Sailing down the Intracoastal Waterway for 5 days

My buddy bought a boat in Annapolis, problem is he lives in Key West.  He needs to get it south but has to work.  My Dad and I helped him out for a couple hundred miles, from Norfolk Virginia down to Beaufort, North Carolina.  What an amazing trip, through the naval shipyards and many bridges of Norfolk through 20+ mile straight canals, tiny towns, wilderness anchorages…  All with quality father-son time.  Wake up, have breakfast, host the anchor, and off we’d go, day after day.  So cool, I could have carried on for weeks, if not months, if not years.  Such a great adventure.  Wind was on our quarter the whole way, amazing.  Blowing pretty strong, as much as 30 knots some days.  We crossed a few big sections of open water.

ICW on a 30 foot boat, the Paxithea, Virginia

ICW on a 30 foot boat, the Praxithea, going past a rotating bridge

The log for the first few days is below, written by my Dad.
Met some extremely nice people on the second to last day with the exact same boat as my dad – we got along great, and actually hitched a ride from them out to the airport, which was over an hour from where we left the boat in Beaufort.  What a terrific trip.  Can’t wait to do more of the ICW.  See below for our log.
We ran aground one day, the last day of the trip.  We were told we’d run agraound every day – I cursed us after not having hit for 4 days, saying our trip wasn’t complete without a grounding, wouldn’t you know, that day we got stuck. Not to worry, reverse with a lot of thrust for a few minutes got us off.  Saw wild horses the last day on an island.  Saw three different pods of dolphins swim right by the boat.  Awesome.  
Channel Marker on the ICW, 3rd day

Channel Marker on the ICW, 3rd day


Wild Horses on an Island across from Beaufort NC

Wild Horses on an Island across from Beaufort NC


















Praxithea Log

Norfolk to Beaufort

September 18 -23, 2008

Tom and Tom Trimmer


The goal of the trip was for Tom Jr. and Tom Sr. to move Praxithea, an Irwin 30 owned by Tadd Maudlin, from Norfolk VA to Morehead City NC.  We have allowed 5 days for the trip of 200 miles down the ICW even though we believe it can easily be done in four days.  This allows us a weather day.


Thursday, September 18


We arrived in Norfolk about 3 PM and were met at the airport by Steve……, the father of the prior owner of Praxithea.  Steve was very helpful and accommodating in that he drove us to the grocery for provisions and loaned us guides for the trip.  We rowed out to Praxithea and brought her into a dock near Steve’s boat so we could load gear and provisions.  We ended up staying the night at the dock.


Friday, September 19


We started our morning by topping off the fuel and purchasing a propane canister for the grill.  We departed the fuel dock at 8:30 AM headed for the first of four bridges about three miles downstream.  The first bridge tender coordinates opening with a railroad bridge next to it.  We waited for a freight train to pass when through with about a half hour wait.  We were impressed by the amount of industry along the waterway principally related to the ship building industry.  We also passed through the Great Bridge lock which lowered us about 2.5 feet.  Once through the lock, we were in relative wilderness or so it seamed.  We spent the day traveling through canals and rivers with only a small amount of open water.  We spent the night at the village of Coinjock at mile marker 49.5.  We arrived at Coinjock at about 6 PM giving us time to cook a chicken dinner, read a bit and hit the sack early.  We were both tired from navigating all day.  It is critical to stay in the narrow channel to avoid grounding.  One of us would monitor the chart plotter on the computer and the other would man the helm.  We managed to avoid running aground even though the average depth in the channel was only 7 feet.


Saturday, September 20


We departed the dock at 8:30 AM and headed down fiver for about 10 miles to the Aberschnaber Bay (Real name Albemarle).  Winds were out of the Northeast at 20-25 knots so we were able to sail once in the Bay with the wind off our quarter.  Seas were up to 4 feet at the southern end of the bay.  We averaged about 18 feet of water most of the way.  We arrived in the Alligator Pungo canal about 4 PM and found an anchorage about 8 miles into the canal.  We were passed by a few shrimp boats but that was it.  We had the anchorage and canal all to ourselves.


Sunday, September 21, 2008


We weighed anchor at 8:30 AM.  After about 10 miles of river we entered the Pungo River which was at least a mile wide.  We motored for about 5 miles due to light winds then struck the sails and had a wonderful sail through the river with the winds off our quarter.  Our goal was the RE  Mayo Co. which is a place we could purchase fresh shrimp and fish.  We were both ready for a shrimp dinner.  Unfortunately the place was closed; it’s Sunday as Tom figured out.  We motored another mile down Goose Creek to a small creek and anchored in 6 feet of water at 5:40 PM.  Guess we will have chicken on the grill tonight.


Chicken and baked beans were delicious, ate in the cockpit.  Mosquitoes came thick after dark, we battened down the hatched and managed to find some screens, so are getting a bit of fresh air, hatch to the cockpit is boarded up.  We had a bunch more sailing than we thought today, got the main up and did between 2-5.5 knots.  Beautiful day, getting in the groove.  Anchored in a beautiful back little bay, marshland around us, in about 6 feet of water, I threw the giant CQR anchor overboard.  Lots of crab pots around us, not much wind which is good when you’re anchoring.  Did some reading before dinner, now ready to hit the sack.


A fly is torturing me.  He will not leave me alone as I write this.  The insolent fellow even landed right on my nose.  I chased him around the cabin for at least an hour without success.  Got in three or four good shots but missed every time.  Until the last, and we slept peacefully.


Monday, September 22, 2008


Woke very early, before the sun was out.  We read for a bit, had breakfast, and then pulled the zillion pound CQG anchor up together.  It was a very still morning in a very quiet part of the marsh.  We motored a few miles back up the canal to see if we could get some fresh shrimp from the ragtag seafood place with the shrimping boats, but had no luck, just got some ice from a few good ol’ boys.  Had a terrific sail out into Pamlico Sound, made our way around a few marks, and ran all the way into Oriental.  Walked around the village, stopped in a marine consignment shop.  Had a greasy fried lunch, unhealthy though it was, was a break from the very healthy meals we had been eating the last few days.  Docked at a tiny free town dock for the night.  Wouldn’t you believe a 38 foot Ericson docked across from us/  Shared a beer with the very nice couple, Sherron and Hilco on their boat and Hilco and Tom Sr regaled each other with Ericson tales and all the simliar and different things they had each done with their boats, all their repairs and modifications over the years.  Was great fun.  Had dinner at M&M’s, a nice restaurant about a block away.  Tomorrow we’re off to Beaufort.


4 Responses to Sailing down the Intracoastal Waterway for 5 days

  1. JF Regnard says:

    I may have to sail a boat from CT to Fort-Everglades. Which book (or guide) would you advise me to read so as to prepare that trip ? Any website where I can find useful information ?
    Thank you in advance.

    • forexctas says:

      Hey Jeff –

      We used the “Anchorages Along the Intracoastal by Skipper Bob and Marinas by skipper Bob. Also “Footloose” on the Atlantic Waterway. We found all to be helpful. We also had a blast doing the trip and I’m very jealous of you!! Anything else I can help with please let me know.


  2. Tadd says:

    I thought that I had read this blog shortly after you completed the journey. I don’t remember you going aground, though. Wow, almost two years ago now. Good stuff.

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