Image of Family with children enjoying the sun on their Yacht.

As someone who grew up boating in South Florida, I have made countless trips to the Florida Keys and Bahamas. However, one trip I had been looking forward to do was going north along the Intracoastal Waterway.

As a yacht delivery captain, I have made numerous deliveries from Miami to New York, Connecticut, the Great Lakes, and the Caribbean but as usual, I was always on a deadline, so the overnight stops were quick with very little time, if any, to explore the cities and towns along the ICW. I have always wanted to take the Eastern Seaboard trip on my own boat with my family without the looming deadlines that I was always under as a yacht delivery captain.  

Before we get into the Intracoastal Waterway ("ICU"), It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the navigational aspects of the Intracoastal Waterway, mainly red markers to starboard going south and vice-versa going north. Another tidbit of information is that all ICW markers have a yellow triangle or square posted on the backboard. This is to assist boaters to know that they are, or are not, on the ICW should the marker be unreadable.  

Now back to our trip, because of our work and school schedules, we intend to break the trip north into several phases, the first phase will take us into the St. Augustine/Jacksonville area where we intend to secure transient dockage for a few months and then eventually move on north. We intend to keep all of our stops on the East Coast. The plan is to have the boat spend anywhere from 2 days to 2 months at each destination while we go back and forth, however, we will not have a schedule to stick to, so we will spend as many days at each destination as we wish. We will also keep our long-term boat storage arrangement at InterMarine in Ft. Lauderdale during this trip.

Our initial plan is to get out of the highly congested areas around southeast Florida. As you may know, the ICW from Miami to Stuart can be slow and tedious so our plan is to go offshore to Ft. Pierce and spend the night in Fort Pierce. Fort Pierce is a quaint town with friendly people, the boating community is highly geared towards sportfishing but they welcome cruisers as well.

One of our initial stops is Cape Canaveral. One of the most notable features of Cape Canaveral is its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, making it an ideal location for rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers a variety of interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to learn about the history of space exploration and even experience simulated space missions. My favorite marina at Cape Canaveral is Cape Marina. I am very familiar with it as this is also my most-used marina while on yacht deliveries. Cape Canaveral also has an active cruise ship port that brings in many tourists. There are some very nice restaurants although I suggest visitors stay clear of the tourist restaurants.

The next stop heading north is Daytona / New Smyrna Beach. If coming from offshore, you'll want to use Ponce Inlet and then go either north or south to your destination.  Daytona Beach is a vibrant coastal city known for its stunning beaches, exciting events, and rich history.  

New Smyrna Beach boasts 13 miles of pristine sandy beaches, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles. If you're into water sports, you'll be delighted to know that New Smyrna Beach is known as the "surfing capital of the East Coast." The waves here are excellent for both beginners and experienced surfers.

From New Smyrna Beach to St. Augustin, I highly recommend you stay on the ICW. That stretch of the ICW is quite scenic and there are few No-Wake zones so you can maintain a decent speed for most of the run. You will pass Marine Land which has a very nice marina and theme park. Flagler Beach which is where Marineland is located is one of my favorite stops in Florida. Flagler Beach is Old Florida as it was 50 years ago.

Just a tad north is Saint Augustine, this old city is a favorite destination of mine, the city marina sits just a couple of blocks from downtown. There is no shortage of tourist attractions and fine restaurants in St. Agustine, from fine dining to casual eateries, it's all there and all within walking distance from the city marina. This is a destination where we will surely stay for some time.

The run from Saint Augustine to Jacksonville is short. Jacksonville offers a modern cosmopolitan city where numerous white-collar businesses are located. For those interested in history and culture, Jacksonville has numerous museums and historic sites. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens showcases over 5,000 years of art history, while the Kingsley Plantation offers a glimpse into the region's past. The marinas are somewhat sparse near the Jacksonville inlet so you may have to run a bit into the ICW to find a suitable marina except perhaps one or two closers to the mouth of the inlet but beware of the marina that is close to the ferry station, those ferries are noisy and can create a large wake at times. The cargo ships can also send some big wakes into the marina that may disturb your sleep. Aside from that the marina management is quite nice and accommodating. They have loaned us their truck at times.   

Next, I will cover more destinations going north so stand by for those articles. In the meantime, InterMarine customers, you can contact our Marketing Department at InterMarine 954-894-9895 if you need any specific information on any coastal cities or towns along the east coast or any route information that you want to know.  

April 29, 2024

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