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Old 02-11-2014, 15:07   #1
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Too late for ICW this year?

Our cruise down the ICW from Maine was delayed due to many challenges, large and small. What is the "local knowledge" concerning the saying "be out of the Chesapeake by Nov 1", especially this year of weird weather.

Our plan was to leave our boat in NY until Dec 10 but are now thinking next year might be our ICW adventure.

Opinions, please.
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Old 02-11-2014, 16:29   #2
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

To me, it would depend on whether vessel and crew are seaworthy enough to do a cold-weather cruise comfortably and if you have enough flexibility to wait for good weather windows along the way.

Does your boat have a cockpit enclosure? Do you have adequate heat aboard in case the weather goes south quickly?


Ive seen many boats leave the Chesapeake Bay in November and early December, so it can be done.
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Old 02-11-2014, 16:35   #3
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

The main body of the Chesapeake is navigable year round, but the freshwater tributaries will ice over in a cold winter. As the season progresses the weather windows become very short, this will dictate your schedule. Besides the obvious, you may also find a lot of fog from cold air moving over the warmer water. It would be a very cold trip if you dont have a good onboard heater that you can use underway. If you're just in transit and work with the weather it is doable. If you want to cruise the area, wait until spring.
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Old 02-11-2014, 19:06   #4
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

Sure, you can do it.

We left from Deale, MD on December 6 last year to head south. By that time quite a few marinas had winterized both their fuel and water, so you need to plan ahead for that. I'm thinking this weekend's cold snap is a pretty good indicator on how the rest of the winter will develop. Many marinas were simply closing for much of the week, so be sure to call ahead and make sure they will be around.

We have a diesel heater and it was key to making the trip bearable. I would never contemplate doing the trip without a heater. We used that heater all the way to Cape Canaveral!
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:13   #5
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

You can make the trip south at any time with a careful eye to the weather especially north of the Chesapeake. The three years I spent in Norfolk, winter didn't really set in till after Christmas. Even then, there were only relatively short periods of freezing weather. Living on my boat, saw boats coming through till late in the fall. Not a pleasant trip as it won't be sunny, 70 degree wx but not the brutal cold of Maine.

Personally, If I had the choice to spend a winter in Maine or suffer a little discomfort to get south, I'd be out of there in a second. Wouldn't necessarily take the ICW all the way. It's slow and not especially scenic. You can make the passage in short 2-4 day legs ducking in when weather, convenience of the ICW route or site seeing dictate. Of course, if you are talking a power boat, it makes more sense.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:47   #6
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

I think you could get better answers if you said what kind of boat your traveling in. If its a sail boat, my preference would be to get offshore a few miles and stay there until you reach the Florida port you want. If its a medium to smaller power boat then you need fuel so you probably can't stay offshore. In that case your better off staying inside. If its a large power boat you might be able to stay off shore. To me offshore is the best option.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:58   #7
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

I think we could give you a better answer if we knew what type of boat you have, if you have a sailboat you should get your nose offshore and stay there until you reach the port you want in Florida. If you have a smaller power boat that option is out because of refueling. Big power boats maybe able to make it out side. As far as I am concerned there are far less issues offshore than all the hassles you find along the ditch. I did it once and I never want see it again! 21 days from Montauk to Melbourne! That's crapy, and costly!
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Old 03-11-2014, 13:20   #8
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

NancGrace,

If you put information about your boat in your CF avatar, people will be able to help you better.

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Old 04-11-2014, 08:26   #9
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

We left CT (Old Saybrook) on Oct 28th, 2008, anchored the first night in Port Jefferson (ended up being 3 days, gale winds) we did arrive in Norfolk just before Christmas, anchored often due to weather, we left Norfolk for the Dismal Swamp in mid Jan, hit some sheet ice in the dismal swamp and a dusting of snow in Belhaven. It was a cold trip, but very satisfying trip. We did go to the outside off NJ, and again off the Carolinas, Tivoli draws 5' 6" and while we had some close encounters nothing major. We did have to anchor a couple of times in the Chesapeake to weather some storms, but were prepared, our 60 lb Manson held well. It was a cold trip, but certainly glad we did it. We also had a small fireplace on Tivoli that helped with the cold. We also used an upside down clay flowerpot over the stove, that also helped.

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Old 04-11-2014, 08:49   #10
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We underestimated the cold weather last year south of Norfolk. We left the Chesapeake December 1st and saw ice storms, snow and 24F degree weather until we south of Charleston. I know last year had some weird weather but this year's patterns do not look much different.

To echo someone else's response, stay offshore. 2 days could be 200 to 300 miles off the trip. The way down south through the ICW was fun but wouldn't do it again.

Safe sailing.
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:03   #11
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NancGrace View Post
Our cruise down the ICW from Maine was delayed due to many challenges, large and small. What is the "local knowledge" concerning the saying "be out of the Chesapeake by Nov 1", especially this year of weird weather.

Our plan was to leave our boat in NY until Dec 10 but are now thinking next year might be our ICW adventure.

Opinions, please.
If you're talking about an "adventure" as in stopping along the way to enjoy pleasant anchorages and towns, You are probably too late. If your goal is to get the boat south quickly, you still have time. You will have some cold weather but you can do it.
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Old 04-11-2014, 15:07   #12
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

Totaly depends on the boat:
- A trawler with a nice enclosed heated helm station...no problem
- A small sailboat with an open cockpit...no thanks.

As others have said, if it's a deliver trip with the main point of traveling when the weather permits it's quite doable. If you want to actually cruise and visit destination, it's a little late.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:35   #13
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

My response is the same as everyone else. There are just too many unknowns and the weather is the biggie. There's no way to predict if it will be mild, unseasonably warm or 5 feet of snow when you head south. The fronts and Nor'easters roll across the mid Atlantic sometimes once a week and sometimes every 2 to 3 days. We have left the Chesapeake in November and froze all the way to Daytona Beach before it warmed up. We have also left the Chesapeake in December and had a very pleasant trip south. So, how long is a piece of string?
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Old 12-11-2014, 20:41   #14
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

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Originally Posted by lesterbutch View Post
I think you could get better answers if you said what kind of boat your traveling in. If its a sail boat, my preference would be to get offshore a few miles and stay there until you reach the Florida port you want. If its a medium to smaller power boat then you need fuel so you probably can't stay offshore. In that case your better off staying inside. If its a large power boat you might be able to stay off shore. To me offshore is the best option.
I'm doing this trip next year, Toronto- Bahamas, when you say a few miles off shore, how many miles off shore? I understand the gulf stream would be very problematic for my heavy slow double ender, but a friend of mine told me literally a few miles offshore is okay? Is this true? I am not willing to take my wife and son way off shore in November (it's not that I wet my pants when I lose sight of land, but I could never convince misses family Van) on the East Coast. I have a capable engine that will push me at hull speed all day long, no problem (Perkins 4-108).
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Old 13-11-2014, 06:31   #15
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Re: Too late for ICW this year?

FamilyVan
Distance offshore will be dependent upon several factors including the current position of the Gulf Stream which meanders NOAA gives that info. over the WX station on your VHF. Other factors include landform, you want to be able to stay a couple of miles off without having to run around a point or someting. Traffic patterns of local shipping also dictate how far far out you want to be. I wanted to be well clear so i was out about fifteen to twenty miles most of the time. You and your crews comfort factors also have to be considered.
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