The ICW, Intracoastal Waterway from Mile Marker Zero to Georgetown SC is so diverse and so interesting. We never get bored with this trip due to the many changes in the waterway from place to place. This diversity is the true beauty and joy of this run. Again, this is our 11th run south (we think, as we are losing track) but still, it is a real joy. It is even more fun with a fleet of Island Packet Owners and lifetime friends, Jeff & Sharon on 420 Lucille. At various times, we have been joined by RuthAnn & Larry of 37 Cambiar, Linda & Mahlon of 35 Just Ducky and Rose & Mark of Painkiller. Presented here are the best photos along the way as we moved into the ICW.
Departing Mile Zero
The famous GILMERTON BRIDGE at Norfolk. This is a combination railroad bridge and a highway bridge. This bridge is one hour from Portsmouth and it is your first challenge. The large vertical lifts are the structure to lift up the highway bridge. The bridge is restricted from 0630 ( which is oh dark hundred) until 0830 when they provide the first lift. With that schedule, you leave Portsmouth at 0730 and plan to arrive here for the 0830 openings. As we experienced, there might be a train coming that causes the RR bridge to lower and now you need to wait on the train. Eventually the two bridges open and off you all go heading south into the waterway.
On to Coinjock vs the Dismal Swamp
We used to run the beautiful Dismal Swamp, but with the convenience of Coinjock with fuel, water, and pump out at each slip, we have started to run the VA Cut and go that route. Plus who can resist a PRIME RIB dinner and a class of Red Wine? Not me. But the first stop on the way to Coinjock is the town of Great Bridge. Due to speed, time and distance, you really can’t easily make it from Gilmerton to Coinjock in one day. You can, but you will arrive late in the day 5-6 pm and who wants to do that? So, you stop on the free docks at Great Bridge and enjoy the town. The Great Bridge lock is simply a lock to hold the brackish waters of the river, back from the saltwater of Norfolk. It does not change in elevation very much, so there is only one lock on this VA Cut vs. two locks on the Dismal.
Cross the Scary Albemarle Sound
The next leg takes you on a sail across the 14 miles of the famed Albemarle Sound. It is shallow and with a strong wind, it can be rough. Like 1-2-3 foot waves! YIKES, and many people are always concerned about this crossing. With many crossings, we have never had a bad crossing, Usually, we can sail across, and this day we had a dream sail. We fley the code zero and deployed it on a wing on wing set. Unreal.
Alligators and Pungo River Canal
The anchorage at Deep Point, the stopping point before running the 22nm canal, is always a sunset paradise. Arriving about 1-2 hours before sunset, we all anchored in the 6-8 foot waters along with many other boats running south. Then at sunset, there it was again, the famed Deep Point beautiful sunset. For me….schedule the tugboat pushing a pile driver for sunset….perfect….thank you!
The next day, we had to wait out the fog and by 9 am it lifted and we could see the canal, and off we all went into the beautiful 22 nm canal where you might see turtles, eagles, deer, bears, egrets, and osprey, all of which I saw none. A first for us. I still enjoyed the reflections of the morning light and the peacefulness of this run. I like these long canals, you can’t go wrong with your navigating, just stay in the middle 🙂
Dream Sail Across the Neuse
We spent the night on the anchor in Belhaven and had a great walk around town. The next day we had a surprise sailing day. None of us anticipated this, and we all started out with a motor and a jib, only to discover 12-15 knots on the beam, so up went the mainsails as well. Now we had a race! Everyone out on the water was racing down the river to cross the Neuse River and it was incredible. One of the best sailing days on the ICW ever. This rarely happens. What a joy this was. Of course Big Momma 420 LUCILLE blew us all away, and the 35 Just Ducky and Island Spirit and 37 Cambia tried to sail with her. NO WAY, not possible. What a fun day! This photo will make the 20th edition of my IPYOA sailing calendar.
A new SOUTH RIVER anchorage
Thanks to IP owners Jim and Lynn, local to this area, they told us about South River. We needed a place to wait out one day as the strong SW winds of 20-25 were blowing down on the coast at Beaufort NC. We did not want to run that, so we decided to wait a day on anchor. So into the South River off the Neuse, we diverted, and what a joy that was. Thank you. We stays an extra day there and waited out the winds. It worked out great. Of course with a lay day, that brought out the baker on Island Spirit and we made our first batch of coconut cranberry scones. See www.BoatRecipes.com for my recipe.
Cold in the Mornings
It has not been that cold this year, and our lowest inside boat temp has been 49f. Usually, by mid-day, it is up to 60-65f, but at nighttime when the sun goes down, it gets cold fast. This is our usual gear in the morning…ha ha ha
We Reach Wrightsville Beach, a fav.
The first beach that we can access to walk and go shelling is Wrightsville Beach, NC. This town is an all-time favorite of ours. We always take an extra day here to enjoy the beach, walk the town, access some great places to eat, and simply slow down. This town is so active, people are walking, jogging and working out all the time. It is a college town with UNC nearby, but it is also a very wealthy town with really beautiful homes and docks on the harbor, The harbor is near perfection with easy access from the ICW and also a class-A ocean inlet. You can not get better than this. Wrightsville Beach, is a dream. PS: This day, Radeen and I walked 15,500 steps, 7.5 miles…ahhhhh
Southport Friends, Bill, and Trish
We all spent 5 winters together in the Florida Keys and Bahamas. Boating friends are lifetime friends, and this was yet another example. We have not seen each other for years, but it was like we just left. Bill and Trish build a custom cool home in Southport and someday we will drop anchor or dock at the Fish Camp and Provisioning company and walk up and see this. But with time and distance, we passed on that and docked at St James. So, they drove down and we had a great night together on Island Spirit just like in old times. Thanks for the gifts, you two are too kind.
The Wealth of Myrtle Beach, insane
We always can’t wait to push thru Myrtle Beach, because the waterway has been abused with concrete walls and mega homes on the waterway where t-topper boats can’t really go anywhere. So what is the point? It is a crazy contrast to what will follow, the historic Socccatee bridge and the Waccamaw River Forest. Here are a few homes in this area……
Finally Waccamaw River Valley
Hayden and Radeen
Georgetown, SC Reached
This is another town we always anchor off and spend a few days. There is Rice Museum and the Fish Co-op along with a fun waterfront and nice shops on the main street. Within a mile walk is a CVS and Piggly Wiggly and more. Welcome to Georgetown SC. We are two days from Charleston SC where we will be halfway to Florida. We are so grateful to be here….thanks for sailing along
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