Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 ICW Cruising Guide almost done

The 2017 version of the cruising guide is in final review and should be published by 8/4/2017. The focus of the guide is to aid the boater in safely navigating the 120 or so shallow areas of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) with full-page color charts for each hazard and directions for safe passage. The guide is not a complete compendium of all marinas and anchorages; there are plenty of other guides for that. However, it does include the marinas and anchorages we’ve found spaced conveniently for ICW travel and where there’s pet relief easily available. Also included are lists of how to get ready for the trip and tips on making life more enjoyable on the waterway.

For the 2017 edition, the charts have been enlarged to show better detail and buoys now have their own labels (G3, R4, etc.) in larger type for easy reading. An example of a new chart is above for the Dawho River eastern entrance where you will find 6.6 MLW 400 ft off G115. The least I saw was 5.6 MLW between G115 and G117. The latest Garmin chart is incorrect in this area and the magenta line is much too far south, too close to G115, where the original channel is located. Likewise, the Navionics charts are off too with the magenta line displayed too far south. Even the Charleston ACOE survey is not helpful since it followed the old channel that's too close to G115 and doesn't survey depths outside the channel. The chart above is a reproduction of a NOAA ENC chart as displayed by Navimatics Charts and Tides. It's easy to follow the deep water as displayed. Look at your charts for the Dawho river entrance, if your charts are up to date they should look like the example above. There are many other examples of such discrepancies in the 2017 edition of the guide.  

Where not obvious, the charts have a yellow line showing the deepest water I found during my trip north in the spring of 2017. The chart at right of Masonboro shoaling by G135 shows the deepest water is outside the channel. The shoaling is directly in the middle of the channel down to 4 MLW. The waypoints BMason2 to BMason4 are included in the guide. Each chart has a mile marker location. All of the information on finding the deepest route through a hazard is from my personal experiences in seven years of cruising the ICW, which was updated on my spring trip north in 2017.  Nothing is secondhand except I did include several hydrographic charts from Wilmington and Charleston ACOE were available to aid in transiting the worse of the shallow areas. 

This year I have included waypoints for some of the most difficult areas such as Hell Gate, Fernandina, Jekyll Creek and a few others. I plan on expanding the list for those areas that show some stability. It can be very tedious manually entering the waypoints not to mention being error prone so I've posted the waypoints as GPX files on my blog site at in the ICW Tips section. Since I use an iPad, I've also included instructions on how to transfer the GPX routes to the iPad for the Garmin Mobile app. Once loaded, you will be following the same route I used in finding the depths I recorded in the spring of 2017. There will be one GPX route that contains all GPX routes in the guide. When loaded into the Garmin iPad app, each hazard route will be displayed individually just as if each had been loaded by themselves. I’ll keep the routes updated as I progress down the ICW this fall.

The advice section has been updated and expanded with the latest iPad apps and links in the ebook version have been checked to be sure they work. The Admiral (Ann) now has her own chapter covering the galley and what's handy in preparing meals. She does all of the helm work docking the boat too. Many of the advice comments didn't change, after all, there's a base level of things to do that does not change year to year but there are still updates with additional experiences. I plan on providing a file with all the links organized by guide page numbers so you don't have to look up references in the book, just click on the link. Of course, you can always get the ebook, which is free if you buy the hardcopy. All the links will be active in the ebook. 

I'll provide an announcement on the blog when the book is published.