Category Archives: General Cruising

Favorite A-ICW Stops

I was asked recently to comment on our “favorite places” to visit as we cruised along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Following was our response. There are many more places we also stop, but these are the “highlights” we think will also appeal to others.

As a reminder, the ICW is measured in Statute Miles, not Nautical Miles. Statute miles are 5280 feet, what we all know and love in a car as miles, with speed measured in miles per hour. Nautical miles are longer than Statute miles; the conversion factor is 1.1508, so 5280 x 1.15 = 6076 feet (rounded).

Below in this text, I use the following abbreviations:
MM – mile marker
StM – Statute mile (vs Nautical Mile)

Portsmouth, VA: Located immediately south of the Chesapeake Bay, this is an excellent place to rest and relax after transiting the Bay, particularly if the weather has had the Bay “a bit disturbed.” Portsmouth is at MM0 – the start of – the Atlantic ICW. Southbound, Norfolk is to Port and Portsmouth is to STBD. There is an anchorage known as “Hospital Point” at MM0, but dinghy docks are scarce for those who’d want to go ashore. Waterside Marina is a good marina stop in Norfolk, VA. It’s located within walking distance to the USS Wisconsin, a WWII Battleship museum. One quarter mile south of MM0 are Tidewater Marina and Ocean Marine on the Portsmouth side. There are also two first-come, first-served public basins on the Portsmouth side where cruisers can tie up free; there are no services. These spaces fill up fast if bad weather is forecast or in progress for the lower Chesapeake Bay, as they are great places to wait on weather. Storm tides here will come over the docks, so you may get your feet wet. From the High Street basin, it’s an easy walk to the museum Light Ship Portsmouth. There are two small but nice museums surrounding that basin. Along high street, there are several mostly “bar food” restaurants; our particular favorite is the German Biergarten, about a 6 block walk.

Elizabeth City, NC, and the “Albemarle Loop:” Elizabeth City at MM 51 on the Dismal Swamp ICW Route is the “anchor town” of the ICW southbound from Norfolk/Portsmouth.  Elizabeth City has a marvelous small museum dedicated to the maritime and economic history of the region.  The Elizabeth City Public Wharf is the “Harbor of Hospitality.”  Docks are free, albeit without services.  This is a favorite stop for us to relax and refresh.

South lies the Albemarle sound, a shallow body of water where the “deep water” range is 12′ – 18′.  These waters are home to many crab fishermen; crab pot floats are to be found virtually throughout the sound.  The sound lies geographically East-West, and the prevailing winds are from the West and Southwest.  Winds greater than 15 kts can raise uncomfortable beam seas for North-South crossings.  Winds greater that 20 kts can produce uncomfortable chop in all directions.

While not technically part of the ICW, the Albemarle “loop” is centered around the two ICW Routes between Norfolk/Portsmouth and the southbound ICW at the Alligator River in North Carolina.  The “Albemarle Loop” is a cruising route that touches some wonderful and oft-overlooked venues.  On the Crystal Coast, the towns of Manteo and Ocracoke are excellent stops.  On the Western Albemarle, the towns of Edenton and Plymouth are delightful.  The history of the Albemarle dates to the earliest English colonists.  At Matteo, visit the Lost Colony Plantation.  At Edenton, visit the revolutionary period Chowan County Courthouse, St. Paul’s Church, learn of the “Tea Party” that the ladies of Edenton hosted, and visit many local historical sites.

Here is a link to information on the Albemarle Loop:

Beaufort, NC: This is a vintage seaport town just East of Morehead City, MM204; it’s a very pleasant, laid-back, “chillaxin'” place with a small but well done Maritime Museum, many shoppes and some nice local restaurants.  Stay at the Beaufort City Docks. This marina is pricy for a municipal marina, but convenient for walking access to town. For those who might enjoy a short off-shore (maybe 10 miles) jaunt, depart the Beaufort Inlet and head out the the bight at the Cape Lookout National Seashore.  It is a large, well protected anchorage, with dinghy access to the beach for campfires and swimming.  The bight itself is well protected from ocean winds and sea states, but the trip out and back can be too much for some if the wind offshore is up.  Plan accordingly.

Charleston, SC: magnificent old southern city with many points-of-interest and fine restaurants. Our visit strategy is to immediately take a tour bus around the city that is new to us.  We look for a tour company that has same-day on-and-off privileges.  (We do this every time we arrive somewhere we’ve not been before, including Canada).  We take the entire tour circuit first, then go back to places that we think we’d like to know more about.

In Charleston, MM465, our preferred marina is the Charleston Maritime Center, located on the Cooper River, on the north side of the city, on the Cooper River. The CMC basin can be choppy in heavy weather, but we feel the relative convenience of the location is offsetting. We suggest advance reservations, as this is a popular marina with a relatively small capacity for transient visitors.

At Charleston, start the city tour at the downtown Welcome Center.  Or, take a tour boat to Fort Sumpter. There is a nice aquarium near the Ft. Sumpter ferry docks.  There is a water taxi from the Charleston Maritime Center that goes back and forth to Patriot Point, which is where the USS Yorktown museum ship is located.  There is a large Harris-Teeter grocery about two city blocks from the Maritime Center.

There are several architecture tours and many weekly and seasonal activities for visitors.

Beaufort, SC: from the Beaufort Downtown Marina, take a carriage tour through the historic ante-bellum homes in the area.  Our preferred marina stop here is Port Royal Landing Marina. From the docks, it’s a long walk to shore, but the hospitality at PRL is like no other.  Beaufort’s downtown is friendly with many shoppes and good small town restaurant options. Rent a car here and visit the nearby Gullah Geechee historical and cultural corridor, the Penn School (founded in 1862) and Fort Fremont.

Savannah, GA: In Savannah, cruisers can stay on the Savannah River, in downtown Savannah, at either the municipal docks or at private marinas. The Savannah waterfront is very interesting, with its large riverwalk, wonderful park overlooking the River, and a mix of large shipping, commercial traffic and every kind of small-boat and pleasure craft.  The tidal range here is about 8′ – 9′, and at low tide, boats are significantly below the adjacent public riverwalk, where pedestrians are fascinated by the boats and often look down at boats moored on the municipal dock. The downtown docks are in a “No Wake Zone,” so for the most part, wakes are not an issue. Throughout the season, there are events and activities along the riverwalk, and we’ve found it quite interesting and fun.

Alternatively, cruisers can stay at Thunderbolt or Isle of Hope. From both locations, city busses run to the downtown Savannah Welcome Center. My Admiral prefers the quiet and relative privacy of this alternative. In Thunderbolt, there are a couple of fun “pub food” restaurants and a fine marine chandlery caller River Supply.

In Savannah, there is a nice live stage theater within walking distance of the downtown waterfront (  There are several architecture tours and many weekly and seasonal activities for visitors.  From Savannah, boaters can rent a car to visit Bonaventure Cemetery (an amazing place, the film site for the movie, “Garden of Good and Evil”), Tybee Island (the Tybee Island Lighthouse and grounds are open to the public) and Fort Pulaski.

Fernandina Beach, FL: The downtown of this lovely small city is right at the foot of the docks at the Fernandina Harbor Marina.  Take the tour to Civil War era Fort Clinch.  Visit the house where the Pippi Longstocking movie was filmed.  Visit Billy Burbank’s trawl net factory. The trawl net “factory” makes shrimp nets, but the modern history of this business is instructive to anyone interested in entrepreneurship. Burbank’s is open to the public for tours, and it’s a very interesting afternoon.

St. Augustine, FL: We prefer to stop at the St. Augustine City Marina. Tidal currents here are swift; boat handling skills and careful attention to the dockmaster’s instructions are essential. Wait for slack if unsure; caution is essential. The Catholic Cathedral Basilica would be of architectural interest to all. The Fortification overlooking the river – Castillo de San Marcos – is wonderful, and the docents that do the historical interpretation are excellent.  There are many restaurants – ranging from fine dining to pub food – within walking distance of the St. Augustine City Marina.  We particularly like the a1a Ale House.  Rent a car or take a shuttle bus to the St. Augustine lighthouse, which is open to the public. Young’uns traveling with you would also enjoy the Alligator Farm.

Titusville, FL: Not really remarkable as a destination in itself, but the Titusville City Marina is an excellent place for boaters to stay in order to visit NASA at Cape Canaveral; the public areas and displays at Canaveral are excellent.  It’s also a great place to watch a launch, if one is scheduled.

Comments on ICW cruising conditions:

For a more thorough discussion of cruising conditions, hints, tips, suggestions and warnings, please see our related article on the A-ICE on this website, here:

There are many areas of shallow water throughout the Southeast region.  The very best resource for current data on low water (shoaling) and caution areas is available via  Two other websites that all ICW travelers should know about are and  Waterway Guide publishes a series of excellent waterway guide books and maintains cruising information on their website and on tablet and smartphone apps. The “Salty Southeast Cruiser’s Net (SSECN) is really a boating group, founded by Claiborne Young.  After Claiborne’s untimely loss, the group has continued in operation.  The Cruiser’s Net website specializes on the US Southeast.  SSECN has apps for both tablet and smartphones. There is some duplication of material between the WWG site and the SSECN site, but there is unique value to both.  Both are excellent resources for fuel prices, marinas and anchorages.  All three of these websites require users to register, but all three are free, and all are very useful to ICW boaters.

There are some generalizations that apply to the ICW between Georgetown, SC, to and through St. Augustine, FL. This entire stretch has high tidal ranges; from 5′ at St. Augustine to as much as 9′ in Savannah/Beaufort/Charleston.  The high tidal ranges create swift tidal currents, and especially for first-timers, docking is easiest in the 1/2 hour before and after slack. In some of those areas, boats drawing more than 4′ will want to consider not traveling at low tide; especially celestial low tides.  There are some well-known “trouble spots” in the region, including the Dahoo River at MM490/500, the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff at MM 518, Fields Cut at MM573, Hell Gate at MM600, the Little Mud River at MM650, Jekyll Creek at MM680/685, and several spots on the Amelia River/South Amelia River below Fernandina Beach. There are some local knowledge bypasses around some shoal areas.  In others, the only choice is to wait for the tide to provide deeper water. All of the cruising sites above can provide additional detail.

The US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for dredging the ICW.  USACE is funded through state congressional delegations.  In recent years, the money congress allocated to dredging has been diverted by these state delegations to “more pressing needs,” with the consequence that many areas of the ICW are shoaling. In fact, the ICW resource is slowly being lost… allowed to die, really… by congress.  There is a not-for-profit organization called the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association that tries to improve the situation.  The Executive Director is Brad Pickel at

Renting a car in any of the above venues greatly expands what a cruising visitor can see and do.  Some, but not all, marinas have courtesy cars.  Generally, courtesy cars can’t be used for long periods of time, but they are useful for re-provisioning and maintenance runs.

Anchoring Rights

In this post, I’ll summarize what I think I know about anchoring rights. I feel all boaters should at least be aware of this context, since it is what actually gives us our “rights” at law, and that we risk losing if we fail, as citizens, to pay attention, become and be involved.

All materials in this post are taken from sources that are assumed to be in the public domain.  If any copyrighted material is contained within these pages, that material will be removed immediately upon receipt of notification.


The customs and traditions of mariners and navigation pre-dates Roman law back to the Phoenicians. Roman jurists regarded the sea and the foreshores as res communes; i.e., property which could be used by all, but which was incapable of private ownership. This ancient rule derives from the historical fact that for most of the history of civilization, goods and people moved mainly by water. Navigable waters were the public highways of the day, and their inherent public character was recognized and protected by the laws of England, Spain and ancient Rome.

The modern Public Trust Doctrine actually originated in English common law. Lord Hale in his treatise, De Jure Marls, distinguished between the proprietary interests of the sovereign (King) and the rights of the public in tidal waters. Hale referred to the former as jus privatum and the latter as jus publicum.

In the United States, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Article III, Section 2 enumerates the powers of the federal courts, to include “4. Cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.” Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled in 1848 (decision authored by Justice Joseph P. Bradley) that all Navigable Waters in the US are the jurisdiction of the Federal Government under Article I, Section 8 (specifically, the Commerce Clause) of the Constitution, and that lawmaking related to admiralty and maritime matters was the role of the Federal Congress. (Citation 1:; citation 2: And of course, international treaties, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as adopted by Congress, have the same force of law as the Constitution itself.

In the US, the Public Trust Doctrine emerged in nineteenth-century America. It imposed substantial restrictions on the power of federal and state governments to abridge public rights of navigation and fishing or to alienate lands beneath navigable waters. The development of the Public Trust Doctrine can be traced in a series of United States Supreme Court cases beginning with Martin v. Waddell, decided in 1842. According to the Court, “When the revolution took place the people of each state became themselves sovereign, and in that character hold the absolute right to all their navigable waters in the soils under them for their own common use, subject only to the rights since surrendered by the constitution to the general government.”

Thus, the various states continue to have the primary responsibility for defining the limits of the public trust doctrine and formulating a policy concerning the disposition of sovereignty submerged lands within their respective boundaries. The states “own” the tidelands and beds under navigable waters.

The character of Public Trust land ownership differs in many respects from that of a private owner. In its modem form, the Public Trust Doctrine limits the power of states to dispose of lands under tidal waters. The doctrine has traditionally been employed to protect public rights to navigation, commerce and fishing, but in some states it has also been utilized, along with other concepts, to protect the public’s access to upland beach areas for recreational purposes.

(Citation: The above paragraphs of historical background were extracted and summarized in the main from this document:


In the State of Florida, the Public Trust Doctrine is set out in Article X, section 11 of the Florida Constitution. This state constitutional provision codified the existing common law, which said title to navigable lakes and streams was held by the state in trust for use by the people. Under the Public Trust Doctrine, Florida became the title-holder of all water bodies “navigable in fact” within its boundaries when the territory attained its sovereign status as a state in 1845. Title vested in the new state by operation of law, without the necessity of any deed, inventory, patent, or survey. As explained by the Florida Supreme Court, these navigable waters “passed to the state in its sovereign capacity to be held by it in trust for the people thereof.” Because of the inherently public character of navigable waters, the essential feature of the trust is that navigable waters are not held for purposes of sale into private ownership, but instead must be held by the state for the use and enjoyment of the public. (Citation: Broward, 50 So. at 829)


Citation: 65 C.J.S. Navigable Waters s. 22, at p. 135.: “… Moreover, public rights on navigable waters are not generally restricted to navigation in the strict sense but also encompass such incidental rights as are necessary to render the broader rights reasonably available, including the right of the navigator to anchor and to moor without unreasonably obstructing others’ navigation rights.” Legal Definition – Corpus Juris Secundum; n; An authoritative legal encyclopedia that provides general background knowledge of the law with footnoted citation to relevant case law. Abbreviated C.J.S.

Specific to the State of Florida is an Attorney General’s Opinion that states, “These incidental rights include the right of the vessel to anchor so long as it does not unreasonably obstruct navigation. The common-law includes rights of anchorage as an element of the exercise of rights of navigation.” (Citation: Florida AGO 85-45.) NB: this AGO does not extend to the aesthetic interests of wealthy waterfront landowners.


As I read and “understand” the above, anchoring by cruising yachts in St. Augustine, or at Jensen Beach, or at Sarasota, or ANYWHERE else in Florida, in a manner that does not obstruct adjacent waterways, and in conformance with other applicable federal and state laws, should be entirely permissible under the Public Trust Doctrine. Or, for that matter, ANYWHERE ELSE in the United States of America.

So, then, where does that leave us?

In general, the right to anchor indefinitely in one place is probably NOT unlimited, and may well be within state’s right to regulate. And it is undeniable that there are vessels that are now derelict, and other vessels in the process of becoming derelict, now anchored in Florida waters. Both public and private parties have an interest in controlling and removing such vessels.

For those of us who care about anchoring rights, and for those of us who try to influence government to make reasonable anchoring rules, the real issue is to focus on what is reasonable, and where the lines are between reasonable and unreasonable. It is probably not unreasonable to have a limit on the length of time a vessel can be anchored on any one place. It is probably not unreasonable to specify a minimum safe distance that a vessel must maintain between itself and nearby structures. The trick is to agree to a definition of these criteria that is reasonable to all involved. In many, many areas of modern public life, it seems to me, “we the people” have a lot of trouble coming to reasonable accommodation with one another’s interests. That may be why, in Florida, this particular issue never seems to get settled. And why it is spreading so rapidly to other states, too.

Yacht Club Reciprocity

Individual Yacht Clubs are private-membership organizations, not considered “places of public accommodation” under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yacht Clubs generally operate as corporations formed under state corporate laws, and their own locally established by-laws. They establish their own operating “rules-and-regulations.” In many parts of the country, there are regional associations of yacht clubs.  Within these region affiliations, local customs and practices are usually similar from club-to-club. Examples include the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Clubs Association (CBYCA), The Florida Council of Yacht Clubs FCYC) and in the Hudson Valley, the Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club Association (HRBYCA) and the Mohawk-Hudson Council of Yacht Clubs (MHCYC). Similar associations exist across the country. There are also national associations of yacht clubs. One national association of yacht clubs is the “Yachting Club of America.”

Cruisers should view reciprocity as a courtesy extended to visitor’s by a local yacht club.  Local rules surrounding non-member visitors reflect the attitude of the club’s members and are adopted by each individual club’s Board of Directors. Yachting Club of America member clubs are not “required” to offer reciprocity; the choice is up to the local club.  Reciprocity is not guaranteed.  Local yacht clubs may or may not allow persons not affiliated with a home yacht club to visit and use their facilities. The terms and conditions of reciprocity plans vary widely, often based loosely on “regional custom and practice.”  Some clubs do not choose to offer reciprocity in any form, some offer reciprocity only to members of specific sister clubs, some restrict reciprocity to members of “any other” yacht club, and some choose to admit transient cruisers. Unless there are specific arrangements in place between specific clubs, reciprocity usually means the hosting club will extend the use of their docks, and sometimes their other facilities, to visitors affiliated with other yacht clubs.

“Reciprocity” does not mean “free.”  Dockage fees are often comparable to fees at regional marinas.  Most yacht clubs have very limited slip capacity available for transients, so advanced planning and reservations are sometimes helpful.  Not all clubs accept advance reservations.  Many yacht clubs are some distance away from towns and/or shopping, and more often than not, have limited dining facilities, if any at all.

In New England, based on our cruising experience, we concluded it was the regional norm (custom and practice) for yacht cubs to accept transients for dockage/mooring without requiring affiliation with a home club.  We were usually welcomed to use club facilities, but at Point Independence Yacht Club, Onset, MA, we were told transients could not use their club house facilities.

On the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Clubs Association follows regional interests affecting yacht clubs. On the Chesapeake, particularly the northern Bay, it’s more the norm for clubs to restrict transient visitors to those cruisers who have membership in a home yacht club.  Annapolis is a destination port, and the Annapolis Yacht Club will not welcome transients from Chesapeake Bay clubs located within 100 miles of Annapolis.  Capital Yacht Club, Washington, DC, is a very welcoming club. Slip availability is highly constrained by demand, and advance planning is essential.  The weekly dockage rate at CYC equaled regional marina transient rates, and they do offer a modest discount for members of other CBYCA clubs and for weeklong stays. Hampton Yacht Club, Hampton, VA, is an extraordinarily friendly and welcoming club on the southern Bay.

Chicago Yacht Club welcomed us.  CYC requires transient visitors to be members of a home yacht club.  Weekday rates are less than weekend rates. There are restrictions on length-of-stay (three nights maybe) during their “peak season,” but we arrived after Labor Day, and those restrictions were waived at that time of year. CYC has a van service, free to use, that transported us to several areas museums and grocery shopping, and picked us up again by pre-arrangement with the driver.  We couldn’t have felt more welcome.   We observed generally that yacht clubs on the great inland rivers tended to welcome transient cruisers.

Florida has a regional organization called the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs.  Not all Florida clubs belong to FCYC.  Among themselves, FCYC member clubs have special reciprocity arrangements for members of other FCYC clubs.  Membership in the council is fee-based for member clubs, and yacht club members pay for the FCYC reciprocity arrangement through their membership fees in their home clubs.  Many Florida Council clubs and non-council clubs will accept transient visitors from out-of-state yacht clubs, as always, based on slip availability.  They usually charge a dockage fee, sometimes approaching that of local marinas, sometimes a bit less.  Some clubs, like Halifax River Yacht Club, Daytona, are very welcoming and friendly. Others are neither.  There is little way – other than personal reference – to know in advance how welcome you’ll be.

Payment practices for dockage and services vary from club-to-club. Many clubs are structured to avoid handling cash, so they require either credit cards or inter-club billing. The Florida Council clubs prefer inter-club billing. Most clubs will accept credit cards from out-of-state transients.  At one Florida Council club, local practice was to accept checks for dockage, but only inter-club billing in their dining room. Inter-club billing is not the norm for our home club or region. On one visit to a Florida Council club, we had dinner in the dining room. They insisted on billing the dinner check through our home yacht club.  I told them at the time-of-service that my club was not set up to handle it.  Several months later (maybe 6 months), I got a “dear deadbeat” call from the Florida club’s Vice Commodore.  I explained the background and what we had experienced at the time-of-visit. Of course, I offered to send him a check.  He accepted, but it all would have been much easier if they had accepted payment by credit card at the time-of-service.

Nationwide, yacht clubs in many areas are experiencing membership and budget pressures. Not every yacht club, of course, but some are finding that welcoming transient visitors helps their revenues.  Traveling cruisers should inquire about availability if a local yacht club appears to meet the cruiser’s travel needs.  The worst that can happen is that they either have no space available or they say “no,” and that can happen at marinas, too.

Finally, I don’t believe yacht cub membership for the purpose of eligibility for reciprocity would provide any financial benefit to cruisers.  Reciprocity might get  cruisers access in some areas, usually at local transient prices.

East Coast ICW Overview

Sanctuary and crew have made the southbound and northbound migrations from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida for the last 10 years.  Our Home Port is near Baltimore, MD.  From Baltimore to Punta Gorda, FL, via the Atlantic ICW (A-ICW, or just “ICW”) and the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) is 1400 miles.  From Baltimore to Miami, FL, is 1200 miles.  Punta Gorda is almost 600 miles west of Baltimore, in the western part of the Eastern Time Zone.  Punta Gorda has about an hour more daylight than Baltimore in December-March, almost all of that in the evening.

We generally depart southbound from Baltimore around the 25th of October.  Many boaters have insurance restrictions and can’t move south of the Chesapeake Bay – or perhaps Cape Hatteras – until the 1st of November, sometimes as late as the 15th of November.  In 2012, we got a late start southbound because of Hurricane Sandy.  Weather along the ICW in November is often comfortable “Indian Summer,” but it can be quite chilly.  Daytime average temperatures have highs in the high 60s, nighttime lows in the high 40s. Following the passage of Sandy, it was cold and cloudy all the way from Baltimore to Cocoa Beach.  We had frost in Brunswick, GA; not average at all for that time of year.

After the time changes from DST back to EST, sunrise will be around 07h00 local and sunset will be around 17h30 – 18h00 local. Thus, cruisers will have 11 hours of daylight to allocate to travel. DO NOT TRAVEL THE ICW IN THE DARK. There are both marina and anchorage choices in most areas.  In 2013, budget $1.75/ft/day for marinas, and $15 additional for electric, as a nominal planning average.  Some marinas will be lower, some higher.  Cruisers who can anchor, and like anchoring, will encounter just a few areas where it’s inconvenient or space isn’t readily available.

Sanctuary’s average speed-over-ground is 7.3 knots, or 8.4 SttM.  We travel on average between 50 – 70 miles per day, so 8 – 10 hours. Some people prefer less. On average, the travel time required for Sanctuary to transit between Pasadena, MD, and Punta Gorda, FL, is 20 travel days. Add to that some rest days and weather delays for an average elapsed calendar time of 25 – 28 days.

Sanctuary is a diesel fueled boat with a cruising range of 500-600 statute miles or better.  The best-price fuel stops in recent years have been:

  • Top Rack Marina, Elizabeth River, Norfolk;
  • sometimes one of the marinas in Swansboro, NC;
  • New River Marina, New River Inlet, NC;
  • Myrtle Beach Yacht Club and Osprey Marina, both in Northern SC;
  • Two-Way Fish Camp, Brunswick, GA, and,
  • Brunswick Landing Marina, East River, Brunswick, GA.

The Carolinas and Georgia generally have better fuel prices than Florida because of state sales tax policy.  Northbound (not southbound), Fernandina Beach, FL, is almost competitive with Ocean Petroleum (Brunswick, GA), because Florida waives sales taxes on fuel for boats leaving the state. That is useful in the spring, but does not work in the fall.

From a navigation perspective, with just a couple of exceptions, the most shallow and tricky waters along the East Coast ICW are south of Georgetown, SC, throughout Georgia and north Florida.  In these waters, cruisers will have to deal with a combination of shoal waters and high tidal ranges. Both changing currents and low tides are concerns requiring forethought and planning. In many of these waters – Hell Gate, GA, Little Mud River, GA, Jekyll Creek, GA, Cumberland Dividings, GA, Amelia River, FL, many others – the actual navigation channel is deceptively narrow and irregular when viewed in comparison to the wide shore-to-shore appearance of the overall watercourse.  Plan carefully for tidal range, and regardless of tide, be diligent about staying in the channel.

Lateral markers along the ICW, and particularly in the southeast, mark shoal water (shallow water), not channel “edges.”  Red and green channel markers (lateral marks) are found most commonly in one of two forms.  Some markers – the majority – are mounted on posts/pilings; some are in the form of floating buoys. In general, stay well away from markers mounted on permanent posts, and stay relatively nearby to floating markers.  Markers on posts will sometimes be found on dry land at low tide.  Floating markers are used in areas that change frequently.  They generally are found at the edges of safe water.  In areas where they are placed, slow your speed-over-ground and proceed carefully.  In places like Brown’s Inlet (Camp Lejeune, NC), Shallot’s Inlet and Lockwood’s Folly, NC, the Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff (Coosaw River junction, SC) and Hell Gate (StM 600, GA) don’t travel any faster than you’d want to make contact with the sandy bottom.

For many, many years, official NOAA charts of the Atlantic ICW have shown a “Magenta Line.”  That Magenta line gets it’s name from the color of the line as printed on the charts (well duh!).  Do not assume that line shows the best route or deepest water through any particular area!  It does not.  Every year in our travels, we see new and inexperienced boaters aground on the ICW.  They have assumed – incorrectly – that the magenta line shows the deepest water.  That Magenta line only shows the general route of the ICW.  There are many places where following that line will take the unwary boater out of the navigation channel and place the boat aground.  Local shoaling can and does cause the actual navigation channel to move around.  ALWAYS, ALWAYS…   HONOR THE MARKERS IN THE WATER.

Cruisers planning to cross Florida via Lake Okeechobee should keep track of lake depth conditions. In the early fall of 2013, lake water level was extraordinarily high, and water was being dumped by the US Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE,” sometimes “COE”). In the spring, often, water levels can be very low, and can present a problem for deep draft boats.

Excellent online cruising resources include:

Both the Cruiersnet and Waterway Guide sites are heavily populated with advertising graphics that make them slow and hard to use, especially when cruising with tethered cell phones or broadband air cards.  Both WWG and SSECN have smart phone apps that duplicate website informatin and are very useful on small-format devices.

Navigation charts are absolutely necessary.  We carry both paper and electronic navigation charts.  We rely primarily on the electronic charts, but would not be without paper versions.  Electronic charting systems have three principal alternatives.  First is a made-for-purpose marine chartplotter.  Second is a laptop running navigation software with navigation charts.  Third is a tablet PC/smartphone running one or more charting apps.  We have all three, and have posted some thoughts in this article.

The navigation equipment we find most useful includes:

  • depth sounder,
  • VHF,
  • chart plotter,
  • Radar, and
  • AIS-Receiver.

Boat equipment we most depend upon includes:

We subscribe to DirecTV from New York City, and use an azimuth-tracking antenna which we find quite adequate.  Our Internet connectivity is via 3G/4G “unlimited” Verizon Wireless broadband card.  ATT also has broadband service.  Broadband service coverage is pretty complete along the ICW.  There are some weak coverage areas in coastal Georgia, but even that has improved in recent years. Cruisers must have a way to keep track of marine weather. We have a satellite-based weather radio system from WxWorx.  The fall is generally peaceful, but we hate – and respect – thunderstorms when we’re on the water.  An excellent source of free weather information is Marv Market’s Marv’s Weather Service.  Custom weather forecasting and trip routing is available for a modest fee from Chris Parker.

For A-ICW first-timers, significant Points-of-Interest (POIs) include:

  • Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA,
  • Elizabeth City, NC,
  • Morehead City/Beaufort, NC,
  • Charleston, SC,
  • Beaufort, SC,
  • Savannah, GA,
  • Fernandina Beach, FL and
  • St. Augustine, FL.

There are major cities in Florida every 25 – 30 miles along the ICW, and all offer a-little-something for cruisers. Everyone will have their own preferences.

All cruisers should consider joining a Cruising Club, like Marine Trawler Owner’s Association.  The MTOA has an excellent and active Port Captain program and an extensive network of Port Captains.  As you travel, use the MTOA Website to identify nearby Port Captains and call them for general assistance, ideas on where to stay/what to see, dockage help, maintenance emergencies, and virtually any kind of support you may need.

Cruising conditions along the route vary greatly, from protected creeks and streams to “big water,” and from narrow, shallow and shoal waters to wide ‘n easy. The Chesapeake Bay is “big water,” and “deep” by ICW standards. The Albemarle Sound is, for example, a large, shallow body of water that lies east/west, which can blow up fast into a very nasty short period chop.  The Neuse River (NC) has a definite personality. Rather than go into all of that detail here, let me direct the reader to the region-specific posts here on our website.  These articles are intended for those with little or no prior East Coast or ICW cruising experience. They are generally organized by state and cruising area, and will be a useful introduction to what one can expect.

For a preview or our favorite stops on the A-ICW, see our related post on this site.

We wish you safe travels!

Chart Plotter Places The Boat Ashore

Periodically, in a narrow waterway with land on each side, the position of our boat as shown on our chart plotters appears as if we were on land.  Sometimes, it appears ashore by several hundred feet.  All cruisers have been “assured” that modern GPS technology and the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) can place the boat within a few feet of it’s true position on the surface of the earth.  Well, as in many things in life, I’ll give a qualified “yes,” and a definite “maybe…”

The easiest and most optimistic explanation for the boat appearing ashore is that the chart (or map) drawing does not show the land feature (waterway or roadway) in its true, correct location; i.e., there can be surveying and chart layout errors in the chart or road map drawings.  Over time, however, one expects those kinds of errors would be discovered and corrected.

There can also be equipment-unique anomalies in individual manufacturers GPS and plotter equipment.  For example, there is a power plant on the Oswego Canal that drove my Garmin GPS/chart plotter nuts, but did not affect my Raymarine GPS/chart plotter.  Conundrum of the day: which unit operated “correctly?”  Was the Garmin “wrong?”  Should the Raymarine have been “affected?”  We don’t know.

There is another much more complex, likely and difficult to compensate and correct explanation.  Charts are flat pieces of paper which represent of a section of a spherical physical object; the earth.

Mercator projection of the earth

Mercator projection of the earth

Mercator projections are taken from the point-of-view on an imaginary cylinder aligned parallel to the earth’s axis.  Since the imaginary cylinder is in contact with the earth’s surface at the equator, at that level, there is very little positional error between what appears on the earth’s surface and on the surface of the projected cylinder.  But as the projection point-of-view moves north or south from the equator, the altitude of the cylinder surface gets farther and farther above the surface of the earth at the observation point, and more and more latitudinal position distortion is introduced.  The figure at the left shows a Mercator projection of the earth.  The horizontal and vertical grey lines show the latitudinal distortion that the Mercator methodology creates.  Longitudinal distortion changes very little, but latitudinal distortion changes very significantly.  To see that, compare the height of the block containing S. Florida with the height of the block containing the NYS Canal System.  Significantly greater positional distortion is present.

There are several projection techniques that chart-makers use to minimize the kinds of positional distortion reflected above.  All of these techniques are used in an attempt to accurately represent the spherical surface of the earth on a flat piece of paper.  Conceptual portrayals of three common charting techniques are shown below.

Standard Mercator:              Transverse Mercator:                         Polyconic:

Mercator Projection                    Transverse Mercator Projection               Polyconic Projection

Each of these techniques solves problems with positional distortion and introduces other problems with positional distortion, so the use of these techniques varies, and each brings pros and cons with them.

Electronic anomaly shows  boat's track over land, typical example, this one happens to be in the Oswego Canal,

Electronic anomaly shows boat’s track over land, typical example, this one happens to be in the Oswego Canal, New York State Canal System.

Positional distortion with standard Mercator projection, as we have seen above, is minimal at the earth’s equator, but becomes a significant problem by +/- 40º of latitude.  Forty degrees North latitude encompasses large areas of the US, the boundary regions of the US and Canadian Great Lakes, and large areas of Canada.  In analyzing the NOAA and CHS charts I have in my eChart portfolio, I observe that along the Erie Canal, along the St. Lawrence Seaway, and in many places along the Canadian Canals Systems, two adjoining charts can be and often are done in different projections.  Commonly, Mercator Projection charts are adjacent to Polyconic Projection charts.  Each of these charts have different positional distortion characteristics.  Where adjoining chart edges meet, chart features will not align perfectly.

"Quilting" distortion at the joint between two different charts, typical, this one on the Mohawk River, Erie Canal, New York

“Quilting” distortion at the joint between two different charts, typical, this one on the Mohawk River, Erie Canal, New York

As a young Scoutmaster in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I often lead our troop on “overland, through-the-woods” map ‘n compass hikes, and 50-mile canoe trips, in the Adirondack Mountains of North-Central New York State.  To show the traveling party where we would be going, and to show parents where we had been, I assembled a large overview of the geography of the trip from several separate, individual topographic maps of the region.  The experience was a great learning opportunity for our Scouts, because if one aligns adjacent features at the top of adjoining edges of topo maps, features at the bottom edge of the maps will simply not align.  Asking Scouts to explain “why” set off the most wonderful and eye opening analytical insights in their young minds!  So, a compromise is always necessary in aligning adjacent charts, and user understanding of the phenomena is essential.

The inevitable conclusion is, the same issues with correct feature alignment occur with adjacent eCharts along “adjoining chart edges.”  The “quilting” function of modern chart plotters and eCharting software is analogous to the hiker who tries to align the adjoining edge of paper topo maps on a table top.  In one area, they align fine, but positional distortion makes it impossible for them to correctly align at all points along adjoining edges.  They are, after all, flat pieces of paper representing the spherical surface of the earth.

eChart files are electronic representations of the contents on the projection of a local area at whatever chart scale is involved.  Conceptually, the chart plotter firmware or computer software places objects on the chart plotter screen by calculating the position of the object from its “x” and “y” offset from the chart file’s index location.  The latitude and longitude data coming from the GPS sensor is also calculated as an “x” and “y” offset from the index location.  The index location is usually one “corner,” mathematically “0,0” of the chart’s boundary.  Because of positional distortion, there will be some small positional errors with each chart/map.  The farther the chart location is – in space – from the chart boundary’s index location, the more error is introduced.  With chart plotters and computer software that support “quilting,” – the automatic overlaying and alignment of adjacent charts at adjacent chart boundaries – small visual discontinuities may actually be visible where land objects appear slightly offset from one another at the quilt boundary.  We see this phenomena with different charts on our two chart plotters on the Erie Canal.

Depending on where a boat is on the chart grid, there may be proportionally more error on the “x”-axis than on the “y”-axis.  Chart quilting also confuses that, because at different scales, there may be differing proportional error quantities associated with different scale charts.

Check out “Mercator projection” here: and here:  As you will see, the small element geometry is quite complex.  The conclusion is, object misplacement may be caused either in creating the chart or in interpreting and presenting chart objects.  But small element placement errors are definitely possible.

So, our boat appears ashore.  What do we do?  Simple safety and USCG Navigation Rules require that we all maintain an effective visual watch; we all simply must look out the windows.  We must resist the temptation to rely solely on our electronic devices; gadgets, gizmos, and gilhickies.  Just look out the windows.

The farther north we get (46 degrees in the North Channel), the more small position anomalies are likely to occur.  On the Canadian Shield, there are rocks, not mud, to greet the boat that strays askance. TREAT CHARTS AS A GUIDE. THEY ARE ONLY A GUIDE. THEY ARE A GOOD GUIDE, BUT NOT A PERFECT GUIDE.  When piloting a boat, look out the windows.  On the US East Coast, DO NOT assume the ICW “magenta line” is accurate.  In Canada, DO NOT assume that the “recommended sailing line” is accurate.  DO NOT use a buoy in the water as a waypoint, as we may just get lucky and hit it.  And in the above discussion, if we try to pilot the boat to its position on a chart plotter, we may indeed wind up aground.  Always, always, look out the windows.  What you see out the windows always takes precedence over what the chart plotter says, unless you have specific knowledge from a reliable source – like a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) or Local Notice to Mariners (LNM) – that a given marker is off-station.

Satellite TV – Rules and Exclusions

In the dark ages of Satellite TV history, there was, of course, a time when satellite TV service was not available at all in any private sector mobile market space; i.e., RVs, boats, truckers, commercial fleets, etc.  The technology was developed in the military and NASA sectors.  During the period of commercial awareness and awakening, the service limitations were largely based in technology constraints and high equipment costs.  As military and space technology scaled to commercial market needs, and equipment prices came down, private sector demand for the service increased.

The United States is a signatory nation to various and multiple treaties with International Telecommunications Union (ITU) member nations.   As all readers know, the congress (the Senate) makes treaties on behalf of the United States.  In the US, responsibility for all operational “telecommunications” matters is delegated to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.  Treaties provide the framework of agreements, but the FCC, through rule makings, dictates how things will be done.  Ahh…   Enter, politics.

As private sector demand for mobile TV services increased, the large and influential RV industry lobbied congress to allow the service.  Truck fleets joined in.  By inference from observing the outcome, BoatUS apparently did not.  Enabling legislation was passed, and then existing FCC regulation was changed to allow the satellite companies to offer their service to truckers and “Recreational Vehicles.”  But for boaters, the rub is that boats were not included in the definition of “Recreational Vehicle.”   Where were the boating interests at that time?  Good, if now moot, question.  Perhaps, asleep!

Here quoted is the applicable language:

Citation 1: https://

3(c)   RV or truck.   If your satellite dish antenna is permanently attached to a recreational vehicle or a commercial truck, you may be eligible to receive distant stations.   The “recreational vehicle” must meet the definition contained in regulations issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (24 CFR §3282.8).   The “commercial truck” must meet the definition contained in regulations issued by the Department of Transportation (49 CFR §383.5).   The owner of the recreational vehicle or the commercial truck must produce documentation that the vehicle meets the definitional criteria and include a signed declaration that the satellite dish is permanently attached to the vehicle or to the truck.   The law specifies that the terms “recreational vehicle” and “commercial truck” do not include any fixed dwelling, whether a mobile home or otherwise.”

Citation 2: 24 CFR 3282.8(g)

A recreational vehicle is a vehicle which is:
(1) Built on a single chassis;
(2) 400 Square feet or less when measured at the largest horizontal projections;
(3) Self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and
(4) Designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel, or seasonal use.

The administrative regulations of commissions of all stripes and varieties (federal, state, county, municipal) are enforceable as law.  The fact is, there is no statutory prohibition against Dish or DirecTV providing satellite TV service to boats.  Unfortunately, there is also no specific enablement for boats.

Complicating, and complicit in, the legislative morass are two additional facts:

  1. Commercial media (TV) stations where copyrighted content originates have a financial interest in putting eyeballs on the advertising of their local advertisers and sponsors.  The Neilson Organization has developed geographic Designated Market Areas for satellite TV distribution.  Note, the FCC and the Congress has accepted the Neilson definitions of DMAs.  Local station operators within DMAs can – but will not – allow “non-subscribers” to have service.  In actual practice, it would take many local TV station operators to all agree in order for the satellite operator to provide a collection  of commercial TV stations to a satellite viewer.
  2. The satellite companies do not generally want to offer mobile satellite services to boaters.  That’s because – like the general public – most boaters are technologically illiterate, and there are numerous service quality issues with satellite TV that do not arise when a dish antenna is bolted to the side of a fixed object, like a building, and aimed at the satellite by a trained technician carrying proper tools and test equipment.  Plus, of course, it’s extremely hard to get an extension ladder on most boats in order to service that digital antenna; and antenna about which the service technician knows nothing anyway.  That’s one of the reasons that, in marinas, satellite dishes are often “permanently mounted” on pilings, not on the boats themselves.

Since boats were not specifically authorized by congress or in FCC regulation and rulemakings, the telephone representatives at Dish™ and DirecTV™ simply tell callers that service to boats is “against the law.”  Not exactly true; there is no legal prohibition.  Ah, but the telephone representatives, themselves, do not need to understand federal statute or the Code of Federal Regulations.  They just read a script to callers.  That response also eliminates argument between the representative and the now unhappy caller.  The pity is, most people just accept what they’re told.  The reps probably don’t know they’re practicing “innocent deception,” and the callers don’t know they’ve been deceived.  What a great system we have here.

A search of cruiser’s forums discloses there are ways around all of this.  But first, a little technology background.  Satellites are equipped with devices called transponders.  A typical satellite has up to 32 transponders for the Ku-band.  These transponders receive program feeds from earth (uplink) “ground stations” and re-transmit the programming to earth (downlink) as the familiar TV channels we all know and love.  Local channels are on “narrow beam” transponders.  These transponders have a tight cone of radiation, so their footprint only covers a couple of hundred miles of the earth’s surface.  Some transponders are “wide beam” transponders.  They have a broad cone of radiation, and their footprint covers larger areas of the earth’s surface.

Enter, politics; yet again.  (Is it ever far away?)  You may be amused to know that this complex technical schema was invented and implemented in the commercial TV space to protect…   well…   errr….    ummm….    to protect local advertisers.  After all, advertisers want local people to see, and be influenced by, their local advertising.  Small advertisers can’t afford national markets.  So there’s this complex business and technology schema between government,  advertisers, local broadcast stations, and the satellite companies, all created in the interest of protecting their revenues.  None of it has anything to do with the interests of cruisers.  Are you shocked yet?  That never happens anywhere else, does it?

So now, as a mobile platform moves across the earth’s surface, it will pass from narrow beam footprint to narrow beam footprint to narrow beam footprint.  When it leaves any one footprint, it will no longer be able to receive stations transmitted by the corresponding  transponder.  To receive programming in any given local area, the user must call the satellite company and ask them to update their account to receive the new local coverage area.  That’s a new transponder with a new footprint.  Getting this done on a boat involves some low-level subterfuge; you know, little “white lies;” “innocent deception.”  Some people find that troubling.  Some feel it’s deceitful.  Some actually believe it’s illegal.  Never mind that the satellite companies do it to you under the guise of their “business interests.”  Anyway, assessing all that involves personal value judgements that each person must make for themselves.  We will certainly not quibble with yours.

To us aboard Sanctuary, a perfectly acceptable solution is to bag local service altogether.  Frankly, Scarlet, we really don’t care who kissed whom or who shot whom in some rural  town through which we’re passing and in which we’re only overnighting.  If we do, we just switch to our over-the-air antenna.

Cruisers can set up a permanent satellite “service address” – the location of the local channels the account will see – in the New York City market: i.e., southern New York, northern New Jersey, or southwestern Connecticut.  That Designated Market Area (DMA) receives the NYC local channels on narrow beam transponders, which you will essentially never see unless you actually cruise there.  But that market also receives all the national network feeds – CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox – on wide beam transponders.  Those wide beam feeds work everywhere in North America from the East Coast of Maine to Mackinac Island to St. Louis to Mobile Bay to the Florida keys to the Abacos.  Yes, you get NYC news and NYC advertising.  Oh, well.  But you also get all of the national network feeds, the cable news channels, and the History and Science Channels.  If you need hometown news, consider subscribing to an internet-version of your hometown newspaper.

One important remaining dilemma for cruisers in all of this is getting reliable local weather condition reports and forecasts.  NY City weather won’t be very informed if a cruiser is expecting severe weather on the Florida panhandle or Lake Michigan.  National Weather Channel broadcasts are not detailed enough for cruising, particularly big water or offshore cruising.  Cruisers must learn to use alternative weather information resources.  Whenever we aboard Sanctuary feel we must have accurate and timely local weather information, we turn to using our TV in its over-the-air mode.  That’s very easy, and it does not involve any hassles with our satellite TV company; i.e., no subterfuge, no deceit, and all perfectly legal.

Cruising Guide Inventory

This article describes the cruising guides we used for our Great Loop cruise.  This article focuses on paper, print Cruising Guide resources, not on the many digital electronic resources that are available to loopers in 2015.  Sanctuary’s inventory of paper cruising guides follows.  In the list, we believe most of the titles are current, but editions may not be.  Some of the print edition guides are no longer being maintained by the authors.  Some of these resources may be available from used book sources on the Internet.  One that is particularly useful is: Cruising Guide: St. Lawrence River & Québec Waterways (from Cornwall to the Gulf of St. Lawrence), by Michel Sacco.

Several of these guides can be supplemented with online resources that have emerged since Sanctuary and crew began cruising.  Three online sources we feel are of great value include Salty Southeast Cruiser’s Net (SSECN) for the US south and southeast coast, Waterway Guide and ActiveCaptain.

The Waterway Guide and SSECN (Cruisersnet) Internet sites both display far too many graphics for cruisers actually engaged in cruising.  The graphics on these sites can completely overwhelm 3G WWAN (cell-type) “broadband” Internet connections, effectively rendering the sites unusable.  This is especially true in remote areas with weak reception where transmission errors cause slow, repetitive data re-transmission of stuff you don’t want, need or care about anyway.  In consideration of this limitation, when the sites work, both offer good information on potential problem areas, fuel availability and pricing, Marinas and Points-of-Interest (POIs).  With WWAN connectivity, is the most reliable of the sites for availability and usability.  ActiveCaptain content is analogous to “Skipper Bob Books;” short, sweet and to-the-point.

The above mentioned Internet sites are all free-of-charge, but each requires users to create unique logon ids.  We feel the best use of these online resources is to consult them together, cross-checking them with each other.  Almost always, one will have slightly more timely and current information than the others.

Sanctuary’s paper guidebook inventory:

Guide Title Publisher Editor/ Author Pub
The Great Circle Route Skipper Bob 8th
Cruising the Trent-Severn Canal, Georgian Bay and North Channel Skipper Bob 5th
Cruising the Trent-Severn Canal, Georgian Bay and North Channel Skipper Bob 6th
Cruising Lake Ontario Skipper Bob 1st
Cruising The New York State Canal System Skipper Bob 7th
Cruising From Chicago to Mobile Skipper Bob & Seafarer Jack 3rd
Cruising The Gulf Coast Skipper Bob & Cap’t Bob 4th
Cruising Lake Michigan Skipper Bob 1st
Cruising the Rideau & Richelieu Canals Skipper Bob 7th
Marinas Along the Intracoastal Waterway Skipper Bob 10th
Anchorages Along The Intracoastal Waterway Skipper Bon 11th
Bahamas Bound Skipper Bob 9th
The Cruising Guide to the New York State Canal System NYS Canal Corp.
Cruising Guide to New York Waterways and Lake Champlain Pelican Publishing Co. Chris W. Brown III and Claiborne S. Young
Cruising Guide: St. Lawrence River & Québec Waterways (from Cornwall to the Gulf of St. Lawrence) L’Escale Nautique Michel Sacco
Cruising Guide to the Hudson River, Lake Champlain & the St. Lawrence River Lake Champlain Publishing Company Alan and Susan McKibben 7th
A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast Diamond Pass Publishing, Inc Hank and Jan Taft & Curtis Rindlaub 5th
Guide to Cruising Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Communications, Inc. Marty LeGrand
Cruising The Chesapeake McGraw Hill William H. Shellenberger 3rd
The Intracoastal Waterway – Norfolk to Miami – A Cockpit Cruising Handbook Moeller, Jan and Bill 5th
Intracoastal Waterway Facilities Guide Offshore Communications, Inc.
Waterway Guide, Chesapeake Bay Jack Dozier, Publisher Annual
Waterway Guide, Atlantic ICW Jack Dozier, Publisher Annual
Waterway Guide, Southern Jack Dozier, Publisher
Waterway Guide, Great Lakes Jack Dozier, Publisher Gary Reich, Ryan Stallings 60th
AnchorGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) Volume 1: Norfolk, VA to Beaufort, SC On The Water Mark and Diana Doyle 1st
AnchorGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) Volume 2: Hilton Head, SC to Miami, FL On The Water Mark and Diana Doyle 1st
The Great Book of Anchorages Beach House Publications Chuck Baier and Susan Landry 1st
Lakeland Ports o’ Call: Lake Ontario and 1000 Islands O’Meara Brown Publishing Matthew M. Wright 1st
PORTS: Trent-Severn Waterway and Lake Simcoe Overleaf Design Ltd. Ann Vanderhoof
Michigan Harbors Guide Metro Media Associates, Inc Michigan DNR
Cruising Guide to Coastal North Carolina John F. Blair, Publisher Claiborne S. Young 4th
Cruising Guide to Coastal South Carolina and Georgia John F. Blair, Publisher Claiborne S. Young 5th
Florida Cruising Directory Waterways, Inc., Publisher Gina Smyth 24th
Cruising the Florida Keys Pelican Publishing Co. Claiborne S. Young and Morgan Stinemetz 2nd
Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys Genesis Press Frank Papy 12th
Cruising Guide to Western Florida Pelican Publishing Co. Claiborne S. Young 6th
A Guide to the Anchorages of Southwest Florida Boater’s Action and Information league, Inc. (BAIL) Walter Stilley, et. al. 2nd
Inlet ChartBook: Southeastern United States White Sound International, Ltd. Steve Dodge, with Jon and Jeff Dodge 3rd
Discovering the Tidal Potomac Heron Island Guides Rick Rhodes 2nd
A Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South Cruising Guide Publications Bruce Van Sant 8th
Yachtsman’s Guide to the Bahamas Tropical Island Publishers, Inc 59th
The Bahamas Cruising Guide With The Turks and Caicos Islands Nomad Press Mathew Wilson 4th
The Cruising Guide to Abaco Bahamas White Sound International, Ltd. Steve Dodge, with Jon and Jeff Dodge
A Visual Cruising Guide to the Southern New England Coast International Marine James L. Bildner

Ship’s Radio License, Ristricted Radiotelephhone Operator’s Permit

It is key to understand that the requirement for a Ship’s Radio License and a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit is imposed on US registry vessels by the US government (via the FCC via International Telecommunications Union treaty).  It is not a requirement of any particular foreign jurisdiction.  If you travel to Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas, you are “supposed” to have a Ship’s Radio License and a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit.  That’s US “law.”  There is no compliance grace period that I’m aware of, because this is US law, not the law of the foreign government.  No foreign jurisdiction can waive a provision of US law.

Many people ignore these requirements, of course; as often as drivers speed on the Interstate. Rarely will not having a radio license cause you any grief.  No foreign jurisdiction wants to see it as part of your entry process.  If, however, you are fortunate enough to become entangled in any sort of legal distress in a foreign jurisdiction, even as a victim, that could become tricky.  By not having the licenses/permits, you’ve provided prima facie evidence that shows you’re a scofflaw.  Then, not having required licenses/permits can add to other factors and cause life to get very dicey.  Especially if that government wants to “make an example” of a “rich, selfish, ugly” American.

Here’s an excerpt from the FCC Rules, Part 80, on Ship’s Radio Service:

 “WHO NEEDS A RESTRICTED RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR PERMIT? At least one person holding a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit is required aboard stations in the maritime and aviation services when: 1) Making international flights, voyages, or communications; 2) using frequencies under 30 MHz; 3) using a satellite ship earth station, or 4) operating a vessel subject to the Bridge to Bridge Act (including domestic operation).”

In all cases, recreational boats are covered by item 1, and in some cases, recreational boats are covered by item 4.

If you have a ham equipment, you must have a ham license to use it (except in an emergency).  If you have a marine SSB, the device is covered by your ship’s radio license, but you will also need a RROP to use it – even domestically – under 30Mhz (which is most, if not all, of what you will be doing).  You may not operate a ham SSB unit on marine frequencies, because ham units (“type approved” devices for use on ham frequencies) are not “type approved” for marine use.  (Another US “law” by rule-making of the FCC, that is  widely ignored within the ham community, but a technicality, none the less.)

When we got our licenses/permits in 2007, the Ship’s Radio License was $205 and the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit was $55.  The SRL is issued for 10 years. and the RROP never expires.  Cheap insurance, folks.  Why would anyone want to take the risk that this could ever become an issue with any government in the Caribbean or the Caribbean rim countries?

About “Hull Speed”

“Hull Speed” is a commonly used colloquial term that refers to an imaginary speed beyond which it implies a hull cannot move through the water.  In fact, there is no such actual limit in physics; i.e., no physical limit on how fast a hull can move through the water.  There are, however, very real practical limitations in the “real world.”  So, be aware of the distinction the theoretical and the practical when you hear this term in conversation.

Hull speed calculations are based on hull shape, waterline length, propulsion horsepower and the displacement of the boat.  The math is extremely complex, but the conditions are within all boater’s experience and observations, which makes discussing and visualizing them fairly easy.

When a hull starts moving through the water, it begins to make a wake.  The physical distance between the waves of the wake is small at slow speeds.  As the hull moves faster and faster through the water, the waves of the wake get farther and farther apart.  Finally, at some speed of the hull through the water, the waves will be separated by the length of the hull at the waterline.  That condition – speed at which hull length equals wake wavelength – is the practical definition of “hull speed.”

This is a very over-simplified description of a very complex physical phenomena, but for those of us who are not math majors, it’ll do.

Hull speed is not an actual, physical limit to how fast the hull can be driven through the water, but this factoid is cold comfort in the practical world where sailors and cruisers live.  That’s because to make the hull go faster through the water, enough energy is required to make it climb its own bow wave.  Achieving that is extremely energy inefficient, and unbelievably expensive.  Hull type can be displacement, semi-displacement or planing, with lots of variability within those general categories.  For displacement hulls, its virtually impossible to move through the water above the speed at which hull length equals wake wavelength.  For semi-displacement hulls with deep vee bows, extremely unlikely.  For semi-displacement hulls with shallow bows, possible, but expensive.  For planing hulls with minimal bow deadrise, not to hard.  The math for calculating hull speed is very complex.

For displacement and semi-displacement hulls – like those of the Monk – there is a formula that approximates the constellation of variables.  The formula is <Hull Speed =1.34*LWL^(1/2)> .  In English, that’s 1.34 times the square root of the water line length.  For Monks, it’s 1.34 times the square root of 33 feet, or 7.7 knots.

What that means for a Monk is that once you get the hull to 7.7 knots, it’s extremely energy inefficient to try to drive the hull through the water any faster.  The rate of energy consumption increases as the cube of the speed (or there abouts; a steep, non-linear curve), so it’s very expensive in fuel and energy dispersal to try to make the hull go faster than it’s wake wavelength speed.

Remember, this discussion is about a theoretical speed calculated by Naval Architects for driving a particular hull shape through calm, still water.   It has little practical value in our real world.  If you’re going down stream in your Monk on the Mississippi River, you may be making only 7.7 knots through the water, but with a 4.0 knot following current, you may well see 11.7 knots SPEED OVER GROUND.  However, you’re not exceeding “hull speed” THROUGH THE WATER.  If you’re going upstream against a 4.5 knot current into the Lachine Rapids of the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, you may be making 7.7 knots through the water, but may only see 3.2 knots SPEED OVER GROUND.

This phenomena is also what you see when surfing down the face of a large wave at an ocean inlet.  The real problem comes in the trough of the wave, when the stern wants to keep going at 11.7 kts but the bow wants to slow to 3.2 kts.  That confluence of forces produces a net rotational vector on the hull that causes the boat to turn quickly to one side or the other.  If that vector is sufficiently large, the boat will broach.  Broaching will be, at a minimum, very, very disconcerting!  Broaching can be fatal to the boat (capsize).  Bad!  To be avoided!