Cruisers’ Net has posted reports of shoaling in this Problem Stretch (which the ACOE terms as “behind Breach Inlet”) for months now. (see /?p=120335). And we are once again greatly indebted to Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing the superb, in-depth article below. THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN! Please read on!
Claiborne, We transited the ICW from Dewees Creek past the Ben Sawyer Bridge at 0830 this morning, November 7, 2013. Here are the depths that we found. First, we did study the Corps of Engineers most recent survey to determine on which side of the channel the deepest water could be found. It appeared to us that favoring the red side would be best, and that is what we did. We are southbound, so take that into consideration for the report.
All depths reported would be at low tide for today. Before the Ben Sawyer at red “118” we found 8.2 feet at about 30 feet off the marker. The depths increased to 10 feet as we approached Swinton Creek. Very near the crossing at Swinton Creek the depths were 6 feet. Here is a situation where many may get confused. The currents at Swinton Creek and several other crossing of the ICW near inlets are very strong cross currents. As we crossed the creek we were set immediately off to starboard and pushed out of the channel due to the incoming tide. Fortunately the depths as we crossed these creeks were 17 to 20 feet where the current has scoured them out. But if running on autopilot, the course would not be corrected enough to get the boat back into the channel before hitting shoal waters. We have also found that if set by current, looking ahead will give us a false sense of still being in the channel. But if we look behind us, it becomes very apparent the we have been pushed far out of the channel. We recommend hand steering through this stretch and looking forward as well as behind to determine where the boat is. The speed and direction of these strong currents will depend on whether the tides are incoming or outgoing and how strong the currents are at that particular
time. Now back to the depths.
Approaching green “117” the signboard is missing and the piling only is sticking about 6 feet out of the water and angled toward the channel. Passing Swinton Creek we found depths of 7 feet, then dropping to 6 feet. As we approached first opening to Breach Inlet, the depths were 5.8, then 5.3, then 4.5. At the intersection of Breach Inlet, the depths were 12 feet with very a strong cross current. Beyond that point to the second crossing at Breach Inlet we saw depths of 10 to 12 feet until we reached Inlet Creek where we briefly had 6 feet. The depths came back to 10-12 feet, which
continued until the Ben Sawyer Bridge. Beyond Ben sawyer we never saw anything less than 12 feet.
As you can see, there is one very shallow area at low tide in the 4- to 5-foot range, so boats with deeper drafts will need to transit at higher tides. With tides in the 5- to 6-foot range for this area, that allows plenty of depths for deeper drafts. We hope this will help all of those that transit this section of the waterway after us. We will keep you posted on any other issues we find.
Chuck and Susan. Trawler Beach House
The Great Book Of Anchorages <http://www.tgboa.com/>
Navigation Notices <http://www.marinalife.com/
Trawler Beach House <http://trawler-beach-house.
Voyages of Sea Trek <http://sea-trek.blogspot.com/