North Palm Beach

Our trip down from Vero Beach yesterday looked something like this.

Leaving the Marina

We left around 7AM as we had 60 miles to travel to our planned anchorage. After pulling out of our slip we put her in neutral to take a 360 degree view of the marina.

Looking back at our empty slip and friends Yachts

Trip Down the ICW

Low Bridges

One of many low bridges we ducked under

Beautiful Homes on the ICW


Corner lot

Beautiful palms

Yacht is longer than their home

Perfect lawn

Humble abode

Cool trees


Our anchorage for tonight
Happy & Brody are loving the sun on the cockpit grass
Moonrise pics are hard from a moving boat

Listening to the Counting Crows from the cockpit

Bahamas Bound

Tomorrow’s 4AM departure for West End Grand Bahama Island

Alligator River NC

We awoke at sunrise and just before pulling anchor, I snapped a few photos of just how still this anchorage was in Adam’s Creek.

Today’s ICW route through Pamlico Sound would end just short of crossing Albemarle Sound. Our route looked something like this.

ICW NC Route
ICW Route Through Pamlico Sound and almost into Albemarle Sound

On our way out of Adam’s Creek, I hailed a loaded tug and barge to let them know we would deviate from the channel and not impede their passage. The strong current was at their back forcing them to keep their speed up. As a tug captain it’s better to be driving the barge rather than being driven by the current. It’s always better to push a barge into a current than be pushed by it. At least that is how I understand it.

Tug Barge
Tug & Loaded Barge in Adam’s Creek Channel

We no sooner exited Adam’s Creek into the Neuse River and passed this beautiful schooner with the captain at the helm and sails set.

Capt was still in the process of raising his staysail

Once it Pamlico Sound you realize it is a pretty large sound. Wikipedia defines a sound as, “…In geography, a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord; or a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait)…”. These geography terms can be confusing.

Pamlico Sound.JPG
Pamlico Sound

As we motored on, a USCG boat hailed us over VHF channel 16 and let us know to stay to port as we passed. They had a line around and were pulling what remained of a green daymark piling using their boat. Our best guess is that a boat hit the piling in the night and snapped it off.  We figured they were dislodging it so that it would not float away and become a hazard to navigation?

USCG Pulling Daymark
USCG with a line off their bow to a green daymark that was broken off.

We passed a several duck blinds confirming that North Carolina is duck hunting country.

Duck Blind
Duck Blind – Do they really fall for this?

As we motored on we were reminded that we are getting closer to ICW mile marker 0 in Norfolk, VA.

The predicted forecast for Albemarle Sound had the wind out of the West at only 10-15 kts.

Albemarle Sound forecast 10-15 out of the West

We chose an anchorage with a small fetch to the West but far enough off the shore that we could open the hatches and get a good breeze while we slept.

Alligator River Anchorage
Alligator River Anchorage

As I was setting the anchor on the bow I looked up and snapped this photo of the setting sun.

Sunset Framed.JPG
Sunset in Alligator River, NC

Adam’s Creek Anchorage NC

Because it was a 98.8% full moon, we pulled up the anchor and got underway before the sun had even risen.

Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach Anchor Location

As we skirted our way up the coast, we tried to minimize the length of fetch as the winds were blowing 20 kts from the NW (with gusts to 25 kts). Recall: a fetch is a distance of water that the wind has been given to blow over the top of. Wave heights build wave heights with distance.

Sunday Forecast
25kt Gusts

Along the way we saw beach homes like these near Surf City

We saw a giant ocean-side pier near Top Sail Beach.

Top Sail Beach Pier
Top Sail Beach Pier

As we go, I’m always watching the depth sounder, ie sonar. It pings high frequency sound (like a dolphin) off the sea floor and displays the depth as a graphical chart over the last 60 seconds. It is very important to understand not just the instantaneous depth but also how the depths are trending over time. You need this info to ascertain quickly if you are running off a downhill slope or running aground. The steeper the incline, the faster in time the sea floor is rising up to meet you, metaphorically speaking. While watching the sonar,  I repeatedly saw objects between the boat and ocean floor. I believe these depictions to be “bait balls” or schools of bait fish in a tight spherical grouping. Sometimes they are formed into these ball formations by preditors such as dolphins.

I’m no expert at reading the fish finder / depth sounder’s visually displayed ping returns, however, I also saw this fishing boat hauling a net.

Bait Net
Small Trawler Netting Bait Fish

The trawler’s size makes me think that they are hauling a small net sized for bait fish.

A moment later, we were passed by this Italian designed Azimut luxury motor yacht. She clearly has some horsepower in her diesels since… as big as she was, she was just skimming over Mother Ocean.

Azimut on plane

As we approached Beaufort, NC, we passed Brown’s Inlet. The ActiveCaptain description for this inlet simply says: “Browns Inlet is unmarked and used by local boats only;  not recommended to strangers.”

Soon we were off Fort Macon State Park Beach which is just before Beaufort inlet, NC.

Running a dynamic inlet whose shoals change with each storm is not advisable as even the latest published charts with depth soundings will likely be incorrect. That said, we attempted to use the latest NOAA charts to sneak into Beaufort Inlet via a narrow channel close to shore. It was low tide so you don’t get any added water depth over the low water spot soudings. We entered the narrow natural channel displayed on our chartplotter.  I checked the accuracy of the spot soundings (depth numbers) and the actual depths (reported by the sonar) were 3’ shallower than what my recently updated chart displayed. That was not comforting, but I still proceeded slowly at only 1.7 kts.

Beaufort Inlet 6.7
1.6 kts is slow forward

We will run aground at about 5’ and I was already in only 6.7’. To make matters worse, there was an ocean swell that was lifting and dropping the boat above and below the static ocean surface. I was confident that however “skinny”, “thin” or simply “shallow” the depths got that we would make it. After all my charts showed a low of about 10’ and we only needed 5’.

Well, we made it about 10’ from crossing into the deep channel when we bumped the bottom. You have to tell yourself: “resist the temptation to simply push the throttle forward and plow the next 10’ to the deep channel”. You just can’t know how shallow those next 10’ are. You could be pushing your boat up onto a shoal so shallow that the diesel engine / propeller combo won’t have the bite on the water needed to either push or pull you off the shoal. I opted to put her in reverse and spin her back the other way. We knew if we didn’t hit on the way in, we would not hit leaving.

Beaufort Inlet 5.8'
5.8 is Shallow
Beaufort Inlet 10 feet.JPG
10′ more and we could have made it into the deep channel

Note: The top picture showing the chart with 5.8’ depths displayed is not as recent as the chart depicted in the picture below it. We were literally 1/4 of a boat length from making it into the deep channel. You can see our track as we backed out. FYI: track = a black, dotted line or bread crumb path of where your boat has been. The dashed orange line with circular junction points is our plotted course. We backed out and came in the inlet via the mid-channel / safe water buoy. This buoy marks the center of the entrance channel.  Line up with this vertical red-white striped buoy and you are heading directly in the inlet.

Confidence is a good thing as a captain but … so is restraint 😉

I was emailing with a fellow boater who was getting ready to come North from Vero Beach. They have owned their blue water trawler and traveled up and down the coast. However, I still added the below statements to my reply. I did so because, I myself, am often curious where other sailors draw the line at the decision to “go offshore or not”?

Marty Reply: I wish you fair winds and seas however, checking your weather forecast on my favorite web app:

The NWS weather zone just above Vero Beach shows 3-5′ waves with a 6 second period and winds out of the East. I hear that and think…

1. If the winds were instead out of the West, you could run North tight to the coast.

2. I prefer 2-4′ seas because 3-5 is the average wave height not the significant wave height. 

On average, about 15% of waves will equal or exceed the significant wave height. The highest 10% of waves could be 25-30% higher than the significant wave height. And on occasion (about one per hour) one can expect to see a wave nearly twice the significant wave height.

3. Six seconds is a rather short period. I’m picturing steep waves. Your boat is stabilized,  ours is not. I would not want 6 second period,  5′ possibly 7’ waves on my beam.

On my laptop, I like to use the Windfinder web app

On my smartphone, I like to use the Windfinder Pro iOS app

WindFinder Pro iOS App

When you study the densely displayed data given by this app, you see that the waves during the daylight hours will be… at worst 4.5’, out of the NE with a 6 second period. The tide will go low about an hour before the sun sets (read that as… “about when you are entering the shoaling inlet from the sea”).

Then you say “4.5’ waves are not that bad”. However, that wave height forecast is based on a statistical wave distribution.

Statistical Wave Distribution

Make sure not to mix up “mean, median or average

The average of the biggest 1/3 of the waves you’ll see are much larger, possibly to the height of 6.5’. That is uncomfortable to most crew in an un-stabilized trawler. Note: Blue water, top-heavy, flybridge trawlers often use active fins beneath the waterline to oppose the roll of the vessel to port or starboard. This can dramatically improve the conditions underway in a sea. Naiad is one such company who manufactures marine stabilizers.


Here is a dated but decent overview of marine stabilizers

After making our way in the inlet we passed ICW statute mile marker 200. Note: Mile 0 starts in Norfolk, VA and the ICW milage progress to statute mile 1243 in Key West.

ICW Mile 200.JPG
ICW Mile Marker 200

We made it into Adam’s Creek before having to anchor up for the night. Adam’s creek offered us the last anchoring spot before we enter Pamlico Sound and must travel the next 25 or so nautical miles to the Goose Creek anchorages.

Our current anchorage does not offer wind or wave protection but the holding is good. The NE winds are forecast to be light, at only 10kts.

I found it interesting that we had a full moon rise off the stern and a simultaneous sunset off the bow.

Full Moon
Tonight Moon
Moonrise off the Stern
Tonight Sunset
Sunset off the Bow

Cumberland Sound Anchorage

As we weighed anchor in Robinson’s Creek you could feel the power of the wind. The airport wind speed last showed a 30 MPH gust.

30 mph Wind Gusts at NE FL Regional Airport
25 MPH Winds with 30 MPH Gusts as we passed NE Florida Regional Airport


Even with the strong winds a pair of US Custom agent boats zoomed by, unaffected.

Our route would look something like this:

Route 4 - Robinson Creek - Cumberland Sound
Our Route from an anchorage in St Augustine to Cumberland Island Anchorage

We would avoid many shoals:

South Sapelo River
Shoal near South Sapelo River.

We would cross over the St. John River in Jacksonville, FL and see sights such as this Navy ship in dry dock. What a narrow beam and sharp bow these attack vessels have.

St Johns River Battleship
Navy Ship in Dry Dock

I had always wondered what a trawler would look like with a wind generator mounted on the fly deck and I just have to say I can’t imagine ever doing this..

Trawler 3 Wind Generators
A trawler with 3 Wind Generators on the Flydeck

The free overnight dock in Jacksonville had a spot open but we were determined to use what we had left of the light and cover more ground. Our plan was to cross over the Savannah River and into GA.

Once in the Savannah River we saw that many of the river banks had been built up possibly for storm surge.

Savannah River Tree
Lone Tree standing proud on the banks of the Savannah River

As you approach Cumberland Island there is a heavy Navy presence in the area. We passed these two big Navy ships in port.

Cumberland Island Navy
Navy Ships near Cumberland Island

We read the writeup on the Cumberland Island Anchorage.

Cumberland Sound
AC Cumberland Sound Anchorage writeup

We chose this anchorage because it offered a lee in the face of strong winds.

Cumberland Sound Anchorage
Our Anchor spot in Cumberland Sound

The anchorage was quite busy and the only spot we found was one tucked between two other anchored boats. I had to anchor in an area that had oyster shells and mud. Not a strong seabed for anchoring. The anchored dragged a bit as we set it at 700 RPM. I backed off a little on the throttle and this would have to do for the night. I was tired and needed sleep.

I set the anchor alarm app on my phone and drifted off to sleep.

Anchor Alarm
Anchor Alarm App plays warning sounds if you drag outside of the red circle



Bluefish Point Anchorage

After getting a late morning start leaving Vero Beach, we decided on a short route that ended in an AC anchorage called “Bluefish Point”.

Bluefish Point 2

We use a app called Charts&Tides on both our iPhones and iPad that has integration with AC is a website where boaters enter their favorite local anchorages, marinas, local knowledge (where the closest store is) and hazards they are aware of or hit may have hit in their travels. This information is loaded into a small text database and iPad navigation apps can use your AC login to download for offline integration into the charting and plotting app.

The pic below is an example of the kind of AC information that can be pulled up by clicking on a AC green square icon in the app.

Bluefish Point

If you click on reviews you’ll find notes from AC Captains like ourselves about how best to approach, depths, currents, seabed type, onshore restaurants, etc.

Our route looked something like this:

Route 1 Vero - Bluefish

It was a short run but along the way we were passed by several boats and this is one example of the type of VHF communications you can expect.

When passing a boat on the ICW: The overtaking boat should hail the stand-on vessel by name or description. MV Simple Life transmits our name on AIS as well as large letters on our stern. As the stand on vessel you should lower your speed to idle or the slowest speed that you can still maintain control at. The stand-on vessel should maintain a straight course and the overtaking vessel should reduce speed till their wake will not rock the boat being passed excessively.  If the boat being overtaken does not slow down then the passing boat has no option but to increase speed and wake the boat as they pass. Large boats on the ICW can really rock you if they refuse to slow down. As a captain your learn that you are responsible for your own wake and any damage or injury that it causes to the boats you pass.

As we passed Sebastian, FL just North of Vero Beach and saw many great restaurants with live music and while tempted to drop anchor and go for some beer & live music, we pushed on.  We need to cover as much ground in the next few days that we can.

We passed an interesting small island that looks like it would be fun to setup a beach chair and few hours relaxing on.

Sebastian 1

Boca to Fort Lauderdale

We had so much fun on Lake Boca Raton watching the “Boca Sunday Funday” that we decided to stay for 3 nights. Some weird Boca facts by (Disclaimer: I have no idea if they are true). Just a few listed below.

#11. Boca Raton is home to the Boca Bash, one day a year when party-goers wake up early, throw on their bathing suits, and grab whatever boat, float, or paddle board they have for an all-day, music-blaring, police-tolerated massive party on the Boca Inlet.

#12. Boca Raton is a homestead for the rich and famous. Just a couple of major names that have or had homes in Boca include John Henry, who owns the Red Sox, Donald Trump, Sheryl Sandberg, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Bon Jovi, Marilyn Manson, Maury Povich and Connie Chung.

#16. The IBM computer was invented, not in Silicon Valley, but in Boca Raton.

#20. The beloved novel and recent film adaptation “Marley and Me” takes place in Boca Raton.

#33. The highest point in all of Boca Raton is 24 feet above sea level, and it’s located in the guard shack at Camino Gardens

We arrived in Lake Boca Raton on Friday night and found the anchorage almost empty. early Saturday morning the boats started to parade in and anchor pretty much anywhere they could find space. Up North there would have been blood spilled if people anchored so close to you but alas the crowd here was very friendly and I did not see a single argument.

anchor Close
Peak out the side window to see how close boats anchor to each other

In Lake Boca we got to see the Fire & Rescue boat testing their pump.

Fire Dept1
I just washed the boat where did all this salt spray come from?

Lake Boca is the party spot on the weekends. We had lots of fun dinking around the anchorage and people watching.

At one point there was a guy flying around our boat in what I call an Iron Man suit but maybe you might call it a jet-pack or aqua-pack or fly board?


See videos here:

We were also surprised when the boat next to us starting playing “Here comes the bride”. We got to invited to a wedding!

But alas it was time to return to Simple Life and get a refill.


The next morning we were underway/making way South down the ICW. It was all beautiful homes, bridges.

The first boat named “Gallant Lady” is Jim Moran‘s. We stopped at Lighthouse Point Marina for some fuel, pumpout, water and ice and chatted for a bit. The dockhand mentioned that Jim had a boat in their marina and pointed to a $159M mansion just across the ICW which was Florida’s most expensive real estate.

Le Palais Royal mansion in Hillsboro Beach

We passed several watering holes but we wanted to arrive in Lake Silvia in Fort Lauderdale while there was still space to drop anchor.

We finally arrived at our anchorage in Lake Silvia in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s nice here I think we’ll stay a bit.


St. Catherine’s Island Anchorage

Just before weighing anchor at Turtle Island we snapped one last panoramic picture (below)

The trip down the ICW to St. Catherine’s Island was made a bit more difficult by the 7+ foot tides that were running into low.

Of course you don’t need the depth finder to see where the shallows are; it’s where the birds are standing rather than floating.

I snapped the below picture as we ducked under this 30′ bascule bridge as Kelly piloted the boat.

Yesterday’s trip took us across the line into Georgia and past the Savannah River. We had a moment when we passed the marina where 12 years earlier we purchased our previous sailboat, Skull & Swords.

Isle of Hope Marina is on a bight along the ICW’s Skidaway River.

All points South of Isle of Hope Marina are new cruising grounds for us. Some of what we saw was bird life such as this unidentifiable bird of prey.

Or this stalker of the shallows:

We passed these guys who decided to pitch tents along the shore rather than sleep aboard.

Today’s trip will take us from St. Catherine’s Island to somewhere around Sapelo Island

We are going anchor to anchor over the next few days to find the sun. These unseasonably cold mornings (in the 40’s) are continuing to bedevil us.

That said, I needed to solve the riddle of who destroyed our porch pumpkin back home.

We searched through our home surveillance footage and nabbed the suspects.

Be on the lookout for these two.

Beaufort, SC: The Other Beaufort

We weighed anchor in the AM and headed out of Toogoodo Creek. We followed the sinuous path that was spotted with shoals. During a VHF communication with a passing boat, the captain warned of shoals of only three feet ahead. We quipped back that MV Simple Life has a 4’10” draft (actually 4’8″ dry but after filling the tanks she sits a bit lower in the water) and that out to make things interesting. There were times when we were down to 3 kts as we hunted for deeper water but we made it to the Coosaw River as planned. What I had not planned on were the 25 knot wind whipped waves. Making matters worse, the current was flowing against the waves making them steep and breaking. Happy, our Boston Terrier, was not “happy”. She hates a lumpy ride. I had not bothered to check the weather in the AM. I was proceeding with the belief that while we were on the ICW, I could simply check the weather periodically. Even though I was aware of the Small Craft Advisory, I figured we’d never feel the full force of it while running “inside”. I was wrong. The Coosaw River runs West directly into where the 25 knot winds were coming from. We were forced to slog our way 8 miles in about an hour as the windshield wipers washed away the spray off the pilothouse windows. Not a bad ride thanks to the pilothouse.

Once we turned to port into the Beaufort River the tree-lined banks offered us some wind protection. Though even in the Beaufort River, the flags on the banks were out-straight.

US-SC & Pirates of the Confederacy

When we hailed Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC. Dockhand Troy gave us our slip assignment and caught lines as we neared the dock. We slipped just in front of the beautiful sport-fishing boat pictured below.

Sport-Fishing Boat off our Stern

Without hesitation we hopped off the boat and ran for some refreshments. We found Luther’s to be an amusing bar where the locals were.

Luther’s in Beaufort, SC

First IPA of the day and it put the smile back on my face.

We decided to check out a few more places so we hit up a fancy place called “Saltus River Grill” and while Kelly was eying their filet mignon, the only IPA on tap was terrible so I cleverly talked her into a restaurant called “Plums” that was two buildings away and served Stone IPA. Plums had amazing food and when we could not eat another bite, it was time to stroll back to the boat and check on the dogs. On our way we walked through Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. I snapped the pics below as the light got low.

Tree in Beaufort SC

The next day I used the “courtesy car” to run to a local liquor store to stock up on Captain Morgan & some local IPAs

Courtesy car

Precious cargo secured and it was time to replenish the fuel I used and get back home. For my brew-night pals, here is the list of local IPAs that I will be sampling and then reviewing using the Untappd app.

Well now it’s time to get ready to say goodbye to Beaufort, SC and on to Hilton Head, SC. We’ll check-in from an anchorage around Turtle Island next.

Sunshine Highway

We got a lazy start and the boat that was anchored next to us (captured in the photo below taken just after anchoring) was long gone by the time we weighed anchor.

Atlantic Ocean anchorage in South Carolina

Last night’s view of the sky was amazing. The stars popped like I have never seen. It would seem that being devoid of any extraneous light makes the cosmos seem even larger and us even smaller.


We navigated beneath several bridges.

Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge located at SM 462 along the ICW in Sullivan’s Island South Carolina.

Wappoo Bascule Bridge located at SM 470 along the ICW in South Carolina. Bridge height board

Both of these bridges had about 30′ of vertical clearance so no need to hail the bridge tender for an opening.

We also passed several ADVs (Abandoned or Derelict Vessels) along the way.

NOAA has a website dedicated to helping with ADVs.

Abandoned boats are a problem everywhere. When she is new everyone flocks to see her. When she falls into disrepair, her value can be upside down. The cost to junk an old boat or the salvage fee after an accident or storm only adds to the abandonment problem.

As we sailed into Charlestown, SC, you could see the tall steeple of what I think might be St. Philip’s Church built in 1836.

Charleston’s shoreline

While the thought of exploring Charleston was buzzing in our heads, we remarked that we could stop on the return trip. There are so many great stops along the ICW but if we stopped at all of them we’ll never make it to Florida.

The moss on the trees reminds you that this is South Carolina and not Rhode Island.

The type of tree that surround this home are everywhere along the shore. Maybe a type of oak tree?

I’m dying to see one of those live oaks that look like something out of a fairytale down here.

We passed many crab boats that would race between the crab pot floats that line the channel. You can always tell the boat up ahead is a crab boat because the birds follow them wherever they go. As the pot is pulled to the surface, the crabs are measured and those to small are discarded back into the sea. The flock of sea birds use this opportunity to nab an easy lunch.

Crab Boat

Don’t you just love that man’s best friend is tucked up behind the windshield absorbing whatever warmth from the sun could be found?

Kelly & I got a kick out of seeing this “flats boat” with a man on the back pushing it through the shallows with a push pole. I could only imagine how difficult it must be to balance on that small platform as the boat rocks. We slowed as we passed so our wake would not flick him into the cold water.

As the sun got low in the sky it became clear that I needed to pick which anchorage I was going to drop the hook in tonight. Kelly requests that I research anchorages ahead of time that have strong Verizon cellular signal strength so she can watch the football games using the NFL Mobile app on her iPhone. While cruising we consume cellular data like teenagers stranded at the adult party.

We anchored in a creek called Toogoodoo just in time to watch the Patriots game.

Toogoodoo Creek

Anchor to Anchor in South Carolina

We awoke this morning at sunrise and the Waccamaw River was still.

Only after looking at Google Maps did I become aware that the creek that we anchored in was really the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.

Our Anchorage in the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

Along the route to Georgetown, SC there were many hazards dotting the ICW.

We did not see many other boats as we traveled along. We did see this steel hulled schooner called SV Steel Away. Nice vessel for the ocean and anchoring in.

Steel Schooner Steel Away

We saw mossy trees.

Mossy Trees

As well as duck hunters in the mashes that lined the ICW.

Duck Hunting with Decoys

When we arrived in Georgetown, the air was scented with the smell of a paper manufacturing plant. We made the decisions to continue on.

Paper Plant in Georgetown, SC

As the sun began to set we were forced to find an anchorage and we picked this one on the Atlantic Ocean just a 1/2 mile off the ICW.

Our Anchorage Near Georgetown, SC

We dropped the hook just as the sun was setting and it was beautiful.

On Anchor Near Georgetown, SC

There was one other boat anchored with us which was about the only other boat we saw. This sailboat was from South Carolina so we are not even sure if they are snowbirds like us?

The last thing to do after a full day at the helm was to cook up some steaks on the griddle and sit back and relax.

Steak on the Griddle