On 7/28/13 (a weekend no less), the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net received a telephone call from Captain Mike Verdolini, (Civil Engineering Technician, Navigation Branch, South Atlantic Charleston), at the Charleston, SC branch of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Captain Mike informed us that the Corps had just finished an official survey of the AICW from Charleston, SC to Beaufort. Two patches of severe shoaling had turned up, which he thought (quite rightly) should be brought to the IMMEDIATE ATTENTION of the cruising community.
By the way, before going further, let me just say how honored we are that the US Army Corps of Engineers turned to the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net as their FIRST MEANS to get this important information into the hands of cruising captains.
One patch of NEW shoaling appeared at the NORTHEASTERN tip of the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff, near marker #177. We have put up a separate posting/Navigational Alert, about these shallows at /?p=119918.
The other area of concern appeared on our old friend, the “AICW Problem Stretch,” at the southwestern tip of the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff (Statute Mile 517), between markers #180 and #185.
As you will see in the below graphic, supplied to the SSECN by the USACOE, low water depths on the southern-southeastern side of the channel, from the interior reaches of the Ashepoo – Coosaw Cutoff, to a point southwest of marker #185, run from 5.6 to as little as 2.6 feet. SOMEWHAT BETTER DEPTHS CAN BE MAINTAINED BY FAVORING THE NORTHERN AND NORTHWESTERN SIDES OF THE CHANNEL, but even with this plan of action, low water depths of as little as 4.7 feet are quite possible.
WE NOW STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT ALL CRUISERS WHO PILOT VESSELS DRAWING MORE THAN 3 FEET, TIME THEIR PASSAGE OF THE AICW/ASHEPOO COOSAW CUTOFF STRICTLY FOR TIMES OF MID TO (PREFERABLY) HIGH TIDE!
WE ASK THE HELP OF THE CRUISING COMMUNITY TO HELP US DISTRIBUTE THIS VITAL INFORMATION TO OUR FELLOW CRUISERS. If you belong to other nautical lists or forums, please direct members of such associations to this posting at /?p=120036. Both year round Palmetto State cruisers, and those cruising south on the AICW this fall, need to be well aware of this new hazard long before they actually arrive on these waters.
The entire Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net team promises to keep a very CLOSE EYE on this developing situation as we move into the fall, 2013 transient season. We will bring you fresh info just as soon as it is available. In the meantime, everyone take care on these waters, and, again, please let us hear about your experiences at #177!!!!
In response to your call for feedback from cruisers who recently traversed the Ashepoo Coosaw cutoff:On Monday, 24 June 2013, I traversed this area southbound at dead low tide. I encountered very shallow water, around 3.5 feet, all the way from marker 180 to 185. My sailboat with a wing keel is aground when my sounder reads 4.3 feet, but the bottom seemed to be soft mud and I was able to plow through it, although at severely reduced speed because of the viscosity. (I had increased the engine speed to maximum rpm.) My position was the “magenta line” which travels down the middle of the cut in this area. Having passed marker 185 and into the Coosaw River, the water deepened and I was out of trouble. The tide tables predicted water depths to be 1 foot below mean low tide on this day.