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Old 17-11-2014, 07:49   #1
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Winter ICW Advice Needed

I making this post to possibly get some tailored advice from people with experience. I've been reading the forums related to Wintering the ICW and there is a ton of information.

I've recently been tossed into a kind of annoying situation that has sent me scrambling. Not necessarily in a bad way. Long story short, my job got transfer. I knew that it was likely going to happen but it's almost 6 months earlier to what I or they expected. They start sucking as soon as they can "bill the client" etc.

Current Situation
I have a Cal 27 that is currently docked in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay. I'm being transferred to Charleston, SC starting early March 2015 (when I'll literally have to stand an office). I'll have pretty extreme flexibility between the first of the year to that point. I'm lucky enough they approve me working from my "home office" between contracts. I've spent reasonable amount of my home office time sitting on the bay, since I only need a cell phone's hotspot to work. Poor me, I know. The boat is currently setup for mild cruising. It has 2007 Beta engine (200 hours), 100 watts of solar, ~300 amp hours of batteries. My boating experience only consists of long weekends like 3-4 days on the hook. I've spent longer at the dock. I'm just trying to paint a picture. Obviously, it is going to be freezing and likely pretty miserable during this time of the year. I mean I've done camping in the cold and snow when I went to school in Blacksburg a couple years ago, So I know it can be done with a grimacing face and the proper equipment. I don't really have any winter sailing gear, so that's probably the place to start. I just need to be pointed in the right direction whether that be a book, blog, website, gear, or insult. There is almost too much information out there and it becomes a haze trying to analyze all of it. Probably just dumb panic. There is always the option to put the boat on the hard in VA and sort it out when it gets warmer next summer. The problem is, I doubt that I'll ever get this type of flexibility ever again and don't want to waste it. I'm sure it will be an interesting experience regardless.

Thanks for any input
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Old 17-11-2014, 08:13   #2
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by trialbuterrors View Post
I making this post to possibly get some tailored advice from people with experience. I've been reading the forums related to Wintering the ICW and there is a ton of information.

I've recently been tossed into a kind of annoying situation that has sent me scrambling. Not necessarily in a bad way. Long story short, my job got transfer. I knew that it was likely going to happen but it's almost 6 months earlier to what I or they expected. They start sucking as soon as they can "bill the client" etc.

Current Situation
I have a Cal 27 that is currently docked in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay. I'm being transferred to Charleston, SC starting early March 2015 (when I'll literally have to stand an office). I'll have pretty extreme flexibility between the first of the year to that point. I'm lucky enough they approve me working from my "home office" between contracts. I've spent reasonable amount of my home office time sitting on the bay, since I only need a cell phone's hotspot to work. Poor me, I know. The boat is currently setup for mild cruising. It has 2007 Beta engine (200 hours), 100 watts of solar, ~300 amp hours of batteries. My boating experience only consists of long weekends like 3-4 days on the hook. I've spent longer at the dock. I'm just trying to paint a picture. Obviously, it is going to be freezing and likely pretty miserable during this time of the year. I mean I've done camping in the cold and snow when I went to school in Blacksburg a couple years ago, So I know it can be done with a grimacing face and the proper equipment. I don't really have any winter sailing gear, so that's probably the place to start. I just need to be pointed in the right direction whether that be a book, blog, website, gear, or insult. There is almost too much information out there and it becomes a haze trying to analyze all of it. Probably just dumb panic. There is always the option to put the boat on the hard in VA and sort it out when it gets warmer next summer. The problem is, I doubt that I'll ever get this type of flexibility ever again and don't want to waste it. I'm sure it will be an interesting experience regardless.

Thanks for any input
If I were you, I would head south starting as soon as possible. it might be cold but it's not going to get warmer before March. You might find a "window" when it's not too cold.

You should be able to make the trip in a week to ten days.
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Old 17-11-2014, 08:17   #3
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

If you only need cell phone hot sport access to maintain your home office and there is no major reason why you need to stay in the VA area, then I would go now. It will be cold most days until you get to SC, but not bitterly cold. After the 1st of the year it can be a lot worse. The last time I headed south (2012) I had Verizon hot spot coverage all the way to FL.
As for guides on the trip, I would start with the Waterway Guide. It has ususally up to date information on the route as well info on marinas and anchorages. Active Captain can provide the latest information on anchorages. Cruisers.net has a lot of information on problem areas on the AICW as well as bridge schedules.
Just pack warm clothes and bedding. For the short periods of really cold weather pull into a marina to plug into shore power and run a space heater (I assume you don't have a vented diesel or propane heater).

Good luck and stay warm (as possible)

John
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Old 17-11-2014, 09:36   #4
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

I'd budget for a extra time to get there...you're not going to want to cross the sounds in bad or windy weather, so you might find yourself holed up from time to time. Anchorage space will be plentiful, of course. Most marinas will be open, but best that you check ahead to be sure, especially if you need to fill your water tanks. Good luck, have fun, stay warm.
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Old 17-11-2014, 09:54   #5
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

Thanks for the responses. I'll definitely get that guide. I'll have to be around Va until the end of Nov. Maybe I can swing something earlier in Dec before the holidays. I think I just kind of panicked this morning because this isn't what I planned etc. Now I have huge list of things to do and add in the cold. I've kind of had the ideal sailing experience with no bridges, schedules, and whatever, which is the entire reason I like it. Honestly, I thought when I was going to make this trip that I'd be more worried about keeping beer cold and getting sunburned vs me trying not to freeze to death. I now just imagine breaking ice of the bow with hammer like those crab fishing shows. Also, I would have done a ton more research. I guess if I'm motoring 10 hours a day, I'll have time to figure things out.
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Old 17-11-2014, 13:46   #6
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

A good depth sounder and understanding that watching the chart plotter and checking a chart will keep you out of trouble. Solo trips are exhausting and more likely to have delays. The anchorages and marinas in the Guide are generally spaced for daily runs so have a good spotlight if you want to run after dark, which could happen whether you plan it or not. Don't get in a hurry, wait for a nice weather period and be ready for it to end early. Grocery runs are not always simple on the icw so stock up. Be ready to rig a wind break in the cockpit, even a small one or two will be worth it. Bring lots of spare clothing.
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Old 18-11-2014, 10:58   #7
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

I'm hoping to be leaving on the ICW trip from Rosehaven, MD on December 1, weather permitting, If you would like a traveling partner. I have a Gemini 3200, The "Ladybug". Its always helpful having another boat traveling with you. This is my first down the ICW. If interested, Contact: Dave E-mail- dallwood9252@comcast.net
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Old 18-11-2014, 13:11   #8
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed


The tripwill be fun!

Use ActiveCaptain, get it loaded on your smart phone and it will “talk” to you abouthazards ahead as you travel the ICW. Check the Active Captain Blogs for the folks that went your route lastweek, it will be the latest on shoaling-and there will be plenty

Call the marinasthe day before you expect to arrive.

Get Tow BoatUS or Sea Tow - I know, I know, I know… wise man once said if you have not run agroundin the ICW you have not traveled the ICW.

Lots ofpocket warmers-they are heaven when you are cold.

Check the variousblogs to see who else is traveling the same time as you, makes for dinnerfriends at marina. (See TOYM1 post)

Expectweather delays, wiser to wait than play with Mother Nature and the Sea Gods.

Just mythoughts…Sam
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Old 18-11-2014, 16:33   #9
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

Awesome. I'm still scrambling around for a few things. Mainly cold weather gear etc. Just a matter walking into a store and handing someone a credit card. Of course this weekend I have a wedding (family) and the next weekend is Thanksgiving stuff. Hurdles. I'll still figure out a way to get a few of the projects to the boat done that need doing. Um. I don't know if I'll get out by Dec 1 but I'll send you my email. We might cross paths. I have BoatUS towing and have a few of the phone apps. I remember trying active captain a while back. There website is amazing but remember the app being wonky. Ha. if an app can guide me, I will lay down in the cockpit in two sleeping bags waiting for a robot to find danger.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 18-11-2014, 17:38   #10
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

We did the ICW in the winter - left Md in Feb. You will have it all to yourself, won't have to worry about finding a slip - marinas were open, but water was turned off to the docks down to about Morehead City. Having a heat-source on board will make life easier for you - electric ceramic heaters are great, but if you plan on anchoring or staying at the Dismal Swamp welcome center you should consider something not dependent on a plug-in. Long underwear, wool mitts and watch-cap are essential. Mustang-type survival suits are amazingly warm. A cockpit enclosure is very nice to have. Give yourself plenty of extra time to wait out weather. It gets dark early so 6-8 hour days are more reasonable. If you have any specific questions, PM me.
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Old 18-11-2014, 19:58   #11
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

Did ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort, NC about a decade ago in December, singlehanding.

Some thoughts:

-Remember you can't leave the cockpit as it doesn't take much to get off the track, so plan. e.g. lunch, drinks and a portable head (aka p-bottle) all in the cockpit before departure
-Bring ski clothes. If you are ready for a day in Stowe, Vermont, you'll be OK...and at times it might feel like Vermont
-You will be alone. No traffic...also no help with the locks, etc
-Have a 1500 watt ceramic heater for when you stay at marinas. Do not settle for less or you will certainly be sorry. Closing up the boat and sleeping in a sleeping bag in your long underwear while wearing a watch cap with the heater on will keep you warm enough.
-Bring a Mr. Buddy propane heater. Running it for 15-20 minutes when you get to your destination will be a delight. Also in the AM before you leave.
-It will be a series of short days given the time of year you'll travel. With such a short waterline, progress may be slow. Have a few spots where you can bail out in the mid afternoon so as to NEVER go in the ICW in the dark.
-Don't hesitate to take a lay day. (I awoke one day at a marina in Bellhaven and it was 33* and sleeting. It seemed like a good day to reacquaint myself with Ernest Hemingway, which I did. The next day as 50* and sunny and I proceeded on my way.)
-Once you get to NC things will likely warm up.

And most important...Enjoy! The next time you may get a chance to do something like this may be never.

Regards,
Ron
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Old 19-11-2014, 07:22   #12
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

I use a "Mr Heater". Small propane bottles. Works great. Not too expensive.
Don't try to use a DC electric heater unless you have tons of solar and 12v batteries.
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Old 19-11-2014, 07:27   #13
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

Here's a picture of Mr heater.:
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Old 19-11-2014, 11:33   #14
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

The major problem with using a propane heater in an enclosed area is the chance that you will wake up dead after the heater burns all the oxygen in the area.

other than that they are pretty effective.
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Old 19-11-2014, 12:53   #15
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Re: Winter ICW Advice Needed

The dead part could be a problem.....
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