips, and so is not that difficult, it is also 30 day trips strung together. This will push the boat the systems and the crew to new limits.
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- Your engine will be run about 200 hours in 30 travel days getting
Chasing Spring, 40 miles per day
We left Stuart Florida in March to begin our run north to Annapolis. Stuart is at statute mile 990 on the ICW. Annapolis is 141 miles beyond ICW “mile 0” in Portsmouth, VA. We had 1131 miles to go. As we raised our anchor in Stuart, it was a delightful spring day. It was sunny, temperature was in the mid-70s. Nights had been cool but not cold. We slept with the hatches open. Ashore, azaleas were in full bloom, the cypress trees were light green with early leaves on every branch. Yellow pine pollen ... Read More
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Just north of the St. Johns River at Jacksonville FL is a new spot to keep clear of. There is shoaling building in from the east at the mouth of Garden Creek. We saw 7.2 feet at +3.8 feet of tide. This shoal has 3.4 feet at low water. Stay slightly to the red side of center and you’ll see 12 feet. The shoal clearly shows in the Navionics Sonar Chart. Because we had significant tidal help our track shows we intentionally crossed one of these shoals to confirm the depths shown on the Navionics Sonar Chart.... Read More
We have been keeping an eye on Watts Cut for a couple of years. There seems to be a shoal building. Half way between G137 and G 135 we saw depths which would work out to 6.3 feet MLLW. There will be less water if you stray from center. If your boat draws over 5.5 feet it would be wise to transit Watts Cut on a rising tide.
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Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff between R 180 to R184 is shallow and narrow. Our track through here was along the visual center of the cut. On our track between R184 and G 181 the shallowest we noticed would be 6.1 feet MLLW.
This is significantly better than the 4.5 feet saw heading south, which tells us that that the track you take may yield quite different depths. Recommend that you have some tidal help and transit on a rising tide. R172 to R 168 we stayed in visual center NOT chart center. There is over 10 feet MLLW.
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Buttermilk Sound R208 There is a distinct shoal building into the ICW. It is located about 400 feet SE of R208. At 31 8.744 N and 081 20.984W. It shows clearly on the Navionics Sonar Charts. If you are using NOAA charts or other cartography, you might just put a warning waypoint on your charts. Being that it is on the red side of the channel this is more of a concern headed south when you naturally stay closer to the red side of the ICW.
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This has been a shoal area for several years. But there is 9 feet of tide here so with a little planning it is easy to transit. Our observations, after a number of transits over the past few years, is that if a tug and barge goes through at near low tide, the channel is deeper. This was the case in the spring of 2016, but it filled in again. In November of 2017 the best water we could find was only about 3.5 feet. A barge went through in mid-February 2018 and our passage on March 19, 2018 showed ... Read More