East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Special East Coast Alerts

In the last column I told you that I’d help to keep you posted about important events relevant to east coast cruising and I discussed some of the problems in the ICW of North Carolina. Here are some especially severe problem areas that we’ve observed in our recent trip up the coast, or that have been reported to us, in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The depths will probably be shallower by the time that you read this, but you can get the point. Don’t use this for navigation. This is given only as representative examples of shallow areas resulting from lack of dredging funds. There are many other areas. See other information in the last Tips section. There isn’t enough funding for the dredging of shallow waterways and harbors, and I’ll be writing much more about this subject later.

South Carolina: 12 ft project depth (4-7 ft tidal range)

  • Land cut north of Charleston, Mile 460-462, numerous areas of 6-7 ft
  • Dawho River between markers “110” and “113”, 6.5 ft controlling depth

Georgia: 12 ft project depth (7-8 ft tidal range) Depths given are from the most recent Savannah District USACE surveys in Feb, 2004, unless otherwise noted

  • Hells Gate and Florida Passage, 7 ft
  • Little Mud River, 6 ft (less has been reported)
  • Altamaha Sound, 5 ft
  • Buttermilk Sound, 5 ft
  • Jekyll Creek, 6.5 ft (USCG reports 5 ft, we observed less)
  • Umbrella Cut (alternate route around St Andrews Sound), 3.5 ft controlling depth
  • Altamaha Sound Inlet (channel to access Atlantic Ocean): USCG has proposed removal of channel markers from the ocean into the sound due to severe shoaling (not part of ICW, but used by commercial fishing boats and pleasure vessels)
  • St. Andrews Sound entrance from the ocean; most recent USCG local notice to mariners reports 4 feet MLW in the vicinity of Marker “2”.
  • St. Andrews and Altamaha Sound entrances, both severely shoaling, provided boaters the shortest route (40 statute miles) around the area recently closed for the G-8 Summit. The safer route, from St. Marys to St. Catherines Sound would have been around 80 statute miles and thus, too far for a day run for many slower boats.

Florida: ICW Sections with a 12 foot Project Depth (Tidal range from 6 to 8 feet near Fernandina Beach, and much less farther south.)

  • North and south of marker “1” at Kingsley Creek, shoaling in the channel (we observed several boats aground where the chart showed 10 ft.)
  • South of the Atlantic Blvd Bridge in Jacksonville Beach area: Green can “19A”, 6 to 7 ft.
  • Palm Valley Cut (from mile 750 to 760) many areas 6 to 7 feet, shallowest just north of the high level bridge
  • Matanzas Inlet (just south of St. Augustine), USCG reports 3 feet off marker “81A”, but it is now reported being dredged with funds from the Florida Inland Navigation District.
  • New Smyrna: 7 feet at marker “34”.
  • ICW off New Smyrna Yacht Club 6 to 7 feet
  • Just south of New Smyrna: 6 to 6.5 feet at marker “51”.
  • Indian River, south of Melbourne, between markers “7” and “8”, 6.5 feet.

Florida: ICW Sections with a 10 Foot Project Depth (South of Ft. Pierce)

  • St. Lucie Inlet (ICW “Crossroads”), 7 feet.
  • Boynton Beach Inlet Crossing area, 6 to 7 feet at markers “44” and “45”

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Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale