Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Finally! After many weeks of fluctuating and frustrating opening times, the Surf City Swing Bridge has completed the fender repair work on schedule (October 23) and, as confirmed by Skipper Franz, has returned to normal. It should be noted, in their defense, that the fluctuations in openings were often the result of the bridge managers attempting to accommodate arriving boaters. With a closed vertical clearance of 12ft, the Surf City Swing Bridge crosses the Waterway at Statute Mile 261, southwest of unlighted daybeacon #69.
Surf City NC Swing Bridge
Passed through Surf City Swing Bridge October 24, talked with Bridge Tender, and confirmed the Bridge has returned to normal operation schedule, “On the Hour”.
Dockside Marina guards the AICW’s northwesterly banks, west of Motts Channel’s westerly entrance. Our thanks to Skipper Herl for his continued reporting as he and Sandy travel south.
Arrived about 6:15, had a good run today, the wind has calmed down and we are in the skinny protected area. We still had lots of rain but that is nothing as long as we don’t get a lot of wind. We stopped at Dockside Marina for the night, they have been great even though we came in in a downpour. Stopped in and had dinner after we got all set up and everything was good. The food, the service, and the dock help. Not a word of complaint, just did what we had to do to get tied up and electrified. I would stop here again any time.
We did not take any time to explore the area, we are trying to stay ahead of the circulation out in the Atlantic.
Phil and Sandy Herl
Harbor Village Marina guards the Waterway’s northwestern shore hard by flashing daybeacon #94. Our thanks to the Herls for this report.
Harbor Village Marina, NC
Harbor Village Marina is just off the ICW. Just north of Wrighsville Beach. They have really nice floating docks and we were put on the outside wall finger docks. The dock master was there to help us get hooked up and gave us a ride in the golf cart to the dockmasters office to get checked in. It’s a long walk in fact that evening I just dropped the dinghy into the water and used it to get some ice. The office and fuel docks were just across the fairway and to the left of where we were docked but the walk would have been all the way around the marina. It was just a one night stay; we left early the next AM.
Phil and Sandy Herl
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This reminder comes to us from Skipper Rohrkemper who relates a bridge incident in which the bridge tender incorrectly stated that the clearance boards were reading the vertical clearance at the center of the span. USCG Officer Rousseau’s response is quite clear: clearance boards give the least vertical clearance available, normally found at the outer edge of the span, and charts indicate the maximum vertical clearance above MHHW at the center of the span. With a closed vertical clearance of 20ft, the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge crosses the AICW at Statute Mile 283, southwest of marker #125.
Approaching the Wrightsville Beach/ S.R. 74 bridge southbound on 10/30/2014, at high tide at Masonboro Inlet, the clearance signboard read 14′. The bridge tender confirmed that the signboard was measuring clearance at the center of the span and not at the lower shoulders. A December, 2013 version of Chart 11541 lists the clearance as 20′ (at center). Was the bridge tender wrong? Tide was high but not 6′ above MHHW.
I have looked into the Wrightsville Beach question. The clearance boards are most likely reading correctly. The gauges show the vertical clearance of the bridge at the lowest point across the channel 13.5 feet at MHW (outer edges of channel). The Chart shows the clearance of the bridge at the center of the spans. We normally do not mark this clearance on the chart. It is normally what the clearance is at the lowest part of the bridge across the channel 13.5 feet at MHW. Probably at some point in the past it was requested to mark the center and highest point (This point would only be in that exact spot of the bridge). Legally the bridge owner still needs to show the clearance gauges for the lowest clearance across the channel. NCDOT is going to check to make sure the boards are reading correctly. Hope this clears up this question.
Bridge Program Manager
United States Coast Guard District 5
Since May of 2014, we have been receiving warnings of shallow water through this stretch and also the admonition to steer close to the docks on the red side of the channel: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=140638. Skipper Ross confirms this issue with his advice.
Black Mud Channel, mile 270. There are two floating green markers close to a dock on the north side. The red markers are on the dock!! Take it slow. We had 7.5 feet at low tide here.
Like the National Park Service in the Outer Banks, Carolina Beach State Park Marina closed in anticipation of Hurricane Arthur, but they have now re-opened for boaters. The entrance channel to the marina cuts off southward from the AICW, at the western end of Snows Cut, between markers #163 and #165.
The US 74 Bridge has a closed vertical clearance of 20ft and crosses the Waterway in the heart of Wrightsville Beach. For a Local Notice regarding a reduction in clearance in June, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=140201
The Wrightsville Beach Bridge is operating on it’s published schedule. I arrived there at 1300 today in time for its regular opening. The bridge tender was helpful and courteous. He tried four times to contact a sailboat captain who was having radio trouble and even delayed the opening so the sailboat could make it. One o’clock is .9 foot from high tide and the bridge markers showed 16 foot clearance. I confirmed that with the bridge tender. Since the bascule bridge was shaped like an arch I asked the tender if there was any more room to work with. He stated that was all he could say because of “liability”. I believe there was about two feet more in the center. In fact the NOAA chart shows a 20 foot vertical clearance.
This shortcut that runs northwest from the western end of Snows Cut to the Wilmington bound Cape Fear River has been a temptation and a hazard for several years, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=105372. Skipper Matthews did not leave all his good sense behind, because he went slowly, kept an eye on the depthfinder, was able to do a 180 and escape the shoal. It’s a tough rule to remember, but all charted channels are not necessarily navigable.
I left good sense behind and tried this channel Memorial Day weekend 2014. It dropped to 3 foot fast! Was lucky enough to turn around and make it back to deep water after a good barnacle scraping. I draw 3-1/2 feet.
Late breaking information as of late May, 2014, shows that, very much in keeping with the reports below, shoaling has built up rather alarmingly from the seaward side of the AICW channel, near marker #99A. It appears that, at the current time, the best plan is to traverse this section mid-way between #99A, and a new dock which will be spied abutting the northwestern banks. HOWEVER, it is also possible to get too close to the mainland shoreline.
We strongly suggest that all cruising craft traverse this troubled intersection at idle speed, and preferably as near to high tide as possible!
Good luck, you may need it!
And, before we close, MORE INFORMATION IS NEEDED FROM FELLOW CRUISERS WHO HAVE SUCCESSFULLY TRAVERSED THIS INTERSECTION. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO USE THE “COMMENT” FUNCTION BELOW, OR CLICK THE “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” BUTTON AT THE TOP OF THE RIGHT SIDEBAR ON ALL (EXCEPT CHART VIEW) SSECN PAGES!
New Topsail is a problem a hundred yards before 99A till you clear 99 by the same distance. On 4-22-14 our sailing vessel with a 4′ 3″ draft was temporarily grounded on the green side of the channel. This happened very near low tide. Passage is no problem at this time if vessels run the red side of the channel close to the many docks on that side. At the time of our grounding another sailboat with a draft of 6′ 7″ ran the “red side” without a problem.
We were able to hoist our sails to free the vessel and also passed through staying close to the various docks on the red side (extreme left side of marked channel).
Transiting Topsail Sound today at 11:26 AM. Sailboat was hard aground inside the channel at green marker 99A, Topsail inlet area. He called us and advised taking green with wide berth. The skipper was awaiting tide and expected to be able to get off by @ 2:00 PM. We passed by and saw 6 feet abeam of him.
SV Simple Life
Transited this area 5/22/14 about 8AM. G 99A was waaay over on the north/mainland side, only about 150′ from the shore where a dock is under construction. We honored the buoy, squeezed in between the buoy and the construction, and saw 8′ depth (reduced to MLW). The current LNM lists 99A as “damaged” but not “off station.”
Just in case it hasn’t been reported, as of 5/15/14, there is extreme shoaling just north of Wrightsville Beach, NC at marker number 99A, where Black Mud Channel enters the ICW. Vessels drawing more than 3 feet, maybe less, must stay to the extreme west side of the channel. This is the red side, but no red marker is located at this position.
Rudy and Jill
Black Mud Channel – 5 foot draft sailboat transited one hour before high tide on 5/17 and saw only 7 feet on extreme left side of the channel off the docks.
We passed here headed north on 5/27/2014. We were directly in between the green marker, and the new dock, and had 6′ under our boat at low tide. The channel is quite narrow. The green buoy will look out of place as it is so far toward the red side, but it is not.
AICW Black Mud Channel MM 270
We can confirm that 99A has been moved. On June 1/14 We passed half way between 99A and the docks, and saw 8ft MLW. This passage is very narrow.
Richard Ross M/V Chez Nous
I later passed by markers 99 and 99a at exact high tide (1425). I have a four foot draft and passed through the area without incident. I honored the green markers at about 20 feet. During the passage I never showed less than 9 feet of depth. There is a boat docked at marker 99a with its bow protruding into the new channel.
One boat can easily pass while two could be a problem.
Thanks again for your great service.
Nordic Tug 37
Topsail Channel Anchorage lies northwest of the charted marsh island southwest of the Topsail Channel’s unlighted daybeacon #14.
Just off the ICW with an easy entrance and exit. We found 10 foot of water at one hour before high tide. As you enter stay pretty close to the markers until you get up to the docks, at that point favor the dock side. We anchored just south of the charted shoal between the marker and the line of crab pots to the west. There is some high speed traffic past this point, but that stops when the sun goes down. You can hear the ocean surf. 4 bars on Verizon Air Card. If you are northbound, this is a good place to stay and than catch the Surf City Bridge opening, 3 miles north, the next morning.
The Motts Channel cuts into the southeastern/eastern flank of the AICW, a short hop south and southwest of the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge, just past the host of marina facilities which congregate south of this span. This channel is often used by cruisers heading for Seapath Yacht Club, and on their way to and from the very popular anchorages on the Banks Channel, which comprises the eastern extreme of the Motts cut.
Over the years, the west end of the Motts Channel, near markers #25 and #23, has shoaled and periodic dredging has been required. Captain Booke’s advice is in response to an earlier Navigation Alert for this channel, http://cruisersnet.net/?p=105878
There is plenty of water coming off the ICW into Motts Channel if you put your boat against the southern shore. Mid Channel is usually shallow.
The SSECN has imposed a “Navigation Alert” for the intersection of the AICW and Mason Inlet since August 5, 2013, and a warning has appeared concerning these waters in a USCG Local Notice to Mariners (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=120325). We have had also several additional reports of shoaling on these troubled waters since our Nav. Alert was issued (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=127818). Below, Captain Sonia and crew confirm the need for extreme caution in any passage through the Waterway/Mason Inlet intersection.
We grounded there with a 5,5ft draft. While our rudder was free, our keel was stuck and our depth sounder showed 5 ft. We could however not move. We were towed by Seatow and fell onto our side and was towed for about 60 feet on our side before stabilizing. Our rudder was bent and our boat twisted, which resulted in serious damage. As we understood from both Seatow and Boatus, the barges create pockets with walls over an extended area. Be very careful and pass within 20 feet of the docks [red side].
Not having been there I can’t speak for this particular grounding, but in many similar situations I have seen and been involved in on the ICW the best course of action when aground is to put an anchor out towards deep water and wait for tidal help before trying to get off. Near Mason Inlet there is usually at least 3 or 4 feet of tide. Many times I have pulled my own boat off of groundings with no damage by doing this. Often you can pull the bow around towards deeper water as the tide helps and then winch yourself in the right direction. Generally, within the ICW you are sheltered from wave action and there is no great danger in simply waiting. On the other hand, trying to tow a boat off that is hard aground often leads to damage. Of course if the boat hit near high tide and/or you are in an exposed location that would alter your choices.
We came through this area, southbound about one hour after low water on 1/23/2014. We were aware that this was a problem area and were moving very slowly. As we proceeded the depth started to decrease very rapidly. We kept moving towards the red side and finally found enough water, we draw about 3 1/2 feet, to get thru. We did kiss the bottom once. This is not the place to be at low water.
This agreement between USACE and the NC DNR is certainly good news for cruisers since the inlet intersections with the Waterway have always been notorious areas for shoaling. The article below is from the Port City Daily of Wilmington, NC and was sent to us by Captain Tom Beaty. For the complete story, go to: http://portcitydaily.com/2013/12/10/state-federal-agreement-lands-to-keep-shallow-draft-inlets-open/
North Carolina and the federal government have finalized a deal to continue dredging in shallow navigation sites like Carolina Beach Inlet and the Shallotte River, touted as crucial components of the coast’s economy.
Announced Tuesday between the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it provides an outline for resumed maintenance of federally authorized shallow-draft inlets and channels through September 2017.
Mason Inlet separates Figure Eight Island and Wrightsville Beach and intersects the Waterway at mile 280.5. SSECN has had a Navigation Alert posted for reports of shoaling at this intersection since August of 2013. See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=120325.
On Nov 13, 2013 at approximately 1:00 pm (mid tide) our keel bumped & then slid over shoaling on the “ocean side” of ICW channel very near G121 (Mason Inlet) . Our IP350 sailboat has a draft of 4′ 3″. We were very surprised as we had checked this cruiser site for any problem areas and found no mention of problems in this area.
In light of Captain Murtha’s last comment, SSECN would like to remind everyone to always check our Navigation Alerts, which can be reached both via our top of the page menus, and by way of the red, vertically stacked menus on the right side of all (except Chart View) SSECN pages. You can also set a bookmark for http://cruisersnet.net/alert-region/010-all-nav-alerts/?sort=date (though, do note that this “ALL Navigation Alerts” page is sorted chronologically by publication date, while the regional Nav. Alert pages (e. g. “EF Nav. Alerts at http://cruisersnet.net/alert-region/035-ef-nav-alerts/?sort=geo) are sorted geographically!
Came through Mason Inlet [intersection with ICW] yesterday 2 hrs after low tide. Two boats already grounded near floating green can. Bumped as started through further toward red but grounded and backed off only to bump again. TowboatUS near by came to pull off and led through. Ignore floating green, less than 4 ft of water with rising mid tide. You need to be as close to red side docks as possible then angle back to channel past G23. TowboatUS captain said this location had started shoaling badly 2 days ago.
11/19/13 – We traveled the area AICW at Mason Inlet at MLW. We had 2.9 feet of water under our boat, we draw 5’7″.
The Carolina Beach Mooring Field lies south of the AICW channel, and also south of Snow Cut’s easterly entrance, in the harbor channel leading to Carolina Beach commercial district. SSECN continues to receive good reports on the mooring field and the services provided. Another recent cruiser said that Randy even offered to take their trash ashore.
A very nice anchorage/mooring field. Depths are 18-25 ft (with a lot of current), so I’m glad there are mooring balls.
Randy came out at 5pm to collect the $20 and gives us the lay of the land. Although the mooring field was not full you might want to call him in advance …(929) 667-0004.
Overall, a very pleasant stop.
Looks like the major dredging project which took place some two years ago at the AICW/Carolina Beach Inlet intersection, south and west of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and north and east of the Snows Cut canal, is still holding. Hooray, at last some good news!
Our good friends, and SSECN strategic partners, Captains Mark and Diana Doyle, founders and owners of “On The Water ChartGuides” (http://www.onthewaterchartguides.com/), give us an updated, graphic report below, relaying what they discovered as they navigated through the AICW/Carolina Beach Inlet intersection on 9/03/13.
Note that the Doyle’s soundings were taken near high tide, so you must subtract 4 feet from the depths portrayed on the Doyle’s graphic, to discover MLW soundings.
Incidentally, Diana and Mark have just published a new edition of their immensely popular “ICW CruiseGuide.” Click on the book graphic to the above right for more details, and to place an order!
Diana and I are continuing our survey reports with depth-annotated tracks for ICW Trouble Spots.
This one is for the ICW and Carolina Beach Inlet intersection.
Pretty smooth sailing this season with depths ABOVE 8 FEET MLLW.
Hopefully, SSECN readers transiting the area will find these reports useful.
Captains Mark & Diana Doyle
The Carolina Beach Mooring Field lies south of the AICW channel, and also south of Snow Cut’s easterly entrance, in the harbor channel leading to Carolina Beach commercial district. As you will see below, Captain Spence relays welcome improvements in service to mooring users in this field.
We stayed here a year ago, and I was not looking forward to a second visit. We were only spending one night and after an 8 1/2 hour day I didn’t feel much like launching the dinghy from the second deck in the wind just to go pay our mooring fee. I was very happy to read that they now send a boat out each evening to collect fees. And great news – a second dinghy dock on the beach side with access to the beach is supposed to open in about two weeks!
Carolina Beach Mooring Field is off the Waterway in the harbor channel leading to Carolina Beach commercial district. The mouth of the harbor is south of Snows Cut’s eastern entrance.
Raft off’s not allowed at Carolina Beach mooring as of 5-18-2013 even if all pays the $20. While there two local boats one hooked to ball other rafted off hooked to ball for less than an hour and were charged $20 each one was no more than 50 yards from his marina also the tender told me that the $20 is per calendar day if you are there on 18th is $20 still there on 19th another $20 not for a 24 hour time period as I left to help my friend get his boat back to marina and received a call stating that I would be sent a bill from Carolina Beach for $20 when told I was not staying that is when he told be it was not a 24 hour period. Just FYI for anyone else stopping by Carolina Beach mooing. Did enjoy my stay there as it was my first over nite trip and raft off with newly purchased sailboat.