East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Rudee Inlet, VA Shoaling
The April 12, 2005 5th District USCG Local Notice to Mariners Number 15/05
urges mariners to use caution in Rudee Inlet. The City of Virginia Beach surveyed the condition of Rudee Inlet on April 4, 2005 and found 8 ft to be the controlling depth at MLLW in the channel between the inside South jetty and the North seawall. While this is deeper than the draft of most vessels using the inlet, depths this shallow in an ocean inlet can be dangerous in rough conditions. This is Virginia Beach’s only inlet from the Atlantic Ocean and is heavily used during the summer months and during the snowbird migration season in spring and fall.

Print on Demand OceanGrafix Charts at Bluewater Books and Charts
You can now get the most up-to-date NOAA charts anywhere from Bluewater Books and Charts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. All of Bluewater’s NOAA charts are printed by the OceanGrafix system, on site and in about three minutes. They contain the most current USCG Local Notices to Mariners information available (Notices are updated every two weeks). OceanGrafix charts are printed on water resistant paper and provide additional information on the margins such as tide tables, marina information and bridge clearances. Cost for a chart is $21.35, just $2.60 more than a conventional NOAA chart that might be years out of date. Check www.bluewaterweb.com (click on Nautical Charts, then OceanGrafix) for details. Bluewater is one of only six OceanGrafix printer locations in the country.

Bluewater Books and Charts will soon move into its new Ft. Lauderdale store at 1811 Cordova Road, on the opposite (south) side of SE 17th St. Causeway from the old store, close to the new Publix, and behind Embassy Suites. If you can’t get to the store, you can order books of many types, cruising guides and charts for anyplace in the world from www.bluewaterweb.com or by phone at 800.942.2583. They ship usually within one business day.

Drawbridge Closure, Morehead City, NC, Mile 203.8
The same Local Notice to Mariners quoted above advises that the drawbridge at Mile 203.8 in Morehead City, NC will be closed to all waterway traffic from April 11 through May 16, 2005. This is the bridge that is “normally open” (we have never seen it otherwise in the 20 years we have been cruising the ICW). It is adjacent to the high level Route 70 Bridge at Mile 203.8. The notice further states that an alternate route is available through the “Gallants Channel” in Beaufort, NC.

We have taken this route through Beaufort numerous times in the past, most recently in May 2004. While the conditions described next were in effect then, you should check with the Coast Guard at Fort Macon or one of the local towing companies (such as TowBoatUS) for the latest information before entering Beaufort, especially if it is your first time. In taking the alternate route through Beaufort, mariners should be aware that the entrance past Radio Island, locally called the “Bulkhead Channel”, has been recently remarked and has a dogleg at its entrance. There is a timed drawbridge along this route, the Beaufort Bridge, opening every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, with no openings Monday through Friday between 6:30 and 8 a.m. and 4:30 and 6 p.m.; otherwise on signal. The correct exit channel from Beaufort back to the ICW northbound is a naturally deep channel recently marked and commonly called the “Russell Slough Channel.” The old dredged portion of the Gallants Channel which used to join the ICW in a straight line northwest from Town Creek to Marker “35” is no longer marked and is shoal (this is still shown as a viable channel on some charts). There is a “Danger” white and orange beacon indicating that shoal. Northbound, the Russell Slough Channel is entered after exiting Town Creek at Gallants Point, taking a turn to the northeast at Marker “7”. It is well marked and joins the ICW at Marker “29”.

AIWW, Bear Inlet to Brown Inlet, NC, Mile 233 to 238: Dredging
The above section of the AIWW, a part of Camp Lejeune, is being dredged between April 5 and May 5, 2005. We have observed around 6 ft of depth MLW along this stretch recently, with the shallowest spot we observed at Marker “63”.

Causton Bluff Bridge Closed, Mile 579.9
It has been reported to us that a dump truck damaged one span of the Causton Bluff Bridge just north of the Thunderbolt area in Georgia on April 18, 2005. The bridge will not open for vessel traffic. Mike Lieberum, Bridge Management Specialist, USCG 7th District Bridge Branch, confirmed that the original estimate for length of repairs would be around 30 days, during which period the bridge would not open for vessel traffic. There will be an interim inspection on April 22 to reevaluate the situation. Minimum vertical clearance is 21 ft at high tide, with more available in the center. Tidal range is about 8 ft.

Alternate routes around the Thunderbolt area of the Georgia ICW are available through inlets to the ocean. The closest inlet north of this bridge is at Tybee Roads, the inlet for the Savannah River. There are several unimproved (not dredged or jettied) inlets at river mouths and sounds to the south, but current charts, local knowledge and excellent weather are needed for these (Wilmington River at Wassau Sound, Ogeechee River at Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherines Sound). These entrances have floating markers that are frequently moved and are uncharted on most charts. The closest all weather big ship inlet to the south is at St. Simons Sound. The distance from the St. Simons sea buoy to the Savannah River sea buoy is approximately 61.5nm. It is around 9nm from the ICW to the St Simons sea buoy, and about 13.5nm from the sea buoy for the Savannah River entrance at Tybee Roads back to the ICW. This makes for approximately a 75.9nm trip. There is strong current in both of these inlets, an important consideration in timing this trip.
We’ll keep you posted.

This information is not to be used for navigation. Consult the latest charts and Local Notices to Mariners and use prudent seamanship. Any person or entity that uses this information in any way, as a condition of that use, agrees to waive and does waive any and all claims which may arise from that use.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale