Originally Posted by CaptDinghy
As a broad question, is there ONE resource that can provide a list of decent anchorages and marinas for the East Coast?
There is a new ICW anchorage guide from the Managing the Waterway site
It's new so I haven't used it, but I think you will find it very useful.
I like free, and when we set off in 1986 I had pages and pages of culled notes on places to stop, anchorages, etc. However cruising guides were a tremendous help to us. We loved our first trip down the ICW, but it is a slow, expensive way to get south. And if you need practice with offshore sailing, hopping in and out of the ICW to sail most of the coast is a great way to gain experience.
Go inside to avoid Cape Hatteras. There's a reason that area has a Cape Fear.
Watch the weather carefully, listen to the USCG notices to mariners daily, and pay attention. We could very easily have ended our first trip south when I didn't listen carefully enough to the notices and came very close to hitting a derelict ship off the NJ coast.
If you're offshore to avoid the Georgia ICW (which I recommend), re-enter the ICW at Fernandina Beach, NOT Jacksonville. Much safer, calmer, and far less big ship traffic as well as a nice anchorage right inside.
The ICW was intended as a safe haven from bad weather for commercial vessels, particularly barges, traversing the coast. I suggest that sailboats in particular use it the same way - in good weather, sail offshore; in bad weather come inside for shelter and safe(r) traveling.
There are so many big power boats heading south for the winter with clueless inconsiderate owner skippers that you are going to be rocked and rolled a lot. Of course, too often the problem facing faster power boats passing sailboats is that some sailboats blindly insist on "maintain(ing) course and speed" when the smart thing is for the sailboat to move over as far as possible and reduce speed dramatically to allow the power boat to pass at a lower speed. The faster the power boat has to go to pass you, the bigger the wake.
I've used Active Captain and it can be very helpful. But it isn't as comprehensive as other sources yet, though with input from cruisers it's getting better.
Dinghy. For most of our cruising we used an Achilles inflatable dinghy with inflatable floor. We never towed it, even when we were just doing a day sail. We had a 12V inflator pump
that made easy work of inflating the dinghy - it's a high volume, low pressure pump and the high pressure manual air pump is best for finishing off the inflation process.