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Old 21-06-2015, 15:54   #1
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Atlantic ICW

Gentlemen & Women,
Another uninformed question!
Is there an inland motor/sailing route between New York Harbor and the ICW at Norfolk, VA, or are you required to go offshore for part of the distance? I am familiar with the Chesapeake Bay - The Ship Canal - Delaware Bay and what appears to be some inland waters as far north as Ocean City, MD. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks, George
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Old 22-06-2015, 04:48   #2
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Re: Atlantic ICW

George, It will be an outside run for you from New York to at best Cape May. The NJ ICW is very shallow so it will depend on your draft. The canal between Cape May and the Delaware Bay will limit you depending on your mast height. So you might have to stay outside until the Delaware Bay entrance. You can duck in to some of the inlets along the way but only in and out. You don't give enough details to completely answer your question. Chuck
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Old 22-06-2015, 05:05   #3
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Re: Atlantic ICW

A big misconception is that the Chesapeake is somehow protected waters.....

While it provides more safe havens to pull into, it is still pretty big water when the wind pipes up. Often the wind speeds are less than those along the coast...but not always and sometimes not too much different.

The run up or down the Delaware Bay has few relatively safe, easy ports along the way and you can fight a 1 to 3 knot tidal current for too much of the way. The C&D canal can have strong opposing currents too without careful trip planning.

The Chesapeake is a great place to cruise and enjoy...it is not a great "inland passage" for easy sailing or making speed.
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Old 22-06-2015, 05:43   #4
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Re: Atlantic ICW

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A big misconception is that the Chesapeake is somehow protected waters.....

While it provides more safe havens to pull into, it is still pretty big water when the wind pipes up. Often the wind speeds are less than those along the coast...but not always and sometimes not too much different.

The run up or down the Delaware Bay has few relatively safe, easy ports along the way and you can fight a 1 to 3 knot tidal current for too much of the way. The C&D canal can have strong opposing currents too without careful trip planning.

The Chesapeake is a great place to cruise and enjoy...it is not a great "inland passage" for easy sailing or making speed.
Well, it's more protected than the Atlantic, but you're right, it's most like another Sea in many ways than it is a Bay.
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Old 22-06-2015, 13:55   #5
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Re: Atlantic ICW

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Well, it's more protected than the Atlantic, but you're right, it's most like another Sea in many ways than it is a Bay.
Like all bodies of water...direction and strength of wind is key..

The ocean off the Delmarva has little current where the Chesapeake does have current and can stack up the waves pretty bad in places.....the Delaware is far worse in that respect.

My point is look at the weather and the schedule...3 days of nice in the Atlantic is better than 3 days of nice in the Chessie and 2 days getting your butt handed to you due to the extra distance involved.

The Chessie is NOT an inland waterway by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to smaller vessels...it's just another body of water....far from protected ICW.

Probably why mile 0 of the ACIW starts in Norfolk...and not the entrance to Norfolk...but pretty far inland.

Yes the Albemarle can be bad...so can Bogue Sound and some of the rivers and sounds down in Georgia....

But none involve multiple days of pounding like the Chessie can deliver...especially what time of year you travel her.
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Old 22-06-2015, 15:03   #6
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Re: Atlantic ICW

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Like all bodies of water...direction and strength of wind is key..

The ocean off the Delmarva has little current where the Chesapeake does have current and can stack up the waves pretty bad in places.....the Delaware is far worse in that respect.

My point is look at the weather and the schedule...3 days of nice in the Atlantic is better than 3 days of nice in the Chessie and 2 days getting your butt handed to you due to the extra distance involved.

The Chessie is NOT an inland waterway by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to smaller vessels...it's just another body of water....far from protected ICW.

Probably why mile 0 of the ACIW starts in Norfolk...and not the entrance to Norfolk...but pretty far inland.

Yes the Albemarle can be bad...so can Bogue Sound and some of the rivers and sounds down in Georgia....

But none involve multiple days of pounding like the Chessie can deliver...especially what time of year you travel her.
Fortunately both the Chesapeake and the Atlantic are very nice right now and looks like they'll stay that way for a couple more days. We once took the outside from Beaufort and conditions were very nice, until we turned the corner into the Bay. The winds were from the west. It reminded me of walking in NYC and you walk a block with no wind, but then you cross through the intersection and it's like a wind tunnel.

Still we love the Chesapeake, but we have heard people who assumed it was inland boating. Our few times there it's normally calmed the further in you went, but we did have one day that it was quite rough around Annapolis.
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Old 22-06-2015, 15:20   #7
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Re: Atlantic ICW

Assuming you consider the cheasepeak as inland waterway, you can get almost to NYC if you are shallow draft (both air and water). Most sailboats have to go outside from Cape May due to air draft.

I believe there is an old canal that connects all the way thru but if it does go thru, you are looking at needing a canoe to make it thru.
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Old 22-06-2015, 15:55   #8
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Re: Atlantic ICW

There was another thread several months ago (I think) about an inside passage on the Atlantic side from OC MD to near the mouth of the Chesapeake, but the consensus seemed to be it's not really usable.


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Old 22-06-2015, 16:18   #9
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Re: Atlantic ICW

The Chesapeake can be your worst nightmare but you usually have a choice to harbor and wait. waitng means you get the bonus of places that are amazing to stop in. From Cape may to Cape Charles via the Atlantic there is Ocean City - MD period. We sailed across the Potomac in a gale 35 gusting to 40 knots. Waves 6 to 8 ft on the beam with 10 ft once in a while on a period of less than 2 seconds. The trick to the "Bay" is the tide current. If it's running counter then you are in it deep. There are sections where there is no place to hide but others where they are gorgeous! Pick the places to stop and enjoy. Fall color is to die for. For the straight run south pick your weather and pay your penalties. Don't try to cross the Potomac in weather at night! I did it in daylight and wouldn't do it again on purpose.
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Old 22-06-2015, 17:24   #10
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Re: Atlantic ICW

Bottom line...not really...

The passage from Chincoteague to OC, MD last I knew was still usable for boats with less than 4 foot draft but like the NJ ICW...I would only do it on the coupe hours either side of high tide.

The canal from OC to Indian River isn't even kayak passable from my guess and the passage from Indian River to Lewes, DE is very shallow too...more than 2 feet (outboards) and I wouldn't try it. I did in a sportfish back in 1999 and got stuck quickly right off so I didn't bother.
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Old 22-06-2015, 17:47   #11
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Re: Atlantic ICW

I would agree with psneeld. You clearly can't do it in weather. I would time it so you can go up the Delaware with TIDE else spend far too long. Then the C&D canal then south. If you get a weather window from Cape May to Morehead City, NC then go for it. You can bail out early along the way in Norfolk, VA or Manteo, NC but getting in in weather isn't pretty. You just need to match the weather window with the trip leg. Anything works better in good weather.
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Old 22-06-2015, 18:15   #12
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Re: Atlantic ICW

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I would agree with psneeld. You clearly can't do it in weather. I would time it so you can go up the Delaware with TIDE else spend far too long. Then the C&D canal then south. If you get a weather window from Cape May to Morehead City, NC then go for it. You can bail out early along the way in Norfolk, VA or Manteo, NC but getting in in weather isn't pretty. You just need to match the weather window with the trip leg. Anything works better in good weather.
If we have a Chesapeake Bay or Potomac or Delaware River destination then we travel them. However, if we're just passing through with a destination further south or north then we're going to stay outside the vast majority of the time. Now tomorrow we're going to head up the Chesapeake but just to enjoy it. At the end of the day tomorrow we'll end up exactly where we started and then we'll head outside in a day or two. And I get no pleasure out of the C&D canal other than reaching the other end.
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Old 22-06-2015, 19:45   #13
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Re: Atlantic ICW

We are in Delaware City. Retiring in December.

Toying with the idea of heading South in Jan or Feb.

No doubt sanity will prevail, but I just couldn't resist putting this out there and getting the responses.

BTW, we live on our boat part time and did spend the coldest nights of last winter on the boat.
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Old 22-06-2015, 22:03   #14
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Re: Atlantic ICW

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If you get a weather window from Cape May to Morehead City, NC then go for it. You can bail out early along the way in Norfolk, VA or Manteo, NC but getting in in weather isn't pretty.
MANTEO as a bailout going out around Hatteras? Are you referring to Oregon Inlet?

Have you been in there lately? I don't think it was ever a viable bailout in anything other than the most settled conditions, but that probably goes triple, these days...

Hell, even the locals who run in and out of there on a daily basis have been having trouble lately...

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