We're doing it right now.
We draw 6' too and have been up and down 6 or 7 times now. Here's what I'd suggest:
- Key West
- stay outside in Hawk Channel (Marathon, Rodriguez Key are stops). Anchoring
Beach off the inlet is very easy.
- Miami to Ft. Lauderdale/Lake Worth - go outside or inside. Beware Bakers Haulover inlet but tide will get you through it. We went inside on the way down, outside on the way up. If it's a nice day and you're outside, you can skip Ft. Lauderdale and make it to Lake Worth
- From Lake Worth/Palm Beach, it's pretty easy to stay inside all the way through the rest of Florida
. The main spot to beware is the ICW
near Matanzas inlet. It's a big trouble spot right now. We went through it at high tide and saw 9' throughout but you HAVE TO read the warnings on the hazard. You can also escape the whole northern part of Florida
by going outside at Cape Canaveral. St. Augustine, St. John (Jacksonville), and St. Mary's (Fernandina) are very safe inlets to come back in at. Ponce de Leon is an alternate although I've never done it.
- It's' a little thin at places between St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach inside. We just did that at mid+ tide and there wasn't any problem. We're now anchored off Cumberland Island just off St. Mary's inlet. Our last track is:
- Do not go inside on the ICW in Georgia
. Leave at St. Mary's or Jacksonville
or St. Augustine. Good places to stop are Saint Simons Sound and Port Royal Sound (SC).
- Continue outside to Charleston. You can go through SC inside (we've done it - Hilton Head
, SC through Beaufort
, NC) but you really need to watch tides and the shoaling spots.
- North of Charleston presents some sticky situations. We usually just bag it and do an overnight from Charleston to Beaufort, NC (especially to the Cape Lookout anchorage).
- It's pretty easy to take the ICW from Beaufort, NC to Norfolk. That avoids having to go outside around Cape Hatteras. There really aren't many problems along this part of the ICW although read the hazard for the Alligator River bridge shoaling area and watch for other hazards in the way.
- From Norfolk, it's trivial to get to the Chesapeake and onto the Potomac
There are over 1,000 anchorages
that ActiveCaptain has listed along the ICW through here. Every one has one or more reviews
from people who stayed at the spot telling you what they thought.
We travel at 7.5 kts. It's all a lot of fun and pretty easy.