::   The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway   ::
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How to cruise the Atlantic ICW - click next.
The Atlantic ICW - This leg of your voyage is 987 miles from the St Lucie Inlet to
Norfolk, VA. From Norfolk, it is another 279 miles to the mouth of the Hudson River for a total
of 1,266 statute miles.

ICW waterway day markers and signs will mark the channel and point the way for an
amazing, well-protected passage for all but very few and small sections of its entire length.

Yes, you have to share it with Tugs and Bugs and Barges, the Navy ships, (and at Kings'
Bay) even a Submarine or two. In addition, you will encounter Cruise Ships and all sorts of
commercial fishing and shipping traffic. At times it will be hard to remember that you are the   
intruder here, as the entire ICW is free to recreational boaters, while it is all those
commercial vessels pay their way (and ours).

Often referred to as "The Ditch", from St Lucie Inlet to the Hudson river, you will discover
some real cruising jewels along the way. By far, cruising the ICW is an adventure. In some
areas, just when it really starts to bore you, along comes another jewel that makes the entire
length of the ICW worth cruising all over again.

Safe boaters can rest assured however, that on your entire voyage around America's
Great Loop, it is all about safety. Experience doesn't matter, (none of us had it, until we did
it). Simply being a safe boater is your primary concern.

As long as you stay within the boundaries of the marked channel - it is surprisingly
difficult to get into any real trouble on the ICW. For the most part even if your boat sinks,  it
will be resting hard on the bottom before it disappears under the water, as most of the ICW is
very shallow. For a safe boater, probably the very worst that can happen is running aground
and suffering a lot of temporary
If you are worried about crossing that 87 mile (8 to 9 hour) stretch between Carribelle and
Steinhatchie on the Gulf of Mexico - don't be. By the time you get to the Gulf of Mexico, you
will have cruised across Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Great
Lakes. So by the time you reach the Gulf, crossing it, will be a piece of cake.

We all have our own experiences, we all have our best and worst parts of the ICW as
well as the Great Loop. So don't let what you've heard or read prevent you from going.
Instead, go and discover your own best and worst. Believe us. . . Even the worst part of the
Great Loop is worth doing again just to see and experience the best. It is our 'imagined' fear
that always makes the wolf bigger than he really is.

You are about to discover for yourself, the ICW is a great place to cruise.
Wacca Wache Marina, Washington City Docks, Okracoke, Lady's Island Bridge
, and Elizabeth City.  These are all some of our favorite stops on the Atlantic ICW.
From Wacca Wache Marina, you can take your dinghy or rent a car and visit
There, you will find the Hammock Shop Village, an eclectic mix of specialty stores
and restaurants, such as the
High Hammock Maverick Seaside Kitchen, which alone is
worth the side-trip.

At Beaufort, if you pass under Lady's Island Bridge, and go to Lady's Island Marina, about
100 feet or so, from the Marina you will come to a real hole in the wall (dive looking) bar
called the
"Filling Station". This is one place where looks are deceiving. At happy hour
every day, they serve up the best eats for the dollar of any place on the entire Great Loop.
Here, you will find cheap drinks and a cheap meal that will absolutely blow your mind. The
meal changes every day. The last time we were there, it was "hamburger & hot-dog" day. For
$3.00, (yes, only 3.00) cooked over a wood fired grill, we had one of the best burgers in the
world together with one mighty fine (big-thick) hot-dog. Both (yes, you get both) come with
your choice of all the fixings plus potato salad and beans - and it's all for only $3.00. We
stayed an extra day just to go back for "steak night".  The "Steak Night" meal is $6.00 but it's
a steak with all the sides you expect to pay $30.00 for.   

Point is. . . There are many little "jewels" like these that are hidden along your route around
the Great Loop. While we like to call your attention to the ones we find,
the very best ones
indeed will be the ones you find on your own, and tell us about.
On the east coast, some of the traffic in fall and spring is by snowbirds who regularly move
south in winter and north in summer. The waterway is also used when the ocean is too
rough to travel on. Numerous inlets connect the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico with the
Intracoastal Waterway. The Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Myers to Longboat Key is a
favorite destination for visiting sailors and fishermen alike.

The waters from Fort Myers through Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor have to be
one of the most diverse boating and fishing locations anywhere in the world. Pine Island
Sound is bounded on the west by Sanibel, Captiva and North Captiva Islands. Hundreds of
islands dot the Sound; redfish, snook, pompano and speckled trout delight the patient
angler. To the east, Pine Island's mangrove shorelines, tidal creeks and oyster bars still
resist the crush of development. Explore Matlacha, Pineland and Bokeelia for a taste of the
real Florida, where Calusa Indians farmed and fished 1,000 years ago.

Further north in Charlotte Harbor sits Cayo Costa State Park, a spectacular wild and
scenic gulf coast island accessible only by boat. Nature trails, safe harbors, cabins, tent
sites, hiking and biking trails and miles of deserted beaches make this a must-see location.
The Intracoastal runs along the eastern shore of Cayo Costa before heading inland at Boca
Grande Pass, "Tarpon Capital of the World."

At the southern end of this section of the Intracoastal sailors pass through Card Sound
before reaching Key Largo, the first island in the famous Florida Keys chain. The largest of
the Keys, Key Largo is famous for its diving and fishing. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State
Park, the nation's first underwater park, is the crown jewel of the area.
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The book has 300 pages! Plus it has
the answers to
120 most FAQs about America's
Great Loop, and
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If you enjoy this website . . . You will love the book!
::   The Great Loop Route   ::
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America's Great Loop
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - or ICW
   For Great Loopers & Snowbirds alike. . .
The Atlantic ICW  (Intracoastal Waterway)
is the boaters'
Route 66
Wow!  If you think this Website has good information,
just wait until you read "The Book". Capt. John's
"Once Around Is Not Enough" has been revered to as:
"the textbook for cruising the Loop" and one reviewer
"this is a Boating Bible for every Looper".
   If you are seriously dreaming or planning of cruising
America's Great Loop, this is the book you need!
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