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Old 28-09-2010, 12:18   #1
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Yet Another ICW Question . . .

I will be heading down the ICW for the first time in a couple of weeks, enroute from Buzzard's Bay, MA to Oriental, NC. Unfortunately, we have some commitments back home that will force us into a fairly tight schedule, so I am trying to lay out a plan for flights, etc... (I know, I know, tight schedules and sailing don't work together well, but life sometimes forces these things.

I have heard from a lot of ICW veterans that I should plan on around 50 miles per day. I have a couple of issues that I need some advice on. Is it realistic to try leave Portsmouth, VA (M/M zero) early Tuesday, and make it to Oriental (M/M 132) by Friday morning. We will put in as many hours per day as we can, given the need to navigate in daylight, deal with bridge and lock hours and find suitable anchorage or dockage. We draw about 5' 6" with full tanks, and I just shortened our mast height to 61' (not including antenna, etc..). I am especially concerned about trying to reach Bellhaven from Coinjock in one long day (is this possible??).

Also, does anyone know if the Wilkerson Bridge clearance will be a problem, given the expected rain and wind later this week? I know that last November, the bridge clearance was as low as 61", when strong winds were piling up water in the area.

Apppreciate any and all feedback!
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:50   #2
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Going to be tight but doable if weather cooperates. You can't get too far the first day. You've got half a dozen bridges and a lock on the first day. Then you've got the weather and Albemarle sound. As for the Wilkerson bridge you usually don't know till you get there and then it's too late if the wind has blown the water up, you have to go back all through the Aliigator/Pungo to anchor. Not a good way to start your ICW trip. You know what everyone says about schedules.
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:54   #3
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Here is my suggestion to go through the Dismal Swamp Canal. It is much prettier than Coinjock. Get up real early to beat the 6:30 AM restriction on the Gilmerton Bridge. Otherwise you won't make the 8:30 lock opening on the canal.

MM 00 to Elizabeth City 50 SM
Elizabeth City to Pungo River, S of canal 75 SM
Oriental 60 SM

BTW, Oriental is at about MM 185, so doing it in less than 4 days is going to take a couple of long days. But your Freedom 40 should be able to do 7 SM/hr, so your longest run is a bit over 10 hrs.

Active Captain while it doesn't have a ruler function yet (are you reading this Jeff!!!), is easy to use to plan your trip. Just zoom in until you can see the MMs.

David
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Old 28-09-2010, 12:59   #4
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You can run from sun up to sundown down and anchor out Weather will b your big concern both the albemarle sound, just south of coinjock and the nuese river , north of orienal can b a problem If you let time decide you may do something you wish you did not
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Old 28-09-2010, 13:57   #5
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Thanks and correction

David,

Thanks for quick advice and corrections (I did mean Oriental = M/M 182, not 132!). I'll check out the Dismal Swamp Canal route--I thought it was slower, so I didn't research...

Thanks also for the tip on the Gilmerton Bridge, I'll be sure to get up early, and maybe find a marina the night before close to the bridge! I see you are adding up statue miles, is that how the mile markers are set up? I guess I missed that--If so, that should make my day run calculations a little less daunting.

Motion30 and Vasco, you guys both hit on my biggest concern--weather. I've never kept to an "optimized" delivery plan, and always due to that #%$%%^ weather stuff. Maybe Dismal Swamp route would avoid some of the open water weather risks???

Thanks to all
John
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Old 28-09-2010, 14:01   #6
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John
Check the chart book I believe the dismal swamp route will not help avoid any bad weather
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Old 28-09-2010, 14:07   #7
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It won't be easy. Getting to Coinjock on the first day won't be a problem - just remember you have a lock and 2 bridges after the lock with restricted openings. Still, arriving in Coinjock even in slight darkness isn't bad.

The next day will be your problem. I've gone between Coinjock and Belhaven (behind the breakwater) multiple times in single shots. It's about 75 nm and there aren't many obstructions in the way to delay you. The passage is simple in the Spring with lots of daylight - much harder in the Fall. Then again though, the last few miles before Belhaven on the ICW are easy and well marked. And once inside the breakwater, there is a tremendous amount of room for anchoring.

Bottom line - in my opinion, you can make it but you'll be pushing the engine and you better get going as soon as possible out of Coinjock in the morning.
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Old 28-09-2010, 14:25   #8
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Dismal Swamp vs. Coinjock route

While the Dismal Swamp Canal looks beautiful, I thought it was conventional wisdom to avoid that when you're in a hurry. What are the pluses and minuses for that route?
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Old 28-09-2010, 14:41   #9
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Dismal Swamp Route Pros:

1. Pretty
2. Can stop at Elizabeth City for free dockage
3. Slightly shorter milage than Coinjock route

Cons:

1. Can only make it in one day to EC if you pass thru Gilmerton Bridge before 6:30 AM
2. No wake in the canal. Will slow down a power boat, but no problem for a sailboat.
3. Draft limited to 6'
4. Snags and deadheads. You will likely hit them several times along the way. I have done it several times with no damage, but??

David
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Old 28-09-2010, 14:50   #10
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The Virginia Cut route is faster than the swamp. No waiting for locks . The lock at Great Bridge doesn't have a schedule. Whichever route you take you'll still have to cross the Albemarle. Fog or heavy mist may be a problem this time of the year and that might prevent an early start. There are good anchorages along the way so if you don't have to go into a marina, go as far as you can each day and anchor when it gets dark. There are quite a few anchorages between Coinjock and the Albemarle so if you're in Coinjock early, keep going. Don't want to discourage you but I have sat in the big bay (North River?) just north of Albemarle sound for a couple of days waiting for weather in the past. Another delay is if there's a lot of traffic and you have to wait for stragglers to get a bridge opening where they open on request.. That wait is very frustrating! The closest marina to the Gilmerton Bridge is at Portsmouth, by the Hospital anchorage.
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Old 28-09-2010, 16:56   #11
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The next day will be your problem. I've gone between Coinjock and Belhaven (behind the breakwater) multiple times in single shots. It's about 75 nm and there aren't many obstructions in the way to delay you. The passage is simple in the Spring with lots of daylight - much harder in the Fall. Then again though, the last few miles before Belhaven on the ICW are easy and well marked. And once inside the breakwater, there is a tremendous amount of room for anchoring.
You don't have to go to Belhaven, there is plenty of anchorages in that area, both North/South, you can easily make Oriental in 1 day from anywhere south of the canal.
Tom
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Old 28-09-2010, 17:12   #12
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Remember, to get the most out of a day, it is easier to leave in the dark (AM), than to arrive and have to anchor in the dark (PM).
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Old 28-09-2010, 20:21   #13
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You are really pushing it to do it in 3 days. I have done it but never plan on being able to do it. Bridge openings and other things can wreck your schedule and then you are a day behind. Bridges have been known to be "out of operation" occasionally. Rule of thumb is if you "don't have to be there by XXXX, you will get there," but "if you have to be there by XXX, you won't make it."
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Old 28-09-2010, 20:36   #14
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You don't have to go to Belhaven, there is plenty of anchorages in that area, both North/South, you can easily make Oriental in 1 day from anywhere south of the canal.
Tom
Tom makes a really good point. Belhaven to Oriental will be an easier day. There are anchorages before Belhaven that you can use to shave some time off that second day and still be within striking distance of Oriental. These two will save an hour off the trip to Belhaven

There are also a couple of anchorages before the Alligator-Pungo Canal 20 miles to the "north" too. Those might make the third day a bit tough though.

There was some other incorrect information previously in the thread. Great Bridge lock is most surely on a schedule with Great Bridge bridge. It only allows boats to go through once per hour in each direction (unless you're commercial or government). Make sure to check out all the restrictions and information for the bridge and lock.

I still say that you'll need to leave Coinjock early. You'll have little to no help and the current can be strong through there. But it can be done.
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Old 29-09-2010, 06:12   #15
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Now that I remember that "long" run down the Alligator-Pungo Canal, I have stopped to anchor in Pungo Creek at the Green "23" marker just after you exit the canal. It is a nice place to duck into before the sun sets.
- - Also if there is still a little more light left just around the corner at the Green "15" is the Dowry Creek marina. I have stopped there and enjoyed the wonderful people who run the place.
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