is a 3,000-mile waterway that runs from Boston to the southern tip of Florida and beyond. Many sections consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds. It provides a navigable route (even for novice boaters) without the hazards of open sea. T H E I N T R A C O A S TA L W AT E R W AY ( I C W )
What began as an essential trading route for shipping companies is now a boater’s paradise, with stops along the way that include landmark beaches, quaint towns, and big cities alike. So whether you want to travel south to sunny Florida, north toward New England, or stay close to the Carolinas, boating or sailing the ICW is doable all year long, no matter the season! With that said, here are some travel tips and more information about the ICW—
• Renting a houseboat is a delightful way to travel the ICW. Prices vary greatly depending on what time of year you’re traveling, where you are going, and how long you are gone; but when compared to other vacation costs, it can be surprisingly affordable. Check out www.Houseboating.org to get started.
• The ICW (known to mariners as “The Ditch”) is a recreational trail for North Carolina sailors and boaters who want to explore the Carolinas without getting too far from the beaches. The Outer Banks runs parallel to the waterway, and boaters can easily dock to visit the small towns of the Inner Banks.
• Boaters who travel just this small portion of the waterway (along the coast of the Carolinas) will get a good idea of what cruising the ICW is all about. With scenic views, charming marinas, restaurants, and shops, voyagers will have lots to explore. • Reed’s Nautical Almanac is another helpful resource. This publication guides you throughout the entire length of the ICW. And you can stay abreast of improvements, repairs, and other news by checking out the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association at www.atlanticintracoastal.org.
• Another useful site to check during your planning stage is www.icwplanningguide.com for marinas along the way and also www.oceanservice.noaa.gov for nautical charts and maps. Bon Voyage! w
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