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Old 03-09-2011, 03:28   #31
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

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Hi folks

I have just joind the forum so please be kind...
We have just bought our dream boat... we are UK residents and are due to retire early to liveaboard our Hunter 420... we are intending starting our journey from Bear in Delaware and aim to start in January. We have had conflicting advise regarding weather etc. We want to take it slow and see some of the East Coast before we head for the Bahamas and Caribbean. What is your experience of the ICW especially in January...

Sandra B

Hi Sandra B. We are also UK residents at present but moving to live aboard in Florida on our new to us boat there, the boss is American but I'm Brit. We had originally planned Hampton VA as our base, long story but we bought our new motor yacht (motor after 40 years of sail) in Florida and it is currently ashore in St Augustine waiting for us to get back having sold up here, expected time March. We will now stay in Florida and cruise the Bahamas etc from there 2012/13 after which we may stay or may go back up to Chesapeake for a while, or even do the snowbird commute, because Chesapeake has some really good cruising areas too good to miss.

Anyway, you made no mention of your general timescales. I can understand you wanting to go south in December but if you take your time (and why rush, there is plenty to see and do) you will be arriving in Florida southbound just as many will be thinking of heading north for summer and the hurricane season (June to end November).

So do you intend breaking your trip anywhere or is it Caribbean or bust straight off, if so will you stay there or get out of Dodge during the hurricane season? I'm asking because a bit of strategic dawdling now whilst headed south could get you back in synch with the seasons!
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Old 03-09-2011, 03:55   #32
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

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Hi Sandra B. We are also UK residents at present but moving to live aboard in Florida on our new to us boat there, the boss is American but I'm Brit. We had originally planned Hampton VA as our base, long story but we bought our new motor yacht (motor after 40 years of sail) in Florida and it is currently ashore in St Augustine waiting for us to get back having sold up here, expected time March. We will now stay in Florida and cruise the Bahamas etc from there 2012/13 after which we may stay or may go back up to Chesapeake for a while, or even do the snowbird commute, because Chesapeake has some really good cruising areas too good to miss.

Anyway, you made no mention of your general timescales. I can understand you wanting to go south in December but if you take your time (and why rush, there is plenty to see and do) you will be arriving in Florida southbound just as many will be thinking of heading north for summer and the hurricane season (June to end November).

So do you intend breaking your trip anywhere or is it Caribbean or bust straight off, if so will you stay there or get out of Dodge during the hurricane season? I'm asking because a bit of strategic dawdling now whilst headed south could get you back in synch with the seasons!
Welcome, Robin!
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:12   #33
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

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Welcome, Robin!
Hi Dockhead, been around a while but uncharacteristically quiet!

Moderator huh, now there's posh for you!
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:17   #34
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

We did the ICW in December and January last year and froze. I was afraid we would kill the dog it was so cold in the salon overnight. I would never do it again unless I had a heated full cockpit enclosure and a diesel heater down below. That said it is wonderful to be the only boat out there, no slowing down every five minutes to let a power boat pass, no uncontrolled wakes from idiots. And it is beautiful.

Because the days are short, you can't count on getting to a marina every night (nor could we afford to) so be prepared to stay warm anchored out.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:06   #35
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

in november of 09 i had ice on the decks in myrtle beach, could not get south fast enough . quick tip dont shut the door in the cabin when running your portable propane heater... or so I read. my memory is relly bad now....
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:20   #36
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Try and leave a month or so earlier. It is a beautiful trip but January could be freezing all the way through Florida!
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:07   #37
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Thumbs up Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

WOW!!!! what a fabulous welcome and huge response with very useful advice.
Thank you all very very much, we are really appreciative of your input. Too many replies to respond individually, but please belive me when I say a sincere thank you to each and every one.
We are desparate to get on board our boat and live the dream, we are nearing retirement ( well to be honest I am already old enough, my toy boy is retiring early... but not that early ). We cant wait to set off on our journey while we are still relatively young and fit enough to enjoy it. We do have a full enclosure and take on board all of the comments regarding heaters.
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:36   #38
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Hi
Thanks for your reply. We dont really have a strict timescale for being in the Caribbean other than not being in harms way when the hurricane season is on us. Do you have any suggested stopovers that we could include in our journey plan. We first thought that it would be wise to get out of Delaware as quick as we can as apparently they can get iced up mid January. But as to where we pick to have a couple of weeks stopover to complete some work on the hull and of course antifouling, we arent too sure. We bought the MAPTECH Chesapeake Bay to Florida Cruising Guide when we were in Delaware recently, just for reading up on our journey really, but due to the size didnt yet buy the ChartKit so although the cruising guide is helpful it woudl be better to have the chart to be able to see clearly what opportunities there are for breaks in the journey. But as I said at the top of all of this, we arent in any real hurry, no deadlines, no timesclaes other than those inflicted upon us by the weather. We also have to be aware of the timescales imposed by the visas.
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:55   #39
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Honestly, I have no experience in traveling to Intracoastal Waterway, but my advice to you is just take it slow before you go through and make sure that the climate is good to travel on that day.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:39   #40
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Sandra B - - boy, asking for recommendations for interesting places to stop from Delaware to Florida is like asking how many grains of sand there are on a beach. There are enough great/interesting places to stop that I have done the ICW from Delaware/Pennsylvania (where my kids live) twelve times and still there are many places I have missed and would like to stop and see.
- - Skipping over hundreds and only mentioning some of the highlights starts with Chesapeake City at the west end of the Chespeake and Delaware Canal; Baltimore inner harbor (recommend Anchorage Marina); Annapolis; Reedville; Hampton, Va (recommend Public Piers); Norfolk (recommend anchorage across from Waterside Marina); Coinjock (just because nobody knows where it is); Belhaven (recommend River Forest Marina); Oriental; Morehead City/Beaufort; Wrightsville Beach; Georgetown (recommend Harbor Walk Marina); Charleston; Beaufort SC (recommend Downtown Marina); Savannah (Recommend Thunderbolt Marina); Fernandina Beach (recommend Fernandina Harbor Marina); St Augustine; Daytona Beach; Titusville (Titusville City Marina - access to Kennedy Space Center); Cocoa (Cocoa Village Anchorage - I live there and you can visit Kennedy Space Center from there and also Cocoa Beach); Lake Worth/Palm Beach; Ft Lauderdale (recommend Las Olas or Ft Lauderdale City Docks); and Miami (Miami Beach anchorage and Biscayne Bay - Coconut Grove Marina/mooring field).
- - For planning purposes you can only do about 50 nm per day in the ICW so there are dozens of anchorages and smaller places to just spend the night then move on.
- - Also from Morehead City/Beaufort NC can can start doing "outside" in the Atlantic (when weather permits) over-nighters to chop off days if not weeks from parts of the trip. There are plenty of "inlets" to allow access back "inside" to visit the highlights mentioned.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:47   #41
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Always stop at places that nobody knows. Later when you talk about them act as if "everyone" knows exactly where they are and where to get the best soft shell crabs in the world!
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:55   #42
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

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Originally Posted by sandra_b View Post
Hi
Thanks for your reply. We dont really have a strict timescale for being in the Caribbean other than not being in harms way when the hurricane season is on us. Do you have any suggested stopovers that we could include in our journey plan. We first thought that it would be wise to get out of Delaware as quick as we can as apparently they can get iced up mid January. But as to where we pick to have a couple of weeks stopover to complete some work on the hull and of course antifouling, we arent too sure. We bought the MAPTECH Chesapeake Bay to Florida Cruising Guide when we were in Delaware recently, just for reading up on our journey really, but due to the size didnt yet buy the ChartKit so although the cruising guide is helpful it woudl be better to have the chart to be able to see clearly what opportunities there are for breaks in the journey. But as I said at the top of all of this, we arent in any real hurry, no deadlines, no timesclaes other than those inflicted upon us by the weather. We also have to be aware of the timescales imposed by the visas.
If you have a laptop on board, download OpenCPN which is the free charting program that even has a forum on here. Then go to NOAA which is the USA equivalent of the UKHO and there you can download all the USA charts in either Raster (paper lookalike) or Vector (C-Map style) formats, plus even the official USA Pilots. All of these are totally free to down load. The charts can be downloaded (completely free of charge) in sets by Coastguard Area or by State or individually. Once you have these charts in a file, go to 'tools/charts' in OpenCPN and browse the file listings to find your charts, click add or whatever and you now have it all to see.

I'm not sure what I would do, but I think your current plan will likely put you in the Caribbean in hurricane season, but that would also apply to all the east coast USA just that maybe the risk lessens farther north (except for Irene....) Our (USA) insurer wants an extra premium ($800) and a higher deductible (5% of value) for being south of Georgia between 1st June and 1st November each year, for 'named storms' but since the US National Hurricane Centre seem to name all storms from tropical on up to hurricane the insurers pretty well cover anything.

We were originally going to base ourselves in Hampton Virginia (Irene went right over it..) and yes they get cold weather and even snow at times, but at least the water stays wet not frozen and it is shortlived, a bit like in the UK but not for as long! Chesapeake Bay is a wonderful cruising area that it would be a pity to miss but Dec/Jan/Feb is not the best time for it, but then it doesn't get much warmer until you reach Florida and even then North Florida gets cold weather at times.

Not much help really, sorry! Now if you could either start fairly soon now and join the main snowbird rush southwards or go later, cruise gently and then spend the hurricane season say in Georgia above the insurer's magic line, or even pay up or risk it and spend the season in Florida where there are safe(r) places if needs be, it might be different. We will have a similar dilemma because I guess it will be late March 2012 before we get back to our boat in St Augustine FL and by the time we are fit and ready to go it will be too late to do justice to a Bahamas and Islands cruise. We will stay in Florida therefore with our home base being Daytona Beach and then head off for more southern places in December 2013, before returning to Daytona Beach by say end May 2013. There is the difference because ours is a return trip not a one way one and we will be permanent US residents.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:58   #43
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

the days will be cold and short until you make it to Florida .. possible ice and snow .. not sure i would do it but it is possible. winter storms will definitely play into your plans. i would try to move your trip up to november. good luck.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:18   #44
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

dont forget your skipper bobs. Its a must have publication for cruising the ditch.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:34   #45
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Re: Would You Travel the Intracoastal Waterway in January ?

Just curious as to why your strange schedule? Why not start in Delaware in the spring and head north to Maine for the summer, than south down the ICW and to the Bahamas in the fall like the birds sensibly do? Much more enjoyable trip doing that. Chances are you won't be sharing the water with anybody else, which might be to your liking, but you also won't have any other boaters to share good times with or ask questions of. Depending on the winter I have seen places like Annapolis harbor and even the northern stretches of the ICW around Norfolk with ice on the water. Annapolis sometimes freezes right over. Some friends once sent me a picture of their boat under a foot of snow in New Bern, North Carolina.
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