Going Where You Don't Fit

When we set off cruising, our plan was to travel down the East Coast of the United States offshore, and never venture on the ICW. This plan was cemented by our choice to repower with an electric motor when we pulled out our Diesel engine. Due to deteriorating weather, we have found ourselves in the ICW anyway and have had to make the most out of the situation.

The electric motor was far from our biggest deterrent to the ICW, the real deterrent was our deep keel. We draw 6.5 feet and that makes the ICW a tricky waterway to navigate. We have friends on trawlers who cruise down to Florida every winter and draw only 4 feet, and they run aground from time to time in the ICW. Having an extra 2.5 feet of draft means that we don't fit in most anchorages and are forced to anchor on the side of the channel where there is a bit of deep water beyond the edge of the channel. 

Being outside of the dredged area though means that we will be on the bottom at low tide, and forces us to wait until the following high tide to keep moving because that is when we will float off the bottom. 

We have run aground at least once everyday since we entered the ICW, and somedays even more than that. Luckily, most of our groundings occur when we are setting the anchor and letting out the appropriate amount of scope. It seems that we can find deep water that is about 60 feet long, so when we let out 80 feet of rode, we will leave that deep area and bump the bottom. 

In places where the tide is more pronounced, low tide can be quite uncomfortable. With our long keel, the bow will dip down as the boat rests on the keel. This makes the inside of the boat slant forward significantly. If the tide goes out even further or a strong wind blows on the large and exposed side, we will tip over and lean around 10-15 degrees until the water next to the boat can support the weight. Sleeping becomes a challenge as you feel like if you are trying to sleep on the side of a wall. This makes for a less restful night that is followed by waiting for the next high tide to float off the bottom. 

Going where you don't fit doesn't mean you won't get where you are trying to go, it just means that it won't be pretty and it will be slow going.