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Old 23-06-2008, 04:34   #1
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charleston to annapolis via ICW

Sailing and motoring a catamaran from Charleston to Annapolis via the Intracoastal / ICW for the first time. Does anyone know what is realistic in terms of time? We want to slog through rather than meander on this trip because we don't have too much time off. Any thoughts on the best charts for this stretch would be much appreciated. Thanks all!
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Old 23-06-2008, 04:51   #2
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Take a peek at the charts and plan on 40-50 miles per day, if you are doing long days. (unless, of course you have a Gunboat to deliver!)

Use the Skipper Bob book to find spots to stop (he has one for marinas and one for anchorages - $15 a piece)

Use the charts (downloadable) from NOAA since they are brand new. Otherwise, you can buy a chart kit at Blue Water Books (skipper bob is available here too):

bluewaterweb.com

Or, or course, go to Newport and hit the Armchair Sailor bookstore to get everything you need for route planning.
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Old 23-06-2008, 05:09   #3
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Ssullivan just made the trip. One thing you didn't say is how many you have for a crew. That is, do you plan to go sail 24 hours when possible or not?
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Old 23-06-2008, 07:34   #4
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You are not able to operate on the ICW in the dark. It's hard enough in the daylight. The 40 - 50 mile rule of thumb is a good number to bet on. The last leg from Virginia to Annapolis could be done on a continuous trip sailing where you can run at night once you hit Portsmouth, VA. Sailing anything else would be lucky at best. You will lose a day or so now and again. Depending on the time of year you may have other factors. Hurricane season is now upon us and the thunderstorms are actually a bit early this year.

The dismal swamp is on fire and has been for a good long time now. The smoke extends for tremendous distances depending on the wind. I doubt the fire will go out anytime soon.

You could save time by going outside for short legs when practical.
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Old 23-06-2008, 07:47   #5
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We just completed that trip. My wife and I opted to go offshore from Charleston to More Head City and it took us 34 hours.

After that it was one day to South River near Oriental,
next day to anchorage Belhaven,
next day to Alligator Marina at $1 per foot -great place,
next day Elizabeth City for a free dock,
next day to the Dismal Swamp visitor center free dock
next day Hampton River anchorage
next day south side of Deltaville anchorage
next day Soloman Island anchorage
next day Rhoad River anchorage which is just south of Annapolis which we could have made.

We did run into weather and spent about 5 days, I think, holed up waiting for it to improve.

We both felt that the offshore leg was the easiest. We picked a very benign weather window and ended up motoring for 2/3 of the way but it was still much easier than the ICW since we made one course change when we rounded Frying Pan Shoales. The rest of the time we counted dolphin visits and sea turtles.

Hope this helps,
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Old 23-06-2008, 08:55   #6
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I agree about going outside.

If the weather is on your side, you can make tremendous gains over the people motoring up the ICW. I was able do this only for daysails since I was singlehanded a lot of the way.

Compare mileage outside (entering and leaving the inlets) with mileage inside the canal. Sometimes, it's a great shortcut. Other times, the ICW itself is the shortcut.

One good thing about the ICW is you don't have to care about weather at all. There's no fetch in there. If you can handle the boat in any wind/current, you have a comfortable I-95 style ride.

PS: Night is out, as Paul says. The main reason is due to the markers. They aren't markers like us northern folk are used to. They are daymarks on pilings. No nuns or cans. You'd need a spotlight on all night to see them.

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Originally Posted by jemsea View Post
We just completed that trip. My wife and I opted to go offshore from Charleston to More Head City and it took us 34 hours.

After that it was one day to South River near Oriental,
next day to anchorage Belhaven,
next day to Alligator Marina at $1 per foot -great place,
next day Elizabeth City for a free dock,
next day to the Dismal Swamp visitor center free dock
next day Hampton River anchorage
next day south side of Deltaville anchorage
next day Soloman Island anchorage
next day Rhoad River anchorage which is just south of Annapolis which we could have made.

We did run into weather and spent about 5 days, I think, holed up waiting for it to improve.

We both felt that the offshore leg was the easiest. We picked a very benign weather window and ended up motoring for 2/3 of the way but it was still much easier than the ICW since we made one course change when we rounded Frying Pan Shoales. The rest of the time we counted dolphin visits and sea turtles.

Hope this helps,
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Old 23-06-2008, 09:03   #7
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Charleston to Annapolis

Thanks for the responses everyone. There are just two of us and we'll probably sail/motor in daylight hours for the most part. Sounds like two weeks or so, accounting for weather, etc. Really appreciate all the helpful suggestions as well. All tips for this leg are much appreciated!
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Old 23-06-2008, 09:11   #8
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Does that mean you've decided on a cat?
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Old 23-06-2008, 11:14   #9
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>> You are not able to operate on the ICW in the dark.<<

There are a couple of places you can transit at night. Last month we came through the Alligator River-Pungo River canal during a full moon and it was a fabulous 21 miles.

Also, there are a few places you need to watch weather, like crossing Albemarle Sound and Currituck Sound. Seas never get steep, but the wind can sure blow through there.
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Old 23-06-2008, 13:12   #10
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Actually if you have the nerve you can run the ICW at night. Not recommended for amateurs but the tugboat guys do it all the time.
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Old 23-06-2008, 13:31   #11
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but the tugboat guys do it all the time.
That's what I was thinking, I spent nearly 20 years in the dredging business and the ICW was busy 24/7
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Old 23-06-2008, 13:54   #12
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The tugs do it all the time. Pushing a barge sure does clear the way of debris and also daymarks. I have seen too many items that can hole a boat barely floating above the surface during the day. I know I would not see the item at night. Why push it if you do not have to?
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