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Old 23-06-2020, 18:20   #1
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ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

I will be bound for the Florida east coast with a 45 Hunter that has a 5 foot draft.

Leaving Virginia, I will travel the ICW passed the capes to Beaufort NC.

Would a 5 foot draft be an issue if I continued on rhe ICW through South Carolina and Georgia?
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Old 23-06-2020, 18:28   #2
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

General info, GA has 8-9' tides and a few places in the past were 3-4' at low tide. Don't have the latest but you can find updates on shoaling and problem areas online at waterwayguide and active captain.
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Old 23-06-2020, 18:28   #3
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

5 draft should not pose a problem and play the tides but what is your air draft, mast height.
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Old 23-06-2020, 19:36   #4
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

I did this trip many years ago with a 6' draft and ran aground so many times, I swore I would never, ever use the ICW again for any reason.

Tides and currents around the various inlets are a huge problem. GA especially, has monster tide differences, and shoals which grow and move on a daily basis. Back then draw bridges were a big issue, but these days not so much, nonetheless, most bridges have a height restriction of around 65' air draft.

Plan on fighting a current against you for at least half the day somewhere.

If you run aground (and you will) on a falling tide, you can expect to be there for the next 12 hours...

The trick is to always keep an eye looking backwards to tell if you are still in the channel. Often times, a sideways current will push you to one side, but if you only look ahead you won't notice this until too late.

There are numerous inlets along the coast. My advice is to consider going outside. Some inlets are a day sail, others an overnighter....

If you chose to stay inside, each day's run must take into account a place where you intend to stop for the night, be it an anchorage or marina. Though you may be able to go over x miles, you may have to plan that in 2 stages to take into account your overnight stay.

Expect about 2 weeks to do the trip to N. Florida, and that is going balls to the wall every day. A more relaxed timetable, would give you more stopping options.

Going offshore can cut this trip down to a few overnighters. This time of the year, there is little risk of adverse weather.

Don't forget about fuel stops.

Forget about sailing the ICW, this is motoring trip, at about 6 knots, 12 hours a day, you are going to be sick of listening to that engine.

Absolutely, without question, become a Boat/US member so that you can call the towboats if you run into a problem, otherwise it can cost you an arm and a leg.

Somebody needs to be at the wheel at all times. A moment's distraction can cause you to be aground in seconds.

Some parts of the ICW are wide and markers are a long way distant from each other.
Other part of the ICW is a manmade channel thru' all sorts of bottom and is narrow.

If you see a tug/barge coming your way, they are going to hog the middle of the channel, meaning you must move to the side. Beware !!. If the ICW is at a curve when this encounter happens, be doubly aware.

There are many powerboats on the ICW. They are going to rock your brains out when they pass. Any glass or cup or drink is going to fall over when they pass.

If going offshore makes you nervous, consider hiring a delivery captain. These are pro's and do these trips all the time and they will have you safe and sound to wherever you want to go in no time and half the cost of an ICW trip.
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Old 23-06-2020, 19:40   #5
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

Thank you for the info on draft. My mast is 57 foot so I should be good to go with a lot of bug spray. Thanks guys
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Old 23-06-2020, 21:48   #6
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

Mast height is fine. You will touch bottom, probably multiple times in sc. Mostly around inlets, but its "fluffy mud" as long as you be cautious with speed you should be fine.
Georgia has a lot of winding and switchbacks. You dont cover as much ground inside as the crow flies, but it's easy going.
We did chesepeak to lake worth inside on the way down in the fall. This may we ran outside from fort pierce to morehead NC. So easy to guess my desire to run inside again but it sure is easier with the gulf stream. Southbound would be tough
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Old 23-06-2020, 22:08   #7
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

Been half a year since I did it, but 5' draft just the same, I also sailed lots of it, and did get a little greedy going outside the track for some tacks, only time I stirred some sand, never needed a tow however.
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Old 24-06-2020, 04:01   #8
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

I did this trip a year and a half ago. Used one of the ICW guide books and soon found it was easier to track the deeper water using my depth finder. Ran aground using the guide in mcclellanville, sc, once I went to finding the deep water my self never grounded again. Keep an eye on hellgate, GA. Lots of marker errors and confusing intersections, Amelia Island, FL, south of Georgetown, SC, and Shallotte, NC comes to mind. Morehead city, NC to Stuart, FL took 19 days with 2 lay days, motoring from day break to dusk, balls to the wall.
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Old 24-06-2020, 04:10   #9
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

The ICW at McClellanville and Hell Gate has been dredged; a few other places too, but I don't remeber which, off hand.

AquaMap USA with the "Master" option includes Coprs of Army Engineers survey maps overlaid onto the marine charts, and we found that very useful for our ICW trips over this last winter.

Timing some specific area transits with the tides is very useful.

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Old 24-06-2020, 05:24   #10
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

There's much good advice above. I would add just two concerns about this ICW trip. There are two locations where it could be risky to meet large commercial traffic. One is the short, but narrow and swift current Elliot Cut just south of Charleston, SC between the Wahoo Creek Bridge and the Stono River. The other is the rock cut sometimes called the "rockpile" at North Myrtle Beach. This stretch has a rocky ledge outside the center that can be unseen at higher tide. At these locations it would be wise to call on your VHF inquiring about any large commercial traffic approaching you before you commit to the passage.
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Old 24-06-2020, 06:23   #11
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

The trick to a successful ICW trip, is really to have time on your side and carefully plan each leg. This way you can time your trip to take advantage of tides, weather and other factors, stopping for some sight seeing, etc. A month is an appropriate time. Two weeks is the absolute bare minimum.

Each leg of your trip needs to take careful planning as explained above.

But, you bought a sailboat, why not use the sails ? I'm flummoxed at people that buy sailboats and then motor them everywhere.

Going outside is a pleasure in my opinion, it is mostly hassle free, you can leave the helm to walk around. You can use the auto pilot to do all the grunt work. You can sail at night, you can rest, you can read, etc. You will never be more than a few miles offshore...it's not like an ocean passage. You can even motor offshore or at least have the main up and motorsail. You will do much better time, the positives are endless.

I realize that newcomers can get nervous about sea conditions.....but honestly, you are unlikely to see seas higher than 3-4' and these will likely be spaced far apart, a more common height is probably 2'. At night, seas and winds generally lay down, and most often you will get a nice westerly land breeze, making for smooth sailing.

From my point of view, the ICW is a stressful endeavor and going offshore is relatively stress free.

Hands down, I would suggest hiring a delivery captain. Beside a quicker trip, this will also give you the needed confidence to tackle this kind of stuff in future trips.
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Old 24-06-2020, 06:26   #12
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

You have a sailboat - go outside and sail. It's a comfortable overnighter to Southport. Another overnighter to Charleston, and another overnighter to Brunswick/Jacksonville.
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Old 24-06-2020, 06:29   #13
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

Atlantic is calm this time of year, and sometimes you can catch a southbound current just offshore. Lots of skinny water in GA and as others have noted, the big tidal range means swift currents in the ICW, if you catch calm weather you would be best to make an overnight run offshore going outside at Charleston and come back in at JAX. Check out Myrtle Beach webcams to view conditions in the Atlantic

https://www.surfchex.com/cams/carolina-beach-web-cam/

https://www.surfchex.com/cams/folly-beach-web-cam/
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Old 24-06-2020, 06:29   #14
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

We just came north through that area last week, we draw 4’4” and had ample depth, I would think you would be fine at 5’ . Get Bob423’s tracks from his blog, that info can be over layed onto the Aqua Map app get Aqua map master for $20.00 and you can access the army Corp of engineers charts as well. It will be easy peasy.

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Old 24-06-2020, 06:32   #15
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Re: ICW south bound of Beaufort NC

I just did the northbound a few weeks ago with 4 feet draft and didn't have any issues.
As suggested above, Aquamaps app is great. Army Corp surveys are recent, the interface is easy and it is just a pleasure to use.
Also, Kettlewell's ICW Chartbook is worth every penny - it is a flip book of long narrow charts of the ICW with some surrounding areas and inlets in an appendix. I wouldn't do the trip without it...
If you have competent crew than outside is the way to go, my trip was singlehanded sailing.
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