List of Cruising Legs

We have friends that we've invited for part of the trip down the ICW and although we know the trip south like the back of our hand, they are often unfamiliar with just where to join us and where to get off so I thought I would write a short tutorial on legs of the route south that some might find interesting along with convenient start and stop places. The usual routine is to drive down to a starting point, find a place for long term parking (plenty around) and then get off the boat where you can rent a car for the return trip. As for provisions it's BYOB and we'll split groceries - for the rest you're our guests, enjoy the trip.

First of all, the trip south down the ICW for us is from the Poughkeepsie YC to Key West. We only go outside (close to shore) where we have to. That includes the New Jersey shore, up the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal and also outside from Ft Lauderdale to Miami due to a bridge too low for our 55 ft mast. Other than that, we stick to the ICW. I'll describe a few trip segments that you may find interesting. I've included a Google Map of the route we used in 2012 cruising down the ICW to Key West. Refer to the map as you read the leg descriptions below. The Google Map has both a normal map view with roads, etc. and also a satellite view which shows the anchorages to better advantage.

Leg 1:  Poughkeepsie YC to Atlantic City
- Day 1:  We'll start at the Poughkeepsie YC
- Day 2:  Anchor at Haverstaw Bay at one of three locations depending upon the wind direction.
- Day 3:  Anchor at Atlantic Highlands, no need to pick up a $50 mooring.
- Day 4:  Dock at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City which has just been renovated for $150,000,000. For this leg we'll leave Atlantic Highlands at 5:00 am in the dark to make the 12 hour trip so we arrive in daylight. Atlantic City is fun to explore. Easy to pick up a rental car.
- Day 5:  Anchor at Cape May, home of the Coast Guard training station
- Day 6:  Anchor at Chesapeake City, explore the quaint, small town - great ice cream store!
- Day 7:  Mooring at Annapolis. It's a fun place to walk around and easy to find a rental car.
Warning, Days 5 through 7 are tentative depending upon the weather. We can usually predict the weather pretty good down to Atlantic City and we won't leave PYC until it looks good but beyond that it's a crap shoot. One year we spent a week at Atlantic City waiting for weather as a hurricane passed off-shore before leaving for Cape May.

When we first thought of going south, we looked forward to sailing in the Chesapeake but we've never found good sailing there so far in September. The wind and waves always seemed to be in the wrong direction and very strong for comfortable sailing so the next leg doesn't include the Chesapeake

Leg 2: Hampton, VA to Elizabeth City, NC
- Day 1:  We'll be at the Downtown Hampton Pubic Piers, at a dock. Nearby is the Virginia Air and Space Center - just a great place to tour and it has an IMAX too. There's an aquarium within a short walk too. On Friday and Saturdays, there's a free shuttle to local shopping areas.
- Day 2: Pass through Norfolk by huge naval ships being refitted and enter the Dismal Swamp for a free dock at the Visitor's Station, a famous ICW stopover. We may have boats tied up to us if there are more than thee at the station.
- Day 3:  Free dock at Elizabeth City. It's a scenic ride through the swamps, you may see snakes in the water and lots of turtles and flowers - and it's very shallow, we usually hit something on the bottom through this section, usually not too bad but it will wake you up. Rental cars are available here.

Leg 3:  Barefoot Landing, SC to Savannah, GA
The next section doesn't offer easy on and off for visitors so I've skipped down the ICW to Barefoot Landing at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. We'll be at a dock here with access to a huge outlet shopping area along with multiple entertainment complexes and lots of restaurants.
- Day 1:  Barefoot Landing in SC
- Day 2:  Georgetown, SC at the Boat Shed Marina. The trip from Barefoot to Georgetown is one of the most interesting of the passages. We are now in alligator country for sure and you may see some sunning themselves on the banks. The scenery is just beautiful. Lots of birds, turtles and maybe a snake or two.
- Day 3:  Awendaw Creek at anchor. We continue in alligator country and you're out in the boonies for sure now. It's really dark at night!
- Day 4:  Charleston, SC at the Charleston Maritime Center. An aquarium is next door, great visit! And, there's a Harris Tetter, a super supermarket for restocking! Easy access to rental cars.
- Day 5:  Experience thin water (!) as we shimmy through the shallows on the way to B&B Seafood, a totally unique experience. Not much of a dock but it's the home of a shrimp fleet and you can get the freshest shrimp possible for $8/lb.
- Day 6: Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort and Marina. A convenient stopover.
- Day 7:  Savannah, Georgia at Hinckley Yacht Services at a dock. Hopefully, we won't need repairs but it's a great place if you do. We usually rent a car here and explore Savannah, it's the most beautiful city we visit along the ICW.

From Savannah we get out in the boonies again (Wahoo River anchorage. Jekyll Island to Fernandina, Florida) with no convenient place for taking on or leaving crew.

Leg 4:  Fernandina, FL to Vero Beach, FL
- Day 1:  Fernandina Harbor Marina on a mooring. It's fun to just walk around town. There's a great BBQ place in town!
- Day 2:  Harbortown Marina at a dock. It's not a real marina but rather slips that belong to the condos ringing the docks. You can call ahead to get a slip for the night. The protection is outstanding, 360 degrees.
- Day 3:  St Augustine on a mooring. It's one of the great stops on the ICW. St Augustine is huge with lots of stores and restaurants and they usually have something going on. Last year we arrived during pirate week where many were dressed up as pirates and they staged battles, great picture taking. Rental cars are available if you want to leave from here.
- Day 4:  Ft Matanzas at anchor. There's a real fort here, free for a guided tour and a nature walk on the opposite shore, not to be missed. There are seveal more options for anchorages in the area too.
- Day 5: Rockhouse Creek anchorage. You can dinghy out to see the ocean too.
- Day 6:  Titusville at either a dock or mooring, depending upon the weather. Good dog park.
- Day 7: Eau Gallie Yacht Club. A fantastic facility with a great restaurant.
- Day 8:  Vero Beach City Marina on a mooring. This is home to many that only go this far south. Vero features free buses to anywhere all over the county. It's a fantastic service and the reason it's so popular with the cruising community. It's also the place where you may find youself tied up to another boat (or two!) while on a mooring if it's crowded. It's the only place I've found on the ICW that does that. It's easy to find a car for the trip back.

Our next stop is Stuart where we leave the boat for Thanksgiving and Christmas while we rent a car and drive back to NY to return in early January to resume our cruise south.

Leg 5: Stuart, FL to Marathon, FL
- Day 1:  Loggerhead Marina at Stuart at a dock (where we left Fleetwing for the holidays)
- Day 2:  Hobe Sound at anchor. Just a nice, quiet anchor to chill out after getting on the boat again after the holidays
- Day 3:  Palm Beach Yacht Center at Hypoluxo, Florida at a dock. Here's where we meet up with Joe Mastri and provision for the trip to Marathon.
- Day 4:  Ft Lauderdale at a mooring. This is a great place to explore and admire the scenery on the beach... Rental cars are available for leaving this leg.
- Day 5:  Marine Stadium at Miami at anchor. We have to go outside to avoid a 55 ft bridge between Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Depending on wind, waves and current, coming in the inlet to Miami can be REAL interesting. Marine Stadium is opposite Miami and offers a fantastic view of the lights of Miami at night! It's also the training area for Miami University and several Olympic teams for water sports (sailing, crew, etc.) It's fascinating to watch the training runs off the back of the boat.
- Day 6:  Rodriguez Key depending upon the weather. The schedule here is rather uncertain. We may sit out several days at Marine Stadium waiting for a weather window.
- Day 7:  Marathon, Florida on a mooring at Boot Key Harbor Marina. We may have to anchor while waiting for a mooring. From here we have to time our arrival to Key West to coincide with the time slot we reserved (1/28 to 2/28) so we could be at Marathon a week or so. There's cars for rent and a shuttle bus to Miami (cheap, several dollars).
- Day Whenever:  Arrive at Key West for a month's stay at a dock starting 1/28. Heaven on Earth.