A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Friday, 21 December 2012

and crab pots

As part of my last post, I was also going to mention crab pots and the part they play in the Great Loop adventure. There are literally thousands of them all along the route and at times encroach into the ICW itself, which I am sure they are not supposed to do. This is another reason continuous vigilance is necessary as they are hard to spot and any lack of attention could have you wrapping one around your propellor in quick time....been there, done that. There was one of our "almost groundings" the other day where we were in a stretch of the waterway between markers and suddenly encountered a field of buoys in only 5ft of water. Although the GPS showed we were in the ICW, I began to worry that it was in error (surely the ICW isn't that shallow and contain crab pots!!??!!) and turned towards a marker on our port side. As we approached what turned out to be a sign telling us we were in a Manatee zone - "no wake speed only" (another thing many local boaters ignore), we were also in 4.5ft of water which was shallowing rapidly. We gently reversed back the way we had come, amongst the crab pots, and continued our journey down the ICW where it soon deepened back to its usual 6-8ft. The moral  that day was "trust your GPS".

 I personally think that there should be an open shooting season on any crab pot found within the limits of the ICW. Perhaps if a few of the errant buoys were blown apart and the lines sunk, the owners would be less likely to put them in places that are a hazard to navigation. Speaking of which and considering the thousands of them out there, I have never actually seen anyone lifting up a crab pot and some of the buoys look like they haven't been out of the water for years. Who do they all belong to?? How often are they checked?? From the price of crab in restaurants and shops and the amount of it available, it would appear that the poor critters are becoming fewer and fewer and with the number of pots out there, this is hardly surprising.

They tell me it gets worse on the other side and the lobster pots up in the Chesapeake will give us nightmares. Sounds like fun.



  1. It's crab pots in the Chesapeake, too. Lobster pots are further north in New England, primarily Maine. And they are miserable, especially for boats with exposed props. I sail a keel boat with a full keel and encapsulated rudder and prop in an aperture, so I never worry about the damned things. But, they drive nearly everyone else to distraction.

    The good news is, that the Choptank River (the river I sail) and its tributaries are a crab-pot Free zone. Here, the crabbers use a trot-line. A temporary line that is baited usually with chicken necks and then the crabbers move back and forth along the line, catching any crabs that get pulled to the surface while hanging onto their precious chicken neck.

    The really good news is, the watermen pull up their trot lines each night and take them home to re-bait them for the next day.

    So, when you do get here, take a week and explore the Choptank for a truly magnificent cruising experience, sans crab pots. There are enough beautiful anchorages to visit on the Choptank and its tributaries that you could spend two weeks on the Choptank river and never spend two nights in the same anchorage, each prettier than the one that came before.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Sure, there are crab pots around here... but generally only in the channels :)

    Just kidding. Usually crab pots are in 10-25' of water in to-be-expected locations, and usually relatively easy to avoid given the visibility from your bridge... and you ability to choose daylight running hours. And there are occasional marked float-free channels, sometimes only a mere suggestion, but sometimes honored.

    Plan on a stop -- or several -- around Annapolis once you're in the area, and I'll probably find a way to set up a beverage or two :)

    Happy Holidaze! -Chris