November 15, 2011.
What I consider the first third of this years trip is done. After 19 days and covering 920 nautical miles we arrived in Vero Beach before lunch today. If you subtract the 5 days we lounged in Oriental, NC we averaged about 66 miles a day. Some days we were running away from the cold while others we were running for the next anchorage. Getting the timely weather window that allowed us to skip Georgia made a huge difference to us as Georgia, while beautiful is incredibly meandering.
This year the weather dictated that we spend more time on the ICW than we usually do. Even when the winds were reasonable and from good direction the offshore swell was much bigger than normal due to near hurricane Sean passing north along the coast.
Large portions of the ICW can be sailed but its hard to do with winter temperatures chasing you. Sailing a 5 knot 40 mile day is hard to justify when you can motor at over 7 knots for another 20 miles made good. It seems that every 50 miles south equates to about 1 degree Fahrenheit.
I think that everyone considering the trip along the east coast should do the entire ICW at one time or another. There really is a lot to see. The animal life along the waterway is more prolific than I had ever imagined. We've seen flamingos, pelicans and bald eagles....we didn't have any of those back in Jersey. We've had to stop the boat to allow a bear to continue his swim across the ICW. We've seen alligators, pelligators (The Pelligator ), deer, wild horses, the beast with two backs(The beast with Two Backs ), wild goats and this year we can add a flock of turkeys to the list.
You can never predict what might be around the next bend. Quaint towns, history, abandoned boats, challenging routes, forest fires and Frenadians....there's just so much out there.
Every anchorage is different. Will you have it to yourself, will it be filled to capacity, will you run into friends long unseen, will there be anchoring antics....? Of course there will, that parts always a given.
Will you bump the bottom....probably. Will you run hard aground....possibly. Will you die from it....lets hope not. It might be inconvenient, it might be embarrassing but there’s a good chance you'll get yourself off. Sometimes you need some help from the tide while other times it takes a call to TowBoat US. But it'll pass. Will you see someone else run aground....absolutely. Will you ask yourself “what the hell was he doing over there?”....of course. Will a complete stranger ever offer to help.....yes, will you pay it forward....you better.