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Old 03-02-2015, 13:43   #1
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Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

Hi there,

We have to move our 27' Catalina from Jacksonville, FL to Charleston, SC this April. So far, our sailing experience has been day sailing on rivers. I'm looking for advice on whether to take the ICW or the Atlantic. We're allowing 10-14 days for this trip and plan to stop at marinas over night along the way.

We're planning on having 3-4 people total for the journey. Truthfully, I'm a little apprehensive doing such a long trip with what I feel is little experience, but my significant other is very excited about the prospect and eager to learn more. (I'm eager to learn more too, just a bit more cautious.)

Any and all tips are very welcome.
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Old 03-02-2015, 14:14   #2
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

A straight shot is about 175 miles so you could do it in 2 days, 3 easily. Going out and then back in every day to stay at marinas will use up a bunch of time just getting from the ocean to the marina. The inside is really easy, but the stretch through Georgia is super boring. It's also really curvy and inefficient.

I would likely do a mix of the 2. Jacksonville to Fernandina is a super easy outside stretch and would be great to build up some ocean going confidence. Just make sure you leave Jacksonville with the tide because that current runs. If you leave in the morning you could be in Fernandina around lunch. The marina there is nice and reasonably priced. I've only been through Georgia once and it was on the ICW so I can't speak to inlets in the area. Charleston is incredibly easy to get in and out of. If you're planning on cruising in the future you may want to spend a few nights at anchor as a shake down. I learned a lot about my boat the first night at anchor that I never would have learned tied to a dock.

Where are you planning on keeping the boat in Charleston? We lived at Saint John's Yacht Harbor for a few months and really liked it.
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Old 03-02-2015, 14:24   #3
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

If you've got 10-14 days, take the waterway. And I disagree about the Georgia stretch. It's some of the prettiest on the whole ICW. Get a waterway guide book and enjoy yourself...
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Old 03-02-2015, 14:35   #4
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

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Originally Posted by Empty Pockets View Post
If you've got 10-14 days, take the waterway. And I disagree about the Georgia stretch. It's some of the prettiest on the whole ICW. Get a waterway guide book and enjoy yourself...
I agree. The ICW is mostly very scenic. The ocean, all you see is water. Lots of water.

There are several good guide books to help you plan the trip and give hints on good towns to visit. Active captain is another good resource but I would still buy the guide book. Savannah, GA is a good town to visit. Most people stop in Thunderbolt and take the city bus to Savannah, but you can find dockage right along the riverfront. It's about nine miles upriver from the ICW.

Beaufort, SC is a place you don't want to miss. It's right on the ICW.

I'm assuming you have a chart plotter and depth sounder.
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Old 03-02-2015, 15:38   #5
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

Thank you for the opinions and advice! To answer a few questions, we do have a chart plotter and a depth sounder. We aren't sure where we'll dock in Charleston yet. We live in Goose Creek, so that will be a factor.

I like the idea of getting a guide book of the ICW. Any good titles I should check out?
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Old 03-02-2015, 16:11   #6
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

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Originally Posted by Sands1019 View Post
Thank you for the opinions and advice! To answer a few questions, we do have a chart plotter and a depth sounder. We aren't sure where we'll dock in Charleston yet. We live in Goose Creek, so that will be a factor.

I like the idea of getting a guide book of the ICW. Any good titles I should check out?
These are good:

http://www.waterwayguide.com/shipsto...x.php?cPath=21

If you're keeping your boat in Charleston and it's a sailboat, take a look at the Cooper River Marina. You may find it is less expensive than the ones in the city and it may meet your needs. Or not, depending on those needs.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:28   #7
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

I think you will enjoy ICW route, and taking your time. It is safer than taking the ocean route, especially for those less experienced. Get a towing package from TowBoatUS or SeaTow just in case, but otherwise follow the guidebook to do certain stretches on the correct tides, check out any new alert areas from our site or Cruisersnet.net, and follow the contours and the buoys (yes, the ones that are actually there!) and you'll do fine. Down side to the ICW...you won't have much of a chance to sail. Happy cruising!
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:34   #8
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Sands.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:55   #9
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

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......... Down side to the ICW...you won't have much of a chance to sail. Happy cruising!
I'm not a sailor, I'm a powerboater but I can think of a few places where boats could sail for an hour or more. Port Royal Sound and the Coosaw River come to mind.
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Old 04-02-2015, 06:17   #10
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

Go outside if possible. Plan carefully and look for a weather window that is 48 hours or so and watch wind and wave predictions carefully. I did the Charleston to St Johns inlet run of 183 nm in 38 hours on a pearson 35 this past november. Inside in georgia is boring, 7 days of the same marshes gets old and there are dolphins in the ocean that may swim with you and there are tuna to catch.

Your experience will determine your choice, take a sat phone and epirb cuz you will not have cell service. PM me if you like.
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Old 04-02-2015, 09:32   #11
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

This is a very doable in the ocean but with your experience of only day sailing in rivers I would be concerned about the lack of open water experience and without experience you should probably not attempt to come into an inlet from the ocean at night if the crew got anxious about the ocean. You have allowed plenty of time for the trip which is great. You mentioned a marina every night, for a sailboat the ICW stretch from Brunswick GA north doesn't have much of a choice. There is a "marina" on Kilkenny Creek (really a very rustic fishing camp) that is a "port in a storm" but anchoring overnight along the way would be a good option, just remember to account for the 7 foot tides and resulting currents. The previous advise on Waterway Guide chartbook, tow package and alert areas should be considered requirements for the ICW especially for a first timer. Pay attention to the alert especially at Fields Cut between Savannah and HIlton Head and watch the current times at Elliot Cut just outside Charleston. In April you may have a bunch of company, snow birders heading back north. Hope you have a great trip and experience.
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Old 04-02-2015, 09:55   #12
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

I will add another vote for the beauty of the GA marshlands. Not boring to me. If you get a nice day for a short hop outside it could be good experience for you but as someone else pointed out, in most of the inlets it will be a number of miles from marina to deep water so plan on a couple of hours or so to get to and from the ocean.

When you get to Charleston be aware that many (most, all?) the marinas on the rivers have very strong currents running through when the tide changes. Can make docking an interesting event. Try to plan on coming it at slack.

Have fun.
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Old 04-02-2015, 09:57   #13
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

Sands, welcome to Cruisers Forum. As you see opinions various so I'll add mine too. In your original post you state your experience is limited so why not stay at your comfort level....go the Ditch... you'll enjoy it. Do take advantage of the Waterway Guide, wise investment and you only need 1 version that covers Norfolk to Jax. What part of Jax are you departing from?
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:05   #14
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

The best way to gain experience is to do something you haven't done before.

Plan your route to avoid offshore sand bars, provision sufficiently. Have a crew that can maintain a course and keep a sharp lookout and in the end, you will have accomplished something outside your "comfort" envelope.

You will be proud of yourself in the end. There's always a first time for everything.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:27   #15
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Re: Jacksonville to Charleston--Outside or Inside?

I am ambivalent about the ICW... certainly parts are pretty and it is largely an enjoyable ride. but if you prefer to sail it could get old listening to an engine all day. Do you have an inboard or outboard? Diesel or gas? How about a working depth meter? That would be a must for the ICW. I am another vote for the Cooper River Marina. Most affordable in CHS. I am there at D11 and C19. :-) Love the place and if you are Charleston county rez you get a discount. Contact me when you get here and we would love to share what we know of local conditions. Happy to handle ropes too as you come in. :-) And you do want to hit Elliott's cut on a falling tide as your last part of the ICW coming into CHS harbor. Last thing is to ask about 3-4 passengers on a Catalina 27. Sounds like a crowded boat but to each his own. For me that would argue ICW as you can have frequent opportunities to get off... Plus if on the ocean things pick up feeling responsible for others only ratchets up the stress...
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