The discussion below is copied from the MTOA List-Serve. Note that Captain Chuck Baier is the past editor of “Waterway Guide” and the current southeastern Navigational Editor for a good friends at “Marina Life.”
Another area of concern is that we would like to do some outside running and don’t know which inlets are suitable to our boat and limited experience.
We have heard some inlets referred to as a “Class A Inlet” and would assume that these are inlets that we should consider. We don’t know where to find a list of Class A inlets. Do you have any recommendations for such a reference?
Shay and Elizabeth Glass
49′ Defever CPMY
Shay and Elizabeth,
As to inlets from Beaufort, you will have Wrightsville Beach, Cape Fear, Little River, Winyah Bay, Charleston, St. Marys, St. Johns River, Cape Canaveral, Fort Pierce, Lake Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key Biscayne. There are many other inlets but most are either not navigable or are local knowledge only. Any one of these can be unusable under certain conditions so watching the weather is a must.
St Simons is also class “A” inlet for the major port of Brunswick, Ga. Class “A” inlets are associated with major commercial shipping Ports so maintained to a very high standard of navigational aids and depths. They are very obvious when referenced on a chart. Check notes …any local knowledge only is not a class A.
M/V “Carolyn Ann” GH N-37
I would add that between Charleston and the St. Mary’s River, you have Port Royal Sound, Tybee Rhodes (Savannah River) and Doboy Sound. In this stretch, there are several other inlets that are acceptable, like Sapelo and St Catherine’s Sounds. If you can read a chart – an UP-TO-DATE chart – it’s no problem. There are shoals, but these inlets are marked. Some buoys are fairly far apart and can be tough to locate visually. Nevertheless, success depends on finding and honoring them.
Port Royal and Tybee are Class “A” inlets for commercial shipping.
Doboy Sound is in an area that has a terrible reputation. It’s immediately north of the Mud River and Altamaha Sound, some of the shallowest water in the ICW. However, Doboy itself is wide, straight-forward, well marked and carries 15′ – 18′ at MLW. Southbound, we stay at the Duplin River, just north of the ferry dock. Then, in the morning, we balance tides and the beauty of the region against weather (conditions and forecast) and sea state. If tides are against us and weather and sea conditions meet our criteria, we leave via Doboy and travel south offshore to either St. Simons (Brunswick), St. Mary’s (Fernandina) or St. John’s (Jax). The run from the Duplin to the intersection of the ICW on the St. John’s is 90 – 95 StM or so. In November after the change to EST, it’s twilight-to-twilight at 7.5 knots. It’s 115 – 120 StM on the inside. You do have to run nearly 5 miles offshore to clear shoaling on the shelf at Altamaha Sound, south of Doboy. At max ebb and max flood, the current in the DOBOY channel can run to 3 knots. That’s also true on the class “A” inlets, btw. Once on the outside, run in shallower water for better sea conditions. In winds with a S or SE component, seas on this run will be abeam, and potentially uncomfortable. But then with active stabilizers on a big DeFever…
Hope this helps.
Thanks to all for so much information! Has anyone ever traveled out of (or in to) Wassaw Sound?