Inside (ICW) – It’s all about the “Experience!”

Sitting in Norfolk contemplating our next route (inside or outside). Ive often wondered why so many boats take the inside route when weather is good? Well, my assumption is that its all about the experience!…so…the decision for us is inside through the ICW. Actually there are a few other factors that play into the route decision like weather, crew experience, sleep schedules and stress levels. The ICW actually starts at Norfolk and appears to be much like the “Route 66” of the Cruising community. Shallow “tannin tinted” water that leaves a brown mustache on your bow; no-see-ums that prey upon the unprotected with no escape…but the diverse, curious and sometimes wonderful stops along the way beget beautiful sunsets; a look at national wildlife of the East Coast and the camaraderie of fellow cruisers plying the same route to escape the frost that will soon descend upon the Northeast as fall blankets this region. The ICW is the Southbound migration super-highway for MV and SV cruisers.

Our logic for the “inside” decision revolved around a combination of the above but is anchored in the rich experience of the many anchorages, bridges, locks (one), marinas and the fact that it is a southbound move, a cooler early fall where the bug experience could be lessened and opportunities to enjoy the views. Another advantage is that a watch schedule is not required since the daily legs are short (50 miles or less). The only disadvantage to the inside route for a sailing vessel is three-fold…first, if any bridge or lock malfunctions – we are stuck (for however long it takes to fix it or back-track to go outside). Second, the bugs in some of the quaint little anchorages in this swampy section of VA and NC can be brutal – but we do need to test our new cockpit enclosure and hatch screens to see if they really work as designed. Finally – we have to burn fuel since sailing in the narrow channels is not possible and I will likely fret over shallow depths many times as we push our 5ft draft hull over 1 foot or less of clearance in some spots!…so – inside we go!

Our “inside” adventure will take us 4-days (as opposed to outside to Beaufort NC which is just a 2-day sail). We prefer outside from a “ease of travel” perspective but winds were projected to be against us.

Day 1 will take us from Norfolk VA to Coinjock NC (just off of Currituck Sound). Day 2 will end at Tuckaho Point Anchorage (about half way in the headwaters of the Alligator River). Day 3 will get us to Bonner Bay Anchorage (in the Bay River near Pamlico Sound). Day 4 is just a short hop to Oriental NC on the Neuse River which is just a day trip to New Bern NC or Beaufort NC to jump outside to the Atlantic again at Cape Lookout (South Of Cape Hatteras).

We plan to spend a few days to explore Oriental and New Bern as we have friends and family at the latter…plus – these are popular “Cruiser” spots to meet South-bounders heading in our direction. The trip also gives us a chance to watch weather again for an outside shot to Southport, Georgetown and Charleston SC which are “next stops.”

Our brief stay in Norfolk at the Neptune festival allowed us to visit family. We had a great time with them. It also allowed us to ship in new Watermaker membranes, some hardware for the generator and the new aft deck salt water wash down system to clean the “puppy pad” that Gus is now an expert at using!

All systems are operating properly and we are excited about the next move!