East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Observations from Chez Nous, Southbound in the Atlantic ICW:
There are a few problem areas of the ICW that I have covered in previous Alerts, but boaters are still having problems with them. And there is the same old shoaling.

Alligator River (NC) Entrance Channel Dogleg, Mile 80:
We have a new ICW chart book and one year old electronic charts. The markers that were changed sometime between May and November, 2004 are not shown on either. While the old channel here was a dredged cut with a straight line of green markers, the new channel follows the naturally deep water, with a dogleg to the west. Southbound, after passing G “1 AR”, which is still in its charted place, look to the west-southwest to locate G “3”, now about a quarter mile west of its previous position. Don’t confuse it with the Mile Marker “80” post, which is just to the east of G “3”. R “6” and G “5” are then to the southeast of G“3”. G “5 has the alignment of its board changed so that is visible from G “3”. The remainder of the entrance markers define the tricky channel off Long Point Shoal. The white/orange “Danger Shoal” beacon structure is still in place, but the board is gone. We just heard several boaters who missed G “3” and ran aground.

I posted an alert about this change May 19, 2005. It is important to have the most up to date charts and guides, but sometimes these don’t even help because of changes. The OceanGrafix Print on Demand charts that you can get from select places such as Bluewater Books and Charts (800.942.2583) are supposed to include information from the latest USCG Local Notice to Mariners. Consider ordering these for areas in which you have questions. When you go through it may be different. Don’t rely on this report or any following for navigation.

Beaufort NC, Mile 203, Entrance Confusion Still:
The old dredged exit to Beaufort “the back way” (via Gallants Channel) from the ICW at G “35” has been unusable, unmarked (except for the Danger Shoal beacon) and unmaintained (i.e. not dredged) for years. Some charts still show a straight white line with dashed edges leading from the ICW across the shoal and into Town Creek, indicating that there is a dredged channel here.

Everyone is reminded that the correct entrance from the ICW to Town Creek is via the clearly marked Russell Slough Channel which joins the old Gallants Channel at “RG” and G “7 and R “10”. The chart indicates 5 ft. reported in 2003 in the dredged Gallants Channel section leading from this point into Town Creek. This was never an easy entrance and shoals easily. If you can’t sort it out, enter Beaufort from the other side, at the southern tip of Radio Island, into Taylor Creek.

More New River (Mile 246) Confusion:
With great trepidation and armed with all possible information (USACE surveys, tide info, local info from TowBoatUS, USCG Local Notice info, listening to other boats on the VHF), we successfully passed through the dreaded New River Crossing a few days ago (see East Coast Alerts, Nov. 3, 2005). We generally followed the USACE survey,
but were too busy to follow waypoints and didn’t want to trust the autopilot to do it with two other boats in the vicinity. There is an additional marker not shown on the survey, R Nun “74”, which is in the general vicinity of Waypoint 3. This nun “74” is shown on my paper chart and electronic chart. But both of these charts also show that the marker (R Nun “72A”) where the severe shoaling is located is on the wrong side of the channel, and that the course passes on the wrong side of this red marker. The two other boats followed the channel as marked. One went aground with 4.5 draft, the other touched. We saw around 8 ft least depth a half hour after low tide, following the survey info.

Tim Simpson of TowboatUS Swansboro helpfully supplied local information, which confirmed the USACE survey.

Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing, Mile 322:
With further great trepidation we successfully negotiated Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing yesterday, Nov. 17. My East Coast Alerts of Oct. 6, 2005 covered the latest info that the shoal off G can “47A” of 2.4 ft can be avoided with USACE waypoints
. Again, we did not use waypoints, but followed the general directions on the survey. We did not give the can a wide enough berth and found that we had only around 8.5 ft depth with a 5.3 ft spring high tide, which would have given us only 3.2 ft at that place at low tide. At R Nun “48’ we found only 9 ft. This area should be negotiated on a rising tide and very carefully.

Shallotte Inlet Crossing, Mile 330.5:
We passed here also around high tide (5.8 ft spring high). At Markers “81” and “80A” we had 10.5 ft depth, or 4.7 ft at low. The latest USACE survey showed 5.5 ft off “81”, also reported in my Oct. 6 Alert.

New Shoaling Reported in NC ICW:
USCG 5th District LNM 46, dated Nov. 15, 2005 reports that at Mason Inlet Crossing, Mile 280.5, between the Figure Eight Island and Wrightsville Beach Bridges there is reported shoaling to a depth of 1 foot MLLW, 20 yards into the channel in the vicinity of position 34-14.9N, 076-46.9W at New River-Cape Fear River Daybeacon 123 (LLNR 39605).

Chez Nous passed this area at high tide, and we were far enough off the daybeacon to not notice the shoal.

The same LNM reports that a US Army Corps of Engineers survey conducted on Sept. 30, 2005 indicates shoaling to a depth of 2.4 feet MLLW in the vicinity of Old Topsail Creek Buoy 71, just south of the Surf City Bridge, Mile 261. Mariners are cautioned not to transit this channel during low water and use extreme caution when transiting this area during other states of the tide.

When we went through there were reports from tug boats of this shoaling. We were lucky to have been in the right place to not notice it.

The same LNM reports that dredging is to be taking place in the Riches Inlet area of the ICW at Figure Eight Island, between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, 2005. This is in the vicinity of Mile 275. Let’s hope they work on some of the other problems real soon.

Fuel Prices:
We filled up with diesel yesterday at North Myrtle Beach for $2.35 per gallon.
The least price we have found by calling around so far is $2.19 per gallon (with BoatUS discount) at Charleston City Marina. Regretfully, we needed fuel sooner than Charleston. Prices have been as high as $3.10 at several marinas off the beaten track that do not pump much fuel. They say they have to use up the fuel they bought at high prices before they can lower their price.

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