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Old 26-10-2021, 13:54   #1
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Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

Hi ! We sailed around Hatteras when we sailed up to the Chesapeake from Florida but want to sail from Norfolk to Beaufort thru the ICW. Can it be done on a Hunter legend 40.5 sailboat with draft 5.5 feet and mast 63feet and 6 inches . Our two fears are running aground and not making it under fixed bridges . Thank you for all the help !
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Old 26-10-2021, 14:04   #2
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

Hi
Draft not a problem. Did the trip recently with 7 feet of draft. Air draft may be! Measure your boat's mast height very carefully. Consider the stuff on top of the mast, too.
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Old 26-10-2021, 14:19   #3
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

We are 6-1/2’ and 62’ and came through in June.
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Old 27-10-2021, 04:57   #4
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

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Originally Posted by SailingHappy View Post
Can it be done on a Hunter legend 40.5 sailboat with draft 5.5 feet and mast 63feet and 6 inches . Our two fears are running aground and not making it under fixed bridges .
Use the Waterway Guide and ActiveCaptain to scope out low spots in advance, then plan your passage through those at mid tide or higher. I prefer mid tide rising, when possible.

Most of the skinniest areas are in GA and further south in SC, though...

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Old 27-10-2021, 05:07   #5
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

The two 'low' bridges between Norfolk and Beaufort are Pungo Ferry and Wilkerson, which both are often around 64' and have very little diurnal tides. The water level is mostly driven by wind for those two bridges so if the water level is high it may stay that way for more than a matter of hours. However, I have made that trip three times on a boat with a 63.5' air draft and did not have a problem with those two bridges. I did run into problems with some bridges in FL on those trips.

The Pungo Ferry bridge is currently reported as having construction activity that is scheduled, at least according to one report, to last till mid-November. One cruiser snagged a cable hanging below the bridge and tore off his wind instruments. That was about two weeks ago IIRC. Information about the construction is very scarce with most I found focusing the impact to cars.
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Old 27-10-2021, 09:03   #6
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

I have made that trip 3 times on Sagacity. I draw 5'9" and have air draft of 63'6" with 2' vhf antenna on top of that. The last time I went under the wilkerson bridge my antenna flexed when it hit the top of the bridge. The bridge does have the height clearly marked and it seems to be accurate. There are no tides up on that part of the intercoastal. Difference in height of ICW water in that area is driven by the wind. It has been a while but I believe I remember the gentleman in bellview at the marina telling me that - winds from the west and north drive out the water and winds from the east and south drive water in. Pay attention and you should be ok.
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Old 27-10-2021, 11:03   #7
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

My wife and I have taken this inside route between the Chesapeake and Beaufort more than two dozen times; however, with more clearance above and below than you.

You will have ample bridge clearances with the exception of unusually high tides that come with some weather events and, although you will likely have an occasion to sample the bottom with your keel, there will sure to be a little deeper water to your port or starboard. Fortunately, the bottom of the ICW along this route is forgiving sand or mud.

There are several important cautions to bear in mind that will help you prevent groundings in the ICW:
1- Avoid traveling during the highest tide in areas known to be shoaling. At other times you will always be able to wait for a higher tide to free you.
2- Attempt to pilot a course that follows the best fit curve between the red and green markers opposed to directing your passage from one marker to the next.
3- Keep in mind that shifting currents and sometimes winds will mean that the direction that you a travelling will not always match the direction that your bow is pointing. Using parallax to establish your course made good is VERY important in ICW piloting. This means that any markers that you wish to leave to starboard should appear to move to the right against the shore behind them and those that you wish to leave to port should move left relative to their background. Markers that remain stationary relative to the land behind them are the ones that you are heading for directly. This sounds simplistic, but it needs to be regularly observed.
3- Watch for nuns and cans that have their positions changed to adapt to shifting shoals in the areas of inlets.
4- Your depth sounder can be a useful tool, but don't over react to a falling depth indication. If you are following the best possible route the depth will be decreasing one half of the time during your entire passage!
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:15   #8
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

We are leaving from Kent Narrows, MD for Florida early next week. Nov. 7 or 8...?
Does anyone has done this ICW passage from Norfolk to Morehead City lately?
I have done it several times without having problems with the bridges. Our Beneteau 461 has 60' air draft. I am worried about bridge closings for maintenance. Seems to me the Notice to Mariners changes often. The repair on the Pungo Ferry bridge is supposed to be over by Nov. 6. True ?! The closures on the two railroad bridges in Norfolk is bid confusing to me.? Also there are some notices published about the I-64 bridge and Great Lock Bridge..
Any help from a recent transit is very much appreciated.
s/v BELVEDERE
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Old 02-11-2021, 15:55   #9
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

We have the same mast height. Any other year I would say no problem. But this year has some reduced bridge heights(due to construction hanging nets) on that route.
We just passed thru Norfolk today and turned into the dismal swamp route to avoid the issue. We are currently anchored at the first lock, so I will have better info in the next couple days.
Send me a pm if you want any updates
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Old 02-11-2021, 17:13   #10
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

Thanks for the info. I always avoided the Dismal Swamp because we draw 6 feet.
Please keep me posted.
Thanks again
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Old 02-11-2021, 18:02   #11
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

Currently at AYB in Chesapeake; all bridges open/opening on schedule for now; yes, there is some falsework below Alligator Pungo I'm told; will find out tomorrow. It's listed in LNM and the USCG is making announcements on 22A VHF
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Old 02-11-2021, 18:09   #12
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

Thanks Scott,
Safe travel keep us posted please.
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Old 03-11-2021, 14:38   #13
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Re: Sailing Norfolk to Beaufort through ICW

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Thanks for the info. I always avoided the Dismal Swamp because we draw 6 feet.
Please keep me posted.
Thanks again
We are now in Elizabeth city. The swamp was beautiful, I recommend it! I did get a few depth readings really close to 6 foot.(within an inch or two) so that is something to watch. Otherwise it was great. No fast movers, nobody passing, no wakes to deal with and easy and free tie ups.
2 lift bridges, 2 locks(each worked in conjunction) and one fixed 65. Way easier than Virginia cut, prettier too.
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