5 Jan 1999
I'd recommend you keep open the option of coastal sailing, once you're south of Hatteras. Easy legs include: Beaufort/Morehead City to Wrightsville Beach; Southport (Cape Fear) to Georgetown, Charleston, Savannah, or even Fernandina Beach. There are several deep-water entrances in South Carolina and Georgia which will provide safety if weather or systems failures occur.
January 07, 1999 6:17 PM
You hit on something that has always puzzled me. I see sailboats going up and down the ICW in this area when they could do just what you say. I don't understand why they *motor* when they could sail on the relatively calm waters between Beaufort and Wrightsville, and Southport and points south. Granted there aren't many good inlets in between but it's rare the weather and seas are THAT bad. The ICW in this area is crowded, narrow, and tricking in spots. I'm taking a coastal nav. course at the local community college and the instructor is the captain of the CC's training vessel. They take trips up and down the NC coast and points further south out of the Cape Fear River. He says going south if you stay inside the Gulf Strean and follow a depth of 30 fathoms you can pick up a knot or two riding a south bound current. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't understand why more people don't take advantage of it.
February 22, 1999
Can anyone describe the trip from Chesapeake bay down Intracoastal? I am considering doing it.
You will not want to travel at night unless you are jumping offshore. To speed your trip up, I would (and have) jumped offshore from Beaufort, NC to Charleston, SC (about 36 hours).
I would urge you to pass through the ICW or Dismal Swamp cut south of Norfolk, VA to Pamlico Sound. Don't jump offshore until you are south of Southport, NC. This will allow you to avoid having to travel well offshore to avoid the shoals off of Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hatteras.
I did the trip in Feb of '92. Here is my recollection:
1. Norfolk, VA to Elizabeth City, NC via. Dismal Swamp cut: 2 days. Tie up to lock wall, walk into town to get gas/food. Tie up at free docks at Elizabeth City.
2. Elizabeth City, NC to Bellhaven, NC: 2 days. Anchor halfway in the Alligator-Pungo swamp cut. Bring lots of gas.
3. Bellhaven, NC to Oriental,NC: 1 day.
4. Oriental, NC to Beaufort, NC: 1/2 day. Good place to stop for fuel/supplies.
5. Beaufort, NC to Southport, NC: 3 days.
6. Southport, NC to Charleston, SC: 2 days (offshore). We left at dawn the first morning, and sailed into Charleston Harbor before Dark the next day (making landfalls in daylight is always preferred).
Total: 10-11 days. This is not counting layovers, staying in town for 1-2 days to see the area and get food/supplies. During summer months, when there is more daylight, you can make better time and maybe make the trip in 7-8 days. We averaged maybe 35-40 nm/day cruising the ICW in a 26' sailboat with outboard. The trip through Pamlico Sound should be decent, and you should get good wind. You will spend most of your time through the Dismal Swamp cut (or ICW if the Cut has insufficient water for you: check with Army Corp of Engineers), and ICW between Beaufort and Southport motoring, as what wind there is will be off your nose or dead behind you.
Just before you enter the Alligator-Pungo cut, there is a marina off the west side of the sound. If your range is as short as ours (outboard), you will need to stop here for gas, as you wont have enough to make it through the canal (we hitchhiked along Hwy 94 to Fairfield to fill our tanks).
Alternative to the Alligator-Pungo canal is to sail around and down Pamlico Sound. You sill get better wind, and do less motoring. Still, sailing after dark in restricted waters like this is for the birds. Get up early so you can be underway just before sunup, and make sure your anchor is down before dark will save you from some serious trouble. There is nothing like creeping into an unknown harbor from offshore with only a rough knowledge of your position, knowing that there is a submerged jetty extending 3 nm out into the ocean just waiting to get you. What is that, you say? You have a GPS (we didn't)? Bully for you. That didn't prevent a 30' sloop from running up on the Jetty off of Charleston Harbor recently, and sinking, taking all hands with it.