First, a heads up on shoaling on the ICW. Today, Wednesday, September 30, 2009, Mile 294, Carolina Beach Inlet, has serious shoaling across the ICW channel. From Red mark 154 and 154A we had to leave the channel and veer towards the line of docks on the landward side to find enough water. Be careful. There are dredging operations going on outside.
You might know that husband Peter and I are former sailors who have gone over to the dark side and now cruise in a power catamaran. Every year for the past five years we have made at least one trip up (or down, or both) the ICW. When possible we scoot outside to make good time, but often we stay inside either because the weather isn't so great OR there is a great place we want to stop and visit. (Buddy's Restaurant in Thunderbolt, GA is an example of a place we stop at EVERY time we are in the state).
We try to be good boaters and to pass the slower sailboats with as little wake as possible, but too many sailboats are their own worst enemy when it comes to traveling "The Ditch".
As we approach a sailboat we will slow down to minimize our wake. Too many sailboats that we overtake are motoring at close to full throttle right in the middle of the channel due to their draft. If the sailboat chooses to "maintain course and speed" there is no possibility that we can pass them without raising a significant wake, and if we are in a narrow and relatively shallow channel our passing speed of eight or ten knots is going to be more uncomfortable the faster we go to pass. If we are forced to get over into shallow, 4-foot or less water in order to pass, the wake is even worse as it bounces off the bottom.
Do us, and yourselves, a favor and slow down and move over as far as you can to enable us to give you a wide berth and pass at as slow a speed as possible.
We generally motor down the ICW at about 10 to 12 knots. Though not a lot faster than some of the sailboats we encounter, it is the most efficient speed for us to travel. Running below our optimum speed means consuming significantly more fuel per mile, so we want to resume our speed as quickly as possible. The five minutes that it takes for a slower boat to slow down enough for us to pass comfortably is very little time in the scheme of things, but can make a very big difference in comfort for both of us.
We slow down to make it easier for the faster powerboats to pass us comfortably also. They appreciate it, too.