Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dawho River - Beware the Magenta Line

We all know that the magenta line does not always lead you to the deepest water, in fact, it often does not. It's a handy guide to finding the general direction but you often need more data. I compiled a series of charts by various navigation programs to compare the routes through one of the more challenging areas of the ICW, namely, the east entrance to the Dawho River south of Charleston.

Below is the chart as shown by Navimatics Charts and Tides with a route plotted that I followed for a minimum of 5.5 MLW on 4/25/2017.

The chart correctly shows deeper water 400 to 450 ft north of G115. The yellow line is the path I took on 4/25/2017. If you have the latest charts, you should see a similar path highlighted corresponding to the lighter shade of blue above.

Next up is the same area as shown by the Charleston ACOE survey of 11/17/2016.

Unfortunately, the original channel has shoaled down to 3 ft but it's deeper farther north. Also unfortunately, the Charleston ACOE does not survey outside the old channel so we are left to our own devices - trial and error. I hand-drew the blue line to show the same route shown in the Navimatics example at the top.

Let's take a look at the Garmin chart of the same area.

In this case, the brown line is the exact path I took on 4/25/2017 for 5.5 MLW. I converted it into a GPX route which can be download at BDawho. Notice where the magenta line goes, it's much too far south. Compare that excursion south against the ACOE survey chart, it's shallow!

Next up is the Navionics chart for Dawho.

It shows a better depth using the more northerly route but the magenta line is still too far south.

Finally, let's take a look at the Navionics Sonar chart of the same area.

This is not bad although it shows less depth than what I experienced following the blue route. The Sonar chart by Navionics looks good for this passage but you never know the time stamp on the soundings and which areas are based on actual soundings and which areas are interpolations (or whatever). It would be nice if the Sonar chart showed where real data was used and given a time stamp.

So what to do? Active Captain is a source of current data along with alerts from Cruisernet and similar services. To get everything in one place, the 2017 ICW Cruising Guide is another option, which also comes in ebook format (free, with the hardcopy version). As I head south, I'll be updating Active Captain posts under the handle Bob423 and adjusting the GPX routes as needed. After all, the whole point of cruising down the ICW is to enjoy the ride. There are lots of sunsets to see, friends to meet, and quiet times just enjoying the trip.

Friday, August 4, 2017

2017 ICW Cruising Guide Now Available

I published the 2017 ICW Cruising Guide this morning. It is immediately available by clicking on the link at left that shows the book's cover. This year's version is formatted 8.5 x 11 inches and 220 pages long with all pictures and charts in full color. It's a direct order from the publisher, CreateSpace. The same book from CreateSpace will be on in a few days along with the ebook version. For a description of the guide, please see the previous post.

If you purchase the hardcopy version at left, then the ebook is free. Just send me your email address after purchasing your copy and I'll forward a link to download the ebook. To clarify, A free ebook is available to those who have purchased the hard copy book. If you bought the book off, the ebook is automatically approved for free when you place the ebook order. If you bought it directly from CreateSpace (the link on the blog), then just send me your email address and I'll give you a link for downloading the ebook. My email address is: 

In a few days I'll post an article under "ICW Tips" with all the hyperlinks that are underlined in blue in the book so you don't have to Google anything. Of course, the ebook has all the links already active so that's another way of accessing the references in the book. For the first time, the ebook also has an active Table of Contents in Kindle format for easy access.

This book has been a labor of love. I give thanks to my sister who is an English major for all the corrections in grammar and spelling although any remaining errors are all my own. I even found myself making errors in trying to correct errors! The formatting of ebooks is a nightmare. You just cannot get all the pictures and text to correctly flow like you can in a hardcopy book. I did the best I could after six revisions. Everything is there in the ebook, it just tends to be scattered somewhat due to the reader's choice of type size and device.

Please leave comments and/or a review on The reviews help everybody.

Now I'm off to Ocean City, NJ, for a week at the beach with the Fleetwing crew (no, I'm not taking the boat - as someone always asks).

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. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poughkeepsie YC - at our dock

The West Point Military Academy is always a dramatic sight
Today was OK. We had pizza for dinner so today was fun. My cosins left so that was sad. We are at the PYC club. We are HOME. We are having an early bedtime so I am a little disappointed just a little. We had a fun time on the river for 2 weeks I hope we have more like this. But before I go I need to tell you all something very special, the pizza was cheese.    

Storm King comes right to the edge of the Hudson River
The last day of our cruise with the grandkids was perfect. Ann prepared a favorite breakfast for Finn (pancakes and bacon) and we were off. The tide was against us all the way but we didn't care. We had a good view of all the magnificent sights along the way north including the palisades on the New Jersey coast which are about 300 to 500 ft high, very dramatic. Farther north you'll pass West Point and World's End where a chain barricade was placed across the Hudson Rive to prevent the English going farther north during the Revolutionary war. Just north of that you'll see Storm King Mountain which rises 1340 ft above the Hudson. In all it's a dramatic trip up the Hudson River.

Lots of barge traffic today, nobody could figure out what these were
The railway owns both sides of the Hudson for tracks so there is very little development since all the waterfront property is already taken by the trains. the Poughkeepsie YC is a rare exception where the trains take a small detour back from the water.

Home at last, we like it here too
Coming up on PYC we had about a 1 kt current behind us with a 15 kt wind, not ideal for coming into a face dock when there's a boat directly ahead of your slip. Ann was at the helm as usual and I supervised the crew with the lines. Ann decided on a Captain Ron maneuver and came at the dock at a 45 degree angle while moving with the current 1 kt towards the docked boat in front of our slip. At the last minute, Ann turned the boat 45 degrees and threw it in reverse just like Captain Ron in the movie of the same name. The boat stopped cold and snugged up against the dock. It was quickly tied off and we were in!

Our Connecticut crew is gone and we just have Rowan and Finn on board. We will get off the boat Monday and take them home Wednesday to Pennsylvania. We will undoubted spend a few days to rest up.

This marks the end of the temporary blog but it will continue starting 9/15 for our eighth trip to down the ICW to Key West. Be sure to join us then.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Croton Point in Haverstraw - at anchor

Finn's favorite building
Hello it’s the long lost FINN!!! Today we saw some skyscrapers. We are anchored at Croton point. We swam of the back of the boat. Matt joined us too. We saw one skyscraper that we called the drunk architect. It was really crocked so they attached it to the building next to it. I don’t know who would buy it but whoever who bought it must have been CRAZY!!! Today was a great day.      

Another odd one
We have Matthew on board who's in the architect school at Roger Williams University as a Junior this coming year so it was interesting rounding Manhattan and seeing some of the wilder buildings and Matt's assessment of the design. Finn was impressed once again by the "leading towers" of two buildings (pictured). I can only guess that it's just the desire to be different that drives such a design. Likewise for the buildings that appeared to be inspired by Lego blocks. On the other hand the Freedom Tower looked elegant and unique at the same time. It was an interesting ride.

How would you like to work here?
We went through Hell Gate as the tide was turning against us in the hope that by the time we reached the Hudson River, the tide would be in our favor. However, once again in our experience the tide was late. We bucked an adverse current all the way to Haverstraw Bay! It should have turned by at least the George Washington bridge according to the tide tables. We have never seen it turn on time yet! 

Magnificent Manhattan
We are now anchored off Croton Point with about 50 other boats (it's a Saturday night). We well conclude our journey Sunday upon returning to PYC late afternoon. I wish we had more wind for the trip but that's the chance you take in Long Island Sound in the summer. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Port Washington - at a free mooring

Sarah likes to steer the  boat! 
Hi this is Sarah and today was a very rainy day. This morning we had delightful biscuits with honey and had to wait out the rain. We were aiming to leave at 12:30 but there was a opening and we took it! I read my book, A Tree grows in Brooklyn, for a tiny bit until a felt a little sick and too nauseous to read to read. After a while I took my thirty minute shift and had lunch and rested for a little bit afterwards. Then we got to Port Washington and it was still raining. Before the our trip I took some motion sickness medicine and after we arrived in port Washington I could barley keep my eyes open and feel asleep. After I woke up and played on my phone and now I am doing the blog. After we have our dinner were going to watch Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, bye.

Racing sails!
We watched the weather radar to look for an opening and one came at 12:30 so we were off. There wasn't much wind and we didn't think we had to put out the mainsail for stabilization. That was a mistake. There were rollers coming off the Sound and they were hitting us broadside causing us to roll about 45 degrees in both directions. Everybody down below came up to he cockpit, it was not comfortable. We then up the mainsail up and that helped some but it still wasn't a good ride. 

When we turned the corner around the point and headed directly for Manhasset things got much better.We could see on the weather radar that we still had a window so we hurried along. Then the fog set in. We countered by turning on the running lights and powering up the ship's radar to see what's ahead of us in the fog. As you might expect, nobody else was out in this mess. We found the same mooring we used last time and then it started to rain. 

90 one day, today in the 60's, hardly summer weather
We hope to leave Manhasset around 7:00 am so we can make the tide through Hell Gate and reach Haverstraw Bay by the afternoon if all goes well. The next day we plan on reaching PYC. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Northport - at anchor

Even though it's called Sand City, the beach is mostly pepples
Howdy! Matt here. Today we had a lovely pancake breakfast. We then proceeded to remove ourselves from Port Jeff. On the way out of the anchorage we raise our mainsail and after getting a little ways farther out into the sound we raised the jib and cut the engine. Fleetwing got to experience a pleasant sail across the sound over to Sand City, Northport. She reached speeds of up to 6 knots with a strong 16 knot wind behind us. We didn’t have to tack until two thirds of our sail was over. I was caught using the head mid tack. I found myself up when I should have been down and came up into the cockpit with the swift realization that we tacked. I got some good reading in while we were sailed today. I have gone deep into the pages of the sci-fi masterpiece, Dune. We are now sitting anchored in Northport waiting to see whether we’ll get hit with a storm. Happy Sailing!

Peddles or not, the kids still enjoyed the water
At last we sailed! We came out of Port Jefferson and sailed across the Sound. Naturally, you could not point directly at our destination, that was right on the bow! We were just happy to have good winds of 10 to 12 kts and we took advantage of the opportunity. Once on the other side we tacked to point towards Northport but then in looking at the weather radar which showed severe weather on the way, we decided to motor the rest of the way (directly into the wind, of course, the wind gods know where you want to go!). It feels kind of powerful to be the only boat on the sound that controls the wind so effectively. Other boats must have fair sailing with winds on the beam since we didn't see any other boats headed in our direction. 

The front looked fierce but we didn't get much rain and no thunder or lightning
The cool front was coming with the associated storms so I made a quick trip to shore with Hoolie and the kids got some swimming in but we had to cut it short to get back to the boat before the storms hit. As it turned out, we snuck through a gap in the front and barely got any rain at all which didn't bother us any. Now it's about 15 degrees cooler and it feels nice. 

We're headed for Manhasset on Friday but there are storms coming again so we'll head out in the morning to avoid the afternoon storms. The real chancy departure date is from Manhasset heading for Haverstraw Bay. There are storms predicted all day long. If there's no opening, we'll sit Saturday out and leave on Sunday. The weather is king.