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Old 21-08-2017, 08:31   #16
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

Welcome to sailing. In addition to the good recommendations posted by other folks, if you have time, Tangier Island in the Chesapeake is worth a stop. (Eat family style at Hazel's...and arrive hungry!) Also recommend you google the "Albermarle loop" for info on free dockage avail in North Carolina towns on the Albermarle including Elizabeth City, Edenton, Columbia, and Manteo. I have made the trip from Norfolk to St Augustine and points south several times..most recently last spring. While most folks cross the Albemarle and go the Alligator river route, there is an off ICW route that goes via Manteo, past Wanchese and Oregon Inlet, that offers great sailing, plenty of water, and access to Ocracoke Island. There is free dockage and a marina at Manteo with a quaint, walkable downtown. Ocracoke has National Park service piers that are excellent and cheap..and 50% off if you have your senior pass. Also very walkable and interesting. From Ocracoke you can sail across the Pamlico and into the Neuse River to Oriental. If you have time to explore, New Bern is worth the side trip. Stay at the New Bern Grand Marina for easy walking access to downtown shops and restaurants. If the Dismal Swamp canal is open you can take it, then stop at either the free dock at the visitor's center, and/or the free docks in Elizabeth City. Then it is a day trip to Manteo, then Ocracoke, Oriental, New Bern, Beaufort, offshore to Masonboro inlet at Wrightsville beach, then Through Snow's Cut to Cape Fear River and Wilmington, if you need to be downtown Wilmington. Have a great trip!
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Old 21-08-2017, 08:36   #17
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

We recently completed a trip in our boat from Florida to Maine via the ICW, and found that 6-7 hours per day was plenty. It is a wonderful trip, but it does require paying strict attention to navigation as the channels can be narrow, and the depths shallow. After more than 7 hours of concentration, my brain was ready for a beer.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:17   #18
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

I would definitely go ICW to at least Beaufort, NC. From Beaufort, it's a daysail to Wrightsville Beach (Masonboro Inlet) if you want to go outside and weather permits. If you go outside (around Cape Hatteras), you can get some very nasty weather and shoaling.

I just did the ICW south from Wilmington to West Palm Beach and back, and I had many 75 mile+ days. I started at nautical twilight, and made sure I stopped before dark. This time of year in your area, you can do 14 hours in light on the ICW (6AM to 8PM), though I usually did a bit less. There are quite a few really beautiful stretches of the ICW up there. Outside from Beaufort to Wrightsville can be good because you avoid the Marine bases with their occasional closures of the waterway.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:19   #19
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

+1 what CharlieGrau said.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:41   #20
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

get a waterway guide
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:02   #21
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

A new to you boat unproven, it is the ideal boat for inside no draft problems. You don't want to attempt several capes. Stay inside I'd like to hear you made Wilmington and 74.
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:21   #22
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

To Charlie's point there are literally scores of fabulous places to explore once you get past Coinjack and there are endless routes to follow. It all comes down to how much time you have. You could easily spend a month getting from Norfolk to Wilmington, feel like you were rushed and missed a lot, and you'd be right.

The Great Dismal Swamp is cool because, well it's the Great Dismal Swamp, but it's a pretty tedious motor... the very definition of "the ditch". The eastern route is more varied and stretches of it are similar to the Swamp route. Also you'd miss the meander down the North River which is pretty lovely.
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:22   #23
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

If you need any " local " knowledge, I'm a lifetime Wilmington resident/boater. 910-4704480.
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Old 21-08-2017, 12:33   #24
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

I would find someone to go with you with ocean experience, wait in Little River (Near Norfolk) for a good weather window, head out into the Atlantic, head south, give Cape Fear a wide berth and head up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington.
But that's just me - I'm an ocean sailor and I hate the "ditch", but I guess that everyone should do it at least once.

Al, S/V Finlandia
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Old 21-08-2017, 14:00   #25
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

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Old 21-08-2017, 14:33   #26
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

Hi GB,

I keep my trimaran near Annapolis and took it down the ICW in the fall of 2014. It's a great fun trip, with great variety and some very beautiful sections. I am now 71 years old, and I totally agree with the others that with your experience level, a new-to-you boat, and (ahem) your distinguished seniority you should not go outside -- and certainly not try to go outside Cape Hatteras. Stay inside, get to know your new boat, relax and enjoy the trip!

Best,

Merlin
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Old 21-08-2017, 16:47   #27
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

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Originally Posted by Jack Sanford View Post
We recently completed a trip in our boat from Florida to Maine via the ICW, and found that 6-7 hours per day was plenty........................ After more than 7 hours of concentration, my brain was ready for a beer.
Same here but the OP seemed like he was in a hurry.

It's a great trip with lots of nice and interesting places to spend a day or three.
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Old 21-08-2017, 16:55   #28
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

Thank you all for your advise and know that I will go through this thread several times to learn what I can learn. When I was younger, I just did what I wanted to do and through that method I learned to heed advice. I was and still am ( adventuresome in my ways ) However, I have learned to take council and weigh the consequences and stay within my limitations. As one of you has said, "understand my senior abilities or lack of stamina." Which ever comes first. I have made contact for charts and related necessities. Up to date flares etc. I will be sure to look over all recommendations and then it is on me. BTW I want to see 74 also (add smile here) again thank you all.
Warmest regards and fair winds in your direction
S/V Windriven 2007 Gemini105MC
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Old 22-08-2017, 04:14   #29
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Re: Best route from Potomac river to Wilmington NC

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.................. The Great Dismal Swamp is cool because, well it's the Great Dismal Swamp, but it's a pretty tedious motor... the very definition of "the ditch". The eastern route is more varied and stretches of it are similar to the Swamp route. Also you'd miss the meander down the North River which is pretty lovely.
Funny, we've been through the Dismal Swamp three times and the Virginia cut once. We found the Dismal Swamp route more interesting and relaxing, Also, Elizabeth City is nice.
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