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Old 05-12-2014, 18:03   #16
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

In the ICW you will be relying a LOT ON MECHANICAL PROPULSION. Consider taking along a small outboard as backup.
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Old 05-12-2014, 20:42   #17
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Actually, having Sea Tow or Boat US isn't a bad idea.
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Old 05-12-2014, 21:00   #18
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

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Actually, having Sea Tow or Boat US isn't a bad idea.
+1

Even if you do not use it the piece of mind is good. Boat US has a pretty good magazine to boot in addition to discounts.

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Old 06-12-2014, 12:43   #19
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

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Don't know if this is the right forum for this question, as I posted this same inquiry last week and got zero replies. Any help would be appreciated



My wife and I are getting somewhat bored boating on one ot the inland Texas lakes near home and would like to expand our horizons somewhat and cruise the ICW from Galveston to St. Petersburg, FL then possibly on to Key West. We would trailer our boat to Galveston and launch in the Kemah area.

Our boat is a 1997 Chaparral 260 Signature Sport cruiser with 7.4 Merc Cruiser and Bravo Three drive with around 350 hours. The only electronics are the radio and depth finder. Also for nav aid is a magnetic compass. Boat has been in fresh water its whole life and kept in a slip. It has the requisite bottom paint required for fresh water. Water circulation pump impeller replacement, along with complete lower unit overhaul and new anodes has just been completed. Boat is not equipped with a radar arch. Boat sleeps four, and we donít plan to travel at night or foul weather if we can help it.

That being said I have the following questions:

01. Size wise, you think this boat is suitable for the trip?
02. What electronics should be added.?
03. I plan on attending a USCG school or equivalent to get familiar with the ICW buoy system, nav aids and how to read a chart. Any suggestions here?
04. Are any maps and or charts available that show gas stops, marinas, hotels etc along the way?
05. Recommended Smart Phone Apps.
06. Approximately how many miles is it from Kemah to St. Pete and St. Pete to Key West?
07. How long, in hours should this trip, to St. Pete, take figuring 20 Ė 30 mph average speed?
08. What should we be on the watch for and what precautions should we take?
09. Should we take any pre-cruise maintenance for salt water and what about post cruise?

We are rookies as far as cruising goes, so any additional information would be appreciated.

Hotshoe
Probably the wrong forum but don't plan on that speed with no wake zones in the ICW. Off shore in the Gulf is like a shallow lake, a quick squall can make it nasty.

Maybe a local will chime in?
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Old 24-10-2017, 09:17   #20
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Having Just completed the GICW from Galveston to Ft. Meyers (and through the Okeechobee Waterway to Fernandina Beach) I have a little to add. I realize this is an old thread with a lot of really good advice, but wanted to add my observations.

First, I strongly recommend that you have some kind of AIS. Since my boat did not have it, I bought a standard horizon VHF that had its own internal GPS antenna and AIS receiver. I then bought a Shakespeare emergency antenna ( a one foot long whip with a suction cup on the bottom). I put a 12V DC pug on the red/black leads and plugged it onto my 12V DC outlet to power it. The entire unit is self -contained and communicated nicely with all approaching traffic. It was indispensable.

Get to know the barge lingo, "one whistle", "two whistles", "slow bell" etc. Communicate early and often with all traffic in the waterway. If you have never done it before (I haven't) you pick it up pretty fast. Make sure you monitor VHF 13 in addition to 16 as both are used very often.

I would avoid any passage through New Orleans even if that means going outside and around the delta. The Locks, the Mississippi and the commercial traffic will make your passage extremely slow and tedious at best.

The advice about not even "thinking" about travelling at night is sound, but that said we had to make two night passages both of which were manageable, but a little hair-raising at times.

With all the hurricanes this year there has been a lot of silting-in at various locations but only one that I encountered was impassable (I draw 4 feet) - Tiger Pass (in the delta) unless you know for a fact it has been properly dredged I would not use it.

I found that there were several places where you could go pretty fast (assuming your boat can handle the speed) and I averaged over 120 nm per day. Once in Florida there are a lot of "No Wake" zones mostly due to Manatee and more of an issue from May 1 - Sept 7. West of Tarpon Springs there are many areas where you can travel as fast as your boat will permit. East of Tarpons Springs you will have to slow down when travelling under bridges, in denser areas and in Manatee zones. Regarding Manatee Zones: Read the signs carefully as some will permit speeds up to 25 mph if you are remaining in the ICW channel. We would also slow down when passing boats going in the opposite direction as a courtesy. Even with all these complications, we had no problem covering 100 nm or more per day - We would start at first light with a goal of arriving at the next stop before the fuel dock closed down.

Planning fuel stops between Galveston and Houma are essential as there are very few. Know where the fuel stops are, and call ahead to make sure they are still in operation and have fuel.

Skipper Bob's is invaluable though it the had the wrong VHF channel for the Calasieu (Pronounced Cal-ka-Shoe) Lock They hail on 14 - not 13. Since we are on the subject, the bridge immediately after the lock is being repaired and some days the lock will not open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM to prevent traffic from backing up at the bridge. Check ahead before planning to transit this area as the closures are sporadic.

The common recommendation is to cross the Gulf from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs, but a better plan is to bypass Tarpon Springs and go to (or from) Tampa. For us to do this we left Carrabelle in the late afternoon and traveled all night arriving at Tampa around 12:00 PM. This allowed us to depart and arrive during the daylight hours. If sea conditions are tolerable the night passage is not bad as long as you are not entering or leaving a port in the dark.

I recommend you have current paper charts- I bought the NOAA charts for the entire route. Richardson's does not make a chart kit for the Galveston to New Orleans run. They do make one for New Orleans to the Florida Keys (I think they are actually 2 or 3 separate kits) but it was much cheaper just to buy the NOAA charts for the entire trip and they are larger and easier to read.


Lastly, have a well thought out plan, but be prepared to come up with alternate plans when you encounter the unexpected - I had to do this when I arrived at Tiger Pass and it was silted in - it was my fault as I did not check ahead .

Because I was working on a very tight time-frame I had to push it every day. I could only allow for two lay days due to weather and my trip was nearly 1400 nm from Galveston, through the Okeechobee and north to Fernandina Beach. I covered the entire distance in 13 days averaging nearly 120 nm per day (with two overnight runs). My longest day run was about 160 nm and one overnight was about 270 nm. It was exhausting and if I had the luxury of more time, I would have taken a lay day every third or fourth day of the trip.

Though I did not employ this strategy, one professional captain that delivers boats throughout the Gulf recommended going outside the ditch every time the conditions permitted as he could cover more ground faster. His limit was seas of 3 feet or less.

These are just my two cents - if anyone wants any thoughts about the Okeechobee, reply to this post and I will add them as well.
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Old 24-10-2017, 12:42   #21
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

I'd love to hear about the Okeechobee crossing, especially given the Rainfall this year.
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Old 24-10-2017, 18:29   #22
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

[QUOTE=GrowleyMonster;1693760]In the ICW you will be relying a LOT ON MECHANICAL PROPULSION. ........... QUOTE]

Ya think? He has a 1997 Chaparral 260 Signature Sport cruiser. He always relies on "mechanical propulsion".
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Old 24-10-2017, 18:32   #23
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

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I'd love to hear about the Okeechobee crossing, especially given the Rainfall this year.
I crossed it (both ways) this past spring/summer. Water was too low for the rim route and care was needed at the eastern entrance/exit to the lake. Otherwise, no problems with a 3 1/2 foot draft.
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Old 24-10-2017, 19:46   #24
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

I was hoping to hear from Veladcoguy, since his trip was post hurricane Rainfall. I know the Corps began draining the lake before Irma, but I don't know what effect that had on water levels for a recent crossing.
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Old 24-10-2017, 19:47   #25
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Sorry for the typo Velasco, can't correct it from my phone.
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Old 25-10-2017, 04:06   #26
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Velascoguy.
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Old 25-10-2017, 07:55   #27
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Hi SFS-

Sorry to be a little late in my reply.

The waterway/lake is full right now. Both routes on the lake have plenty of water. The corps of engineers website ( USACE Jacksonville District ) also confirms there is plenty of water. I took the center route based on advice and also to save time. I did hear that work is being performed on one of the bridges along the rim route, but from what I understand there is no delay but if it is very choppy it might be difficult to get through it. As a result a few of the locks have substantial rise/fall, but no big problems. Despite the all the hurricanes I did not see any debris in the the lake or waterways. All locks are functioning on request without delays. If you stop at Roland Martin's in Clewiston, be advised that the small lock you need to go through to get there is a little quirky. Supposedly, their antenna got knocked out in one of the hurricanes so they have trouble receiving and responding to hails - I tried them on 13 and 16 with very poor results. They do respond to a sound signal (one long and one short blast of your horn). We crossed on a day that the marine forecast called for 10-15 from the east with a moderate chop. I had trouble deciphering what a moderate chop would amount to in the Okeechobee, and several locals gave me completely different descriptions from "no problem" to "it will be sloppy but passable". I crossed on a 45 powerboat doing about 15 kts and would pound the bottom on about every 10th wave. Not pleasant, but not really bad considering it took a little over an hour. There is some construction work going on on the north bank near Port St. Lucie, and if it is still going on there is a local sheriff's boat that will direct you toward the south bank and request you move at idle speed.

Otherwise a smooth passage. We did not try to do the whole thing in one day and stayed at Roland Martin's. It is a nice marina for what it is and the food in their "restaurant" is actually pretty good. They have a Tiki bar there too which is popular with the locals and often has live music or karaoke, though neither occurred the day we were there.

If you have more specific questions I'd be glad to answer
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Old 25-10-2017, 10:55   #28
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Velascoguy.
Glad to be aboard
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Old 25-10-2017, 11:00   #29
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

Thank you sir.
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Old 25-10-2017, 13:49   #30
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Re: ICW Gulf Coast Cruising

As note, there are some places that it is a long haul between marinas.
Galveston to Port Author (Sabine Lake):
marinas - none.
anchorage - Couple of cutouts to pull in for the nights.
1) at the bridge going to High Island,
2) the other is a bit further east, it is a longish narrow dredged canal. too narrow for barges.

There is a marina on west side of Sabine Lake.

Travel time from Galveston to Sabine Lake :
3 days by kayak
2 days by outboard powered sailboat.

From entrance for ICW at Sabine Lake to Mud Lake.
6 hours by kayak, not really far. between the two.

There is campground but no mooring from what i remember.
You can go on down to Cameron, La and find something.

Cant remember where you enter the locks at between Mud Lake and Vermilion Bay.
That is a long haul there. with no marinas.
3 (4?) days by kayak. There are places to turn out for night, just don't get one big enough for a barge. One i stayed at was on the north side somewhere. then camped just west of Mud Lake... soft mud, shallow not too far from marked channel. Like 10 feet of so.

From Vermilion Bay back to the west to the first lock is all fresh water, well muddy, but still fresh.

Vermilion Bay is as far east as i got in my kayak before turning around and paddling to Port O'Conner.

I know you need some good charts of the ICW at Sabine Lake and Mud Lake.
If you dont know how to read the ICW markers, look it up.
Sometimes only a small yellow square or triangle on other channel makers into a port. Triangle always on starboard side going east (overall direction).
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