The good and the bad:  First, here is what you don’t want to see on the Intercoastal Waterway —

Boats that have sunk – or are aground.  Always scary.



But this one just south of St. Augustine was grounded on purpose.  Several people are scrubbing its bottom.


This coming right at you and you can’t figure out what it is.


Okay, sure, as it got closer, it was clearly a tug with a drydock or caissons.  But from a ways away and around the bend, it looked pretty weird.

A tug and a barge coming this close as you are barely creeping along the edge of a narrow channel, the engine in neutral, and the depth sounder alarm going off and showing 5.5’ of water (Motu Iti needs 5’ to float).  But you don’t run aground and are able to carry on as soon as you get your heart rate back to near normal.


We go under a lot of bridges – prevailing height is 65’ and we only need 45’, but it always looks close as we approach the bridge.


Here’s some fun stuff from the Waterway.

Beautiful mosaics on the Memorial Bridge in Daytona Beach, a welcome artistic contrast to the typical square concrete pillars with years of barnacle growth on them.


A bridge that opens right when you need it to even though you were never able to contact the bridgetender by radio because his was hit by lightning the night before and doesn’t work.


A pretty swing bridge, even if the bridge tender made you wait while you drifted down on the current.


Old-fashioned looking shrimp boats in Thunderbolt just south of the Savannah River.  And two nights later you have shrimp and grits at a waterfront restaurant in Beaufort, SC.


Seven tugs pulling, pushing and guiding about a quarter of a mile of dredge equipment and the bridge has to stay open for all of it.  And you are on your boat tied to a dock along the ICW, taking pictures and not worried at all about going aground while trying to stay out of its way.


The morning view from your anchorage at Awendaw Creek – all still and peaceful.  You are amazed how beautiful it is because the night before, when you anchored, it was windy and darkish and scary.  And then just before you pull up the anchor, you watch seven dolphins fishing in the water between your boat and the marsh grasses.


The morning sun reflecting off the water at Town Hall Creek near McClellanville – and the marks are easy to find and the water is deep on a rising tide.


An osprey looking very territorial on his/her nest.


The Waccamaw River cypress swamp – one of the best places on the ICW.  And you have trouble choosing from among its many beautiful, secluded anchorages.


Your own boat cutting a wake through the Waccamaw River as you motor sail against the current on a gloriously beautiful day.


P.S.  Motoring 50 miles/day at 5-6 mph can get a little tedious and monotonous notwithstanding the constant anxiety of thin water and cranky bridge tenders, but it’s still interesting and beautiful.

4 thoughts on “What To See & Not See on the ICW

  1. It is clear you have been on and off the boat for sometime now. To those of us sitting at our computer in the office on a 48 degree cloudy day in Michigan, boating on the ICW just doesn’t seem all that tedious. Just reflect a minute on where you would have been a couple of years ago. Love you,

  2. Good point, Mike. I am sitting at 85 degree, sunny, beautiful day but it’s a looooooong way to any beautiful water sites. So glad the trip home is going smoothly. And so happy for you that you are on this great trip and not sitting in your office reading someone else’s blog! Safe sailing.

  3. You are doing a wonderful job both of managing the voyage and sharing it with us. We are eager to follow you on your next one. Without getting too far out of present time, do you have any ideas of where and when?

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