Saturday, August 16, 2014

The ICW Revisited, or America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Bridge of the Lions, St. Augustine, Florida

Motivator’s crew usually enjoys cruising the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds, while others are artificial canals. Wikipedia

This trip, however was a little less enjoyable.  Weather reports indicated a chance for strong thunderstorms with lightening offshore, so we elected to stay on the ICW.  Normally we avoid the ICW through Georgia due to chronic lack of maintenance. 

 Fishing at low tide

On this trip we “found” shoaling, misplaced markers and missing markers not only in Georgia, but also in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Patrol boat shadowing Motivator as we pass Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay

This is not to say it was all bad.  As usually, we found plenty of depth and the waterway from the inlet to Kings Bay to be well marked.  I guess that may be a budget priority.

Railroad Bridge

Also we found that several of the opening bridges have been replaced by fixed bridges with 65’ of air space.

We did encounter some bridge maintenance, and north of Myrtle Beach had to wait over an hour while bridge fender boards were being replaced.  But, we never saw a dredger.

After dodging this behemoth crossing the Savanna River, we managed to soft ground on a shoal in the middle of the ICW just before low tide.  As we waited for the tide to return (3 hours), local boats passed by and told us we should have been outside the channel to the east about 20 feet, that’s where one finds the deep water.

Cable ferry that crosses the ICW south of Georgetown, SC

Unlike the long open water passages we were accustomed to in the Caribbean, navigating on the ICW requires constant attention.

You soon learn to listen to and watch your wake to tell if you are getting out of the channel and into shallow water.

After several bumps on the bottom, we finally made it to Wrightsville Beach, NC where we were guests at the Blockade Runner Beach ResortFollowing Hurricane Arthur and the Fourth of July, we continued on to New Bern, NC, Motivator’s hiding spot for the 2014 hurricane season. 

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