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Old 12-02-2013, 12:18   #1
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Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

Can anyone relay any info on if its reasonable to take the ditch from Beaufort, NC to Norfolk in a Beneteau 40.7? I am taking 3 small children north to Newport in July and would like to avoid the Hatteras rounding by taking the ICW for a short bit. The boat draws 7'9" and has a 61' rig. I have heard that it is totally impossible and that it is completely reasonable - both from experienced trusted sources!

I understand the changing depth issues with the ICW and that nothing is guaranteed. I just need to know if anyone has any info that would say it is not possible, unreasonable, asking for trouble, etc. Or, if there are any folks out there who have done it, do it, doing it, etc.

Kids are too young to stand watch (6,5 & 3) and its a sketchy proposition from Beaufort to the next deep water class "A" inlet unless everything really falls into place weather wise.....
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:53   #2
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

A close friend just completed singlehanding from Beaufort to Norfolk in an IP 44 with a 6' draft. He did not run aground once - this time! I don't know his masthead height. 8" draft is another story. I purchased Chuck Baier and Susan Landry's The Great Book of Anchorages about the ICW from Hampton Roads to the Keys. It may be a useful guide to read before you head out. I would NEVER go outside around Hatteras alone with 3 small children unless I had a seaworthy nanny and at least one other crew member. Been caught there when the stuff hit the fan. Not fun.
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Old 12-02-2013, 13:34   #3
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

I ran aground a few times during my run down it from October thru December just gone. I didnt need tows to get off, they were just bumps.

I have a 6 foot darft and really think any deeper would be difficult without local knowledge.

Not only that, its a boring run. theres no towns, bar two or three on the ICW, they are all off it. Theres one great secluded area that I stayed for a week. apart from that it just gets to be a very long haul, especially as I was doing it solo. From Charleston I started hopping outside... to Savanah and then to St Augsutine. Inside to Ft Lauderdale then outside to Key West.

At 7 ft 9 you will have a slow go down, bumping every so often with risk of being high and dry. You cant predict the tides or currents easily. The mast height is fine.
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Old 12-02-2013, 13:58   #4
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

8 foot draft is to much by about 2 feet. If you wander out of the channel center in some places it gets shallow quick, with a 6' keel you can just head back to the middle with no worries. Many places you would have to go wait for high tide and still not make it. 8' is not a ICW boat. I draw 5' and really dont need to run with tides in mind, but every once in a while i notice I'm in 6 feet of water.
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Old 12-02-2013, 14:41   #5
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

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Originally Posted by RabidRabbit View Post
8 foot draft is to much by about 2 feet. If you wander out of the channel center in some places it gets shallow quick, with a 6' keel you can just head back to the middle with no worries. Many places you would have to go wait for high tide and still not make it. 8' is not a ICW boat. I draw 5' and really dont need to run with tides in mind, but every once in a while i notice I'm in 6 feet of water.
I have no plan of doing any ICW and like the high performance sailing with amenities so this boat is perfect EXCEPT for this instance. My wife is a good sailor but Hatteras is a different story when we both may need to be on deck with small kids below. Really just want to avoid it for this one trip. After this we go south from Charleston with no real worries.

So I guess we'll need extra hands for the leg around the Cape or hopefully someone will have some secret to get us through the ditch with the keel intact......hmmmm
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Old 12-02-2013, 14:58   #6
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

That's not one of the particularly bad sections of the ICW for water depth. It might be possible to get through there with an 8' draft, but since your original question was "if it's reasonable" I would have to say no. I think there are a lot of places where you can only pass at dead high tide with no places to anchor nearby and wait. Places like the Pungo-Alligator canal you could easily be forced out of the center of the channel to avoid a deadhead and then find yourself stuck and blocking traffic for everyone else.

20 years ago you could have done it, but today the Army Corp of Engineers just doesn't have the funding to keep up with the waterway.
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Old 12-02-2013, 15:00   #7
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

You asked about the ICW, and I told you.
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Old 12-02-2013, 15:22   #8
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

I have done the Norfolk to Beaufort section four times with 6'8" draft on a Cal 39. I had no problems whatsoever but you draw a foot more. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 12-02-2013, 15:56   #9
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

That stretch, north of Oriental, NC or thereabouts, only gets a few inches of tide until you get to Norfolk; water depths are more affected by wind. What that means for you is that weather may help you if you have time to wait for it. It also means that once a stretch has been dredged, shoaling is less of a concern than at inlets with more tidal variation further south. Some pretty good-size commercial shipping goes through there - they don't particularly want to go around Hatteras either. I don't recall any really bad spots when we came up there this spring, but we only need 5 feet, so I might not have noticed something that would be a concern for you. Fair winds, whichever way you go.
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Old 12-02-2013, 16:34   #10
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

I think you could probably just do it from Beaufort north to Norfolk as that is one of the deeper ICW stretches. I personally love that stretch of the ICW. It has a little bit of everything: open bays and sounds for sailing, canals, a lock, wild anchorages with nobody around if you want them, wildlife. The worst area would be the long Alligator-Pungo Canal, and you would have to stay right in the center. Still, I bet you would hit a few times. Take care at the Wilkerson Bridge too--it is charted at 64 feet, but I have seen as little as 62 feet there during times of high water. Also, be very careful to follow the marked channel when leaving the Alligator River and entering Albemarle Sound--that is a favorite spot to go aground. On the other hand, where are you in Beaufort? It might be hard getting to the inlet from the downtown marina without going aground.
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Old 13-02-2013, 18:30   #11
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

Thanks everyone for responding so thoughtfully. If anyone travels that stretch anytime soon please let me know what you see. Doesn't sound encouraging so far.
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Old 13-02-2013, 18:44   #12
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We took a seven (7) fit draft from Norfolk to Morehead City in nov 12

Bumped twice but no problems
Active captain is your friend... We rarely saw less than 9 ft and suspect you'll have no problems if you each your tides...

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Old 13-02-2013, 19:15   #13
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

Quick question. If the Allegator-Pungo is so bad, why not just run down through the Pamlico Sound behind Roanoak Island? Isn't that a viable alternative?

Don't have my charts handy but was loooking at this a couple of weeks ago and thought I would do the later route, more interesting. IF I was to do the ICW. But that's up to the Wife. If not, then I'm goin elsewhere.
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Old 13-02-2013, 20:25   #14
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

Norfolk around Cape Hatteras is only 24 hours fast motor. Why risk your boat running aground? 140nms Norfolk to Cape H and an extra 60 to Cape Lookout.

The ICW is not very interesting in that area so its just a transit.
whereas waiting in Norfolk for a weather window is OK as the marina is cheap, and the city is quite pleasant. Free anchorage outside the marina too...

but, yes tugs with barges do the trip, but they have the route exact and run 24 hours... where I hit bottom in Oriental Marina and Aligator River Marina... and I only draw 6 foot.
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Old 14-02-2013, 05:18   #15
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Re: Realistic expectations for deep draft on the ICW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Berg View Post
We took a seven (7) fit draft from Norfolk to Morehead City in nov 12

Bumped twice but no problems
Active captain is your friend... We rarely saw less than 9 ft and suspect you'll have no problems if you each your tides...

Scott
Active captain? Is this nav software? We use iPad with navionics. Is this other one better?
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