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Old 22-01-2016, 16:12   #1
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Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Hello everyone! We are planning a trip south from the St Johns River...Anyone experienced with the Intracoastal in Florida? We draw 6', we just want to see if there are any spots that others know about that we should avoid. Thanks in advance!
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Old 22-01-2016, 16:47   #2
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

I would not say that you need to avoid or bypass any section of the Florida ICW with a 6' draft, but there are areas to be cautious.

1- Matansas Inlet at ca. mile 793 - watch for the placement of nuns and cans. When in doubt, the deeper water is usually to the west side.
2- Ponce Inlet area at mile 839-840 - Once again watch for moved nuns and cans adjusted for shoaling.
3 - Mile 844 - Note Junction bouy GRC leaving it to port with 18 & 18A to starboard,- some are confused here.
4 - 987 to 989 - Be careful that strong cross currents at St. Lucie inlet don'e move you out of the channel.
5 - Jupiter Inlet - Be careful with calling the bidges (Jupiter 707 & Jupiter Federal) with your approach hastened by strong currents. Unless you are at slack, the current will reverse between these bridges.

I think these are the major cautions,- 'enjoy!
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Old 22-01-2016, 18:54   #3
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Its all clear sailing south of st johns river on the icw. The worst bit is from Indian river bridge to the crossroads but 6 feet is OK.

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Old 22-01-2016, 21:55   #4
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Thanks for the great info! We're looking forward to a nice trip down. Fair winds!
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Old 23-01-2016, 01:00   #5
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

I echo the Advice of Hudson Force. We draw 6.5 feet, but had no issue last year.
I found Active Captain useful. Its a good early warning system so at least you have time to slow the boat and make your own assessment, helpful in finding the deeper anchoring spots too.

Mike
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Old 23-01-2016, 08:45   #6
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Talking Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

I second the Active Captain information/advice. It helped us tremendously on our (first) trip down the ICW. If you do not have it, get one of the apps for your smartphone so you can have it at the helm while off line and traveling.
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Old 23-01-2016, 09:21   #7
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

With a 6-foot draft, I'm going to assume you have a sailboat.

From Hobe Sound on south to Miami, you will encounter 36 drawbridges that you need to raise (and wait for openings). About 27 of them are from West Palm Beach on south. Can you say tedious?

Also, if that deep keel is accompanied by a tall mast, there is a 56-foot fixed bridge in Miami. If you can't fit under it, you need to turn around, go back to Fort Lauderdale and go outside.

It's always faster and better to sail or motor on the outside if the weather is OK. Stay in 40 feet of water or so to catch a southbound current that often runs there. Use the big inlets (Lake Worth, Port Everglades, Miami) because the smaller ones range from tricky to dangerous.

Near Haulover Inlet in Miami-Dade County, the ICW is always shoaling. I've seen boats with 4.5-foot draft scrape bottom there. You need to check the status if you pass by.

If you are heading into the Keys on the Florida Bay side, any draft over 5 feet becomes a problem. Once you're near Islamorada, it will be damn near impossible, unless you find super-high tides and some routes I don't know about.

You would need to stay in Hawk's Channel on the Atlantic side. the downside there is that there are fewer good anchorages than the Florida Bay side.

If you are still looking for a boat, as your status indicates, shallower draft is better in Florida.

Good luck.
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Old 23-01-2016, 09:54   #8
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Great added info from Sanachie,- I wasn't considering anything past Fort Lauderdale. What is your destination?

If you're close to the vertical clearance at the Julia Tuttle Bridge, then you'll find an extra 1 to 2 feet outside the center blue steel span.

We like the countercurrent southbound outside from Lake Worth to Miami, but sometimes it's hard to find.

The statement about the bridges being tedious is a personal interpretation. We rarely have impatience with bridges, but then we have a number of stops where we like to stay a visit with friends along that "hometown " route.

We have a shoal draft and often move out to Hawk's Channel at Angelfish Creek, but with a 6' draft you would do best staying outside after either Government Cut or Florida Passage south of Key Biscayne.

Do you have plans for anchorages along your route? Do you have provisioning needs along your route? Are you cruising on a restricted time schedule? 'interested in some time consuming entertainment diversions along the way? I ask this because we rarely cruise with the purpose of getting to a destination. There are many places to enjoy at stops along the way.
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Old 23-01-2016, 12:03   #9
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Thanks for the reference to Active Captain. Was not aware of it and it looks helpful.
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Old 23-01-2016, 12:37   #10
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

As noted 56' fixed bridge in Miami. South of Miami markings are not great. Great chance of your grounding. Far better to go outside at Ft. Lauderdale and stay out un til Marathon. No bridge delays, no shallows. Hope you enjoy your trip.
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Old 23-01-2016, 14:38   #11
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Thanks to everyone for such great advice! We're heading towards the Keys once we start moving. Considering doing a bit of the ICW and also some on the outside. We were aware of the bridge in Miami because we almost bought a boat there and were planning on heading north. Plans changed and now we're heading the other way! Again, thank you very much.
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Old 23-01-2016, 16:05   #12
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in Florida

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy Geckos View Post
Hello everyone! We are planning a trip south from the St Johns River...Anyone experienced with the Intracoastal in Florida? We draw 6', we just want to see if there are any spots that others know about that we should avoid. Thanks in advance!

Been up and down the ICW in Florida many times and it's one of the better maintained segments of the Waterway.
Only time I've had draft problems is in Lake Worth when looking to anchor. Easy to run aground, so proceed with caution and you will eventually find good anchoring. Good news is Florida is nearly all sand. Bad news~~Marinas are inordinately expensive.
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