Our First Day on the ICW

Motor Boaters & Lessons From Above

16 December 2017

This trip couldn’t be further away from our time spent perusing the Caribbean. As our visa rules only allow us to remain in the US for 6 months, that’s not a lot of time to motor approx. 1200 miles through 9 US states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey & New York). Reaching as far as New York City is the goal but then we’ll need to turn around and head back down South in order to leave and either

  1. Cross the Atlantic back to Europe
  2. Visit Bahamas, BVI & then spend another hurricane season in Grenada
  3. Head to Cuba & then Central America (Mexico, Guatemala)

A decision on which one hasn’t been made yet, it all depends how our experiences of America go and living on the boat in a cooler climate.

There are so many places to stop and see along the ICW that hanging around is not an option, after 10 days in Miami (South Beach) and the engine now fixed its time to get going. Simon never ceases to amaze me with his skills around the boat, on leaving the UK he was petrified to mess about with anything now he’s carpenter, electrician, mechanic, plumber. Each repair seems to get more complex and this one was particularly difficult but he sorted it.

9 US States on the East Coast

Waving goodbye to the big city and heading towards the entrance to the ‘ditch’ we hit our first new challenge, a fixed bridge with a height of 56 foot. Having absolutely no idea how tall our mast is Simon ties a piece of string to a halyard (rope for raising & lowering the sail), halls it to the top of the mast and then measures it. A lot bloody easier than hoiking him up to the top, so the final figure is 55 foot. Mmmmh, raised eyebrows this doesn’t leave much margin for error!
Trying to play it as safe as possible we leave at low tide and take our approach very slowly. Both of us genuinely nervous, inches away from the bridge we gaze up praying that our mast does not come crashing down on our heads. It gets closer and closer, the tension building until I cant stand it and almost shut my eyes, but then the bridge begins to pass over us and relief takes over. The low tide has worked in our favour giving an extra foot clearance….Woohoo.
Only another 5 to go however these are lift bridge’s some with scheduled opening times and others open on request.

Approaching our first bridge (squeaky bum time)

Motoring along it kind of felt a bit like taking a yacht up the Thames but not quite as vast, some sections tall modern condominiums overlook the riverside, others are lined with big fancy houses and huge manicured lawns leading down to private docks. The water was calm apart from the wake created by ignorant powerboat speed freaks, nothing like coastal or open water sailing.

ICW Miami 

Being a warm Saturday it was particularly buzzing with sun seeking boaters and approaching a wider section of the river there seemed to be an awful lot of commotion. A huge mass of crafts had congregated around a shallow bank turning it into a kind of make shift beach, people were swimming and guys guzzling down beers while scantily clad girls sprawled them selves across various shape and size of powerboat. Pawing hair extensions with long fake nails and sticking out their chests taking filtered selfies for their Instagram & Facebook profiles. (Daisy will be banned from social media & smartphones until she’s 35!)
As we floated past in our slow and out of place looking ‘scrap yard’ sailboat it felt as though the entire crowd turned to watch, all looking at us like the uninvited nerds at a college frat party. Luckily we weren’t planning on staying, as unlike them we no longer ‘live for the weekends’ everyday is a weekend for us… Muh huh huh (evil laugh).

Motor Boaters Random Paradise

Our first anchorage for the night was a small inlet just off the waterway, starting with a sharp turn down a very narrow perfectly straight channel. On one side there were little 2 story apartments with balconies and a pool on the roof, a few people popped out and waved to us smiling. On the other side was a courtyard and lines of trees. Happily admiring this new interesting setting but also concentrating on the depth suddenly we hear snapping, crunching, banging …WTF is that. Shit. Panic. What’s on earth is happening?

Narrow channel (borrowed photo)

As leaves and branches fall across the deck and coach roof we realise that the mast has come crashing through some over hanging trees. A couple on a little pleasure craft witness the whole thing but find it quite funny we on the other hand are slightly embarrassed however still laughing at the shear craziness of the situation. After sailing on the ocean the last thing that ever crossed our minds was to check above our heads!

Now safely anchored in what seems to be a large perfectly round man-made lake surrounded by more apartments blocks & bright lights, but enclosed and protected from the elements. Over dinner we reflected on our first experience of intracoastal life and we really bloody enjoyed it. The new scenery never knowing what is around the corner, calm water allowing me to sit in the cockpit and read to Daisy without the fear of getting smashed around. It was much more comfortable and relaxing the only down point was having the noisy engine on but at least it means constant hot water on board and more importantly hot showers!

Maule Lake our first anchorage for the night

*Unfortunately most of our photos from here were lost when Simon’s phone went swimming so we had to borrow some off the internet


1 thought on “Our First Day on the ICW

  1. You really are an author now and must write that booK when you are home. Should be easy using all the blog posts!


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