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Going South

Freda and Charles Gandy

Traveling south on the ICW with Freda and Charles Gandy

A great adventure, interesting, challenging - definitely worth the effort.
Smartest thing we did - talked with others who have gone and traveled with experienced boats.

Trip

  • Begin mid-October to miss most hurricanes, return before June 1 for the same reason
  • Leave anchorage at first light, stop by 3 pm - dark comes at 5:30 pm
  • Evenings
    • Visit other boats in anchorage by VHF or dinghy
    • Study charts and weather, then make a tentative plan for destinations during next 3 days
    • Mark next day's GPS points, write in log
    • Prepare fast-pick-up lunches
  • Ditches - know how to let boats pass. Rearview mirror (for bicycles) helpful
  • Rivers, sounds, cuts, savannahs, swamps - the terrain shapes the trip
  • Anchorages scarce, plenty of marinas
  • You usually can't raft up south of the Chesapeake - visit by dinghy
  • Don't be in a situation where you must travel - weather, visitors, groceries, whatever.
    • Tell visitors they may decide where or when they will meet you, but not both
  • Many bridges in Florida. Recommend outside south of Palm Beach (Lake Worth)

Equipment

  • Sturdy boat with reliable engine and ample battery power - Trojan-Smart charger, 100 amp Balmar
  • Top priority
    • Good charts
    • GPS
    • VHF
    • Autohelm
    • SSB
    • Good anchors
    • Lots of spare parts
  • As much canvas as you can afford (dodger, bimini, doghouse, sun shade)
  • Dinghy
    • Hardbottom rubber, if Bahamas
    • Extension for outboard tiller
    • Long bridle
  • Computer
    • Trip log
    • Letters home
    • Provision list
    • Email
    • Weatherfax
  • Cell phone, and Bahamian phone cards (some phones need 25¢for 800#s)

Provisions

  • Carry as many groceries as storage space will allow
  • Stow items by where they will fit
  • Use plastic bags so items will fit odd spaces
  • Have a system for finding stowed provisions (ours organized port/center/starboard, zero to 38)
  • Be able to make bread from scratch
  • Take concentrated juices (not frozen), parmalat milk, egg magic
  • Take lots of munchies for afternoon get-togethers
  • Groceries in Bahamas scarce, expensive
  • Learn to fish
  • Order canned poultry &beef from Brinkman Turkey Farms, Findlay, OH - ph 419-365-5127

Radio

  • Waterway net for amateur radio operators
  • Weather net for Atlantic passages

Helpful

  • Self-adhesive postage and envelopes
  • Zip lock bags (George Town purse)
  • Whitewater bags for dinghy rides
  • Order free literature &maps from each state and country you will pass through
  • Highlight your charts
    • Pink - dangerous currents or bridges that must open
    • Green - anchorages
    • Blue - places of interest
    • Make notes in pencil of anchorages, stops
    • Use a sticky colored triangle to mark location on ICW as you go along
  • ICW anchorages:$12 Skipperbob, Suite 463, 1150 Carlisle St, Hanover PA 17331
  • Travel with someone who has been before
  • Form into groups of boats when at anchor
  • Know about currents:where to expect them, how to read the cuts
  • Have information about bridge schedules and procedures
  • Consider becoming a ham radio operator
  • Boat cards to exchange
  • Take something you can share with others:craft, music, special skill or knowledge
  • Leave relatives a plan for contacting each other, and you in an emergency
  • 3 days before a marina stop, phone &have mail sent by UPS or Fedex. (not US mail)

Special things

  • Many new boater friends, helping each other
  • Wildlife
    • ICW:eagles
    • Florida:manatees, roseate spoonbills, ibis, many, many others
    • Bahamas:banaquits, grassquits, bahama mocking birds, white-crested dove
  • Sights along ICW
    • Dismal Swamp cut of the ICW, or Virginia Cut
    • River Forest Inn in Belhaven (smorgasbord:banana fritters, lobster fritters, fried green tomatoes, pecan pie, green bean casserole)
    • Barefoot Landing, Myrtle Beach area (free tie-up 3 days, shopping, preceded by the rock pile)
    • Charleston (harbor and old town center)
    • Beaufort (bewfort), SC (loaner beatup brown car, horsedrawn carriage ride, fine crafts store, good hardware, armory museum)
    • Beaufort (bofort), NC (nautical museum, charming town, special to boaters)
    • Cape Fear River (6.5 knots paddlewheel, 10 knots across the ground GPS, Bald Head Island)
    • St. Augustine (red trolleys, great marina (currents difficult), coquino fortress, gorgeous town)
    • Kennedy Space Center (incredible! Phone NASA for launch schedule)
  • Bahamas:a fantastic experience
    • Allen's Cay iguanas
    • Norman's Cay druggers
    • Farmer's Cay festival
    • The George Town area
    • Warderick Wells (spectacular beauty)

Recommended books

  • Tide tables:we used Reed's Nautical Almanac
  • Cruising the Chesapeake, by William Shellenberger
  • The Intracoastal Waterway:a cockpit cruising handbook, by Jan &Bill Moeller
  • Florida Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - single page to keep in cockpit
  • Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys
  • The Exuma Guide, by Steven Pavlides
  • Explorer Chart Book:Exumas, by Monty Lewis
  • Yachtsman's Guide to the Bahamas, from Tropic Isle Publishers
  • Winds from Carolinas, by Robert Wilder
  • Out Island Doctor, by Evans Cottman
  • Don't Stop the Carnival, by Herman Wouk