Have you dreamed of making the passage down the Intracoastal Waterway? If you live on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA the ICW is a nice inside route to get south to Florida for the winter. It's also a great way to position your boat to cross over to the Bahamas.
We did this trip a few times and filmed it for Distant Shores. We start this season crossing Lake Ontario and entering the Erie Canal. Then we head south to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay to enter the Intracoastal Waterway at Norfolk Virginia.
We arrive at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay just as the Caribbean 1500 is getting ready to leave.
We speak with organizer Steve Black about the Rally.
Caribbean 1500 participants are getting ready to set sail. They plan roughly 10 days to reach the Caribbean. Destination British Virgin Islands.
Norfolk is the home of the US east coast fleet. Its very exciting to come through here on your own boat!!
Red Marker 36 marks the official start of the Intracoastal Waterway at Mile "0". From here its just over 1000 miles to Miami - and you never have to go out in the ocean.
Bridge clearance is a theoretical 65 feet - however there is a bridge that's just 64 feet. You need to know your mast height exactly before attempting this trip. Our mast is 62.5 feet. We clear by just 1.5 feet and it looks close...
Bridges mostly have height gauges on them. You read the height of the gauge - so as the tide goes up you might have less than the full clearance.. This is showing we have about 65 (ish :-)
How to be "Overtaken" by a faster boat while travelling the ICW.
Meeting a dredge. Most of the ICW isn't very busy (excepting Florida)
Another sailboat pulls out to pass the dredge.
Powerboats pull up behind to pass us.
Wait till they get up close astern then slow your boat right down. This allows them to slow as well and pass you with the least wake. We found boaters to be very courteous and friendly. Travelling the ICW can be a very sociable trip. You will meet some new friends for sure!
The first 200 miles of the ICW cuts across the "Sounds". We made a side trip to visit the Outer Banks.
Pulling in to a small community on the Outer Banks to visit a friend.
Exploring the shallow Pamlico Sound.
A Brown Pelican - exciting to see the wildlife change as you head south!
Exploring the quiet community of Ocracoke.
Sailing in the Pamlico Sound.
The anchorage at Beaufort North Carolina. Wild ponies live on the outer island.
Seafood is excellent on this trip!
Charleston is a highlight on the trip south. We stayed at the Patriots Point Naval Museum. The marina is attached to the museum - cool.
They have a destroyer, submarine and the aircraft carrier. Well worth a day visit!
Exploring the sub... claustrophobics need not apply...
Tuning up the rig... it's getting late in the season and time for us to make the jump to the Caribbean.
Our options are the "thorny path" hopping from island to island, or making one big jump. We opt for the jump and its one of the roughest passages we have done with the Southerly 42.
The Intracoastal Waterway is a very pleasant trip.We have done the trip a few times since our first trip in 1989 - we still enjoy it. You will too!