Port Credit
Marine Survey
& Yacht Delivery

Society of Accredite Marine Surveyors
Primer For First Timers Heading South On The ICW
Toronto - Dry Tortugas - Bahamas
I have tried to break these tips (many of them learned the hard way) into logical sections however there are some overlaps where certain issues fall under two categories.DO NOT run the canals or the ICW at night ! This was so obvious to me that I never thought to include it in my narrative however a recent presentation by an "experienced" cruiser recounting his (mis)adventures in night running parts of the NY State Canals at night made me realize the importance of this caveat. Don't do it, this is dangerous. The further south you get the faster and earlier it gets dark. This is why we plan on anchoring by 1500hrs. This gives us time to get to our alternative anchorage if the first one doesn't work out for some reason.

Lockmasters on the
Erie Canal System tell me that 350 to 450 Canadian boats pass through the locks on the way south each year. For those of you planning to join the migration for the first time I offer the following suggestions that may ease the learning curve.  

Almost everything you read about the ICW talks about the Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL section but in truth you can cruise inside with only short outside runs from Duluth Minnesota through the Great Lakes, down the east coast all the way to Texas.

Although all of my suggestions are based on personal experience, I must add that some experienced cruisers disagree with some of my opinions. There's more than one way to catch a lobster. Think it over and make your own decisions.

Anyone can successfully manage this voyage if you think of it as nothing more than a long series of daytrips. The longest open water passage between Toronto and the Bahamas is from Toronto to Oswego and although the tips may look intimidating to the novice cruiser, they, like the voyage itself are simple enough if taken one step at a time. The only guarantee on this trip is that it will not be what you thought.

FLASH ! Sharon has a blog of our 2016 - 2018 trips to the Bahamas at Sharons Blog

1. . The Boat  … as long as it runs and floats
2. . Power & Sail Differences …. not as much as you would think
3. . Boat Preparation, Spares & Maintenance … the Boy Scouts got it right.
4. . Preferred Equipment …  hot tubs and DVD players……  not really.
5. . Power Management …  and I don’t mean the admiral.
6. . Ground Tackle & how to use it … and we’re not talking football
7. . Mooring Balls & Docks …  free and otherwise.
8. . Dinghies …  the family car.
9. . Reading the Water …  it’s in Greek.
10. . Marks on the Charts …  what you see may not be what you get.
11. . Navigation Equipment …  and why chart plotters can be dangerous
12. . Maps, Charts and Guides …  some are great, some are no more than glossy ad’s.
13. . Weather, Wind & Waves …  the second thing you better get right.
14. . Communications  …  WiFi to satellite phones.
15. . Provisions & Free Supplements …  lobster, conch, mahi, blue fish, oysters etc.
16. . Entertainment … aside from anchoring antics.
17. . Cost … just like Disney World, a plan for every budget.
18. The Three G's … Guess !