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Old 23-08-2018, 05:17   #1
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We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Hi all, new to the forum. My wife and I have always dreamed of sailing away to southern FL and the Bahamas. I have chartered a half a dozen times with friends. Probably sailed a dozen times up to a 45 ft all Chesapeake bay. We work remote and want to buy a used 30 ft and go down the ICW from Baltimore to FL. The question is HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO I NEEED TO TRAVEL THE ICW? Also, as a new sailor and new live aboard, what other info should I be considering in our quest?
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Old 23-08-2018, 06:06   #2
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

If you can read a map, you have the most fundamental qualification. Whether you know how to properly run, manage, maintain and pay for everything and enjoy living long-term on a small, cramped and humid box takes some experience to actually know. There are too many used boats for sale here in Florida and the Bahamas by people who's dream didn't live up to the reality.
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Old 23-08-2018, 06:28   #3
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Part of the allure is to travel the ICW. However, I want to be sure there are no unforeseen skills that I must acquire before traveling outside of the Chesapeake Bay.
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Old 23-08-2018, 06:35   #4
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaultheRealtor View Post
The question is HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO I NEEED TO TRAVEL THE ICW? Also, as a new sailor and new live aboard, what other info should I be considering in our quest?

All aspects of boat maintenance can take up more time than navigation, depending on what you're starting with.

Navigation isn't all that difficult -- I only ran aground once, on our last trip back north -- and as long as you know and follow COLREGSs the trip itself doesn't need to be stressful.

-Chris
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Old 23-08-2018, 08:31   #5
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Buy an ICW chart book. Makes planning your daily runs easy. Overnight anchoring is best done with anchors fore and aft, close to but outside the channel, just behind a marker is good. Know how to talk to bridge operators using your VHF, search net on key points. Should be a nice trip especially if you plan nights and fuel stops.
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Old 23-08-2018, 08:40   #6
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

There are towing services (Towboat US and the other whose name escapes me now) that you can buy a yearly membership for. They will pull you off a sandbar that you managed to find. Good insurance to have and not expensive. Shoaling is a problem in parts of the ICW so do your research on recent changes to depths. If you apply commonness and reading you should be fine.
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Old 23-08-2018, 09:49   #7
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

You probably don't want to hear this but better you know what to expect. Having lived aboard and delivered boats over many years there will be some scary times.
1) Make sure you have UPDATED paper charts, ICW chart books are OK but you MUST update them
2) Have at least one GPS chart plotter display
3) Download charts for every smartphone on board and know how to use them
4) Up north the scariest thing will be the big ships, stay away from them and call them if you get worried about their intentions
5) Experienced skippers, including myself, will tell you sailing at night is the least stressful but to the inexperienced, it can be VERY stressful so don't do it in the ICW until you comfortable
6) Don't even consider doing a channel with shifting sand at night, this is mostly a Florida problem, and try to have the sun aft with someone on the bow
7) Narrow inlets WILL have VERY strong currents and standing waves at times so make sure you calculate the slack times
8) Understand the bottom when anchoring and use the correct anchor type, too heavy is better than to light, set it well and always set an anchor alarm. I could write a book on anchoring as most new cruisers don't even set an anchor without it chafing on the bow roller.
9) Keep the radio on channel 16 unless you are anchored, and get the weather forecast at least daily
10) Have a FLOATING ditch bag near the companionway with a VHF in doubled freezer bags, regularly changed spare batteries and several small dive lights that use the same AA batteries. Reflecting tarp, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, seasickness suppositories and other drugs I won't mention (just lookup what fighter pilots use)
11) Coastguard flairs are cheap and keep you legal but make you have some Solas ones (hand, parachute, and smoke) to actually use (many years out of date are OK so try to get them second hand and know how to use them)
12) Have some kind of dingy and an abandon ship plan, I won't get into the argument what is best
12) Take either the Coastguard Auxillary or Power Squadron course
I could go on but you get the idea
-Vic
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Old 23-08-2018, 09:55   #8
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

I am planning a similar run, from NY to Florida's West Coast in early Spring 2019. Apart from the waterway guides, charts, etc. there are two very excellent books (available in e-form on Amazon) that I've read and strongly recommend to anyone contemplating the trip . One is "Life's a Ditch" by CLR Dougherty - he and his wife made the liveaboard decision and departed from the Chesapeake into the ICW. It is extremely well written and a wonderful narrative of their lifestyle transition and their ICW journey. The other title is "What's Up, Ditch?" written by Chris DiCroce. He and his wife are also liveaboards and have traversed the ICW six times. This book is really a wealth of practical "what to expect" observations and a really informative, helpful guide. I plan to keep this book with me and consult it frequently when I make the journey. PS- His wife works full time and remotely from the boat and this book covers how she does it.


Best of luck to you and maybe we'll meet in the Bahama's one day!!!
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Old 23-08-2018, 10:49   #9
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Good luck. The ICW is a great place to start. You'll be relying on the engine a lot, so pay special attention to the fuel system before setting out. Easily the #1 cause of issues on a diesel, and dealing with clogged filters on a narrow, bridgespan-infested waterway is not much fun!

Lot's a great places to jump out for an afternoon or day along the way, just don't suddenly decide you're ready to round Hatteras like this guy: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ns-204961.html
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Old 23-08-2018, 10:52   #10
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

It is a motoring thing, you’ll rarely sail. That is fine just pick a boat with a good strong motor in good shape.
There are bazillions of mid 30’s boats to pick from, and at very little cost too.
Anyone got a link to the Brit guy who did the ICW on a 30ish Boat he bought for next to nothing? Very informative videos I think.
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Old 23-08-2018, 11:44   #11
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

Paul:

The ICW is a pain for being shallow. There are places that we have to go through at high tide, because we have a 5 ft draft.

The other recommendation is, if you go aground hard and try to get yourself off with some effort, you can do damage to the boat. We learned the hard way and will now call a towing service if this happens again.
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Old 23-08-2018, 13:15   #12
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

You have lots of good advice. I am a big fan of Active Captain for general boater advice, especially for good anchorages. If you plan to stay out of marinas, plan your anchorages well, practice your anchor setting skills, and watch the weather. Even the ICW gets nasty, usually only ruining a good night sleep if you keep dragging.
Another good app - Drag Queen. It keeps you from getting up at night to see if you are dragging.

I wouldn't rule out going outside on nice days, mostly to avoid waiting for bridges with mast.

Keep the dream alive; we love the Bahamas and Keys.
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Old 23-08-2018, 18:36   #13
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

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Originally Posted by GeneM View Post
You have lots of good advice. I am a big fan of Active Captain for general boater advice, especially for good anchorages. If you plan to stay out of marinas, plan your anchorages well, practice your anchor setting skills, and watch the weather. Even the ICW gets nasty, usually only ruining a good night sleep if you keep dragging.
Another good app - Drag Queen. It keeps you from getting up at night to see if you are dragging.

I wouldn't rule out going outside on nice days, mostly to avoid waiting for bridges with mast.

Keep the dream alive; we love the Bahamas and Keys.
ACTIVE CAPTAIN IS GREAT, BUT MUCH LESS NOW THAT THEY SOLD OUT TO GARMIN. ALL YOU NEED IS A TABLET WITH INTERNAL GPS AND A DOWNLOADED NAV PROGRAM, PREFERABLY WITH ACTIVE CAPTAIN OVERLAYS OF ANCHORAGE. FOLLOW THE BOUYS - ALWAYS.

ICW IS A PIECE OF CAKE. WATCH THE CUT SOUTH OF CHARLESTON, ON A MOVING TIDE THE CURRENT CAN BE TREACHEROUS. OTHER WISE IT'S BLISSFUL.
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Old 24-08-2018, 06:36   #14
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

You should check out this blog from Bob Sherer. It was a recommendation from Active Captain. He also published a cruising guide to the ICW. Great and very up to date information.

Cruising Down the ICW 2018: ICW - Some Tips
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Old 24-08-2018, 15:33   #15
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Re: We are about to buy a live aboard and navigate the icw. YIKES!

There's very little SAILING in the ICW. Mostly tacking and motoring. Consider a trawler.
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