A year long boat trip on the Intracoastal Waterway. What a dream.
Cutting lose from lawn mowing and roof repair and sailing away
for a year. Each day a new stop, a new adventure. Seeing the US
from the comfort of your own boat, stopping as you please.. or
Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000 mile long sheltered passage for
commercial and pleasure boats along the U.S. Atlantic coast. It
then bends through Florida into the Golf of Mexico. The waterway
was based around a series of natural rivers, but was augmented
by canals and dikes. The waterway was authorized by Congress in
1919 and is still maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. Even
with budget cutbacks the route is still maintained at a minimum
depth of 12 ft for most of its length with some parts maintained
to 7 and 9 foot minimum depths. Some of Americas great waterways
connect with the system, including the Hudson River, New York
State Barge Canal, the Chesapeake Bay, the Savannah and Apalachicola
Rivers, and the entire Mississippi River system. It is a boaters
Stephen and Margaret Watterson took their 30 foot sailboat through
the Waterway from Cleveland to the Florida Keys and back. It had
been a dream of his for years. She was very willing to go as well,
with her only condition that they take their cat with them!
They seem a nice couple, comfortable with each other, though
perhaps their relationship is a bit old fashioned, usually in
a good way. They are clearly not professional authors. Their book
reads a lot like one of those Christmas letters from a former
neighbor, the details of a days adventure running toward the mundane
at times. But like those yearly Christmas letters these sections
can still be strangely interesting in a slow paced and predictable
sort of way! And keep in mind their boat is a 30 foot fiberglass
boat. While they aren't rich, their mindset leans toward upper
middle class when it comes to financial choices they make.
But the book is a useful one, with the 'story' told through narrative
instead of page after page of charts or marina summaries. They
did the dream and while their words are not destined for a Pulitzer
Prize, there is much to learn. What do you do about mail and bills?
What were they thinking in the choice of boat? Which Marinas can
you trust? What are the more exposed portions of the Waterway
like? What sort of people will you meet?
They survived their trip and they survived the extended time
with each other! No small task, even in a 30 foot boat! They survived
with a good natured respect for the people they met, and for each
other. That comes through in this introduction to living the dream
on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Editors note: Bryan Lowe bulit an Escargot. He
cruises it in the Pacific Northwest, and makes occasional contributions
to Duckworks Magazine. You can visit his website at: http://classics.nu/boat/