I delivered a Chaparral 350 Signature from Occoquan VA to Haverstraw NY, which is as close to your boat as I have any experience with; the Chaparral is a bit longer and a good bit heavier with twin Volvo
The trip is quite doable and likely to be fun. The NJ coast will be the longest bit, particularly if the weather
gets nasty. You should be able to make Atlantic Highlands at Sandy Hook to Cape May in one longish day if the seas aren't up too much. Have a chart book that covers all the NJ inlets and read up on each before you leave Sandy Hook. If you find that the day is just too long or you're getting pounded you'll want to have your options already in mind. Cape May to Baltimore
is a quite easy day. From Annapolis
to Norfolk is a day. From there down the ICW you start hitting no-wake zones.
I haven't run the ICW on a power boat
, so I'm extrapolating from my sail experience. On sailboats I try to carry enough fuel to only have to stop every third or fourth day since time in and out of marinas
has such a big impact on miles made good. I expect that the time isn't as much a factor for you, and that you can't carry that much fuel anyway. If you are comfortable anchoring
for the night you could stop for fuel midday (and maybe have a lunch break at the same time). That would let you start earlier in the morning (right after first light) and run later in the evening (picking your anchorage for the night to arrive shortly before sunset). If fuel consumption
allows that will really help with progress - an extra two or three hours a day adds up fast, even on a sailboat at 6 kts.
I really like the Kettlewell's Chartbook for the ICW (in addition to any electronics
you may have). The references
are good and the ability to get a bigger picture of what is in front of you is very helpful. The Skipper
Bob guide to Marinas is a good supplement and not terribly expensive. If I had to pick one it would be Kettlewell, but I also carry the Skipper
book (more valuable to me than the Marina book).
Find a way to keep your VHF
on so you can really HEAR the traffic, even on plane. Dual watch on 16 and 13 will help you a lot. The sailboats and big commercial
traffic talk to the bridges on 13 (is it a different channel in FL? It will be in the chartbook) and keeping track of them will warn of what is ahead.
Please, with all due respect, read up on slow passes. You have no idea how much that is appreciated. Also, if you don't slow down enough to stop plowing you actually generate more wake than if you stayed on plane. Of course in an overtaking scenario if the sailboat in front of you doesn't slow down a bit it's hard for a polite slow pass, isn't it? We all have to work
On your slow trip home try the Dismal Swamp Canal
instead of the Virginia Cut. It's lovely. The visitor's center is worth a stop - we really enjoyed it.