A Cruising Main Street
A Journey into Palm Coast
Think of Palm Coast's primary thoroughfares and Palm Coast Parkway, Old Kings Road, A-1-A or even I-95 may come to mind.
How about the Intra-coastal Waterway ?
The Intra Coastal Waterway is a vital link that passes through the area.
The Intracoastal Waterways consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; other parts are man-made canals. All together, they are a vital part of cruising America's Great Loop by providing a safe navigable route along Gulf and
Atlantic without the hazards of traveling long distances across the open seas. Additionally, you are never that far from land.
The Atlantic ICW (for cruising purposes) serves ports from Atlantic City, NJ to Key West, FL. This route is linked by man-made canals including the Chesapeake and Delaware or C&D canal, and Chesapeake-Albemarle Canal, and the lowest "controlled" depth is 6 feet in the Dismal Swamp Canal (There is a Gulf Intercoastal Waterway as well).
Running 1095 miles from Norfolk to Key West, the Atlantic ICW spans 380 miles along Florida' east coast and through Palm Coast.
The idea of an intra-coastal waterway dates back to the Revolutionary War. It became a project in 1808 but it was not until the early 20th century that the Army Corps of Engineers was instructed to survey and take on the project in ernest.
Today, boaters cruise the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Florida for free but it was not always that way. It was a privately owned, dredged, and operated canal called the East Coast Canal for a few decades after 1881. By the 1920s, at six points along the way (including one south of Dania in Broward County), chains were pulled taut beneath the surface of the water to obstruct passage until a toll was paid. Tolls from three to 10 cents were assessed based on the type of vessel and, if commercial, by a percentage of freight.
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway remains a significant artery of commerce for the movement of heavy, bulky cargoes such as timber, pulpwood, and crushed stone. Although it is still important to commercial and sport fishermen, its use is increasingly associated with pleasure craft. Especially in the spring and fall, the waterway provides a protected passage for traveling mariners.
In many boat cruising guides, little mention is made of the waterway through Palm Coast - instead they focus on St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, to the north and south respectively.
In fact, the waterway offers local, boaters and visitors by land reason to stop and explore.
Waterfront Park is a 20 acre location that, in addition to water views, includes family picnic pavilions, playground, fishing pier and trails that provide the linkage to the City's trail system. Visitors will often see manatees and dolphins while strolling along the Intracoastal Waterway Trail. It also features a bike maintenance station and a Children's Memorial Garden.
A trail winds 2 miles from the Waterfront Park trailhead to the Hammock Dunes Bridge trailhead. There one can gaze over the way and you might be able to catch a glimpse of the varied wildlife including many species of birds, as well as perhaps even a dolphin or manatee.
It may be taken for granted or overlooked by some (perhaps in favor of the ocean beaches), but the Intra Coastal Waterway in Palm Coast, is, in fact, a main street and one vital to the economy and well being of the area.