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|How to cruise the Atlantic ICW - click next.
| The Atlantic ICW - This leg of your voyage is 987 miles from the St Lucie Inlet to Norfolk, VA. From Norfolk, it is another 279
miles to the mouth of the Hudson River for a total of 1,266 statute miles.
ICW waterway day markers and signs will mark the channel and point the way for an amazing, well-protected passage for all but very
few and small sections of its entire length. Yes, you have to share it with Tugs and Bugs and Barges, the Navy ships, (and at Kings'
Bay) even a Submarine or two. In addition, you will encounter Cruise Ships and all sorts of commercial fishing and shipping traffic. At times
it will be hard to remember that you are the intruder here, as the entire ICW is free to recreational boaters, while it is all those commercial
vessels pay their way (and ours).
Often referred to as "The Ditch", for Great Loopers and Snowbirds, this is our "Route 66". From St Lucie Inlet to the Hudson river, you
will discover some real cruising jewels along the way. By far, cruising the ICW is an adventure. In some areas, just when it really starts to
bore you, along comes another jewel that makes the entire length of the ICW worth cruising all over again.
Safe boaters can rest assured however, that on your entire voyage around America's Great Loop, it is all about safety. Experience
doesn't matter, (none of us had it, until we did it). Simply being a safe boater is your primary concern.
As long as you stay within the boundaries of the marked channel - it is surprisingly difficult to get into any real trouble on the ICW.
For the most part even if your boat sinks, it will be resting hard on the bottom before it disappears under the water, as most of the ICW is
very shallow. For a safe boater, probably the very worst that can happen is running aground and suffering a lot of temporary
embarrassment until the tide rises again - a situation of which, most of us have experienced.
If you are worried about crossing that 73 mile (9 hour) stretch between Carribelle and Steinhatchie on the Gulf of Mexico - don't be. By
the time you get to the Gulf of Mexico, you will have cruised across Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Sandy Hook and
the Great Lakes. So by the time you reach the Gulf, crossing it, will be a piece of cake.
We all have our own experiences, we all have our best and worst parts of the ICW as well as the Great Loop. So don't let what you've
heard or read prevent you from going. Instead, go and discover your own best and worst. Believe us. . . Even the worst part of the Great
Loop is worth doing again just to see and experience the best. It is our 'imagined' fear that always makes the wolf bigger than he really is.
You are about to discover for yourself, the ICW is a great place to cruise.
|The Atlanic ICW is a great place to learn all about safe boating. In addition to the sights and sounds, there are plenty of
waterfront restaurants and Marinas along the way. However, you have to make it all the way to St. Augustine, FL., before you reach
Hurricane Patties (next to the River's Edge Marina on the San Sebastian river) which is our very favorite stop for eats on the entire Florida
section of the ICW.
Some favorite stops include Hurricane Patties the Isle of Palms Marina, Wacca Wache Marina, Washington City Docks, Okracoke, Lady's
Island Bridge Marina, and Elizabeth City. These are all some of our favorite stops on the Atlantic ICW. From Wacca Wache Marina, you
can take your dinghy or rent a car and visit Pawley's Island. There, you will find the Hammock Shop Village, an eclectic mix of specialty
stores and restaurants, such as the High Hammock Maverick Seaside Kitchen, which alone is worth the side-trip.
Point is. . . There are many little "jewels" like these that are hidden along your route around the Great Loop. While we like to call your
attention to the ones we find, the very best ones indeed will be the ones you find on your own, and tell us about.
|In addition to commercial traffic, The ICW is used extensively by recreational boaters, so you will not be alone on the ICW. On the
east coast, some of the traffic in fall and spring is by snowbirds who regularly move south in winter and north in summer. The waterway is
also used when the ocean is too rough to travel on. Numerous inlets connect the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico with the Intracoastal
Waterway. The Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Myers to Longboat Key is a favorite destination for visiting sailors and fishermen alike.
The waters from Fort Myers through Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor have to be one of the most diverse boating and fishing
locations anywhere in the world. Pine Island Sound is bounded on the west by Sanibel, Captiva and North Captiva Islands. Hundreds of
islands dot the Sound; redfish, snook, pompano and speckled trout delight the patient angler. To the east, Pine Island's mangrove
shorelines, tidal creeks and oyster bars still resist the crush of development. Explore Matlacha, Pineland and Bokeelia for a taste of the
real Florida, where Calusa Indians farmed and fished 1,000 years ago.
Further north in Charlotte Harbor sits Cayo Costa State Park, a spectacular wild and scenic gulf coast island accessible only by boat.
Nature trails, safe harbors, cabins, tent sites, hiking and biking trails and miles of deserted beaches make this a must-see location. The
Intracoastal runs along the eastern shore of Cayo Costa before heading inland at Boca Grande Pass, "Tarpon Capital of the World." At
the southern end of this section of the Intracoastal sailors pass through Card Sound before reaching Key Largo, the first island in the
famous Florida Keys chain. The largest of the Keys, Key Largo is famous for its diving and fishing. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State
Park, the nation's first underwater park, is the crown jewel of the area.
|:: The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway ::
|There is a $10.00 Discount to
all visitors to this website, so
don't forget to get yours!
|What are your chances of getting lost?
|Very Slim to Null . . .
With very few exceptions, it is almost impossible to get lost anywhere on
America's Great Loop. That's even without your GPS. With your GPS - it has to
be as impossible to do as winning the Lottery.
Day Markers (those red and green signs on the waterways indicate channels.
"ICW" day markers are the ones with the little yellow stickers on top. These
yellow stickers indicate the ICW channel on both the Atlantic and Gulf ICW
waterways for your entire journey. Just follow the Day Markers with the small
yellow stickers on top. It is the yellow stickers that indicate that you are indeed
on the ICW.
Heading north when cruising the Loop in a counter-clockwise direction, just
remember - keep the red markers on your left or Port. Keep the green ones on
your right or starboard. An easy way to remember this is to remember both the
Atlantic and Gulf ICWs will take you south all the way to Texas. When cruising
the ICW - "Red right = return to Texas".
|America's Great Loop & Beyond
|America's Great Loop & Beyond
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|It is the Looper's "Route 66".
For "Loopers & Snowbirds" the Atlantic ICW is our "Route 66".