ICW Mile Marker 1015 – West Palm Beach
On Sunday, March 18, 2012, Cat Inn Around pulled anchor just north of the St. Lucie inlet and transited the Intracoastal Waterway to West Palm Beach (Mile Marker 1015).
Once clearing the St. Lucie inlet the ICW transforms from a wide river system to a narrower waterway. The ICW has many regulatory signs along the channel; most stating this is a manatee zone speed is restricted to 25-MPH in the channel and no wake outside of the channel. The smaller channel combined with countless boats enjoying the fantastic Sunday weather demands more attention to pilot Cat Inn Around. At Mile Marker 996 we enter Hobe Sound named for the Jove Indians whose name the Spanish pronounced, “Ho-bay.” The eastern bank of the ICW is lined with manicured lawns and luxurious mansions. The western bank is part of the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. It is a striking contrast! At Mile Marker 995.9 we approach the Hobe Sound Bascule Bridge with just a 21-foot clearance. Technically, with all of our antennas lowered Cat Inn Around should slide under a bridge of 19½-feet. We notice the tide-gauge marker on the starboard side shows only 19-feet and we request a bridge opening. At Mile Marker 1004 we enter the Jupiter Inlet. The water is a translucent aquamarine as we navigate the strong current, small channel and many boaters.
We pass through a narrow RR bridge opening with the outgoing tide rushing toward us. The bridge has a 40-foot horizontal clearance but Cat Inn Around’s 21½-foot beam looks pretty big compared to the narrow opening. We have now entered the Loxahatchee River Florida’s only designated wild and scenic river. There are scores of small boats pulled-up on the sandbar along our port side. The channel is narrow and the depth gauge only shows 2-feet below our keel. We push along touching bottom several times in the middle of the channel. We proceed about 2-miles constantly staring at the depth gauge. Finally, we are aground! The tide chart shows that the tide is still running out and high tide is about 8:00 PM; it is now 12:57 PM. It is a good time to work on the water-maker installation while we wait for the incoming tide. Many projects were put aside or we would never have left the dock and started this adventure. At 3:29 we have just enough water to power Cat Inn Around off the ground. While working we paid close attention to how the other boats navigated this river. Following their course we are able to get back to the narrow RR Bridge. Clearing the bridge with the strong in-rushing tide, we are pleased to say goodbye to Loxahatchee River.
Proceeding south along the ICW the river is a no-wake zone and we are making about 7-knots. We easily slide under a couple of bridges. My copilot is now fixated on the fuel gauge which shows about a quarter of a tank. At 4:45 PM we clear through an open bridge and spot a convenient fuel dock on the starboard bank called the North Palm Beach Marina. After tying-up the boat we ask the attendant for fuel. He says: “We close at 5:00 PM.” “Do you think you can make an exception it is just 5:01!” The management agrees and we take on 200 gallons of diesel. With the tanks showing about 80%, the co-pilot is happy and we are underway again making about 17-knots. We are now in Lake Worth and the waterway is wide again. We pass the Lake Worth inlet and start looking for an anchorage for the evening. At about 6:00 PM we spot a cove with many sailboats at anchor. We drop the hook and settle in for the evening. We are now at Mile Maker 1013 having only made 27-miles today. We enjoy a drink and watch the sun set behind a condo. Welcome to South Florida!