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Old 02-10-2012, 12:07   #1
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ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Hello everyone. I've been lurking on CF for a while, and this is my first post. Me, my wife, and our two daughters (7mos. & 2.5yrs) are heading south for the first time this winter. We wanted to introduce ourselves here, and hope to find some other families planning to leave around the same time that we might be able to buddy up with. We'll be cruising on our 1984 Endeavour 33. Our departure date will ultimately be determined by when our new sails and canvas are ready, and we expect that will be sometime around November 15. Looking forward to hearing from some of you.
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:23   #2
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Hi cnix,

Welcome to the forum. Depending when in Nov you leave Norfolk it might get a little cool on some days but then you probably already know that.

It's a great trip and you will love it. I assume you have already researched all the resources for the trip like Skipper Bob's guides to marinas and anchorages, the Waterway guides, cruisersnet.net and activecaptain.com for updates on shoaling, bridge closings and such.

How far south are you going? All the way to the end? Planning to see the Bahamas while you're here?

Regardless it will be a fun trip.

Skip
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:28   #3
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Hi Skip,

We are planning to go to the Bahamas. Not exactly sure yet where we will be making the jump, but my current thinking is to leave from Miami for Bimini. I've been pretty impressed with active captain but haven't seen Skipper Bob's stuff yet. I'll check I out. Thanks for the info.

-Claude
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:48   #4
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Hi Claude,

Here's a link also to the cruisersnet section on ICW concerns.

Cruiser's Net ICW Problem Areas

Miami or Ft Lauderdale to Bimini is an easy hop and last time I cleared in at Bimini it was a bit time consuming but no problems. I think you are supposed to tie up to clear but there was some kind of sport fishing tournament going on the day I cleared in and there were no slips available anywhere. So I anchored out and dinghied in with the paperwork and no one seemed to care.

Only problem with Bimini is you have a long haul almost 100 nm from there to cross the banks and reach the next stopping place in the Berrys or Andros.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:03   #5
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Hi CNIX , Skip

My wife and I are also taking that trip. We had our boat a C30 hauled to Chesapeake Boat Works in Deltaville last week from Leke Erie and are driving down to launch her on 10-15. We plan on taking several days stowing everything and then headind for Norfolk.

Thats the end of our schedule Mabye we will meet up on the trip to say Hi. Im particularly looking forward to the fishing and crabbing here and sling spearing and lobsters in the Bahamas. We want to visit some historic sites on the ICW but havnt yet got a crusing guide. We know nothing about the Bahamas, were not interested in the tourist locations but the quieter Islands where we can anchor a 5' 3" draft and dingy in for a Bahama Mama. Any suggestions would be helpfull.

Thanks
George

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Old 02-10-2012, 13:36   #6
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Perhaps the trickiest section of the ICW is through GA. Tides can run 6-8' and a little more at spring tides. Leaves some sections in GA very shallow at low tide but if you're in no hurry you can wait for a rising tide to cross the low spots. I made the trip with 5'4" draft with no problem.

If you're looking for out of the way spots for cruising in the Bahamas I recommend Andros. Great diving and fishing but only a couple of resorts and for some reason bypassed by most of the cruisers.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:47   #7
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Welcome aboard the forum, and have a great trip. You'll love it, and you'll find many resources here and at the websites and cruising guides mentioned above...essential for your voyage. You'll be hitting the later end of the migration, but, if you can't find a buddy boat before you go, you will find many cruisers along the way to enjoy company and to help out when needed. I've done the whole ICW four times, plus two winters in the southern Bahamas, and I'm probably considered a greenhorn compared to others on this forum. Don't hesitate to ask, but expect to get lots of answers! Happy sailing!
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Old 02-10-2012, 14:09   #8
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

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Originally Posted by Waterway Guide View Post
Welcome aboard the forum, and have a great trip. You'll love it, and you'll find many resources here and at the websites and cruising guides mentioned above...essential for your voyage. You'll be hitting the later end of the migration, but, if you can't find a buddy boat before you go, you will find many cruisers along the way to enjoy company and to help out when needed. I've done the whole ICW four times, plus two winters in the southern Bahamas, and I'm probably considered a greenhorn compared to others on this forum. Don't hesitate to ask, but expect to get lots of answers! Happy sailing!
By the way, in case you didn't notice (and Mike seems to be too modest to mention it) he is the source for one of the guides for the ICW. Happens to be the one I used and recommend.
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Old 02-10-2012, 16:30   #9
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Something I was interested in but haven't found is a good southbound itinerary. I'm not too interested in taking my time and "cruising" the ICW, I just want to get it done. Would someone that's done it a few times be able to provide a reasonable itinerary for this part of the trip. I know that to get max mileage out of each day, some legs will need to be timed to make bridge and lock openings. Any help is much appreciated.
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Old 02-10-2012, 17:00   #10
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Get the towing insurance from BoatUS or SeaTow. You probably already know this but just in case.... Takes some practice getting good at timing the tides, or just figuring out where the deep water is, but the tow insurance is a good fallback. I guess otherwise towing can be hundreds per incident but I don't really know, I've been lucky over the years. I prefer to be off soundings anyway, which is anytime since I don't have depth sounder.

You've got the right idea not to get in a hurry, but good to make hay (southing/westing) while the sun shines!

Get a guide with the bridges, or check it out on cruisersnet, and just compile a list of the bridges. The only real snafu is if a bridge or lock is out of service for the day; that can leave you scrambling for an anchorage. Most bridges are only a half hour or hour wait, but can have rush hour restrictions. You'll need to spend some time each evening planning out the next days bridges/anchorages/marinas. Having wireless access helps, either from a marina, or through a tethered iphone or cell modem. Active Captain has a good site too.

The dismal swamp is a great route, I prefer it, but I don't draw over 5'

Have a great trip
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Old 02-10-2012, 17:25   #11
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

Quote:
Originally Posted by cnix View Post
Something I was interested in but haven't found is a good southbound itinerary. I'm not too interested in taking my time and "cruising" the ICW, I just want to get it done. Would someone that's done it a few times be able to provide a reasonable itinerary for this part of the trip. I know that to get max mileage out of each day, some legs will need to be timed to make bridge and lock openings. Any help is much appreciated.

The best approach is to get up before light and set off at first light. Plan for two anchorages, one about three or four hours away (at your cruising speed) and one that's about seven or eight hours away. If the current is against you or it gets too miserable to continue stop at the first anchorage.

There is only one lock if you take the Virginia Cut (Currituck Sound) and it opens frequently. As for bridges it's a waste of time and planning to try and hit them right. Just go at your normal speed, you might get lucky or you might have to wait a bit. Many folks overheat their engines trying to catch bridges. I made a vow many years ago not to chase bridges but, human nature being what it is, I do still chase them occasionally.
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Old 02-10-2012, 18:21   #12
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Did the reverse route last year FL to Annapolis helping friend get his new-to-him boat home in December! Doziers Waterway Guide and Skipper Bobs were our two navigation bibles; really helpful, especially the sequential bridge location listing!

Did mostly ICW due to northers as we were headed north; avoided the winding Georgia ICW and shallows by going offshore Jekells Island GA to Charleston SC. Offshore actually is fewer miles not to mention better speed. A lovely overnight passage arriving Xmas eve.

Other than picturesque anchorages, my Favorite mooring was St Augustine Muni Marina. Historic city to explore with fun Xmas boat parade usually second week of December. They have slips as well. Walkable city, great restaurants, west marine, and good bus transport too. A good place to reprovision , do laundry, etc.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 02-10-2012, 18:38   #13
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

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Originally Posted by cheoah View Post
Get the towing insurance from BoatUS or SeaTow. You probably already know this but just in case.... Takes some practice getting good at timing the tides, or just figuring out where the deep water is, but the tow insurance is a good fallback. I guess otherwise towing can be hundreds per incident but I don't really know, I've been lucky over the years. I prefer to be off soundings anyway, which is anytime since I don't have depth sounder.

You've got the right idea not to get in a hurry, but good to make hay (southing/westing) while the sun shines!
We made our first trip south with 18 mo. and a 12 year old daughters. Kids make great ice breakers!

Get the tow insurance! Especially with the latest reports about shoaling.

Plan each day's run, remembering that the days are getting shorter.

Stay warm and well fed.

Just like pets, kids need to be exercised. Get them off the boats on a regular basis.

Get some family games, as well as some reading material for the whole family. You will be anchoring early on many days and need some better diversions than just pouring over the next day's charts.

Slow down. Don't be held hostage to an itinerary. If the weather is bad - especially if visibility will be diminished - stay put for a day.

Have a wonderful time. Hope to see you on the way down!
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Old 02-10-2012, 18:54   #14
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Re: ICW Norfolk to Florida in November

I had a limited time to get my boat south but didn't want to beat myself up too bad so did about what Vasco recommended. Would get up early, fix coffee, up anchor and hit the road. Usually dropped a hook by 5-6 pm. A couple of nights we tied up at a free dock or got a slip.

A couple of recommendations.

1. Stay inside until you are around Hatteras. Shorter and gets you around some potentially rough water.

2. Take an occasional jog outside and do an over-nighter along shore. Several spots that would make sense to go outside and depending on the timing duck back in at a convenient spot. Moorehead City, Cape Fear, Charleston, Savannah.

3. You can save time and hassle of the GA section by going outside at Savannah or Charleston to Brunswick or Jacksonville.

4. ICW through most of N FL isn't too bad but once you get to W Palm you will start hitting a lot of bridges so going outside may save some time but stay close in shore to avoid the Gulfstream pushing back north.

In the sections through VA, NC and SC there were plenty of places to anchor along the ICW so we sort of played it by ear and starting planning our stopping point after lunch as we had a better handle on our progress for that day.

Also, second the recommendation for getting Towboat US policy. I didn't need it but it was peace of mind in case the engine died. Yes I know it's a sailboat but lots of places sailing was not an option.
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Old 02-10-2012, 19:23   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac
Hi Claude,

Here's a link also to the cruisersnet section on ICW concerns.

Cruiser's Net ICW Problem Areas

Miami or Ft Lauderdale to Bimini is an easy hop and last time I cleared in at Bimini it was a bit time consuming but no problems. I think you are supposed to tie up to clear but there was some kind of sport fishing tournament going on the day I cleared in and there were no slips available anywhere. So I anchored out and dinghied in with the paperwork and no one seemed to care.

Only problem with Bimini is you have a long haul almost 100 nm from there to cross the banks and reach the next stopping place in the Berrys or Andros.
Hey Skip
I believe you mean 100nm from Ft Lauderdale to Adros or Berry's. How do I rememeber this? That's where my satellite weather quits!

Regards
Keith
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