East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Dredging in the Upper Chesapeake Bay:
Local boaters as well as Snowbirds should look for the Dredge VIRGINIAN, which will be conducting dredging operations in the Upper Chesapeake Bay in the vicinity of Grove Point (Sassafras River) and Tolchester Beach between September 23 and December 31, 2005. The marked channel here is narrow and large ships often pass through at high speed. We pleasure vessels should have plenty of room outside the shipping lanes to avoid this dredging operation and the ships. This is a confusing area at night due to the number of lights and ranges, and now dredging equipment. This stretch of the bay is best passed in daylight. The dredges can be contacted on VHF-FM channels 13 and 16. Mariners are requested to stay clear of the dredge, floating and submerged pipelines, buoys and wires. Mariners are requested to exercise extreme caution and no wake when approaching, passing and leaving a dredge operation location and to strictly comply with the Inland Rules of the Road.

Local Knowledge for the Norfolk, VA Bridges:
Having spent a good part of the summer within the viewing area of the local Norfolk, VA area TV stations, I can tell you that even though there are weekday rush hour restrictions on the opening bridges, almost every day there is one or more opening during the morning rush hour at most of the bridges, and several at some. Even the Steel Bridge, Mile 8.8, which is the first to have daylong weekday restrictions, has openings throughout the day announced on the TV.

I’ll repeat the new schedule for the Steel Bridge: Effective on September 19, 2005, the Coast Guard is changing the regulations governing the operation of the Dominion Boulevard (US 17, “Steel Bridge”) Bridge across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, at Atlantic ICW mile 8.8, in Chesapeake, VA morning rush hour closure period so that it starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays, the draw need be opened every hour on the hour. Note that the weekday evening rush hour closure period is not changed: that closure period is from 4:00 to 6:00

Updates on North Carolina ICW Shoaling:
Since this is the Snowbird Season, many of you will be interested in the latest information on the condition of the ICW. Shoaling continues in many of the same old places in North Carolina, despite emergency dredging last season. The USACE at Wilmington has recently surveyed the following areas.
It is possible that the USCG may move floating aids or add temporary markers showing the best water according to the surveys. In some cases, waypoints are given on the surveys to help you find the best water through problem areas. Check for local information or the latest USCG Local Notices to Mariners as you transit. Depths are for MLLW.

New River Crossing, Mile 246: Controlling depth is given as 7 ft. as of August 4, 2005. However, there are four waypoints through the channel to find this 7 ft. When we passed through in the spring, we found a very shallow place in the middle of the channel between ICW Markers “72A” and “72B”. Several deeper draft vessels went aground here later in the day. The above survey shows a 4 ft. hump exactly where we all found it. The waypoints are given to avoid it. Conditions may have changed by the time you get there.

Shin Creek Crossing, Mile 285: Controlling depth is given as 9 ft.

Carolina Beach Inlet Crossing, Mile 293.5: This is good for a change. The controlling depth here is reported at 12 ft.

Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing, Mile 321.3: As of surveys on September 19 and 26, 2005, the controlling depth of the inlet is given as 5 ft. (NOT on the ICW), and the controlling depth for the ICW (AIWW) is given as 8 ft. There are waypoints given for the ICW to avoid the 2.4 ft. shoal in the channel off Marker“47A”.
Shallotte Inlet Crossing, Mile 330.5: A July 25, 2005 survey found the controlling depth to be 5.5 ft off ICW Marker “81”.

Skidaway Narrows Bridge, Mile 592.9, New Schedule This Season:
The Federal Register now states that the Skidaway Narrows Bridge near Savannah, GA will continue to open on request, except that on Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) it may open on the hour and half hour between 6:31 and 8:59 a.m. and 4:31 and 6:29 p.m. This schedule avoids the issue of whether the bridge will actually open at 6:30 and 9:00 a.m and 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. as has been an interpretation problem with other bridge schedules. Set your watches accurately!

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