A how-to for tricky ICW areas

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Online videos show boaters the best way to traverse six of the worst areas on the waterway

Online videos show boaters the best way to traverse six of the worst areas on the waterway

Cruisers now can get help threading some of the most troublesome shoaling on the Intracoastal Waterway by using free online videos that show how to navigate six of the ICW’s worst stretches.

The videos, introduced Sept. 28 on the Salty Southeast Cruiser’s Net Web site (www.cruisers net.net), offer a skipper’s eye, on-the-water view of these areas and guides cruisers through the shoals. “We really take you from marker to marker down these problem stretches,” says cruising guide author and net moderator Claiborne Young.

The videos take viewers down stretches of the ICW at Carolina Beach, N.C., along the Ashepoo and Coosaw rivers in South Carolina, and at Fields Cut, the Little Mud River and Jekyll Creek in Georgia.

“We felt in our collective opinion that these were the six worst spots between Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla.,” says Young.

“It will come as absolutely no surprise to any member of the southeastern USA cruising community to learn that the Atlantic ICW has become a trouble-plagued superhighway for vessels of all descriptions,” Young writes on his Web site. “And, of course, the reason is shoaling along any number of points in the waterway’s north-to-south (or vice-versa) run.”

Congressional funding is in short supply for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the ICW, especially those stretches used mainly by pleasure boaters or small commercial boats. Young says the videos came out just in time for the annual southbound snowbird migration on the ICW. He suggests that those anticipating a trip south view the videos several times and take notes. “They can look at them an unlimited number of times, at no cost,” he says.

Young says he will be listening to Cruiser’s Net contributors for suggestions of other difficult ICW stretches that should be subjects of a navigation video. He plans to add more every six months or so. Young says he and Bluewater Media, a Raleigh, N.C., company that helped produce the videos, underwrote the project. In the future, he says, he will seek sponsors to defray the cost. He says the online videos will remain free to the public.

Just three days after announcing the videos, Young had recorded 1,500 to 2,000 visits. He says he announced the new online feature at PassageMaker magazine’s Trawler Fest in Solomons Island, Md. He received a standing ovation for his efforts, reflecting cruiser concerns about shoaling on the ICW. One Trawler Fest attendee asked if Young planned to send copies of the videos to lawmakers responsible for funding dredging projects.

“You bet I will,” Young says.