Monday, January 23, 2012

Trip Planning and Schedules

A very good rule to follow when cruising is not to do it on a schedule.  You've got to be flexible.  If not, if you take chances with weather in an effort to make miles, you could run into trouble. 

For example, we're at the Beaufort North Carolina town dock at ICW mile marker 204.2.  We arrived here from Belhaven North Carolina at mile marker 135.7 after a very long day, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.  That's 8 1/2 hours and 68.5 statute miles with no delays and in absolutely perfect weather.   That would be our maximum range for one day's travel.  The dogs were hopping up and down with their legs crossed by the time we docked. 

We stay in marinas every night.  Our dogs need to get off the boat, and I haven't had the chance to work on our Boston Whaler to get it running so we could anchor out and use the Whaler to get the dogs to shore. 

We use Skipper Bob's "Marinas Along the Intracoastal Waterway" and to look for marinas in our range.  In planning, I also have to look at ICW restrictions, such as low bridges and the upcoming Camp LeJune firing range which can close the ICW if it's "hot".  I need to look at current, which can change with the tides.    High tide at Beaufort is 7:49 AM today, and slack current about two hours after that.   So we should get underway around 9:30 or 10.  But this is the view outside this morning.

Today is supposed to warm up into the 60s, but it's forecast to be cloudy.  This may not burn off for awhile, and so we may be here another day.   If we can leave, we'll have about six hours of travel time, or about 45 statute miles of range.  How many marinas are within here and mile marker 250?  Four.

Dudley's and Casper's marinas are around mile marker 229, only a 24 mile run.   That would be a short day.   Next are two marinas at mile 247, Swan Point and New River.    Now it's time for   This is a great site that permits users to rate marinas.  Dudley's and Casper's are three star (out of five) marinas.  Average, an OK place to stay.   I would have pushed on to the other two, but reports that New River is a fuel dock only, no water, no pump out, and no electricity.   Swan Point marina is reported as closed at the end of the 2011 season. 

So there you have it, it's Casper's or Dudley's for us today.  Since we have to wait for fog anyway, that will be the plan.

After that?  Well, add 60 miles to to 229 and we're up around mile 290.  There's Beach House Marina at mile 260 and then four more around 285.   Beach House Marina only has two transient docks and is pricey at $2 a foot, so it looks like we should plan on an early departure and a long day to make one of the other four.

There's a saying cruisers have about guests planning on joining them- you can pick the time, or you can pick the place, but not both.   We  often don't know where we're going to wind up.

9 AM update-  The fog seems to be getting worse.  Beaufort has considerable current and if we can't get out of here by 11, we may be stuck for another day (if you can call spending another day here being stuck).  Visibility is now only 1/16th of a mile.

My boat is on the right.  The yacht on the left is the ex-presidential yacht Innisfail.   We last saw her at the Atlantic Yacht Basin at Great Bridge, NC.

12 PM update- we left at 10 AM with about a quarter mile visibility.   I wanted to get underway before the current started kicking up, which it would by 11.   We used our radar and AIS overlays on our chart plotter to pick our way along.  As we rounded Radio Island, I heard a VHF securite' from the tug Pamlico. He was pulling out of his terminal and would need pretty much the whole channel to do it. I zoomed out with the chartplotter and saw him with the AIS. I never would have seen him with just the radar because of all the clutter- boats, ships, a bridge, and buoys. He was northbound, like us, but we took a left at the ICW and he went up Adams Creek.

I love fancy electronics.


  1. Dave, you pretty well explained the problems that we go through when trying to plan a trip like this. I seems like you can't plan more than 2 days ahead. You can plan for an early cast-off and then something like a unscheduled swing bridge problem can throw your plans off the starboard side of the boat. That happened a few times on our trip south. We learned that after a while, it would all work out and if we didn't get underway when planned, there was always another couple of hours or the next day. We sit at Utches marina in Cape May N.J. for 7 days waiting out high winds. But we weren't alone, When we left the Cape May canal, it looked like a boat parade. 12 of us trying to ride the incoming tide up the Delaware Bay. First and formost, keep in mind the safety, comfort of the crew. The dogs appreciate a break to sniff different lawns once in a while. We follow one plan on this journey, take our time and keep it fun.
    Jim and Sharon
    aboard "Sharon B"

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