East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

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

Decreasing Depths in Lake Okeechobee, FL:

The USACE Jacksonville issued a Notice to Navigation Interests on May 9, 2006 concerning Lake Okeechobee:

Shoaling conditions have restricted the navigation depth along Route 1 near Mayaca Lock to approximately 7.06 feet at a lake water elevation of 13.21 feet NGVD (National Geodetic Vertical Datum--Lake Okeechobee’s 8 ft depths were dredged based on an elevation of 12.56 feet).

Route 2 (the Rim Canal) is currently closed (still recovering from hurricane damage in 2005).

Available depth may be temporarily impacted up to 1.1 feet by strong winds.

If you are planning to cross Florida via Lake Okeechobee the Notice to Navigation Interests recommends that you check current conditions at www.saj.usace.army.mil and select “Waterway Management,” then select “Navigation Bulletins and Lock Closure Information,” or call 863-983-8101 or 904-232-2022.

I checked today, and the depth was even lower. The rainy season begins around the middle of June. Hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 brought too much water in the lake and it had to be drained through the locks. 

East Channel of East River ( New York Harbor) Closed for the Summer:

First District USCG LNM #21 states that Weeks Marine is conducting operations in the East Channel of the East River between the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island Bridge until approximately August 31, 2006. The hours of operation are 0700 to 1700, using a spud barge and support vessel. This portion of the East River is CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC during the period of May 17, 2006 thru August 31, 2006 except for commercial vessels making deliveries to the Keyspan Ravenswood facility. Mariners are advised to plan accordingly and transit the area with caution using the West Channel. All work vessels will be lit and remain on scene overnight.

Dredging Near Baltimore:

The same LNM announces this dredging project: The Dredge LEXINGTON will be conducting dredging operations in the vicinity of the Poplar Island Southern Access Channel from 27 May through 01 July, 2006. The dredge can be contacted on VHF channels 13 and 16. Mariners are requested to stay clear of the dredge and 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.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Washington, DC, Information:

The Washington DC area is a great summer boating destination. The ongoing construction at this bridge may cause some boaters to be delayed. If you’re heading this way, check out the latest information and updates to construction operations: Contact Mr. Mike Baker, Environmental Construction Manager for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project at 202-438-7499 or 301-567- 0094 (Ext 242).

Norfolk , VA Harborfest Safety Zone in the ICW:

This annual festival is causing serious cruisers and commercial craft to stop and wait while various events take place. Experienced vessel operators know to avoid Norfolk on this weekend, but somebody always gets caught unawares. If you do get caught, you may as well stop and enjoy the show (there’ll be no marina space and the anchorage is very crowded). Here’s another warning from the 5 th District LNM #22:

A safety zone will be established in the Norfolk Harbor in the vicinity of Town Point Reach in support of the 30th Annual Harborfest Celebration waterway activities which include the Parade of Sail and daily boat races and fireworks displays. This safety zone will encompass all waters, shore line to shore line, from Hospital Point to the Berkley Bridge to a point just north of the Downtown Tunnel and will be enforced during the following dates and times: June 9 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; June 10 between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and June 11 between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. Vessel operators in the vicinity of this zone shall stop immediately and proceed as directed by the on scene Coast Guard Patrol Commander.

ICW Shoaling:
The Coast Guard is finally catching up with what everyone who uses the ICW already knows. And it confirms that we (all of us) really haven’t been out of the channel.

5th District LNM #21 and 22 report these various shoals:

Shoaling has been observed in the middle of the channel, South of Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff Light 184 extending completely across the channel starting in approximate position 32-30.649N/080-30.175W to approximate position 32-30.686N/080-30.127W. Reported depth is 5.5 feet of water at low tide. Chart 11517 shows project depths for ICW as 12 feet.

Shoaling has been observed in the middle of channel, south of Fields Cut Buoy 48. Reported depth is 6.2 feet at low tide. Chart 11507 has a sounding of 8 feet in this position.

Shoaling has been observed in the middle of channel in vicinity of Ramshorn Creek Light 39. Reported depth is 6 feet at low tide. Chart 11507 shows sounding of 8 feet in this position.

Shoaling has been reported in the middle of the channel near Florida Passage Daybeacon 102. Reported depth at low tide is 6 feet.

Matanzas Inlet , FL , Mile 793, ICW Crossing Update:

The 7 th District LNM 21 states that all mariners are advised that reports of extreme/severe shoaling has been reported across Matanzas River in approximate position 29-43-10.198N 081-14-44.717W in the vicinity/between Matanzas River Buoy 80 (LLNR 39525) to Matanzas Buoy 81D (LLNR 39540). On May 24, 2006 the Coast Guard will reposition the aids to navigation in Matanzas River to mark best water for safe transit through this area with a depth of 6 feet at mean low tide increasing to 10 feet near Matanzas River Buoy 81D.

NOTE: Apparently Buoy 81E has been added to the sequence, as it was noted to be added to relevant charts in LNM #22.

ICW Bridge Updates:

The following info in plain text (not in italics) came from the 7 th District LNM #22:

The Causton Bluff Bridge, Mile 579.9 at Thunderbolt, GA is undergoing repairs from May 30 till August 30, 2006. NOTE:We all remember the total closure of this bridge last year. I spoke to the tender today. He said that he is on one span operation, but he assured me that there were no expected total closures of the waterway.

The Flagler Memorial Bridge, Mile 1021.8 in Lake Worth, FL is undergoing repairs and will only open once an hour on the quarter hour on June 5 and 6, 2006, between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The Sheridan Street Bridge, Mile 1070.5 in Hollywood, FL is undergoing repairs and will only open once an hour on the hour on june 7 and 8, 2006 between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

HURRICANE INFORMATION from the Coast Guard (7 th district LNM #22):

In honor of the beginning of the season we’re being inundated by news broadcasts every day. The following is good information relevant to all of us who live, work, cruise or just have fun on boats. Note the drawbridge info at the end.

The hurricane season extends from June through November. Hurricanes can cause excessive damage to vessels and loss of life. To minimize these dangers, the following precautions should be taken by all mariners before getting underway during the hurricane season:

(a) Instruction of crew and passengers in location of emergency equipment and emergency procedures;

(b) Pre-sailing check of vessel, machinery, and equipment for seaworthiness;

(c) Installation of strong ground tackle;

(d) Review of storm center evasion procedures;

(e) Knowledge of nearest hurricane shelter or port; and

(f) Constant radio watches on channel 16 VHF-FM and frequent monitoring of weather broadcasts.

The civilian hurricane warning service for the North Atlantic is provided by the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida. The center collates ship, aircraft, radar, and satellite data to produce and issue tropical cyclone warnings and forecasts for the North Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

A Tropical Cyclone Advisory message is issued every six hours, with intermediate bulletins provided as needed. For tropical storms and hurricanes threatening to cross the coast of the U.S., coastal warnings are issued to the public so that precautionary actions, including evacuation, can be initiated to minimize damage and loss of life. Two levels of warnings are employed:

(a) HURRICANE WATCH - a preliminary alert that a hurricane MAY threaten a specified portion of the coast. It is issued 36 hours before landfall may occur; and

(b) HURRICANE WARNING - which indicate that hurricane conditions are EXPECTED along a specified portion of the coast. It is issued 24 hours before landfall.

To provide additional information for maritime interests, a Marine Advisory is also issued which provides storm position forecasts for up to 72 hours in advance of a storm, and probabilities of hurricane strikes for coastal locations and offshore coordinates.

Mariners are reminded that aids to navigation, particularly lighted and unlighted buoys, may be moved from charted position, damaged, destroyed, extinguished or otherwise deemed discrepant as a result of hurricane and storms. Mariners should not rely solely upon the position or operation of an aid to navigation, but also employ such other methods of determining position as may be available.

Mariners are further reminded that during the hurricane season drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures. Drawbridges are authorized to remain closed upon approach of gale force winds of 34 knots or greater. Others may be authorized to extend closed periods prior to gale force winds to facilitate evacuation of land traffic or close operations up to 8 hours before expected arrival of gale force winds. Due to the uncertainty of hurricane movements and bridge closures, mariners are urged to seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

Bluewater Books and Charts Presents “Hurricane Expo 2006”:

From a Press Release: On June 3, Bluewater Books & Charts in Ft. Lauderdale ( 1811 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. 954-763-6533, ex 228, www.bluewaterweb.com ) 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.

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM: Bob Adriance: Learning from BoatUS 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.
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.
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.
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM: Reception with speaker Q&A at 5:30.

Dredging in Miami Harbor:

The USCG 5 th Distric LNM #22 announces that the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company will begin dredging in the turning basin on the north side of Dodge Island and the Port of Miami Berths under contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The CLAMSHELL Dredge #54 will begin operations at the Port of Miami Berths and in Fisherman Island Channel May 30, 2006. The CLAMSHELL will be loading two material barges the GL#62 and GL#65. The material barges will be towed from the dredge area with one of the two tugs onsite, the Comet and Atlantic Dawn, to deposit the material at a 1,000 foot-diameter offshore disposal area (ODMDS) centered on Latitude 25 degrees 45 minutes North and Longitude 80 degrees, 3 minutes west. The dredging operations will continue for approximately one month. All mariners are advised to use extreme caution while transiting the area. Please contact Mr. Samuel R. Morrison with Great Lakes regarding any questions or concerns at (630) 574-2920.

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