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Old 07-03-2018, 13:30   #1
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Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

So, I am planning to move my newly purchased boat from Annapolis to Beaufort, SC this may, Maybe June. She is a Sabre 34 with a 4,6 draft. 25 gallon fuel tank that feeds a 27hp Westerbeke.

It is my first trip in this part of the US.

I am thinking the first 2/3 of the trip to do ICW. Should I pretty much plan on motoring all the time? Or is actually sailing some an option. Will try to stick with daylight only.

What is a good point to get into open water to stretch it legs a little? Somewhere closer to Charleston?

Any tips, thoughts comments? How much time would this roughly take?
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:07   #2
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

850 miles of ICW Norfolk to Beaufort, 50 miles a day, 17 days about. Plan on motoring, but if the wind decides to blow the direction the ICW is going that day, enjoy it! Weather, when you are near an inlet will help you decide if itís a good day to go out. If not before, think about heading out Winyah Bay from Georgetown and sailing outside to Charleston. Lots of skinny water in that stretch.
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:37   #3
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

There are some good easy overnights along the NC coast as well.
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:42   #4
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Get towboat insurance. It is worth it and you might well need it. Everyone goes aground sooner or later in the ICW. Usually its just mud and you can get yourself off. Sometimes you need help. It isnt cheap if you dont have insurance.
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:54   #5
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by Empty Pockets View Post
Weather, when you are near an inlet will help you decide if itís a good day to go out. If not before, think about heading out Winyah Bay from Georgetown and sailing outside to Charleston. Lots of skinny water in that stretch.
I don't have much knowledge in this part of Atlantic. My understanding is that things can get rough around Norfolk. Any particular places to avoid?
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:55   #6
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by laika View Post
There are some good easy overnights along the NC coast as well.
Any particular suggestions?
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Old 07-03-2018, 14:56   #7
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Get towboat insurance. It is worth it and you might well need it. Everyone goes aground sooner or later in the ICW. Usually its just mud and you can get yourself off. Sometimes you need help. It isnt cheap if you dont have insurance.
I hear you. I will have a tow policy in place.
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Old 07-03-2018, 16:23   #8
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

You want to take the ICW down to Morehead/Beaufort NC, at the very least. Avoids Cape Hatteras and is a pretty easy few days.

From there you can "cut the scallops" of the coast. Beaufort NC to Wrightsville Beach NC, cut down the Cape Fear river inside on the ICW (to avoid Cape Fear), then outside to Winyah Bay or keep going to Charleston NC.

You probably want to sail these overnight, leaving later in the day. Prevents you coming in during dark. You definitely don't want to enter Winyah Bay in the dark if you have not done it before, if you can avoid it.

When you're in the ICW you're motoring for the most part Albermarle Sound is shallow outside the channel. Pamlico is a bit better and there is some sailing to be had on the Neuse River on your way towards Morehead/Beaufort.

With your draft you should have no trouble if you're paying attention and staying in the channel. Pay close attention where you cross inlets or where a third channel joins the ICW as there can be shoaling and moved markers.

Active Captain is your friend for this trip, with recent commentary from cruisers on shoaling, Marinas, gas prices etc.
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Old 07-03-2018, 16:40   #9
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by Alex_V View Post
Should I pretty much plan on motoring all the time? Or is actually sailing some an option.
As mentioned, sailing is possible the whole way. I have no engine and recently passed through the dismal swamp.
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Old 08-03-2018, 05:44   #10
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by Empty Pockets View Post
850 miles of ICW Norfolk to Beaufort...
Beaufort SC is near statute mile marker 540.

-Chris
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:37   #11
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

We did it in November from Annapolis to Charleston for the first time. We did Winyah Bay to Charleston outside and it was the best day of the trip. We are going to do more jumps outside heading back in April, weather permitting.

We had two of us and it is very nice to get breaks. It took us 13 days to Charleston, with one day with no travel due to a gale. We had fog one morning on Waccamaw/Winyah Rivers near Georgetown NC and our radar was useful.

The resources we found useful were the Waterway Guide (with inlet details), Robert Scherer's ICW Cruising Guide and GPX routes, 'What's Up Ditch' by Chris Dicroce, Garmin BlueChart on ipad, Navionics on ipad, and Active Captain. My lady preferred to keep the Navionics app running when she was at the helm as it had more detail on depths via Sonar Charts.

Marinas are easier to find than anchorages. Some sections are a challenge to anchor. R. E. Mayo shrimp boat dock was fun, but very rudimentary. The Alligator River anchorage before the Pungo River canal is very remote; the Pungo River Canal was our favorite ditch with good scenery.

It is a straightforward exercise. Boring if nothing exciting happens. You will find shoaling outside of channels, and frequently inside of channels. Plan for tides and current and try to ride the rising tides with the current at your stern; I know it is obvious, but we mad 60+ mile days when we had the current to our advantage.

Finally, expect motor vessels to wake you hard. Secure your boat for a big wake before heading out. Read up on barge protocol and know your rules of the road - you will get real practice with barges under tow in very narrow and shallow water.

Cheers, RickG
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:55   #12
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Originally Posted by Empty Pockets View Post
850 miles of ICW Norfolk to Beaufort...

Beaufort SC is near statute mile marker 540.

-Chris

Whoops! Sorry! 10-11 days...
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Old 08-03-2018, 09:38   #13
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

I'd recommend Skipper Bob Anchorages along the ICW.

We did the Norfolk to Cape Fear trip on the ICW in December 2017. This book was invaluable in identifying out of the way anchorages.

Highly recommend.
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Old 08-03-2018, 10:01   #14
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Just did this trip. Use Active Captain as others have suggested. Definitely get tow insurance. From Portsmouth to Coinjock is pretty easy. Free dock in Portsmouth and Great Neck. The locks at Great Neck are no problem. You can sail across the Albemarle Sound but watch out. It can get really bumpy in high winds. Alligator River and the canal is easy. Belhaven and River Forest Marina on the Pungo is a good stop. You can go outside at Beaufort NC (pronounced Bo-furt in NC, Bew-furt in SC) and depending on weather stay outside all the way to Beaufort, SC or duck in at Masonboro, Inlet, Little River, SC, Georgetown, SC or Charleston. I would definitely avoid the ICW from Georgetown to Charleston if at all possible. It is notorius for shoaling. I have heard the Dismal Swamp ICW leg is open but I would avoid it. Very weedy I have heard. And narrow.
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Old 08-03-2018, 10:31   #15
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Made the trip 4 times with various combinations inside and outside.
The driver is probably how much time you have.
If you have never done the ditch its an interesting experience but it requires dialing back any type A tendencies and go at a measured pace and enjoy the journey.
Don't be afraid to anchor. The anchorages shown in the guides look small sometimes but work. We do it with a 6' 5" draft and should be no problem with your draft.Do get a towing package at some point you will be very glad you did. Do check how far apart the various services are along the ditch. You can find yourself paying for an expensive tow because the company you have could be 4 to 5 hours away and you are in a bad situation that needs attention now.
If time is a factor don't hesitate to do the overnight from Hampton Roads outside around Hatteras and anchor up at Cape Lookout which is a fabulous spot. Of course thats only if the weather is good. If not don't think about it.
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