East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Italicized text indicates our comment. Plain text is copied from the Notices to Mariners or other sources given.

Hell Gate , Georgia , Mile 602, Gets New Markers:

Amidst the rumors and speculation on the fate of the ICW if Hell Gate were “closed” by the removal of its Aids to Navigation, the USCG has added new markers.USCG Seventh District LNM 19 announces that the U.S. Coast Guard positioned two 5th Class Temporary Unlit Buoys (TRUB's) after Army Corp of Engineers completed sounding survey of the Hells Gate Channel in the following positions: Hells Gate Temp Buoy 89 was established in position: 31-51-42.570N 081-04-59.760W, aid is approximately 60 yards to the NW and channelward from the existing Daybeacon Structure. Hells Gate Temp Buoy 90 was established in position 31-51-34.080W 081-05-03-060W, aid is approximately 125 yards to the north of Hells Gate Light 92. Controlling Depth in marked channel is approximately five (5) feet. Mariners are advised to use extreme caution while transiting through this area.

As with last season when the Causton Bluff Bridge closed the ICW for a large number of taller vessels, many ICW travelers are now seeking ocean routes around parts of Georgia such as Hell Gate and the Little Mud River. We once used Wassaw Sound south of Tybee Roads as an entrance from the ocean in calm weather and seas, with flood tide, close to high tide. In these conditions it was okay, but we would not want to use it in any other conditions and without extreme caution in all conditions as the entrance bar is reported to shift. The USCG moves the markers as needed to show the deeper water. I mention this here, because the USCG Seventh District LNM 19 shows that the markers Wassaw Sound Buoy 6, Wassaw Sound Lighted Buoy 4 and Wassaw Sound Lighted Buoy 8 have very recently been relocated (May, 2006). The shoals in these sounds shift frequently, sometimes within a very short time. Rollers coming in from the ocean (even from a storm far away) can be dangerous in any relatively shallow water.

Dredging: Good News in North Carolina!

Dredging is already taking place in Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing (in the ICW, Mile 321, NOT the inlet to the ocean). The shoal at green can “47A” was surveyed by the USACE at around 2.8 feet MLW a good distance out into the channel from the marker. And more dredging will follow. USCG 5 th District LNMs 18-20 carry the good news: The Dredge JENNIE LEA II will be conducting dredging operations in the AIWW (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, usually abbreviated as ICW) at the intersections with Lockwood's Folly, Shallotte, New River and Bogue Inlet from 09 May until 07 September, 2006. The dredge can be contacted on VHF-FM Channel 16 and 79.

Around any dredging operation, the Coast Guard requests that mariners 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.  

Also in North Carolina:

The same LNMs have carried the following announcements:

The Dredge RICHMOND will be conducting dredging operations in the vicinity of the Coast Guard Fort Macon docks from 03 May until 06 June, 2006. The dredge can be contacted on VHF-FM Channel 13 and 16.

A Corp of Engineers survey conducted on 03 May, 2006 indicates shoaling exists to a depth of 4.3 feet MLW in the vicinity of Oregon Inlet Lighted Buoy 11 and Oregon Inlet Lighted Buoy 14 and extending into the auxiliary channel. Aids to navigation may no longer mark best water. Mariners are cautioned not to transit this area during low water and to use extreme caution when transiting this channel during other tidal states.

The Dredge RICHMOND will be conducting dredging operations in the vicinity of Figure "8" Island, Mason Creek /Banks Channel from 31 March to 31 May, 2006. The dredge can be contacted on VHF-FM channels 10, 13 and 16.  

A Few Observations (May, 2006) in North Carolina:

When Chez Nous passed Mason Creek, Mile 280.5,on the ICWa few weeks ago, we saw no dredging activity. Perhaps it was working off the ICW. We did notice that the temporary aid green can“121” that has been in place for a while where Mason Creek crosses the ICW marked deep water and we could find no shoaling at that time when honoring that marker.

The intersection of Black Mud Channel with the ICW, Mile 270.5, has some serious shoaling, also referenced in the LNMs. It is marked by green can “99A” and is bare at mid tide outside the channel to the east. We found around 5.5 feet MLW south of that aid in the ICW channel.

Friends on a 5’8” draft boat grounded hard at the intersection of Motts Channel and the ICW at low tide a few weeks ago. Chez Nous also noticed the shoal here, but the tide was higher.

We observed a sunken sailboat in the popular anchorage in Cedar Creek where it branches off the ICW in Adams Creek. The mast is visible, out of the water. If you go there and don’t see the mast assume that the wreck is still there. It is approximately northeast of flashing green “9”.  

Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, Cape Fear River, Serious Security Barrier:

We won’t give the coordinates for locations of each of the 45 dolphins, but we saw them all. They are there, as well as three navigational openings between them for ships to pass. We observed three patrol vessels on scene in May. This is not an area to stray off course. Following is part of the announcement in the LNMs: … dolphin piles that constitute the "security barrier" to the approaches to the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point. These dolphin piles are connected to each other by a series of cables. Each pile is marked with a white and orange NW sign worded DANGER and RESTRICTED AREA and show a slow flashing white light. Mariners are cautioned to remain clear of the barriers, not to attempt to transit between the barriers and under no circumstances attempt to enter the areas between the barriers and the Ocean Terminal piers. Any intruding vessels will be challenged by security patrol vessels.  

Charleston Harbor , SC , Obstructions:

USCG Seventh District LNM 20 warns that there are possible submerged hazards/demolition debris in Cooper River for duration of Grace and Pearman bridge demolition. Boaters are advised to stay in the main channel when transiting under the new Ravenel Bridge on the Cooper River.  

Chesapeake Bay :

Maryland :

Irish Creek is one of the prettiest creeks we have ever seen, but it has had serious shoaling at its entrance for years. According to recent USCG Fifth District LNMs it now may not be marked at all: Due to extensive shoaling the Coast Guard proposes to discontinue the following aids to navigation Irish Creek Buoy 1, Irish Creek Buoy 2, Irish Creek Daybeacon 3, Irish Creek Daybeacon 4 and Irish Creek Daybeacon 6. Comments on this proposal should be sent to the following address not later than 01 June, 2006: Commander (dpw), Fifth Coast Guard District, 431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA. 23704-5004, Attn: Albert Grimes.

Many of you reading this will head up the Chesapeake Bay on vacation or will pass through on your way to New England. There is reported plenty of deep water outside the Tolchester Channel here to avoid the dredging equipment. Fifth District LNMs announce that Weeks Marine bucket dredges #550 and #551 will be dredging on Tolchester Channel until approximately 01 July 2006. Both dredges are currently excavating material in the Tolchester Channel. Dredged material is transported to the Popular Island Environmental Restoration Project. The subcontractor, Cottrell Contracting Corporation, has demobilized from the project. Attendant plant will be working near all the dredges. The operations are conducted on a twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven days per week basis. All dredges are monitoring marine VHF channels 13 and 16.  

Virginia :

Being a southern Virginia native and having cruised the lower Bay most of my life, I have always wanted to do the Virginia Inside Passage. Its entrance invites each time I drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to the Eastern Shore. But the mast has always been too tall, and now shallow water may make this passage doable only by very shallow draft boats. The Fifth District LNM 20 states that Shoaling to a depth of 1 foot MLW has been reported in the vicinity of Virginia Inside Passage Daybeacon 65 and Daybeacon 66. Shoaling to a depth of 2 feet MLW has been reported in the vicinity of Virginia Inside Passage Daybeacon 194. Mariners are advised to navigate with caution in this channel.

The same LNM reports that with the completion of the realignment and dredging of Lynnhaven Inlet, by the Norfolk District Army Corp of Engineers, the Coast Guard will make the following changes to the aids to navigation marking Lynnhaven Inlet on or about 05 June, 2006. Lynnhaven Inlet Light 2 will be relocated to position 36 55 03.787N - 076 05 25.714W. Lynnhaven Inlet Light 3 will be changed to Buoy 3 and relocated to position 36 54 50.291N - 076 05 28.385W Lynnhaven Inlet Light 4 will be changed to Buoy 4 and relocated to position 36 54 50.240N - 076 05 25.923W. Lynnhaven Inlet Buoy 5 will be established in position 36 54 36.448N - 076 05 28.615W. Lynnhaven Inlet Buoy 6 will be changed to Light 6, relocated to position 36 54 33.347N - 076 05 31.731W and characteristic changed to Fl R 4s.

Cape May , New Jersey Dredging:

USCG Fifth District LNM 20 reports that the Dredge FULLERTON will be conducting dredging operations in the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, Cape May Canal and Harbor between 05 May and 15 August, 2006. The dredge can be contacted on VHF-FM channels 13 and 16.

Florida Dredging:

The USCG Seventh District LNM 19 reports that dredging will commence on 23 May 2006 in the Jacksonville Harbor, Jacksonville, Florida. This operation will be on a continuous basis seven (7) days per week, twenty-four (24) hours per days until completion on or about 23 July 2006. All mariners are advised to transit area at a safe speed and use extreme caution in the vicinity of the dredge, attendant plant and pipelines.

More Semi-Submersible Testing Off Florida Coast:

We saw it once off Lake Worth and it’s weird. The same LNM states it will start again: Lockheed Martin - Perry Technologies in conjunction with the United States Navy will be conducting offshore testing of an unmanned, remotely piloted, semi-submersible vehicle 1 to 10 miles offshore from Jupiter Inlet to Boynton Beach Inlet. Operations will take place beginning 5-31-2006 and ending 10-15-2006. The Lockheed Martin - Perry Technologies RHIB vessel will support the semi-submersible and will be in constant radio contact with the operations crew and equipped with a remote kill switch. The C/V Wes Bordelon and Sea Tow will also be utilized in the offshore testing along with the Lockheed Martin-Perry Technologies RHIB support vessel and all will be monitoring channel 16. Boaters are asked to stay clear.

Bluewater Books and Charts Presents “Hurricane Expo 2006”:

From a Press Release: On June 3, Bluewater Books & Charts in Ft. Lauderdale is dedicating an entire day to hurricane preparation and safety: Hurricane Expo 2006.

Free seminars will run all afternoon, and special discounts will be offered on hurricane tracking charts, weather instruments and, of course, books on weather and hurricane preparation. Perhaps the most valuable part of this experience will be the opportunity to discuss, one-on-one, storm stories and strategies with other local boaters and experts on storm prediction and preparation.

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM: Bob Adriance on Learning from BoatUS's Case Files
Bob Adriance, author of Seaworthy and editor of BoatUS's Seaworthy magazine, has spent the past 20 years reviewing and writing accident reports for BoatUS's Marine Insurance Division. He will go over some of the worst case scenarios during past hurricane seasons, and tell you how to avoid becoming another insurance company's case file.
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM: Captain Marti Brown on Preparing for the Worst
Captain Marti Brown, author of the Idi-Yachts books, tells you how to prepare your boat for a hurricane and shares fantastic and frightening storm footage from the Bahamas and the Florida Keys.
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM: Chris Parker on Forecasting and Tracking Tropical Systems
Weather Expert Chris Parker, author of Coastal and Offshore Weather: SE US and the Bahamas, tells you how to predict and track tropical cyclones, from formation to landfall.
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM: Reception with speaker Q&A at 5:30.
The address is 1811 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Contact 954-763-6533, ex 228 for more information, or check

This information is not to be used for navigation. Consult the latest charts and Local Notices to Mariners and use prudent seamanship. Conditions may change. 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 or be related to that use.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale