Spoke with the Mobile USACE office this AM and the channel at mile 263 has been cleared. The Corp is still working on the dike, but the waterway is navigable. A LNM summary is below.
Back in July, we reported that the a narrow, canal-like section of the Northern Gulf ICW (a. k. a. the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway) had been closed, due to the collapse of a dike, following torrential rains, and tons of mud and sand had been washed into the channel. Then, on 8/24/13, we published an article that dredging had partially reopened the channel, but budgetary restrictions had kept the ACOE from widening the channel to its original breadth (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=119741).
What is most recent update? Planning to use this route on December 9.
A summary of Local Notices to Mariners posted earlier this year:
Notice 13-24 stated the channel had been dredged and re-opened. 13-28 announced that there had been some partial shoaling from a second rain event, but since the waterway wasn’t closed we didn’t send a follow-on. There is still some minor shoaling in the area but traffic is moving.
E. Patrick Robbins
Chief, Legislative and Public Affairs
Mobile District, USACE
We are indebted to Captain Gano, who brought us one of the first reports of the break earlier this summer, for this excellent report from the collapsed dike area:
Ok, when you last asked me what I knew of the cave-in status at this mile marker, I really didn’t have a lot of information. Today we took a 50-mile round trip over there to blow the cobwebs off the boat and to see what is
going on. We live east of the area, but since most cruisers come through our area west-to-east, I’ll give the order of what I found heading east. At mile 263 there is still a massive dip in the dike on the south side of the channel. As the accompanying mile 263 photo shows, there is ongoing repair, and it appears that a massive sausage device, probably filled with sand, which may be the base of the repair. Contrary to the last profile of this area I saw on the USCOE website, there appears to be no serious shoaling there. I ran the boat slowly within about a boat length of the south bank and never saw less than about 14 feet of water (tide level was plus .4 foot). I see no problem here for cruisers. There were construction vehicles on site, and there may be waterborne construction craft in the area in the future; so be watching as you come around the turn just before this area.
At mile 265, as shown in the mile 265 photo, there is a break in the seawall on the south bank, but we saw no depth issues as we passed in both directions.
As shown in the mile 266.6 photo, there has been an unreported partial collapse on the north bank. Needless to say, the north side of the channel should probably be avoided, but we saw no depth issues as we cruised either direction in the center of the channel.
A little farther on at about mile 266.8 and mile 267.1, I came upon two unlighted temporary buoys. They are new to me and may not be the only buoys in this 15-mile cut between Choctawhatchee Bay and West Bay because we did not go all the way to the westward end of the cut. The westward buoy at mile 266.8 was green and guarded a brown-looking shoal area on the south side of the channel that we could clearly see in the relatively clear water.
The red buoy at mile 267.1 (on your chart, right at the outflow of West Bay Creek on the north side of the channel) did not guard any particular thing we could see. There were no depth issues running this area.
All in all, barring serious rainfall (I am talking about in excess of 4-6 inches in a day like that which caused the cave-ins in the first place), the Grand Canyon seems to be in good enough shape for relatively carefree passage for mile 263 eastward. I have heard of no problems to the west of mile 263.
Calypso (1972 Grand Banks 42)
Panama City, FL