Waccamaw River on the Atlantic ICW
On America's Great Loop
Cruising the Atlantic ICW
Mile Hammock Anchorage on the Great Loop
Cruising
America's Great Loop
© 1993 - 2017 CaptainJohn.org
The Atlantic ICW - click next.
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
Mile Hammock Bay Anchorage on the Atlantic ICW is very popular with Loopers and the U.S. Marines.
     The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 1,243-mile ‘inland’ waterway that connects rivers, canals, sounds and land
cuts just inside the Atlantic coast. Officially, the ICW is a continuous navigable waterway from Norfolk (Mile 0) to Key West (Mile 1243) and it
runs inland along the eastern seaboard passing through, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
     It is a fantastic voyage as well as an important part of cruising America’s Great Loop. In the south, most "Loopers" will begin their
voyage north on the ICW from St. Lucie Inlet (Mile 987) at the end (Mile 0) of the Lake Okeechobee Waterway.
     In the spring you will find “Loopers” as well as “Snowbirds” heading north for the summer. Along the way you will meet lots of friendly
boaters and see some very incredible sights.
     I’ve made this passage 9 times beginning in 1971 and most recently in 2016, from Florida all the way to the Erie Canal as well as
Canada. During that time, I have seen some incredible changes all along the way. There has been a lot of growth in and around most of the
harbor towns, while the beauty of natural wildlife areas and lush landscapes seem to remain the ever awe inspiring same. The shoreline
includes a wide range of marina facilities and protective anchorages for most any recreational and live aboard size boat. For sure, you won’t
be alone cruising the Atlantic ICW. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association, estimates 12,000 recreational boaters, transient the ICW
annually.
    Cruising the ICW can be a very social affair because you soon find you’re seeing the same boats at the end of the day. M
ost "Loopers"
will be flying the
AGLCA "Great Looping" Burgee (see below). This is one of those places on the Great Loop where speed is not
necessary or important. As a result, lift bridges, swing bridges with hourly scheduled openings result in the ‘fast’ boats waiting the longest
while the ‘slow’ boats get there in time for the opening, and they all pass through together. The fast boats take off again until the next lift
bridge, wait and the scenario repeats itself to the next bridge opening. This is why at sunset, the Tortoise and the Hare find themselves in
the same Marina or in the same anchorage. Whether you’re holed up in a snug anchorage or tied in a marina you’ll discover most boaters
will travel the same distance you do, as a normal day’s run generally averages about 50 miles per day. Not only is this a result of speed
limits, it is also a result of the average distance between the most convenient Marina facilities and safe anchorages.
   
     Soon enough, the Florida Key's turquoise waters and white sandy dunes will turn into clear dark tannin waters with secluded tree-lined
riverbanks and then into wide open fields of salt grass. You will boat through miles of populated areas past elegant homes with elaborate
boats and boat houses, while small cottages, shacks and shanties dot the shorelines all along the way.
     The time frame for “Loopers” to cruise the Atlantic ICW is Spring! Loopers should plan the start of their Great Loop voyage (from where
ever they start), so they are cruising north on the Atlantic ICW in Spring. Anytime in April and May offer the most comfortable weather.
Your Daily Run - The length of time it takes to cruise the ICW will have little to do with the speed of your boat, as your daylight distance
cruising is greatly controlled by lift bridge openings and safe distances to your next convenient destination. For Loopers heading north to
Lake Champlain or the Erie Canal, it is simple math. Take the miles from St. Lucie 987 and divide it by 50 average miles a day. That' gives
you 20 "actual cruising days" to reach Norfolk at Mile 0.
     From Norfolk, you have the wonderful Chesapeake Bay that will take you around to the C&D Canal and into the Delaware River. From the
Delaware River you have two choices. One begins at Cape May. This is your "inside route" on the New Jersey ICW, which will take you
"inside" past Atlantic City to Manasquan Inlet. From Manasquan Inlet, you will 'go out' about 1 mile off shore heading north for just 22 miles to
cut back into Sandy Hook (Raritan Bay). This will take you to New York City's Harbor and past the Statue of Liberty to NYC and the beautiful  
Hudson river.     
  
Break time!
      Pour yourself a cup of Java. Grab a donut, and here's a little light hearted message to read
on your break!
      Reason #1 for BEST SELLING book title: "Once Around Is Not Enough"
      One of the many reasons I encourage everyone to “take their time and cruise by the preferred weather seasons
in each area” is safety. Another reason is to think of this voyage as just a 5,600 mile “boat ride” is one huge gigantic
mistake!

    Without doubt, what makes this voyage so enjoyable and memorable is all the wonderful “on shore” attractions,  
destinations and people you will meet along the way. Many of the wonderful people you will meet have made a
wonderful life for themselves in some of the most remote and unexpected places all along the way. Not taking the time
to visit with some of them would simply be a tragedy.
      From the big city lights to the small charming picturesque anchorages, to the quaint seafaring villages with
scrumptious savory seafoods and regional culinary delights. Stopping and strolling down some of these brick and
cobblestone streets, window shopping and seeing the local sites, meeting some of the locals will tempt you to stay
and linger. When you are, believe me, these are the places you will find and make some of your favorite memories.
      Don't go cruising with a schedule! Take your voyage one wonderful day at a time! Cruising the Loop is much
more than an isolated solo boating experience. It is (if you let it be), a fantastic 'social' event. One of the most
frequent comments I hear from 'first time' Loopers has to do, one way or another, with: "We wished we had planned
on more time to see and do more things and go more places".
      Many Loopers I've met have told me that before they were halfway around the Loop, they were already planning
their next voyage around. Thus the title of my book: "Once Around Is Not Enough".
      My advice? As wonderful and amazing as this voyage is, don't let it become just a 5,600 mile boat ride! This is a
magnificent journey and it can be a wonderful social event. It also requires a totally new mindset on your part. It is a
slice of life that says you do not have to get up in the morning and go to work. It is one that says you do not have to
be a certain place by a certain time or even on a certain day. There is a "cruising rhythm" to "Looping"! When you
find it, your entire life will change and it will change for the better.
      Much of it has to do with absolute freedom. For most of us who worked all our life; to get where we are, doing
nothing can seem almost sinful. Fact is, you worked hard to get where you are. You paid the price. You paid your
dues! Now you simply need to learn to relax and reap the rewards of your labor. That's not just me saying that, That's
biblical! You are here now. There is no need to rush through the rest of your life - you'll just get to end of it sooner.

      The "Looping Lifestyle" will give you a whole new perspective on life. This is "Island Time Mon!" This is where
time is no longer measured by the hands on a clock, but by sunsets. This is where your relationships with your 1st
Mate, your kids, your family, your old friends and your new circle of Looping friends, will be richer, fuller and so very
much more meaningful.
      This is where "You are the Master of your fate, you are the Captain of your soul" as well as your ship. You can
go where you want, when you want and stay as long as you want. The day is at your command!
Ok. . . Back to work!
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -
www.captainjohn.org
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
- Once Around Is Not Enough -
       If you start your journey up the Atlantic ICW in early April, you will have plenty of time to take your time and see some wonderful sights
along the way. In your headlights will be Cape Kennedy, New Smyrna, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Kings Bay (Submarine Base), Brunswick,
Savannah, Hilton Head, Charleston,  Pawley's Island, Murrell's Inlet, Myrtle Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort, Oriental, and detours to Ocracoke
and Kitty Hawk are highly recommended.
Before you head out on your "Great Loop" voyage, be sure to
get your "Looping Burgee" from the AGLCA. This will identify
you to other Loopers - and there is nothing better than the
instant camaraderie, assistance, friendship and safety of
cruising along with other Loopers.