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Old Yesterday, 08:33   #46
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

My 28 foot sailboat with about 4 feet of draft and an 18 hp M3-20 averaged about 6 mph on the trip late this past fall.
Distance on the ICW is in statute miles, so I stuck with miles, mph.
Average distance for days from 7:30 am to about 5 PM was about 45 miles. Some days with engine, genoa and a helpful tide were closer to 60. Not many places for pure sailing.
For planning I looked at 50 miles and paid attention to anchorages from Active Captain and Waterway guide (programmed into Aquamaps and Garmin)starting about midday so I had some options in mind before it got dark.
Tides are tough to calculate, when approaching an inlet miles away an incoming tide will slow you down, once past the inlet you get a bit of a push for a while. Good to be aware of the state of the tide but nothing you can do about it other than wait it out.

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Old Yesterday, 09:33   #47
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Buy the waterway guide, get tow insurance (USBoats or similar). Sail mainly on the rising tide and you shouldn't have any big problems - take it easy and don't try to push the mileage. The ICW wildlife is crazy and the trip down can be one of the great sailing experiences of your life.

We took Capri both up and down a couple of years ago - 7 1/2 keel, 63 foot stick. Only got caught once - we began to think we were world champions and tried to cross an inlet with a falling tide - Ooops- floated off later and learned our lesson

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
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Old Yesterday, 09:41   #48
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

and again GET THE TOP TOWING INSURANCE, it used to be "Platinum". I had the "GOLD" coverage and ran out of diesel (long story) on the ICW. A marina was less than a mile away. The towing boat wanted $600 to to tow us there with GOLD level coverage. I told them to pound sand and just stayed anchored on the edge of the ICW until am and went in the dingy to get a can of fuel.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old Yesterday, 10:17   #49
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Originally Posted by Curtinjulianna View Post

My husband and I recently bought a boat. It is located in Norfolk, VA and we are in charleston, SC. My husband has been on sailboats a handful of times and we both took the basic keelboating course. However, I dont feel that confident. My husband seems to think we should be perfectly fine motoring it down the ICW with the limited experience we have. Does this sound reasonable or would hiring a skipper be a better idea? Thanks!

What size boat? I assume it is a sailboat?

First of all, KNOW the Rules of the Road. Know them well. Very well. My pet peeve is guys out on the water who have only the sketchiest knowledge of the Rules. You really need an encyclopedic knowledge of Rules, both as written and as applied in real world situations. You need to be very comfortable with using navaids (bouys, daymarks, lit and unlit) to keep you out of trouble. You need to be quick to identify markers and immediately place yourself on a chart and assess your situation.

You also need to be very familiar with normal routine maintenance and repair, particularly to your diesel. Like half the other responders, I say you simply cannot have too many fuel filters. If you have both a primary and a secondary, you need elements for both. One very good DIY upgrade you can do is to install a duplex filter system so you can quickly switch to the offline filter and change the dirty one.

A paid skipper? Sure, if you can afford it, go for it, at least for the first couple days runs. Or for a couple of day sails before you start your ICW journey. I wouldn't say it is necessary, though. Main thing is knowing the Rules and knowing how to pilot the boat properly in a marked channel and how to keep the diesel running and keep most of the water outside the boat and fires confined to your stove burner.

The size of your boat makes a difference. Big difference between say a 35' boat drawing 5' and a 50' boat drawing 7 feet. There will be times when it would be a good thing to know you can safely run just outside the marked channel when meeting or being overtaken by a big tow, for instance. With a smaller boat I would lean toward not having a pro aboard. With a bigger boat, you have a slightly different learning curve and you have room to spare. A paid skipper will be of more help and be less of a PITA in the bigger boat.

Your trip if I read it correctly is a bit less than 500 miles and depending on your speed and your typical day's run time probably 5 to 10 days. Provision for 15 days and a couple of extra jerry jugs of diesel would not be a bad idea. Some marinas will likely not be offering fuel or services. Top up fuel at every opportunity even if you just bunkered the day before. Sail where you can and where you feel comfortable doing so, to save fuel and extend your range between fuel stops.

Normally I would say take the boat outside and sail her down but it is a new to you boat and you don't want breakdowns while you are outside bucking the gulf stream. Also you would be passing some dangerous capes with disastrous grounding potential. I think all in all, a little more familiarity with offshore cruising and with your new boat would be a good thing.

Don't leave without checking your anchor and rode carefully. You really need two anchors for a small boat and maybe three on a boat over 40' with one of the three being a smaller anchor used for a "lunch hook", when someone will actually be on watch, on deck, in case you start dragging. The smaller setup will be much easier to deploy. If you have a windlass, check it in both powered and manual mode, and check your windlass battery and cables. Swivels, shackles, etc especially. Mouse all shackles so they can't come undone. If you ever have to anchor anywhere near the ICW or any other heavily trafficked channel, you want to be very sure of your anchor's holding power. Learn how to use a snubber or chafing gear. The more chain you have, the better. Rope rode and a short stinger chain is fine for a lunch hook but for overnight anchoring you want plenty of chain. MINIMUM a boat length of heavy chain, and better to have a windlass and all chain rode, sized for the windlass. You could easily find yourself having to anchor in 30 or 40 feet of water and so you will hopefully have a couple hundred feet of chain on your primary anchor(s). You need to practice anchoring and retrieving your anchor before your trip, and work all the bugs out of your method. You don't want to have a 60lb anchor and 160lb of chain on the bottom and realize you haven't considered just exactly how you will bring it back aboard, or find that your method just isn't very practical. With a very small boat, say 30' or less, you can get by just fine using the Armstrong method, AKA "Norwegian Steam" AKA manually hauling it up hand over hand. When you have the rode straight up and down and the anchor is still stuck in the bottom, just use the engine to power ahead a little and she should break free.

Learn how to start your engine when it doesn't want to start. Learn how to short across the solenoid in case your starter switch or wire fails. Learn how to hand start if it is possible with your engine. Learn about your start circuit and any sensors or relays that could fail and prevent a start. Learn how to bleed your injectors. Sooner or later you will need to do that. Learn how to maintain your batteries and configure them properly, and how to keep from running them down on anchor preventing a start. Got a generator? Learn it inside and out, too. Got a dinghy and outboard? Learn how to operate and maintain and troubleshoot. Store gasoline with care... fumes in the bilge is bad news. How are you cooking? Propane? Know what you are doing before you blow your boat up. Make sure you have a proper marine propane system that is up to modern safety standards. A backpacker type stove that can burn diesel or kerosene is much safer, as long as it is mounted securely and you have good ventilation, and know how to start and adjust it. If you are in doubt, eat cold from cans. Stoves are potentially one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment on the typical sailboat.

Bilge pumps. Check them. Should have more than one electric pump that will run in auto. Should have a bilge alarm. Should also have a manual pump and sufficient length of discharge hose. I better stop here and tell you look for a list of safety equipment you need to buy or have, and check over and familiarize yourself with.

Be serious about preparations and your trip has an excellent chance of being a safe and successful one.

Did I mention learning Rules of the Road?
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Old Yesterday, 10:39   #50
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Originally Posted by Curtinjulianna View Post

My husband and I recently bought a boat. It is located in Norfolk, VA and we are in charleston, SC. My husband has been on sailboats a handful of times and we both took the basic keelboating course. However, I dont feel that confident. My husband seems to think we should be perfectly fine motoring it down the ICW with the limited experience we have. Does this sound reasonable or would hiring a skipper be a better idea? Thanks!
Years ago I wrote an email about an experience I had to a magazine responding an article They published. The Associate Editor asked me if I would turn my email into a 1500 word article. I did. It was published and they paid me $100. I only did it to share my story which supported their previously article. Itís no wonder you canít get anyone to write for about $5 to $10 an hour.
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Old Today, 04:58   #51
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
Motor down the ICW to Morehead City NC. You can get good chances to hoist the sails in Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. From Morehead it's easy to take a couple day sails out in the big blue to gain some confidence. After a couple nice days, you'll probably be comfortable making the outside jump - you could take a couple days straight to Chaz or take an overnighter to Southport, enjoy a couple days of there, then do another overnight jump home. Watch the weather, see the sights, get comfortable learning your own boat - and have fun.
Agreed to Morehead, but next door is Beaufort, a must see.
Also, Oriental, NC is NCís sailing capital.
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Old Today, 05:04   #52
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

10 years ago, I purchased a 29ís Bristol in Va, and brought her down to Colombia, NC via ICW. I had never taken that route, and my son and I had a blast.

What length and beam is your boat. I would STRONGLY recommend taking the ďold dismal swamp ď canal which was part of the original ICW, and built hundreds of years ago. One gratis lock system in Va operated by natural run off. It was FANTASTIC trip.

When you go thru Norfolk (and see the our wonderful US Navy ships (also cool)), there will be point you can veer off to starboard for the Great Dismal Swamp. Call ahead to get lock times (day light only operations).

As others stated, under power, piece of cake...

If you need additional info, reach out to me and I can help. My family and I live in Burlington, NC, and I visit Oriental all the time to see friends.
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Old Today, 06:37   #53
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Talking Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Originally Posted by captainmarknc View Post
Follow the chart with a peanut shell so you always know where you are.

So what happens when the boat heels or you hit a wave and the *peanut shell* (I still can't believe this) goes flying??? Of course, I'm seeing this in my mind's eye without electronics.

Prudent seamanship dictates the use of a pencil and marking your position on your chart. Some may disagree, but my practice is to use electonics for en-route navigation. For position-tracking, I keep a hard record of my hourly position on a tangible chart (it's always in the electronics as well, but the hard chart is a safeguard) - always keeping in mind that saltwater and electrics are ultimately incompatible so never completely relying on just electronics in the event they short out, or get fried in a lightning strike...

(I've was a co-rebuilder of an entire Custom 60' boat's entire electrics system and the ordering and replacement of every single electrical ammenity, including navigation, autopilot, radar, vhf and multiple tvs and stereos, due to lightning strike on delivery from Massachusetts to BVI).

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Old Today, 20:23   #54
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

I love the ICW - and you will enjoy it, too. It is very scenic. By the way, 65' is too tall, my boat is 62' and it is just fine, unless we have an extreme high tide. Before you start, get a list of all the bridges, their opening times and VHF channels to call. As a rule of thumb, if you cruise at 5-6 kn, you will arrive at the next bridge just in time. If you go faster, you have to wait longer. If you are an experienced sailor, you may use your sails if the wind is in favor, but always keep the engine in standby, just in case.
You will run aground, mostly it is very soft and no problem. Don't call the tow boat, if the tide is going low, they will not get you off anyway, if the tide of going high, you will get free by yourself. Once I had to wait for the next high tide, time to prepare a nice meal, no panic. Sail only during day light! We never docked, always found a spot to anchor.
Don't just use your chart plotter, mainly use your eyes to follow the markers. If you pass by inlets, be prepared of shoals, even in the middle of the channel, you may rather stay more to the western side of the ICW. If you go further south then Port Pierce, you may want to go outside on the ocean route, because form the to Miami you will encounter 28 bridges. You can come back in at the Governors cut in Miami. The waters around Key Biscayne are ideal sailing waters, mostly 6' deep, no waves, steady winds, great sailing.
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Old Today, 20:45   #55
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Re: Motoring the ICW with limited experience

Big item: Make sure the propulsion system is in good running order.

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