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Old 25-07-2014, 14:28   #1
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Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

I am planning a lengthy trip for Spring 2016 from the BVIs to CT up thru the Bahamas, over to Florida and up the East Coast, and have gotten to Beaufort, NC in my planning and have a dilemma. My boat is a Jeanneau 45' sloop that draws 6'8" and maybe more importantly has a 64.7' vertical height. I would like to avoid sailing outside from Beaufort to Norfolk (i.e. The Outer Banks), but the roughly 205 miles of the ICW has 7-8 fixed bridges with a maximum clearance of 65'. Will I be able to make the ICW with the help of tides, or is the tidal change in this stretch of the ICW not enough to help?
The various sounds inside the Outer Banks (Pamlico, etc.) don't seem to offer any help since they are too shallow in many places.
I also know I could drop the mast for this 200 mile segment, but that is both expensive and disruptive to the rigging.
I'm sure there are plenty of you out there that have cruised this route, so I welcome any advice anyone can offer.
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Old 25-07-2014, 16:34   #2
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

Just brought my boat up from the Caribbean to CT. 1 month ago. As opposed to my previous trip north due to circumstances beyond my control had to go through the ICW from Cape Fear to Norfolk. With your particular boat I would much rather be offshore, just pick your weather and you will be fine. My mast is 62 feet and my antenna scraped a few bridges not to mention your draft which may be a problem. I am sure there are many on this forum who love the ICW but I truly hope I never have to contend with the swarms of jet skis, people pulling kids on tubes then while passing you they somehow always fall off in front of you etc.etc. It is not like you do not have an offshore boat. I would think you would be much more comfortable sailing in the ocean.


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Old 25-07-2014, 16:42   #3
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

I have a 4'9" keel and I scraped bottom in several places. Well scrape is not the best word for the ICW -- I mushed through some mud and got into thinner water again. I would not try it with your mast nor your keel.
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Old 26-07-2014, 08:21   #4
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

tombriggs, I don't know of any areas along this section from Beaufort, NC to Norfolk, that will give you a problem with your draft. Mast height will have to factor in antennas, etc to give you true air draft. At 64.7 true height, you can do the bridges, but need to play close attention to water levels. Unusual high tides will hinder you and certain wind conditions can raise and lower the water levels. You may need to wait out some bridges until low tide. Otherwise, it will be an outside run.
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Old 26-07-2014, 08:45   #5
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

With your mast height, I would not go up the Intracoastal. Supposedly, the maximum fixed bridge height is 65', but you never know the state of the water at any given time. With less than 1/2' clearance, say goodbye to antennas, too. Additionally, with the draft of your boat, you will have to pick your way carefully through the Bahamas.

Is your goal to cruise and sight see the Bahamas and Florida or do you just want to get the boat to CT? If it is the latter, I would just head straight for it and be there in 10 days give or take a few. I did a delivery from Tortola to RI a while back and it took just over 11 days and was quite uneventful. Pick your time of the year and it should not be a problem.

Isn't there a 60' fixed bridge somewhere between Beaufort and Norfolk? It's been a few years since I did that trip, but I seem to remember that being the case.
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Old 26-07-2014, 08:50   #6
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

I've done it with a 64' mast and 7ft draft as late as 2012
Have to watch your tides (high for shoals and low for bridges) and take your time

Offshore run isn't bad if you wait for your weather



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Old 26-07-2014, 18:19   #7
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

The wilkerson bridge at the SW end of the Alligator Pungo canal is SixtyFOUR feet, not sixtyfive. Inside the sounds there is very little ocean tide but winds can alter depths by several feet. Strong continuous easterlies will drive water into the sounds and up. There is an alternate route around the wilkerson via Manteo but there is a fair amount of shoaling in the Old House channel.

There is a bridge north of Coinjock that frequently reads 64 on the height board also.

Wait for good weather and go around! But DO NOT try to get in at the Cape Hatteras inlets!
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Old 31-07-2014, 05:09   #8
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

Quote:
Originally Posted by gettinthere View Post
The wilkerson bridge at the SW end of the Alligator Pungo canal is SixtyFOUR feet, not sixtyfive. Inside the sounds there is very little ocean tide but winds can alter depths by several feet. Strong continuous easterlies will drive water into the sounds and up. There is an alternate route around the wilkerson via Manteo but there is a fair amount of shoaling in the Old House channel.

There is a bridge north of Coinjock that frequently reads 64 on the height board also.

Wait for good weather and go around! But DO NOT try to get in at the Cape Hatteras inlets!
Pretty sure they dredged that channel into Manteo, so the Pamlico should be a good option for you. When the wind is S or SW, it will increase water levels at the N end of the sound near Manteo. And vice-versa, so you can factor that in when you discover the controlled depth currently into Manteo.
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Old 31-07-2014, 05:26   #9
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway-Beaufort-Norfolk

Hi Tom, you have some good options and will have no problems transiting this section by the sounds or offshore. Always confirm yourself, but pretty sure the channel into Manteo was dredged. Be aware that one must have decent piloting skills to stay in the channel. I've never had a problem, but they do a pretty good towing business through there with people struggling to stay in the channel.

Cape Lookout is a very good place to stage for this offshore leg. You can also exit Beaufort, but Cape Lookout is a good place to slip out in the dark without any fuss. You'll be at Chesapeake entrance in short order, and it is lovely in the stream off Hatteras - in fair weather.

Check out cruisers net for ICW info and info relevant to this inquiry.

good luck-
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