The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is 3,000 miles of partly natural, partly artificial waterways providing passage for commercial and leisure boats along the U.S. Atlantic coast from Boston, Mass. to Key West, S Fla., as well as along the Gulf of Mexico coast from Apalachee Bay, NW Fla., to Brownsville, Tex., on the Rio Grande. The route is not entirely connected. Instead, it is composed of both long stretches of inshore passages and sizeable stretches of less protected near-shore waters.
The ICW goes through many miles of desolate sections without any sign of civilization on shore. On average, a marina or an anchorage is situated within every 25 miles. Jim plans to primarily sleep in his boat under a waterproof cover or in a tent on land.
While this may be a solo adventure, Jim will be anything but lonely. The ICW, although primitive and isolated in some segments, is a route resplendent with fisherman, boaters, marinas, industry, and waterfront communities. Jim hopes that the energy he derives from the people and places he connects with along the way will sustain him as he endures the physical challenge of the row.
Jim will be rowing nearly half of the ICW along the Atlantic coast portion bracketed by Miami and New York City.
Beginning in Miami, Jim will row the most famous and heavily traveled section of the ICW, a 1,000+ mile journey to Norfolk, Virginia.
The majority of this section of the ICW is considered to be the most protected. Waters are tidal except for the nearly 200-mile-long stretch of non-tidal waters that runs from just above Moorehead City, North Carolina to Great Bridge, Virginia. These tides can range 8 to 9 feet with the swiftest currents occurring in Georgia. In some areas, catching a favorable current might save time, especially in the Cape Fear River, where the current can be as much as 3 knots on the ebb. But in the Carolinas and Georgia, Jim won’t be able to calculate with much accuracy the direction of the current at any given time period. In the course of a day’s run, Jim will pass so many inlets from the ocean that the currents will switch from favorable to unfavorable several times a day.
From Norfolk, Jim has less than 400 miles to go but many challenges ahead. He will continue traveling north to the great Chesapeake Bay, a very large body of water where waves can "fetch up" in moderate winds, making direct passageway nearly impossible in an 18' rowing shell. Instead, Jim will likely circumnavigate the bay using a intricate network of rivers that connect to the Chesapeake & Delaware canals, ultimately leading him through Maryland and Delaware.
The northernmost part of the trip, the final homestretch, takes Jim from the Delaware Bay to Cape Map. From there he will continue along the New Jersey shore to his final destination, the East River where he will end his row in Manhattan. A major celebration will follow!
For a definitive online guide of the Intracoastal Waterway, visit: http://www.waterwayguide.com
Miami 2 NYC
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Credit: ICW Planning Guide, Chesapeake Bay Media