East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Rising (and Fluctuating) Diesel Prices on the ICW:
On October 18, 2005 I called around thirty marinas between Mile 0 in Norfolk and Mile 1090 in Miami to get their prices on diesel fuel. These were marinas where we have fueled up one time or another over the 20 plus years we’ve been cruising the ICW, or ones that were near our fueling stops.

We all know how gas prices have fluctuated on land, sometimes several times a day, and it is the same for diesel prices at marinas. The nice man at Beaufort Docks (NC) summed up the issue when he said he couldn’t give me a price right now because he had three shipments today and they were three different prices, and the first one was 30 cents a gallon more than yesterday’s price. He said that they serviced most boats on the ICW and that when I got there he would do his best to give me a fair price.

A few generalizations: the further south, the costlier the fuel; competitive prices were at competing marinas; some discounts are available, just ask (BoatUS, volume, cash); marinas that used to have discounts or advertised the “lowest fuel prices” or steep volume discounts may not this year; almost every marina emphasized that the price given to me was “today’s price” (October 18, 2005) and that tomorrow would likely be something different; less expensive fuel can be found at a few places that service mostly workboats rather than yachts; prices are generally more than a dollar a gallon higher than last year this time.

Prices ranged from a low of $2.56 a gallon at Mile 50 (Midway Marina), to $3.64 at two popular marinas in Central and South Florida. From Charleston south, diesel cost more than $3.00 a gallon (except at Florida Petroleum in Fernandina Beach where it was $2.88 for yachts, paying with cash). Call ahead to find the best prices, but remember that they may change by the time you reach the marina. And keep in mind that I did not call every marina and that I was told “today’s price.”

Southbound Cruisers Rendezvous in New Bern NC:
For the past several years Southbound Cruisers had gathered in Baltimore, MD before the annual Annapolis boat shows in early October. This year marks the first annual New Bern Southbound Cruisers' Rendezvous, taking place October 28 through 30, 2005, Halloween weekend, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Marina in New Bern, NC. There will be seminars by experienced cruisers, food and fun. On Friday, October 28, there will be a welcome party, registration and Happy Hour on the Quarterdeck. Saturday events include seminars in the afternoon, socializing on the face dock, a North Carolina Dinner in the evening at the Farmers' Market. There will be speakers, door prizes and drawings. On Sunday there will be a flea market, round table discussions and seminars in the afternoon at the Farmers Market, and a cruisers potluck dinner at night. Transportation to local marine and department stores will be provided. There is a registration fee of $15.00 per person. Contact Dick Giddings at
rcgiddings@earthlink.net for details.

New Bern is approximately 25 miles off the ICW, up the Neuse River from the Pamlico Sound at Oriental. In New Bern, the Sheraton and BridgePointe Marinas are beyond the Trent River Bridge, which opens on request (VHF Channel 09). Dick recommends two anchorage areas: one in the Neuse River, just past the Trent River, opposite Union Point Park, and the other, better protected anchorage, through the Trent River Bridge, and then past the railroad bridge (open, except when a train passes) where there is a large area with good holding and reasonable protection from wind and wakes.

The Sheraton Grand Marina (252 638 3585) is hosting the rendezvous, and is offering a reduced rate for boats wishing to stay in the marina. So far there are 69 confirmed boats attending. Bob McNulty, the Sheraton Marina manager, has been most helpful in making this rendezvous possible on such short notice; be sure and tell him "thank you" when you see him!

New England Buoys Deleted:
The Coast Guard is making the following change to Aids to Navigation on or about 15 November 2005:
Delete Cape Ann Lighted Whistle Buoy 2 (LLNR 320)
Delete Race Point Lighted Bell Buoy RP (LLNR 480)
Delete Wood Island Approach Lighted Whistle Buoy WI (LLNR 90)
Delete Cape Porpoise Lighted Whistle Buoy CP (LLNR 110)

New York Canal System Information:
For late snowbirders, information and updates to the New York Canal System are available by calling 1-800-4CANAL4. Or check the New York State Canal System web site at http://www.canals.state.ny.us

Heavy Rains in New England:
The Coast Guard advises that due to the heavy precipitation that has been experienced by the Northern New England states, Aids to Navigation in the rivers affected by this precipitation may be off station, missing or unreliable. Further, heavy debris may be encountered in or around the rivers. Mariners are advised to navigate these areas with caution, and report any hazards or missing or affected aids to navigation to the nearest Coast Guard.

Georgia Bridges Change VHF Communications to Channel 09:
According to the USCG 7th District LNM #42, the owner of the Causton Bluff and Skidaway Narrows Drawbridges (the only two ICW opening bridges in Georgia), at Intracoastal Waterway miles 579.9 and 592.9 has agreed to change the VHF-FM monitoring frequency from channel 13 to channel 09 so as not to interfere with the larger vessels operating on the Savannah River. I called the Causton Bluff Bridge tender who confirmed this, but could not give me a date for the change.

Jupiter Light Unlit:
According to the same 7th District LNM #42, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse will be temporary discontinued from October 20, 2005 until approximately December 1, 2005 for repainting and rehabilitation work.

Wide Boats in Okeechobee Waterway Call Ahead:
That same 7th District LNM #42 warns that The FEC Roosevelt Railroad Bridge across the Okeechobee Waterway mile 7.5 in Stuart, Florida fender system is being repaired until November 1, 2005. There will be a barge in the channel daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. reducing the horizontal clearance to 17 feet. Mariners requiring a horizontal clearance greater than 17 feet should contact the tug operator on VHF-FM channel 13 at least two hours prior to reaching the bridge.

ICW Dredging:
The Seventh District Coast Guard Notice to Mariners #41 lists the following ongoing dredging projects in the ICW between South Carolina and Florida:
Georgetown SC Harbor, ending November 05
Georgetown-Sullivans Island SC ending in October 05
Palm Valley FL through January 06
St Augustine Inlet FL through October 05
New Smyrna Beach FL through December 05
Crossroads, St Lucie River FL through November 05
Dania Beach- Hallandale FL through February 06

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