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    • 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.

      Mon Jan 14 18:27:08 EST 2013
      Subject: Sun Dancer at Hell Gate mile 601
      Contrary to all advice, but at the mercy of mother nature, we passed through hell gate at dead low, new moon tide today, Jan 14 at 1615. Tide table said it should have been -1.2 feet at that time.
      Actually, because of the exceptionally high tide, the tide was not completely low for another 45 minutes, so it may have been 6″ higher than -1.2′.
      I kept on the red side and had mostly 5+ feet except by the temporary red buoy. Stay away from that buoy (but not too far). This buoy is 1/2 way between green 89 and red 92. I was too busy finding water to note its number.
      Passing far over from green 89 was the lowest (4 feet). The beacon was 20 feet into the mud bank and the temporary green in line with it was laying sideways in inches of water.
      My Pearson 35 draws 3′-9″ and I never touched bottom, but still issued an extra portion of grog once through.
      Ray Schmidt

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    • 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: http://www.gpb.org/secretseashore#
      Glen and Jill Moore
      DeFever 40 Last Dance

      Very good to hear positive comments about the Georgia ICW.
      Sonny

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    • Avoiding Hell Gate: A Suggestion, Georgia AICW Statute Miles 575 to 619

      Capt. Hechtman is offering a suggestion for avoiding Hell Gate (statute mile 602), one of the perennial trouble spots in the Georgia Waterway. Walburg Creek shapes the east side of Walburg Island and the Waterway lies on the west side. Good depths and great beach combing. While the creek has both a northern and southern entrance from the AICW, we prefer the northern passage, though there is still an unmarked shoal in St. Catherine’s Sound which must be bypassed.

      A fun alternative is to make the fairly short journey outside through St. Catherine’s and back in at Wassaw and up the Wilmington River (and vice-versa) and avoid what is probably the least scenic part of the georgia ICW as well as
      Hell Gate. Deep draft boats use both inlets, especially Wassaw, that’s how all those mega yachts that can’t clear 65 feet get into Thunderbolt Marine. It’s very handy to the great Walburg Creek Anchorage, and in our opinion more scenic.
      We have a 60ft LOA boat that draws 5 feet.
      George Hechtman

      What about using the Wilmington Rvr. for exit from /entrance into Thunderbolt? I’ve seen the big boats heading down from Thunderbolt and assume that is where they are heading yet the charts look dicey. Anyone with experience out there?
      Peter Malen

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

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      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Wassaw Sound

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of St. Catherines Sound

      Click Here To View the Georgia Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Walburg Creek

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    • May, 2012 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. Fortunately, dredging during the summer of 2009 had kept depths decent until December of 2010 when reports of new shoaling began. Looks like the surrounding shallows are once again beginning to creep into the channel. Effective immediately, cautious captains should begin to time their traversal of Hell Gate for mid to high tide.

      Entered Hells Gate, abeam of “92” at 1348, about 1 hour after low tide. Strayed a little to far to the red side at the edge of the channel and got as low as 7.5′-corrected to center channel and saw from 8′ to 14′ to “87” at 1355, where it dropped off to 10-12′. There is a nun “90” in the cut that may not appear on some charts. Passage should not be a problem, even at low tide.
      Michael J. Horowitz aboard ALTAIR

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    • Log of the Palmetto Moon: AICW, Port Royal to Kilkenny

      Palmetto Moon with Jim, Su and Lazy Cat Alex have just traveled from Georgetown, SC To Brunswick, Ga. Palmetto Moon cruises at 8.5 MPH and draws 4.5 ft. Here are the issues and observations of their travels:

      4-Port Royal (MM-539.5) to Kilkenny (MM-613)
      Fields Cut (MM-573.5 to 575.5) 1.5 hours before low tide
      North entrance slightly favored Green Side We saw 7 – 9 feet under us
      South entrance entering the Savannah river
      Using center of channel We saw 3.5 feet starting just before R-50 and lasted until in the Savannah River
      Hell Gate MM-601.8 to 602.2 2 hours after low tide We saw 6 feet using center of channel
      This info is what we experienced in our travels. As always you are the captain of your vessel and should use this as info only. Safe travels.
      Palmetto Moon

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    • Shoaling Reported at Hell Gate, AICW Statute Mile 602

      The dredging of 2009 is slowly being overcome by shoaling through this perennial problem stretch, making Hell Gate another section that requires mid-to-high tide passage for vessels carrying 4ft or more draft. With his 6.25ft draft, Capt. Pascal is very alert to depth changes and his is the kind of vessel you would hope to be following through these trouble spots!

      Definitely more shallow, by a couple of feet, again on the same lines I usually run thru there.
      MM602, Hell Gate, 8′ to 9′ MLW thru most of the cut but some readings as low as 5′ to 6′ MLW around R90 and G89. Had 8′ of tides so I tried poking around for better readings, no luck. I usually pass about 40′ from R90, and about 30′ from G89; this time around it s definitely shallower by about 2 to 2.5′ compared to earlier this year.
      Capt. Pascal Gademer

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    • Reports on AICW/Hell Gate 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. Fortunately, dredging during the summer of 2009 had kept depths decent until December of 2010 when reports of new shoaling began. Looks like the surrounding shallows are once again beginning to creep into the channel. Effective immediately, cautious captains will begin to time their traversal of Hell Gate for mid to high tide.

      May 9th, 2011
      Northbound, I passed a little closer to G89 than on previous runs and found better water, never less than 9′ MLW.
      I passed about 40′ from R90, then 30′ off G89 and made the slight turn to stbd towards G87 about 100′ north of G89
      at the southern entrance, stay on centerline and dont’ cut the corner close to the red, especially with an incoming tide which will push you too far to the red side. as soon as you are passed the red, the current eases off.
      Pascal aboard MY Charmer, 70′ 6+ draft

      Morning Star transited Hells Gate in GA this morning at slack low water. We passed each mark by about a boat length and found 5′ in one spot.
      Regards, Randy Pickelmann aboard Morning Star

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    • Report on Hell Gate and Offshore Options from Tybee to Jacksonville, FL

      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. Fortunately, dredging during the summer of 2009 had kept depths decent until December of 2010 when reports of new shoaling began. Looks like the surrounding shallows are once again beginning to creep into the channel. Effective immediately, cautious captains will begin to time their traversal of Hell Gate for mid to high tide.

      Sanctuary and crew transited Hell Gate at 1500 yesterday, 4/20/2011. We are three days past full moon on celestial high and low tides. At our transit time, our chartplotter tide table showed us with plus 0.8 ft of tide, headed to negative 1.1 ft. The tidal range was greater than 9′.
      In the Hell Gate channel, we saw 5.6 ft of water in the green quarter at G “90,” which is at the slight bend at mid-cut. Due to the current in that area, we were slightly east of the centerline, but only slightly. Don’t know if Red quarter would have been better, but where we were, at -1.1 ft, we’d only have had 3.5′ of water; not enough for us.
      On Tuesday, the weather offshore was good, so we went out at St. Simons and back in at Doboy Sound, to overnight at the Duplin River. That avoids Altamaha Sound and the Little Mud on a falling/low tide. From Doboy Sound, we went out again on Wednesday, headed for Tybee, but had to come back in at Sapelo because of SE short-period waves, which were on our beam and made the ride uncomfy.
      Interesting, from Tybee to Jax, there are inlets every 15 miles that allow for safe exits if the weather deteriorates. Doboy and Sapelo are well marked. Don’t know about the others. Because of the tidal ranges in GA, though, and shallow offshore depths (40 ft at 6 miles) the tidal ebb and flood currents are strong. Plan accordingly. Also, running in 15 ft of water nearer shore can result in experiencing lesser wave size, but dodging shoals for some may increase anxiety. A personal trade-off. As the water depth on the ICW continues to deteriorate and dredging declines, these offshore runs may become more and more necessary.
      When crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, I’ve usually heard advice that winds with a “North” component are to be avoided. Yesterday, I learned that for offshore travel along the GA, SC coast, waves directions/short period swells with an “East” component are to be respected/perhaps avoided.
      Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary, Monk 36 Hull #132

      Went through Hell Gate going north at 1 hour after low tide on Monday May 2nd, 2011. Entrance was skinny. I recorded 5.9 feet which left me with about 1 foot of clearance. Once I got through the opening, the water deepened quickly but I took it slow and watched my depth and channel all the way through.
      Captain David

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    • Reports on Depths at Hell Gate, AICW Statute Mile 602

      The dredging of 2009 is slowly being overcome by shoaling through this perennial problem stretch, making Hell Gate another section that requires mid-to-high tide passage for vessels carrying 4ft or more draft.

      Came through Hell Gate with Sea Angel NC44 6′ draft on 3/25/11. Entered south end of Gate at 10:45 with 3.2′ of water above MLW. Stayed center of channel and lowest water was at the Nun on the south end: 8.2’³ (<5′ at MLW). This was confirmed by Sea Tow boat operator hovering in the area with whom I spoke before entering the Gate. Rest of passage saw no less than 9″. Mostly 10 to 15″.
      Skipper Ed Grygent

      March 28 2011
      Went through Hell’s gate about 1.75 hour before low tide. Corrected for low tide at Egg Island Tidal lowest reading was 7 feet near the square red and white checkered sign.
      Skipper Stephen Starling

      March 25th travelling northbound with 4.8 draft, Nova Scotia fishing trawler. Approached Hells gate with caution,. set up mid channel between red and green at the south end, depth sounder read 10 feet. We bumped 5 times over something very hard, thought we had lost our connection between engine and transmission. Then all good for rest of passage. Shook us up somewhat we were heading for anchorage and the tide was up 1 foot.
      Skipper Judi Knight

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

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    • Reports on Georgia’s Hell Gate, AICW 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. Fortunately, dredging during the summer of 2009 has kept depths decent from then until December of 2010 when reports of new shoaling began, as noted by the presence of a temporary red marker in the channel. Looks like the surrounding shallows are once again beginning to creep into the channel. Effective immediately, cautious captains will begin to time their traversal of Hell Gate for mid to high tide.

      Submitted on 2010/12/11 at 6:42pm
      Went through Hell’s Gate heading south today at near high tide. No depth problems. There is a new temporary red marker just prior to Daymarkers R92 and G91 that moves you to the G91 side, rather passing evenly between them.
      Captain Larry Hall

      At 1400 hours today 9 Nov 10, we passed through Hell’s Gate going South. Corrected for low water at Eggs Island tidal station we had between 4.9-5.4 feet past 87 and just before the first pair of markers at Hell’s Gate. The distance of low water was very short and we were favoring the red side. Cannot say what depth is between center line and green.
      Captain Stephen Starling

      12/10/2010
      We came through Hell Gate very slowly at 11:55 AM, 45 minutes before dead low. The lowest we saw was 6.5 ft.
      Susan Parker
      2011/03/09
      We passed thru Hell Gate (Mile 603) today 1-1/2 hrs. before high tide and didn’t see less than 11 feet.
      Skipper Larry Thackston aboard M/V Peach

      2011/03/10
      We came through at near high tide heading south with no problems. Follow the advice for mid-high rising tide and you should have no problems. (we are an s2 30 ft. Sailboat with 5 ft. draft)
      Captain Mark

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

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