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Old 06-11-2007, 01:21 AM   #1
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My wife and I are going to retire in two yrs. We want to buy 45' to 52' yacht and cruise ICW from NC to Chesapeak and NC to Florida. Are there requirements

for operating a boat this size? We have only owned up to 18' boat.

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Old 06-11-2007, 02:19 AM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Originally Posted by akaretirement View Post
My wife and I are going to retire in two yrs. We want to buy 45' to 52' yacht and cruise ICW from NC to Chesapeak and NC to Florida. Are there requirements

for operating a boat this size? We have only owned up to 18' boat.

Welcome to Cruiser Log Al,

With 2 years to choose, you will have plenty of help. Before you start on the process, others have used a check list - which starts off with a section determining own needs, "must haves" , limitations and most importantly, what will it be used for most of the time ?

Would it be correct from the outset to assume that it is a sailing yacht that you want to buy in the range of 45' to 52'. ?

As a multihuller I am biased in what I believe would suit the ICW - but, that is because the couple of days I spent with a friend on his keel boat, we spent a lot of the time, aground. Therefore, disregard what I might suggest being suitable - apart from the draft factor.

A couple of books to swot up on are :-

Diana and Mark Doyle's "Managing the Waterway : VA to Biscayne Bay"


Tom Neale's " Cheasapeake Bay Cruising Guide Vol 1 : Upper Bay : Susquehanna River

to the Patuxent River and Little Choptank River"

Besides swotting upon these, they will always be useful on the boat you choose.

In the meantime, our members will be around to steer you away from bad choices.

Happy Hunting.


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Old 06-11-2007, 03:35 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by akaretirement View Post
My wife and I are going to retire in two yrs. We want to buy 45' to 52' yacht and cruise ICW from NC to Chesapeak and NC to Florida. Are there requirements

for operating a boat this size? We have only owned up to 18' boat.


Thanks for the reply. I shot off an e-mail to you before I found how to reply on here. Look foward to hearing more from you.

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Old 06-11-2007, 04:12 AM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2007
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You will be mostly motoring, Docking and anchoring. I would suggest that you get a small cat like the Gemini 105MC or a trawler type with bow thruster. Hire someone to train you for a few days.

If you are in good health, it should be no problem.
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:43 AM   #5
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Some websites to assist you:

Pat's Boating - The ICW

Cruising the ICW

Hope that helps.

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Old 06-11-2007, 12:05 PM   #6
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I never thought that I'd become familiar enough about the ICW to give advice, but things change.

We went from a sailboat, which drew 7'2", to a power catamaran which draws 2'6". We had little trouble with the sailboat going down the ICW, except that we had to be quite careful in some places to stay within the channel. 2-1/2 feet draft of the power cat means we don't have to worry at all.

Here's a link to our blogs from MV WATERMELON - dates are european style - dd/mm/yyyy. http://www.sailblogs.com/member/mvmelon/

We met many Gemini sailing cats this year. They have the advantage of the increased room of a catamaran and the narrower beam of 14' so that they can usually fit into a standard slip.

Peter and I spent this past winter in Florida, and I'm sorry that I haven't updated my blog to cover what we found in the FL Keys and west coast. I may get to it.
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 06-13-2007, 03:26 PM   #7
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We've done the ICW numerous times and are currently based in NC.

The one thing I can tell you is that it continues to deteriorate in terms of depths due to lack of dredging funds and a shoal draft boat requiring less than 5' draft is the BEST choice. Our's is 6' draft and we can make it (though we often choose to sail offshore) but we need tidal help in some places.

The other thing to consider since you are looking at larger boats is that the fixed bridge height is 65' so you want a mast that is no higher than 62-63 ft.

A catamaran is an excellent cruising platform for this trip but you also have to consider dockage which is tough to obtain or much more expensive for the ultra-wide hulls. Smaller catamarans with less than a 16' beam or so are less of an issue since they can ge into standard slips. I'm a monohull guy myself but the cats do have their advantages.

There's lots more to consider about the 1000 mile trip but let me suggest one more thing. After you've done it once or twice it REALLY gets to be a pain...motoring...steering in narrow channels 8-10 hours a day...dealing with shoaling, tides/currents, waiting for bridges to open, power boats doing 30knts and throwing big wakes. It takes the average cruiser about 1 month of this to go from Norfolk to Miami.

On the other hand...going offshore in GOOD WEATHER lets you SAIL...and lets you go 24 hours a day in a relaxed manner with the autopilot on. You can do the whole trip in discreet 1 or 2 day hops from port to port and have a much nicer trip that takes less than half as long.

I mention this because as you consider a new boat....you might want to consider that you'll want to go "outside" eventually if the annual trek is something you plan on doing for a number of years. Get a boat that you will trust offshore and be comfortable handling as a couple.
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Old 06-17-2007, 05:18 PM   #8
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Having several times cruised almost the entire ICW, from Norfolk Virginia mile Zero, around to Port Aransas, Texas, Through the Ocachobee (sp?) waterway and through the locks on the Mississippi River ( mile zero of the GULF ICW) If I were looking for a boat specifically for ICW travel, I'd look at a trawler or a power cat such as Jeanne has. Many MANY miles of ICW are motoring only unless you have the patience to sit and wait for exactly the right winds.

Plus you have an increasing number of bridges to contend with, with increasingly restrictive opening schedules. Just as one example I looked at an old log book - Lake Worth Fl to Miamarina- 68 miiles- 31 bridges!!!

The lower profile you have the less problems with bridges. The less draft you have the less problem with anchorages, PARTICULARLY on the GICW and most particularly through western Louisiana.

Again- I'm a hard core sailor, but for THAT use, a power boat makes more sense. If you gotta sail, carry a sailing dinghy aboard

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