Happy Holidays To All And Have A Great 2014

We hope all of our friends and readers have a happy Holiday season. This year, we plan to spend the holiday season in northern Florida with friends and family.

Happy Holidays And A Prosperous New Year

From Chuck and Susan, on board the Trawler Beach House

and Beach House Publications

The Journey South Continues to Myrtle Beach

From Southport, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway runs along the Atlantic coast with no more than barrier islands separating the waterway from the Atlantic Ocean. There are many resort towns along this stretch and also a few inlets that need to be transited. Two of those inlets, Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte Inlet are famous for shoaling and being difficult passages. Once off the dock at around 8:30 a.m., we would transit both of these in one day before reaching our next destination at Myrtle Beach.  It's always better to transit Lockwoods and Shallotte at mid-tide or higher. The temperatures were cool, but it was a bright sunny day with good conditions forecast.

On to Southport, North Carolina

Southbound from Wrightsville Beach, it can be an easy run down the ICW and the Cape Fear River if you have the right wind and tide conditions. On the day we made the trip, it could not have been better. It was anchor up at 0730 in Wrightsville and we were tied to the town dock in Southport at 1045. Light winds and the outgoing tide made for a fast, comfortable trip and as we entered the basin at Southport, it was like seeing an old friend once again. The basin is just off the ICW channel as you make the turn off the Cape Fear River. This is a small basin with room to anchor a few boats, and several free docks available at some of the restaurants: The Provisioning Company, Fishy Fishy Cafe and The Yacht Basin Eatery. They allow overnight dockage if you eat at their establishment. There is no power or water at the docks and these are floating docks. The tidal range here is about 5 feet.

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

We have had a love-hate relationship with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for over 20 years. Every trip is a journey of discovery and every trip we learn something new and encounter new experiences. There are days when we are so thankful for all of the years and miles we have experienced, and there are days we wish we had stayed in bed. Heading south from Swansboro might be classified as one of those days we should have stayed in bed. But in the end, it's all part of the adventure. Our destination for the evening would be the anchorage at Wrightsville Beach. The ICW between Swansboro and Wrightsville Beach requires traveling through one of the more troubling areas of the waterway. The weather was perfect, but all did not go as planned.

On To Swansboro North Carolina

From Beaufort to Swansboro, the distance is only 33 nautical miles. After running a few more errands, we left the docks at a little after noon. I can't remember the last time our day started this late. As we keep saying, there is no place we have to be and no special time we have to be there. The best channel to use from Beaufort heading south runs along the east side of Radio Island, out toward the main inlet and shipping channel. Then it's necessary to turn back into the direction of the main Port and connect back to the Intracoastal Waterway. As we neared the commercial docks we sighted a couple on their trawler that we had met in the Sassafras River on the Chesapeake Bay. A quick call on the VHF found that w both had plans for the same destination. The next three hours were uneventful and other than the light rain and drizzle, it was a normal and easy day. The next stop was to be a Swansboro, a small town right on the waterway at statute mile 229.

The Cold Chases Us South, Bath to Beaufort, NC

We spent an additional day at the docks in Bath, NC due to high winds on the Pamlico River. The morning of our departure brought temperatures in the middle 30s, which is way too cold for the crew. Sitting at the free state dock before the sun came up required running the generator for coffee, the toaster and the microwave, but mostly to run the heater to warm up the boat. It usually is 10 degrees warmer inside the boat than outside overnight, but that's still in the 40s. It takes about an hour to get the temperatures up, and by then, breakfast is over and it's time to untie the dock lines and get underway. These are the days when we really love the inside steering station and the laptop running our navigation program at the helm.

The Towns of Washington and Bath North Carolina

Washington, NC
About 30 miles upriver from the spot where the Intracoastal Waterway crosses the Pamlico River lays the town of Washington, NC. For the many boaters that speed south to reach their winter destinations, missing these side trips is a shame. We have been just as guilty in the past, but decided that on this transit of the ICW, we would stop and smell the fish fry. The Pamlico can be daunting and a careful eye on the weather is required. The payoff to visiting this well protected harbor and yet another historic site along the North Carolina waterway is more than worth the additional time and miles.

ICW Side Trips and a Disappointing Revisit

The Albemarle Sound is famous for being a body of water to be respected. After a great visit to Edenton, NC, we headed out on the Albemarle toward the Alligator River. The weather forecast was for northeast 5 to 10 and that would put the wind and seas right on our nose. To give it some perspective, if the winds were only at 10 knots and we travel at about 8 knots, the apparent wind on our bow will be 18 knots - the actual wind speed and our boat speed combined. The Albemarle can be very uncomfortable even in moderate conditions, and of course, we are well aware that the weather service seldom gets the forecast right. Our practice is to add 5 knots to their forecast for winds and 1-2 feet to the forecast sea conditions. Most of the time, this winds up being pretty close to the conditions we find. Heading east, the winds began building and soon we were experiencing 20 to 22 knots apparent. Needless to say, the steep seas, spaced closely together, were slowing our progress somewhat as water came over the bow and splashed on the windows of the lower helm. Maybe we should have turned back, but these were the best conditions we were going to get for days, so we pressed on.

NOAA Stops Printing Nautical Charts


Office of Coast Survey
Effective April 13, 2014, government stops lithographic printing of NOAA nautical charts

Frequently Asked Questions
I buy my nautical charts at my local boating store. Why should I care whether the government prints NOAA charts?
The federal government prints the NOAA lithograph nautical charts, and then sells them to commercial chart agents who sell them to the public. As of April 13, 2014, these charts will no longer be printed.

Edenton, North Carolina

From a boater’s perspective, Edenton, North Carolina is one of those destinations you have to want to go to. We left Elizabeth City and traveled some 15 miles down the Pasquotank River to the Albemarle Sound. The Albemarle is best known for its unpleasant conditions if the weather is not right. Under normal conditions, it’s no different than any other body of water we have transited. Once into the Albemarle from the Pasquotank, the trip is another 35 miles or more west to the entrance to Edenton harbor. (It is more than 40 miles off the Virginia Cut route.) The water depths are fine for the entire trip, but do keep a sharp lookout for the many commercial floats marking traps that can extend far out into the Sound.

Rain, Rain, Will You Ever Give Us A Break?

It's like deja vu all over again. On the trip north, we had to deal with wet weather for weeks until we were in the Chesapeake, and now that we're out of the Chesapeake, the wet weather has settled in again with a vengeance. After four days, the rains did relent and although it was still cloudy, cool and damp, we departed the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center and headed downstream to Elizabeth City. Locking through at South Mills was easy and there was only a large catamaran that locked through with us. As we exited the lock, once again, we were in for an unwanted surprise.

More Cruising Photos and Info on Facebook

We have posted many, many more photos along our cruising routes, including free docks and anchorages along the way and important information on waterway conditions, on our Facebook page. Drop by and see what's new and where we're currently located. Hit the "Like" button to stay updated. Also, let us know what else you would like to see on the page.


So Long, Old Friend

It's always with mixed feelings that we say so long to one of our favorite cruising destinations. There is sadness in knowing that we will miss some locations that time did not allow for. Sadness to say so long to our friends and family that we won't see again for many months. We will miss revisiting the many spectacular anchorages we enjoyed. But there is also a bit of joy in the anticipation of being underway again and transiting the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Even though we have done the ICW many times, each new cruise is different from the last. You just never get tired of it. At least we don't. There will be new towns to visit, favorite anchorages to enjoy and most important, meeting new friends and faces along the way. For us, that's the best part of cruising. For now, we just needed to finish getting down the Chesapeake. And the winds in the lower Bay were finally subsiding.

Go South, Go South

That's what the little voice in the back of my head keeps repeating over and over. With a fresh coat of paint on the bottom, new zincs and a clean prop, the boat seemed to glide along in the water now. With the bow pointed almost due south, it seemed like the boat itself was anxious to get underway once again. The ride back down the bay was smooth and uneventful, other than the constant need to dodge the bizillion floats attached to crab pots, and the faint chill in the air. There is also the slightest hint of the foliage beginning to turn colors for the fall. We did have one more stop to make before the push to Norfolk. And I hesitate to use the word push because we did plan a slow, steady trip down the western shore to visit some creeks and anchorages we haven't been to for a while or at all. We were both raised on the Chesapeake Bay and each spent the first 30 or so years of our lives exploring it. And yet there are many rivers and creeks that we have never visited. And we did want to make one more visit to our friends Bill and Elisa in Rock Creek before the long trek south.

Stuck in the Northern Chesapeake

Okay, I wouldn't really call it stuck. More like lingering excessively. Our last post left off with us leaving Chesapeake City to avoid the noise and hassle of the upcoming Labor Day weekend. We exited the C&D Canal and headed south on the Elk River, right into a NOT forecast south wind at 10 to 15 knots. The Chesapeake can be nasty with any wind against current situation so a plan B was in order. A few miles south of the Maryland entrance to the C&D Canal is the Bohemia River. In a south wind it's easy to just head up river a bit and pull over toward the south shore as much as draft will allow and drop the anchor. Beach House departed Chesapeake City at 10:30 AM and the hook was down in Veasey Cove on the Bohemia at 11:50 AM. The rest of the day was just for relaxing, we thought.

Our Favorite Bahamas Beaches

Now that our newest edition of The Great Book Of Anchorages, The Bahamas is in stores and ready for shipping, we have been reminiscing about some of our favorite anchorages in the Bahamas. We would like to share some of those with you and hope you enjoy the tour. If you like the music, you can get the CD here. Check back soon for more posts on our Chesapeake adventures.

The Northern Chesapeake Bay

I know. It's been a couple of weeks since we've done any kind of update on the blog. It isn't because we haven't been anywhere or doing anything. It's because we have been doing so much and having such a good time doing it, we haven't had a lot of time to write. We've also had a few issues that needed our attention that we didn't expect. This post should bring us up to date. When we last posted we were in Baltimore's Inner Harbor at Fells Point. On our final day, we pulled off the dock just after sunrise and headed out the Patapsco River. Little did we know that our planned stay at our destination of a couple of days would stretch out to a couple of weeks.

Fells Point And Baltimore's Inner Harbor

We've spent about two weeks in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and at Fells Point sampling all that the area has to offer. We have mixed feelings about the area and the tourist destination it has become. I suppose that being in small communities and remote anchorages for months may have jaded our perception of what we expected once we arrived back in the big city. Fells Point is just as we remember it. By some estimates there are over 120 small restaurants and bars in the Fells Point neighborhood and the area is visited by thousands of tourists each year. If you enjoy the nightlife, musical entertainment, and a whirlwind of crowds, you will love Fells Point. We can only eat and drink so much and it's time to move on to quieter waters. This isn't really a family friendly location and one of the reasons we stopped here was so our family could come and visit. Fortunately the harbor provides a very colorful boat ride, so a slow cruise on the Patapsco River is always a fun day.

Time to Cross The Bay

Our plans would take us over to the western shore to visit with friends on Rock Creek in Pasadena, MD. We decided to go down river and find an anchorage that would put us closer to the Bay and make our trip to Rock Creek shorter the next day. The options were Langford Creek or Grays Inn Creek, near the mouth of the Chester River. We departed Chestertown on Sunday afternoon, and as usual, the boat traffic was pretty heavy. We had tried to wait for the powerboat group at the marina to leave because we knew they'd be running full speed down the river to get home before their normal boat slips ran away. All of them had left but one Cruisers Inc. 455, and it came past us full throttle, throwing up a huge wake that rocked every boat on the river. The lack of consideration for the safety of others still baffles us today. The decision to stop in Grays Inn Creek instead of Langford Creek was made mostly because there is always lots of boat traffic in Langford on weekends. It turned out to be a good decision.

Enjoying the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay

Our time spent with friends is always too short, but we convinced our friends Edwin and Silvia to come along with us on our trip from their house on the Wye River to Chestertown. Their son dropped off their car so they could get back home, and the weather couldn't have cooperated more. The trip down the Wye was just as spectacular as the trip upriver. Our only challenge for the day would be transiting Kent Narrows. The channel out the north end is well known for its shallow spots, being narrow and constantly moving. As we approached the drawbridge in the narrows, we called the bridgetender to let him know we needed an opening. He decided he didn't need to open on time, and boats on both side waited until he was good and ready. Fortunately, we made the bridge at slack water so we didn't have to deal with the strong currents that can make waiting for the bridge interesting. Once we finally did get through, we would have to negotiate the channel on the other side.

Trawlering The Chesapeake Bay

Warning; This is a long post.
Great Bridge, VA is always a good stop along the waterway before entering the Chesapeake Bay northbound or after the Chesapeake if southbound. The free tie up on the wall between the bridge and lock gives access to groceries, shopping of all sorts, restaurants, hardware stores, pharmacies and most anything you might need. For us, it was an opportunity to visit with friends that live nearby. But after a few days of visiting and then waiting for the rains to let up, we locked through the Great Bridge Lock once more and motored north through the Norfolk/Portsmouth waterway. Cruising past our Naval Fleet and the many different types of vessels encountered along this stretch is always an amazing experience. We see everything from riverboats and nuclear submarines, to aircraft carriers and working tug boats. All against Norfolk's and Portsmouth's towering backdrop. There is always a visible security presence all along the waterfront, and they are serious about their job. It's imperative that anyone give the Naval vessels a wide berth.

The Great Dismal Swamp Canal And Welcome Center.

When we tell other boaters that we plan to travel the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, many respond that they would love to do it but are afraid to try. I already know the answer but I still have to ask, why? The answer is always the same. They are afraid that they will hit a log and damage the keel of the boat or their props or rudders. The canal has a reputation for debris floating in the water and, especially, lurking under the surface. The question then becomes, is that reputation and fear justified? The answer isn't that simple; it's yes and no. Is that fear and reputation enough to avoid a wonderful experience. It wasn't for us. After several trips up and down this stretch of the ICW, we vowed that this time we would do the Dismal Swamp, no matter what.

Elizabeth City, North Carolina, The Harbor of Hospitality

Any boater that has transited the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway more than once has at least heard of the hospitality offered to boaters in this sleepy North Carolina town perched on the Pasquotank River. Most boaters are also familiar with the tradition of the Rose Buddies, but alas, the Rose Buddies have all passed on and the tradition is all but gone. A short detour off the traditional waterway on the Albemarle Sound will bring you to this friendly harbor, and you will still be met at the town docks by a fellow named Gus that has made himself the unofficial greeter, Dockmaster and historian at Mariner's Wharf. Gus will help you tie up in one of the 14 slips at Mariners Park (page 7, The Great Book Of Anchorages, Norfolk to Key West), give you the latest on the town and direct you to wherever you might need to go. It seems that many boaters don't know that the 14 slips at the park are not the only free facilities offered by the town.

Manteo, North Carolina

The locals pronounce it Man-e-o. This jewel, located on the northern end of Roanoke Island just about 22 miles east of where the ICW channel exits the north end of the Alligator River, is often passed by boaters as they rush north or south to get to their seasonal destination. How unfortunate for them. During our current cruise north, we have encountered weeks of lousy weather and delays, and we were looking and hoping to find a good spot to relax and spend some quality time. Did we ever find it in Manteo. It all began while anchored in the Little Alligator River. We called Carl Jordan, Dockmaster at Manteo Waterfront Marina. Being cruisers, we often lose track of time including days or even months. Just as we called Carl, we came to the realization that the next day was July 3rd and we would be asking for last minute accommodations during the 4th of July Holiday. To our delight and surprise, Carl told us to “come on ahead and we’ll find room for you.” And that’s exactly what they did despite a full marina with reservations for the holiday.

Belhaven, North Carolina

On September 21, 2013 the town of Belhaven, North Carolina will hold the 1st annual Birthplace of the Inland Waterway Celebration. You might ask yourself, what is the Inland Waterway and why are they celebrating? The Inland Waterway is the original name for what is today called the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The reason Belhaven plans a celebration is because in August of 1928, 20,000 people, politicians, dignitaries, Coast Guard contingents, Corps of Engineers, Naval airplanes and powerboat racers converged on Belhaven to celebrate the completion of a 22-mile canal linking the Alligator and Pungo Rivers. This canal was the final component to complete the Inland Waterway and allow commerce to flow from the northern ports as far as Boston to Beaufort without having to go out into the Atlantic around Cape Hatteras. Belhaven officially became a seaport and also became known for its lumber industry, with 13 sawmills, 2-world renown, a growing seafood industry and a reputation for hospitality, second to none. 

We Really Like Oriental North Carolina

From Carolina Beach, our next stop would be Mile Hammock Bay. Mile Hammock is another one of our frequent stops because it's one of the few anchorages in the Swan Point area, plus it's well protected and offers good holding. This is right in the Camp Lejeune Marine Base and although you can't go ashore, it's a beautiful anchorage. We're often treated to the Marines doing all sorts of maneuvers in all manner of vessels and even some helicopter exercises. It can get noisy, but it sure is fun to watch. The total distance from Carolina Beach to Mile Hammock is 58 miles. We left Carolina Beach at 8:00 AM and had the anchor down in Mile Hammock at 3:25 PM. By the time we arrived, the winds had picked up to 15 to 25 with gusts to 28. It was good to be settled in. We hadn't seen very many cruising boats in weeks, but as it got later in the afternoon, we had about a dozen boats keeping us company. We wondered where they all came from. The winds blew steadily all night and the rains finally caught up with us. The anchorage was snug and secure.

Rolling on the River

The weather turned out to be another non-event. It sure would be nice if the National Weather Service could get it right, good or bad. Usually we wouldn't head out in winds forecast to be 20 knots, but since the forecasts have not even been close lately, and the conditions were light in the morning, we planned to leave, so off the docks we went. North of Georgetown, SC is the Waccamaw River. Every time we transit the Waccamaw, we remark how it has an almost primeval feel to it. You can imagine that it looked the same hundreds of years ago when the first explorers poked into the many tributaries and creeks that branch off the main river. This has to be one of our favorite stretches of the waterway. Just past Georgetown at the northern end of Winyah Bay, the 65-foot bridge that crosses the southern end of the Wacammaw begins the most spectacular section of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The waters of the Waccamaw are a dark coffee color due to the tannins leached from vegetation. To us, this adds to the beauty of the area.

Carolina On My Mind

Beaufort, South Carolina is one of those don't miss stops along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and I don't think we have ever missed it. Our stay at Lady's Island Marina gave us a chance to sit out bad weather, catch up with old friends, help out old friends and renew our acquaintance with this wonderful town. But after nine days, we had the itch to move on to points north. The Chesapeake is calling and the summer is upon us. The currents in Factory Creek run pretty strong and although we could have gotten out of the slip, as we did it often when we lived here, it is still less stressful to pull out at slack water. On the day we left, slack water occurred at about 11:30 AM, so the late start and the early afternoon thunderstorms would make for an short day. Once in the Beaufort River, the incoming tides gave us a favorable current and a few extra miles per hour without burning additional fuel.

Current Navigation Notices

I just wanted to remind all of our boating friends that you can get the most current navigation information on problems and changes along the waterways by clicking here. I post these notices as the information comes in to me from the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, New York State Canal System and a large variety of reliable sources, including you. Send me a note any time you find any irregularities out there on the water and I will be sure and pass them on to other boaters. If we share the information we help everyone. In addition to getting the latest notices, you can see the actual locations using our online Chartviewer. You can also sign up for free email alerts and get the latest important notices sent right to your inbox. I hope you find this resource useful.

NTSB Safety Alert

June 9, 2013

Good preparation and proper use of safety equipment is key.
Although this safety alert stems from and relates to a commercial vessel its recommendations are very important to the broad spectrum of commercial, deep sea, recreational boating, and other types of seagoing and coastal water operations.

Should You Avoid The Georgia ICW?

The Georgia section of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway has a terrible reputation among regular boaters that make the annual trek from the north to their winter cruising destinations or returning from their southern destinations to points north. In some respects, that reputation is deserved, but it may also be a bit exaggerated. The ICW in Georgia has been neglected for a very long time. There have been no funds for dredging for many years and there is no immediate relief in sight. But funding is not the only issue. If the Corps of Engineers were to get all of the money they need for dredging, they still couldn't get the job done. The biggest roadblock is the logistics of removing and disposing of the dredged material. There are no locations on the water where the materials can be relocated, and removing the materials and putting them elsewhere is a logistical and financial nightmare. But the news isn't all bad.

Composite Propane Cylinder Recall

May 30, 2013

Attention: All Retailers, Distributors and Users of Composite Cylinders manufactured by The Lite Cylinder Company,

Subject: Emergency Recall Order

The US Department of Transportation has issued an “Emergency Recall Order” for all LPG composite cylinders manufactured by The Lite Cylinder Company as per the following Emergency Order No. 2013-002. The recall notice specifically identifies those cylinders manufactured under DOT-SP 14562 (and DOT-SP 13957 as authorized therein), DOT-SP 13105, any cylinder re-qualified under H706, and any cylinders manufactured under M5729.

Fernandina Beach, Florida

Fernandina Beach, Florida is one of our favorite stops along the ICW. We seldom skip this area and actually spend some time in what we have come to call the St. Mary's triangle. There are many options for anchorages and the Downtown Municipal Marina is a great place to layover and spend some time in the historic district of Fernandina Beach. The area was originally inhabited by Timucuan Indians and around 1562, settled by the French, Spanish and later the British. The historic "Old Town" is a treat and easily accessible from the Municipal Marina, including one of their moorings, or from a nearby anchorage using the marina's dinghy dock, for a charge of course.

Navigation Light Safety Alert

United States Coast Guard                                     
Inspections and Compliance Directorate
Marine Safety Alert 04-13
May 22, 2013
Washington, DC

Navigation Lights - Not!

The Coast Guard has recently become aware of the uninspected towing vessel industry using inappropriate navigation lights that fail to meet the criteria for use onboard any vessel; SEACHOICE Products LED Navigation Light, SCP #03201 shown below. Online research shows many outlets for the sale of this product. It is possible that this product may be in widespread use in the recreational boating industry as well.

The SEACHOICE Products and other catalogs advertise it as a "LED classic navigation light." Packaged individually, the item looks as shown on the left. The package indicates incorrect usage as a "masthead light." When web-searched the retrieved information presents it as a "masthead" or "navigation" light. Neither of these applications are correct and the fixture should not be used on any vessel in an effort to meet the navigation rules.

Masthead lighting requires an arc of 225 degrees visibility and stern lighting requires an arc 135 degrees visibility, for a total range of 360 degrees visibility. Depending on the type of vessel there are also light, color and range of visibility requirements.

The SEACHOICE product SCP 03201 has an arc of 180 degrees visibility and is not applicable to any requirement.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners / operators of any vessel who installed this particular SEACHOICE product (#03201 only) as a masthead, stern or other type of navigation light to remove it and replace it with a proper light that meets the requirements for the vessel and application.

Recreational boaters who have questions should contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Commercial vessel owner / operators who have questions should contact the Coast Guard Sector or Marine Safety Unit.

Standards for color, intensity and arc of visibility can be found in Annex I of COLREGs or:
* 33CFR84.13 - Color specification of lights
* 33CFR84.15 - Intensity of lights
* 33CFR84.17 - Horizontal sectors
* 33CFR84.19 - Vertical sectors

Special thanks to Coast Guard Sector Detroit for identifying this issue.

This document is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement. Developed by the Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis, United States Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC.

Weather or Not We Will Make It

After our encounter with the thunderstorm, the weather wasn't done with us yet. During our last transit of both the west and east coasts of Florida, we had almost daily gale force conditions. We sure hope that won't be the case this time. A rainy end to the day at anchor in the Banana River gave way to a very peaceful night and calm winds in the morning. BUT, the winds were expected to pick up later in the afternoon so we pulled up the anchor and got underway at first light. The trip to Titusville was about 40 miles and we wanted to get in as early as possible before the winds started building to the forecast 20 knots. The transmission had been acting up on us occasionally and was getting progressively worse. No one wants to try and dock a boat in 20 knots with a bad transmission, and because we were visiting friends in Titusville, we planned to stay at the Municipal Marina.

Northbound Hazards On The ICW

Our time in Stuart was short, but it gave us a chance to visit with friends. The time to depart is always too soon, but our long, slow trek north to the Chesapeake had to begin. We took on about 200 gallons of that "cheap" U.S. diesel at Mariner Cay Marina. It was the least expensive we could find in Manatee Pocket. The night before had been stormy, but the morning broke sunny and light winds. It didn't give us a hint at what would lie ahead for us later in the day.  One thing we have learned in transiting the Intracoastal Waterway over many years is that you never know what the day will bring. There is always a surprise just around the bend.

Navigating The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

We are often asked how difficult it is to travel long distances on the Intracoastal Waterway in a boat. What size boat is ideal for doing the waterway? What equipment is needed? How long will it take? How many miles can be covered in a day? What will it cost? There really are no easy answers and there are no right or wrong answers. It's almost like asking, "How long is a piece of string?" We have done the Atlantic ICW so many times now that we have lost count. We have also done a couple of transits of the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway and have a few ideas on what it takes and what works for us.

From The Bahamas Back To The USA

We left the small harbor on the south end of Manjack Cay with the idea that we would go to Great Sale Cay and then on to West End to stage for our crossing back to the U.S. The anchor was up and we were underway at 7:00 am after the weather guru assured everyone that winds would be light but out of the west, the direction we needed to travel. As we crossed over to the shores of Great Abaco, it was apparent that the light westerlies were more in the 15-knot range, and given our boat speed of at least 7 knots, the apparent wind was 22 knots. We have a hard rule - no transits in wind speeds that are 20 or higher. In the distance, we counted over a dozen other boats that had left Green Turtle and were all heading off to Great Sale. By the time we were underway for less than an hour, we knew this wasn't going to be a day we wanted to travel. But the forecast from the weather guru also said the winds would begin dropping about midday and become light and variable.

Green Turtle Cay To Manjack Cay

Beach House and crew had a great time at Green Turtle Cay, but it was time to move on and we had to do a little business. We headed out of Black Sound and of course it was almost at low tide. But the lowest depth in the channel was 5.9 feet and that was only in one spot. The winds had picked up early and we would be heading into about 10 to 12 knots right on the nose. Inside the Sea Of Abaco, the wind waves are small so it was not an uncomfortable ride. It would only be about an hour before we dropped anchor in a small, very shallow bay at the west end of Manjack Cay. The part of the bay we anchored in is not for drafts over 4 feet at low tide. There is a deeper anchorage off a small beach near the western tip that can carry up to 6 feet at low tide.

Adventures At Green Turtle Cay

From Treasure Cay, there are two routes to get over to Green Turtle Cay. One is a route which takes you out of the Sea of Abaco, around Whale Cay on the outside, and back into the Sea of Abaco. This route is very dependent on the conditions outside Whale Cay since the route is through a reef system and large ocean swells can build as they approach the shallow water, making for some very hazardous seas. During the morning cruisers net on VHF channel 68, the reports for Whale and some of the other cuts are given to boaters planning to make the transit. There is another option for shallow-draft boats, but it can only be done safely at high tide. This is known as the Don't Rock Passage, named after the large rock at the entrance to the passage on the east side called appropriately, Don't Rock. We received reports from boaters that were using the Don't Rock Passage for the last few days that the lowest depths at low tide was 5.8 feet over the bar near Don't Rock about an hour before high tide.

Treasure Cay Abacos

Treasure Cay in the Abacos is indeed a treasure. UNLESS you don't enjoy walking on one of the top 10 beaches in the world (previously chosen by National Geographic), or you don't find security in a great harbor that offers good holding and 360-degree protection, or you aren't looking for one of the least expensive and relaxing locations in the Bahamas. Yes, I did say least expensive because we have found Treasure Cay to be the best deal in our Bahamas trip so far, and for several good reasons.

Hope Town To Man O' War

Beach House and crew had a fabulous time at Hope Town. We made new friends and walked a lot of miles up and down the streets as well as a really long walk on the beaches. It is good to know that a tradition we saw 20 years ago when we first visited here is still being carried on - the tribute to beach junk. It was here we first saw artistic monuments to the trash found along the beaches. But all good things must come to an end and we had other places we wanted to see. After our normal morning weather checks, which actually take us a couple of hours, we paid our bill, topped off the water tanks and stowed everything on the boat for the very long, one-hour trip over to Man O' War. Several other boats were heading out of the harbor at the same time we were, including the local ferry which couldn't wait to get past us and throttled up just off our stern. They have places to be and don't care much about us pleasure boaters.

Cruising the Abacos, Marsh Harbour to Hope Town

Beach House and crew spent a week in Marsh Harbour enjoying the company of fellow cruisers and, of course, having repairs done. If things are going to break, this is the place to have it happen. Our windlass quit on us at Tilloo Cay and the thought of hauling the anchor and chain up by hand for the rest of the trip until we arrived back in Florida was not very appealing. Based on recommendations from other boaters, we took the windlass to a small repair shop called simply TSE that is across the street from Conch Inn and Marina. The owner Bryan did a great job for us and was able to repair the windlass instead of having to order parts and have them shipped in from the U.S. We also had him do some work on our spare alternator that was needed in case the current one fails, as it did on us once before. Bryan does work on electrical motors, starters, alternators, chargers, inverters, solar panels and a lot more. He can be reach by phone at 242-458-5418.