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Old 12-11-2011, 20:00   #1
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Intracoastal Waterway or Outside ?

I maybe getting a new boat in Florida and was curious with going down the Atlantic side from almost the Georgia border south to get into the gulf, and then twds Pensacola Florida do I need to go on the outside or icw . I know there is an issue with the gulf stream and getting southbound could be a problem on the outside but not sure abiutthe inside either...anyone have any insight on this matter?
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Old 12-11-2011, 20:16   #2
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Re: intercoastal or outside

I have been cruising up & down the east coast for two seasons and I hate the ICW. It is so much easier to go offshore. In the ICW we run aground, wait for bridges, can not run after dark, hit logs, etc. Offshore is so easy in comparison and we actually sail sometimes.

A lot of people prefer the ICW to offshore, though I am not sure why. I think it is a fear of heavy weather. We work hard on weather windows and my fear of the ICW is greater than my fear of heavy weather, but for many people it is the oppoisite. So you must consider how you feel. There are many bridges to hold you up on the Florida ICW, and you can make offshore hops in a fraction of the time, but what are you more comfortable with? You can avoid the guilf stream much of the way.

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Old 12-11-2011, 20:20   #3
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Re: intercoastal or outside

Irwi28..From south Ga on the Intracoastal to Miami...Two words: Bridges and Depths. There are places in South Ga where the ICW channel seems to disappear at low tide so the journey must be coordinated with a rising/high tide. Concerning bridges, we went thru 15 in one day and I got a verbal warning from a Ft. Lauderdale Water Patrolman for going too fast in a sailboat! Idle speed only!!! were his words. Obviously, trying to make a bridge opening at idle speed only is nearly impossible.

So depending on boat condition, Captain/crew skills and weather, outside can be a much less stressful ride.

Bill
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Old 12-11-2011, 20:26   #4
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Re: intercoastal or outside

The big question is how high will your new mast be? If less than 48 feet you can cut off a lot of time by going the Ocheechobee water way. Getting there is mostly a matter of weather. Strong easterly winds are common this time of year and can mmake the Atlantic pretty rough and of course Florida becomes a lee shore. If you plan to cross the water way yo will probably want to come in at Ft. Pierce inlet. This is the best weather inlet close to the water way. The stream is far enough off shore that it won't pose an issue unless you go quite a ways off the beach. South of Ft. Pierce the stream starts getting close enough it can be an issue even 5 miles offshore. If the weather dictates the ICW is not a bad trip from St Mary's down to the waterway entrance. Most of the bridges are high rise and present no problems. South of the waterway entrance is known as bridge hell. Most of those bridges are draw bridges and only open on schedule and there are lots of them. So if you decide to or need to go through the keys you are much better off if you can go outside, especially south of lake worth. If you have favorable weather and can stay withing a mile or two of the beach the stream will not be much of a problem and it will save you days in bridge hell.
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Old 12-11-2011, 22:19   #5
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Re: intercoastal or outside

Or,...you could put in on a truck, jump in your pickup with your stuff, meet the boat in Florida and have it done in a day. Unless there's really a lot you want to see along the way there it would be fast, easy and not at all expensive compared to a couple of weeks fuel and wear and tear on you and your boat.
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Old 13-11-2011, 05:24   #6
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Re: intercoastal or outside

If you go on the outside, you can keep going all night. We lucked out on timing. We turned south at Hollywood at 9 am after crossing the Gulf Stream, reached Sombrero Light at dawn, and were through the Moser Channel (Seven Mile Bridge) just south of Marathon, and across Florida Bay to deep water by sunset. You have to do Florida Bay in daylight because of all the crab pot floats--millions of them!

Heading down the east coast, we set a course that kept us between the 100' and 200' depth contours and never saw an adverse current over 1 kt, usually 0.5. Actually found a fair countercurrent for a couple of hours. Had a west wind after a frontal passage, so we sailed the whole way down.
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Old 13-11-2011, 06:26   #7
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Re: intercoastal or outside

It depends on the weather. Heading south in the late fall or winter the weather does not always cooperate. Rather than wait four or five days for weather we will chug down the ICW. I haven't done the Georgia bit for quite a while but the Florida stretch from Fernandina Beach to Miami has good water, six foot draft is no problem. The couple of skinny stretches (Ponce and Matanzas) have been well dredged. Only spot I worry about is Bakers Haulover between Lauderdale and Miami but you have to get under the 55 ft Julia Tuttle bridge to do this section.
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Old 13-11-2011, 06:47   #8
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Re: intercoastal or outside

I just completed a run down the icw from mile 0 to mile 1070 in hollywood The wind blew the whole time There were 110'MY and many large sportfish inside May give you an idea of conditions offshore
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Old 13-11-2011, 07:35   #9
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Re: intercoastal or outside

There is a counter current inside the stream for most of the trip South. We just moved our boat (85 foot) mast from Annapolis to Fort Lauderdale with only one stop in Fernadina. We did the trip in less than seven days. It would have taken at least three times that inside.
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Old 14-11-2011, 11:22   #10
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway or Outside ?

I've done both and as much as I hate the bridges from hell, sometimes the weather tells ya what to do.

This year I only have 3 weeks to make the trip from titusville to marathon and waiting day(s) for weather to go outside is not an option.

Have fun!
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Old 14-11-2011, 11:32   #11
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway or Outside ?

With 6'5" draft I didnt find the depth or bridges much of an issue until maybe Ft Pierce and south. Further South It was rather fun timing and opening 18 bridges in one day! Off shore can be nice too the right time of year. I would go out and around at Fort Pierce at least and skip the Miami Lauderdale bridge mess. Stay close to shore to stay out of the GS. As said though, if you can do the Okeechobee... big savings!
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Old 23-11-2011, 12:23   #12
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway or Outside ?

Thanx so much for that info guys...I'm going to research those places that you all mentioned. Wish me luck in February.
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Old 23-11-2011, 12:46   #13
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway or Outside ?

Just did it both ways. Outside in my sail boat with a 85 foot mast, inside with my power boat with a 4 ft draft. I liked the ouside passage much better. It took less than 1/3 the time and I didn't have to pay for marinas each night. Depths inside appeared ok except in rare places but you must stay in the channel. Bridges South of Daytona will drive you crazy; I could go under most of them without an opening.
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