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Port City Marina - Wilmington, NC
Georgetown, South Carolina
  • Western Florida’s Big Bend Passage, Apalachiacola to Clearwater

    Clearwater Entrance - Click for Chartview

    I have often said before, but it bears repeating again, “get twelve cruisers together, and you will give fourteeen opinions about how to best traverse Western Florida’s waterwayless ‘Big Bend’ region.” Every time this topic arises, whether it’s here on the Cruisers’ Net, or some other nautical forum, a wide range of often very useful and informative opinions come to light. That’s just the case below.
    Overnight passages can be memorable, especially when the seas cooperate as Capt. MacMahon describes below. The direct channel to Clearwater Municipal Marina from the Western Florida ICW (there is another entrance from Clearwater Pass Inlet), cuts sharply west, just south of the high-rise Clearwater Beach Bridge.

    Calypso (American Tug 34) crossed the Gulf from Apalachicola to Clearwater on September 22-23. Left Apalachicola at 8:30 a.m. and went down the GICW to East Pass. Exited East Pass into the Gulf shortly before 11:30a.m.
    Weather report was for light winds (5 to 10 mph) out of some derivation of the North for all day and night with waves projected to be 1 to 2 feet. It was a little bouncy going thru East Pass and for the next 45 minutes or so until reaching deeper water. Then, it smoothed out into widely spaced two foot swells which the boat glided over. Conditions got even better as the day progressed and as Calypso worked its way further South until it was essentially smooth throughout the night. Made better time than planned so had to slow down several times in order to arrive after daylight. Stayed out in deeper water (40 feet plus) as approached Clearwater so as to avoid expected crab pots in shallower water. As it got light headed into Clearwater Pass and there were no crab pots off the coast there. Dredging
    equipment was at Clearwater Pass but no problem getting by it. Turned left just after going under the high rise bridge over the pass and went up the side channel to Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina. Somewhat shallow (5 feet over the bar) in the side channel (with about one foot of tide. But, once over the bar depth was fine. The marina has fixed docks and there is a little bit of wake from tour boats (but not bad at all). Showers/heads are not climate controlled. Dock master was helpful. And, it is close to the beach and lots of restaurants/bars.
    Mark MacMahon

    We found Panama City to Clearwater area to be the best for us. Leave Panama City in the morning, over night to Clearwater entrance. Anchor between condos and sleep and rest the rest of the day. Don’t like going across that shallow lake east of Panama City. We also found the return trip to Panama City nice also. We would anchor thru the single lift bridge for a day or two. Then there’s the visit to Gano’s bayou for some of the best hospitality ! Thanks,
    Ted Brown, boatless but thinking

    We’ve done the Gulf crossing 5 times, all overnighters. We departed from Tarpon Springs or Tampa/St Petersburg going west. Destin, Panama City, Carrabelle going east. We’ve always done the overnighters as our philosophy is that one over night is one overnighter at our trawler speed of 8 mph (7 knts). Leave in the Daylight from either end and plan to arrive no earlier than mid day going east so that you are not looking into the sun and can see the myriad of trap floats that extend a surprising distance off shore some as far as 30+ miles. Just get into port in full daylight going west.
    Having spent time in the arm pit, Steinhatchie and Cedar Key hold no attractions for me so I prefer to get across and not hassle with the shallow entry channels guarded by oyster/clam bed. If you really want to go to them watch your tides and remember the winter northerlies can and does draw the gulf waters down up to +2′ lower than MLLW where it will remain for several days.
    So beware of entering shallow channels with expectations of leaving when ever. The distance we go(departure to arrival point) when doing an overnighter is determined by the weather window and weather at each end which can vary depending upon wind speeds and directions at the different points i.e. following seas over head seas, vice fetch and durations along the planned route. Contrary to some guides in all our crossings we have never been out of range (VHF) contact with a USCG site. Remember, patience is the key to an uneventful and boring (at best) crossing and daylight
    departures and arrivals.
    M/V “Carolyn Ann” GH N-37

    Joe Pica said “and remember the winter northerlies can and does draw the gulf waters down up to +2′ lower than MLLW where it will remain for several days. So beware of entering shallow channels with expectations of leaving whenever.”
    That is some good advice and things to consider. Thanks for posting that Joe. After living in FL for one winter I saw that is true.
    Ralph Yost

    You ask a good question, what is the best destination for crossing the Gulf, Tarpon Springs or Clearwater. Both are good but slightly different. Tarpon Springs is about 5-6 miles closer if the total crossing distance is critical and marinas there will take reservations, more critical in years past when there were more boaters out there. Clearwater is an easier approach and a few less crab pots to dodge but you would be in the deeper Gulf for a bit longer, important if the west wind is starting to pick up as you finish your crossing. Clearwater has their sunset celebrations that are indeed special but Tarpon Springs has that delicious Greek food that can’t be found many other places.
    To decide what is best port, you will have to serve rum drinks to about a dozen cruisers who have done it before but hope that someone passes out so there can’t be a tie vote. Stay safe,
    Tom Conrad

    The information posted is very helpful. I do have a follow up question for the group. Cruising at 9knts aboard my GB 32, how long should I plan for getting from Fairhope AL to East Pass? Thanks!
    Randy Hondros

    Your priorities should be your major guide in planning time from Fairhope to East Pass. On our last trip through that section, it took us over 6 weeks. There are miles of sandy, shell-covered beaches to explore – usually by yourself this time of year. Anchor at Perdido Key, Shell Island, and Cape San Blas. Don’t miss the Naval Air Museum and Joe Patti’s seafood market in Pensacola. Apalachicola is a quaint town with some of the best oysters and shrimp in the world. The Florida Panhandle is a great cruising destination that should be savored slowly. Too many cruisers rush through the Panhandle concerned about getting to a point to cross the Gulf and miss some outstanding experiences.
    Glen and Jill Moore
    DeFever 40 Last Dance

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Clearwater Municipal Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Clearwater Municipal Marina

  • Praise for Argus Data Reports

    It is very gratifying to receive reports like the one below from Captain Bob. How wonderful that he found Survice Engineer’s ARGUS data so useful AND accurate. It’s just another way the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net strives to provide ALL the information necessary to safely and enjoyably cruising the coastal waters of the Southeastern USA!
    By the way, the report of shoaling south of St. Augustine to which Captain Bob refers was posted earlier this year.

    Looked at the Argus info for this stretch as well as other stretches south of here around Pons Inlet [Ponce de Leon Inlet]. What a huge benefit to have this. It was always right on what I found less than an hour after low tide. This is a big step forward from reading the subjective comments of other cruisers.
    Captain Bob Clemons

    Click Here To View A Posting About Shoaling South of St. Augustine

  • Professional Praise for Osprey Marina (Statute Mile 373.5) – Captains Mark and Diana Report

    Our strategic partners, Captains Mark and Diana Doyle, owners and founders of On The Water ChartGuides, have provided us with a sterling review of one of the most praised marinas to be found in the South Carolina Low Country. We agree with everything this professional cruising duo has to say below, and, of course, let’s not forget that Osprey Marina is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

    On the Water GuidebooksHi Claiborne,

    Osprey Marina is aptly named, located along the Waccamaw River (STM 373.3), where you’ll see LOTS of osprey and osprey nests.

    I’ll include two photos, showing the facility, marina, and basin:

    The facility is built around a quiet, secluded basin tucked down a narrow tree-lined channel. It’s easy to forget that crowded Myrtle Beach is just to the north, over the treetops.

    The marina is a great place to leave your boat for holiday travel. Myrtle Beach International Airport is only 14 miles away.

    The basin is incredibly protected and the owners and staff go above and beyond to make you happy and take care of your boat.

    And the rates are very competitive: cruisers should be sure to ask about their decreasing-by-the-day dockage fees.

    When you check in you receive a captain’s bag guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s loaded with treats that show this marina understands what boaters enjoy: goodies like travel packs of laundry detergent, crackers, and homemade local pumpkin butter.

    Sherry, we especially enjoyed the pumpkin butter! [ hint … hint ]

    Best and see you On the Water,

    Captains Mark & Diana Doyle

    Click Here To View the South Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Osprey Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Osprey Marina

    Click Here To View the Osprey Marina Photo Gallery Take From Our South Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Osprey Marina

  • Sailor Looks for Post Hip Replacement Cruising Advice

    If any fellow cruiser has advice for Captain Wilmington, please click follow the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” button/link to the above right. We will post your replies for all to share.

    Any fellow sailors/boaters out there who have had a total hip replacement. I would like to know how you adapt/adjust your movements so that you can still enjoy the Big Blue!. My replacement is 3 weeks old, and I am looking forward to spring boating.
    Capt Mike Wilmington

    I had a total hip replacement (anterior method), Jiffy Hip, in 2007. I was ambulating the same day and left 3 months later taking our boat from Yorktown, Va to Savannah, GA with no problems. We have since cruised Chesapeake Bay and just spent 5 months last winter in Charleston, SC on the boat. My doc put no restrictions on me and I haven’t needed any. I can’t speak to the traditional posterior method that involved cutting the glutemus maximus muscle. Hope this helps.
    Jake Smith

    I had a total Hip replacement on 8/1/11, and was back on my trawler 10/ 10/11. That was after both knees in 4/10/11. The hip was a piece of cake, compared to the double knees. We cruised the whole winter/spring of 2011/12, and are now cruising again, since 9/12.
    Roger Hayes

    I am in my mid-70′s and still active. I had hip replacement surgery in 1999 (right hip) and 2007 (left hip). I carefully followed my surgeon’s recommendations following surgery. If your surgeon recommends therapy, do it. After three months I was able to ride my horse, ski, bowl, play golf, and boat.
    To have a good result you must not stress the implant while it is fragile and your muscles are still weak. Avoid falling and sports like tennis that include twisting and short stops.
    I recently had knee replacement. After three months I was back bowling and golfing. Boating waited for good weather.
    Good luck!
    Ann Kendrick

    Thanks for the good advice, and thanks to the Cruisers Net for posting my message. My doc says the 90 degree rule is forever, and that rule puts a crimp of sorts into my singlehanded sailing. The advice boosts my spirit and I am ready for spring!!!
    Capt Mike,
    Wilmington NC

    I would recommend you get a second opinion from a surgeon who uses the Jiffy Hip anterior method of hip replacement. The 90 degree rule does not apply.

    Jake, my surgery was posterior, and I was sent home with 3 rules……no crossing legs, no pointing of foot inward on op-leg, and no bending at the waist more than 90 degrees….

    You might want to check this site about hip replacement:

  • Warnings of Swift Current at the Harborage at Ashley Marina, near AICW Statute Mile 469

    The Harborage at Ashley Marina - Click for Chartview

    The Harborage at Ashley Marina lies along the northeastern shores of Ashley River (on the Charleston peninsula), between the charted 56 foot fixed bridge, and the 18-foot Highway 17 bascule bridge.
    While we certainly have NO argument with either Captain Koerner’s or Captain Jay’s advice to be on the lookout for swiftly moving waters when approaching this facility’s piers, I might just add, “welcome to the South Carolina Low Country.” Strong tidal currents are part and parcel of almost every anchorage and marina from south of Myrtle Beach to St. Marys River.

    I keep my sailboat at this marina. Last April she was T-boned by a trawler whose captain used hiS bow thrusters to turn the boat around during a strong ebb tide. Boat never made the turn.
    A powerboat struck another powerboat yesterday while trying to back in against the current (which seems to run 45 degrees to the shore, rather than parallel).
    And this morning, a transient sailboat was unable to back ouy against the current and was T-boned against the pier before striking another sailboat in his slip.
    HB Koerner

    I second HB’s advice. I’ve stayed at Ashley’s a couple of times as a transient, and usually ask if I can stay on the outside dock so I don’t have to deal with navigating the interior slips with the current.
    Dennis Jay
    “Delta Blues”
    Annapolis, Md.

    Click Here To View the South Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For The Harborage at Ashley Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The Harborage at Ashley Marina

  • Praise for Georgia Waterway and Report from Hell Gate, AICW Problem Stretch, Statute Mile 602

    The AICW follows the narrow, man-made canal known as Hell Gate between the Vernon and Ogeechee Rivers. These waters have been an “AICW Problem Stretch” for years.

    Captains Glen and Jill Moore provide an excellent picture of and approach to this long-time trouble spot where depths can change quickly due to the narrow channel. And we heartily agree that these miles of undeveloped and unspoiled Waterway in Georgia are well worth the necessary planning and navigational care.

    We traveled through Hell Gate on 11/9/12. The shallowest spot observed on our path was 8’ MLW south of floating R90. Using the large Georgia tides to your advantage, Hell Gate depths provide a good margin of error on your course through this narrow stretch of the ICW.
    Some cruisers avoid the Georgia ICW due to stories of shallow water. They miss one of the best cruising areas of the southeast coast. Those on a delivery schedule, just trying to get south or north as quickly as possible, can save much time by going outside. It is about 115 sm from Hilton Head, SC to the St. Marys River entrance at the Florida line, while traveling between the same destinations following the ICW is a curving course of 150 sm. But, for cruisers searching for memorable experiences, it is 150 miles of natural beauty, 100’s of anchorages, and many interesting places to visit.
    The term ”Problem Stretches” may be part of the problem, adding to a level of fear causing cruisers to avoid Georgia. Yes, there are areas that require attention and planning, all of which are documented on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net website. So, there should be no surprises. The site’s new feature of recently sounded and recorded depths by ARGUS research vessels, detailed directly on NOAA charts, provides accurate and easy-to-understand information on depths. Spending a little time researching the waterway on SSECN, annotating information directly on your charts, will provide a valuable guide to safely cruising Georgia’s section of the AICW. Navigation of these waters is a bit more challenging, but the challenge of navigation should be one of the experiences enjoyed in cruising — a n endeavor rewarded by the outstanding cruising experiences these waters can provide.
    The narrow, and sometimes shallow, Georgia passages should be viewed as “Areas of Concern,” requiring increased levels of attention and planning. Often in life, the greatest of rewards require higher effort to achieve.
    PBS created a documentary of the Georgia barrier islands which provides a visual and narrative description of the history and beauty of one aspect of this area:
    Glen and Jill Moore
    DeFever 40 Last Dance

    Very good to hear positive comments about the Georgia ICW.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For Hell Gate

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To This AICW Problem Stretch

  • BLAST OFF! Florida’s Indian River Anchorage – Captains Mark and Diana Report (Statute Mile 882)

    On the Water GuidebooksLike Captains Diana and Mark, over the years, we have swung on the hook in the below described Indian River anchorage and watched all sorts of spacecraft being launched, including the now defunct space shuttle. All of these sights are of the “never fogotten” variety.
    As Mark and Diana note, there is NO protection on these wide waters, so be sure there is a good forecast in the offing before committing to a stay on these waters. Otherwise, GO for it whenever a lunch is due!

    Hi Claiborne,
    An anchorage in the middle of nowhere … What’s the big deal?
    Yep, Indian River Anchorage is a nondescript stopover with no protection and no shore access — but with the memories of a lifetime!
    All you have to do is time your overnight stay with a rocket launch from nearby Kennedy Space Center.
    There may be no nearby shore access or services, but you’re talking front row seats for the Cape Canaveral launches!
    Fortunately, rocket launches only proceed with perfectly calm conditions, the same conditions you’ll want in order to stay at this unprotected anchorage along the Indian River at STM 882.2.
    Located a full two statute miles off the ICW, there is a pocket of 7-foot depths in the middle of the incredibly wide Indian River (see the sample page from our AnchorGuide series below).
    We’ll never see another shuttle launch like the one pictured here but there are three more launches currently scheduled for this year, two of them Atlas rockets!
    Plan ahead by checking KSC’s rocket launch schedule at:
    On November 13th an Atlas V rocket will launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a U.S. military prototype spaceplane.
    On December 6th an Atlas V rocket will launch a NASA communications satellite.
    On December 15 a Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Dragon spacecraft on a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station.
    Pretty exciting stuff for a “boring” anchorage in the middle of the Indian River!
    Best and see you On the Water,
    Captains Mark & Diana Doyle

    We have had the same great view for the last four launches from our slip at the Cocoa Village Marina. Which usually
    includes a launch party at the beautiful Club house.
    Capt Bob Onboard ALLEZ!

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For the Indian River Spaceport Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Indian River Spaceport Anchorage

  • Hurricane Sandy Causes Unprecedented Damage For Boat Owners in Northeast and MidWest

    Boat Owners Association of The United States estimates that Hurricane Sandy's damage to recreational boats will reach $650 million, with over 65,000 boats damaged or lost, like these boats at a marina on Great Kills Harbor, Staten Island NY

    Even though most of Hurricane Sandy’s damage lies north of the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net’s geographic coverage zone, every member of the cruising community feels for our waterborne brethren in the Northeast and Midwest, so many of whom have lost their on-the-water homes.
    Take a look at the photo above. This is another case of an image being worth several thousand words.
    Then, take a moment to follow the link below, and discover what our very good friends at Boat/US are doing about this catastrophic damage.
    Good luck and good cruising to all!

    Click Here To Read the Full Boat/US Press Release Concerning Hurricane Sandy Damage to Boats and Cruising Vessels

  • Official Army Corps of Engineers Survey (as of November, 2012) of AICW Problem Stretch North of Charleston SC Harbor (near St. M. 460)

    We are pleased and honored to report that the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net has dedicated friends at the various Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters who work hard to keep the cruising community informed about newly developing problems on the AICW. And, that is just what Captain Mike Verdolini has done by forwarding the official November, 2012 AICW depth survey pictured below.
    Take a gander at the NOAA chartlet to the right, and you will quickly see that the survey in question centers on the Waterway, north of Charleston Harbor and the Ben Sawyer Bridge, between Inlet Creek’s northeastern mouth and Swinton Creek.
    Take a look at the image below, and study the recorded, MLLW corrected soundings along the AICW’s southern/southeastern flank, between Inlet Creek’s northeastern mouth and Swinton Creek. Look at those 0.8, 1.1 and 2.5 foot (etc.) soundings. Think the Waterway may have a shoaling problem here?
    Also, notice that this thin water along the AICW’s southern flank continues to a point well east and northeast of marker #117A!
    For at least a year now, we have had these water designated as an SSECN Navigation Alert. Now, however, with this official USACOE information in hand, we are going to upgrade the difficulty of these waters to an “AICW Problem Stretch.”
    ALL cruisers should proceed with the greatest caution through this section of the Waterway, preferably at mid to high tide, and favor the northern side of the channel somewhat.
    WE ARE SEEKING INPUT FROM THE CRUISING COMMUNITY CONCERNING THIS NEW AICW PROBLEM STRETCH! If you have traversed these waters recently, PLEASE send us your soundings and impressions. You can simply follow the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” button/link found on the upper right of this and all (except Chart View) SSECN pages, or send your data directly to

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For the AICW North of Ben Sawyer Bridge to Isle of Palms Bridge

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To This AICW Problem Stretch

  • IMPORTANT – ARGUS Data Now Being Updated Continuously By Two Research Craft Heading South Down the AICW

    Back on 10/11/12, we brought to the attention of the cruising community BIG news about the updating of our “ARGUS” data layer (on our site’s “Chart View” module). Once again, the strategic partnership between the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net, Survice Engineering’s ARGUS Project and EarthNC (Earth Nautical Charts), was yielding BIG dividends!

    NOW, THERE IS EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS ON THIS FRONT! And, as always, this superb service is being made available to the cruising community at NO CHARGE. You don’t have to buy anything, join any organization, nor even provide a user name or a password! How’s that for an “offer you can’t refuse!”

    First, let’s hear directly from ARGUS’s creator, Captain John Hersey, of Survice Engineering:

    The new ARGUS ICW solution set that you posted in the article about on your website (see /argus-solution-sets-updated-just-in-time-for-the-fall-2012-cruising-season/) reflected all new data gathered through September of 2012. Since then, as the two ARGUS research vessels, Altair and Chez Nous, have been moving south, we’ve been updating this ICW solution set daily to reflect their incoming soundings. This test of near-real-time updates provide Chez Nous (the follower in this case) with the benefit of Altair’s observations from the day before, as well as your other readers with the same updated look at current conditions as both vessels travel south.

    OK, please allow me to translate. Where before, updated ARGUS data was being fed into our EarthNC produced “Chart View” pages on a more or less quarterly basis, now, this data is being updated DAILY as the two research vessels, Alair and Chez Nous, work their way south down the AICW.

    As usual, an example is worth another thousand words, so let’s look at a real instance of how this new data has been integrated into the existing ARGUS sounding information.

    Please follow this link, which will open a Chart View page centered on the AICW, just south of Fernandina Beach, Florida:


    First, be advised that I have set this link to automatically open the ARGUS layer, but if you were just going to any of our Chart View pages, it would be necessary to find the “ARGUS (MLLW)” check box just above the chart image, in the second (moving left to right) vertical row of check boxes. After clicking the “ARGUS (MLLW)” checkbox, the ARGUS legend will appear, as well as the color coded sounding circles, indicating MLW adjusted depths gathered by the ARGUS research craft.

    Take a look at the voluminous sounding data recorded on this section of the Waterway, NOW FRESHLY UPDATED BY THE JUST GATHERED SOUNDINGS SUBMITTED BY ALAIR AND CHEZ NOUS!


    One question we are often asked is how our users can easily get to our Chart View pages. Well, of course, by clicking on ANY of the chartlets in our various marina or anchorage directory listings, you will be taken to a Chart View page automatically centered on and zoomed to the marina or anchorage in question. You can then drag the chart in any direction, and for any distance you need to reveal your waters of interest. HOWEVER THERE IS ANOTHER, VERY USEFUL WAY TO FIND YOUR WAY TO OUR CHART VIEW SERVICE!

    Locate the red, vertically stacked stacked menus on the right side of all Cruisers’ Net pages, and then select your coastline of interest, “South Carolina” for example. Click on “South Carolina” and a drop down menu will appear. Now, locate “SC Chartview” and click on this menu item. A sub-sub drop down menu will appear, with a list of South Carolina’s ports of a call. To continue this example, click on “Georgetown, SC.” A Chart View page will open, centered on Georgetown. Activate the “ARGUS” layer by clicking the ARGUS checkbox, and look at all the good, just updated sounding data on the Sampit River, bordering the downtown Georgetown waterfront. Again, you can then drag the chart in any direction, and for any distance you need to reveal other waters of interest.

    This feature works in exactly the same fashion for all our coastlines. not just South Carolina. Take a few moments to give it a try.

    We know the cruising community will find this updated ARGUS data to be very useful. Please join with me in thanking Survice Engineering as well as EarthNC for making this service possible, partnered with the Salty Southeast Cruiser’ Net. OK, go to our site and check those latest soundings. Good luck and good cruising to all!

    Cruising News:
    Just wanted to say that we just used the argus readings from Fernandina to Cocoa and they were extremely accurate and very helpful..Thanks for the good took some of the stress of the ICW away..We have a 61/2 four draft and the ICW can be very interesting..

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