We are very pleased to present another superb article from our fellow nautical authors, Captains Mark and Diana Doyle, authors of the popular “Managing the Waterway” paper guide books, and many other publications at “On the Water Chart Guides.” Please click their sponsor’s panel at the left to learn more!
This article deals with the perennial AICW Problem Stretch known as Hell Gate. This man-made canal connects the Georgia stretch of the AICW between the Vernon and Ogeechee River, south of Savannah and Isle of Hope. As you will see Diana and Mark’s observations confirm earlier articles here on the Net which report MLW depths of less than 6 feet at spots along this passage. Deviate from the centerline a bit, and I have a strong suspicion that soundings would show even more shoaling.
The Hell Gate section of the AICW was dredged in 2009, but, clearly, it is time, perhaps past time, for that process to be repeated again. Are you listening USACOE!!!???
Diana and I transited northbound through Hell Gate, GA June 9th, about a half-foot short of high tide. Egg Islands has a Spring Tidal Range (STR) of 8.4 feet. Our plan was to transit, staying mid-channel, honoring the aids.
The entrance (shown on the screenshot) held decreasing, but good depths (23-16 feet at 6.5 feet above MLLW).
The northbound exit (not shown) had varying depths (15-22 feet at 6.5 feet above MLLW).
Our course line is steady, near mid-channel, presumably marking the deepest water.
With numerous 13- to 15-foot soundings, at this height of tide, one could reasonably assume MLLW depths of less than 6 feet in some areas of the channel.
Again, no recommendation being made here. Just sharing data. Captains are responsible for their decisions and outcome.
Best and see you On the Water,
Captains Mark & Diana Doyle