Yes, I have spent almost 20 years S of the Yucatan
now, but...I spent a large part of my life prior along the coasts of the GOM. Ive run almost all of the ICW from TX to SW FL, but its been a long while ago. So, I know that part of the OPs route too. Ive also sailed from Florida
to Bay Islands, the next leg of the OPs adventure. So here is a start on my 2c.
I agree that in a smallish planing hull
power vessel that a mostly inside route is going to be better. Adding a dog to that, even more so. In a sailing vessel you could just straight shot to Key West
which is of course much shorter. However, offshore
in a planing hull
would concern me...if the conditions get to rough to get up on plane then you are at a distinct disadvantage. So, I would seek to minimize offshore
First: pick up a copy of the "Waterway Guide", it contains detailed current
info on the ICW route.
The TX to LA section is pretty bland (with a few exceptions) so I would seek to mostly just knock that leg out quickly. It is has the heaviest commercial
traffic so exercise caution. Small boat marinas
are few and far between as are places to anchor
...so the speed potential of this boat is a plus. A couple of good stops along this route are Houma, LA and Morgan
City. Both are fun stops with the opportunity to tie up and visit the town. However, be aware that Morgan
City is a significant commercial
port, the approaches are a dangerous place to be in a small boat
. Check in with VTC and be very cautious so you dont get squashed.
Crossing the Mississippi
River is an interesting exercise. I grew up on the Big Muddy, it is a powerful, potentially dangerous river, with lots of commercial traffic and sometims big debri like floating trees. The Waterway Guide has all the details.
A little bit of local knowledge on the Mississippi
. If you spot a small tree branch sticking out of the water
and being unusually stable...there is likely a whole submerged tree attached too! Also get familiar with the bouyage system and rules of the road...they are both different that other near coastal/inland areas. The currents in the Mississippi can be extreme...like whirlpools the size of houses extreme best to watch for extreme current
features and avoid them.
Once you clear the locks into the New Orleans
area you have just entered a much more pleasurable leg of the ICW.
More to follow...