NC Cruising News – AICW, Swan Point to Snows Cut (Statute Mile 247 to 299)
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Begun in 2016, the new Surf City Bridge with a fixed vertical clearance of 65ft is already a convenience to boaters and now it will open to vehicle traffic.
NCDOT announces when new Surf City bridge will open
WWAY NewsChannel 3
This ICW Light 103 130 is on the west side of the Waterway channel south of Masonboro Inlet.
NEW RIVER – CAPE FEAR RIVER LIGHT 130 (LLNR 39640) REPORTED DESTROYED.
This destroyed ICW light is on the southwest corner of a turn in the Waterway channel approaching the north side of the Waterway’s intersection with Lockwoods Folly River, north of the infamous Lockwoods Folly Inlet.
1. CAPE FEAR RIVER – LITTLE RIVER LIGHT 33 (LLNR 40125) DESTROYED.
For years, Cruisers Net has admonished its readers to not blindly follow the magenta line on their chart plotters. Now experienced sailor and frequent contributor, Hank Pomeranz of Carolina Yacht Care and daily navigation/weather briefs at Southport Marina, affirms that advice with “get your head out of the cockpit.” Thank you Hank! Lockwoods Folly, a Cruisers Net Problem Stretch, is notorious for shoaling and channel shifting with almost every tide change.
I think it’s a good time to reiterate that visually following the marks across Lockwoods Folly Inlet is critical to safe passage. I am seeing in my nightly briefs that many people are depending on Bob’s posted track (mostly my waypoints), which they are plotting on various apps – primarily AquaMap and Navionics. The track is valid but these two apps (and I suspect others) have 3 issues with buoys: R48, G47A are both incorrectly plotted and R46A, while shown in the apps does not exist.
A key issue is that our Lockwoods Folly track plots on the wrong side of R48 and points to a G47A that isn’t where shown. The questions I’m getting from cruisers who are looking ahead is: Do I follow the track despite the fact that it goes on the wrong side of the red? I tell them that the buoys are misplotted and the track is good and to make sure they follow the marks. I wonder about the cruisers who may be looking at the image on the screen and assuming they should take R48 on the wrong side.
When I was learning to fly, I did what a lot of nuggets do and that is to focus on the gauges. My flight instructor told me to get my “head out of the cockpit”! Good advice up there and good advice down here. I think it’s time to instill in our new cruisers that, unless you have a reason to believe otherwise (mark reported offstation, destroyed, etc) it is best to assume they’re correct and follow them. Where they are shown on the many apps is not enough reason to trust that the plotted positions are accurate, as the Lockwoods Folly Inlet so aptly demonstrates.
We will do the cruising community a service by reminding them to get their heads out of the cockpit and trust their eyeballs.
P.S. I am getting positive reports from experienced cruisers that they are doing well following Bob’s tracks. My concern here is not that group, but rather the ones who don’t understand that blind and complete reliance on one source and a lack of trust in one’s own observations does not make for a good mariner.
This Navionics chart received 11/16/18
And Robert Sherer, editor for Waterway Guides, adds this:
Just to add, I had one report a day ago that a cruiser bumped bottom between G47A and R48A. We had an exchange of notes to clarify whether he followed my track or eyeballed it using the two buoys (I was concerned further shoaling had occurred). His reply was that he eyeballed it to be midchannel between the two buoys when he should have favored the green side per my track.
I also had notes back to me about the missing buoy and miss located buoy. I tell them that one is not there and the other one had been moved and to honor all buoys but follow the track – to prevent touching bottom between G47A and R48A.
I’ve had good reports back on the tracks with two provisions. The turn southward into Sawpit creek swings too wide. It’s a good track if you follow it exactly but there’s no room for error if you swing a little wider than I did. That’s complicated by the usual swift currents there (which caught me, the reason for the wide turn). I am going to edit that track to fix that problem. The second provision is that I have not posted a track from Jacksonville to St Augustine. I found shallows when I went too far to the green side of the new channel (not on any charts) after crossing St Johns River. All charts showed plenty of water including SonarChart, they are all wrong. Just follow the new buoys which are far to the right side when going south (The channel used to be on the left side there) They are small and not easy to see. I get a lot of complaints about not posting that route! I do plan on editing that route too and it will be posted soon. In the meantime, I would favor the red side some, the building shoal is on the green side of the new channel.
Robert Sherer, aka Bob423
Waterway Guide On-The-Water Editor
Old Topsail Creek, or Topsail Channel, departs the Waterway eastward at Mile 264 and turns southwest, paralleling Top Sail Beach to a pair of anchorages listed on our directory. With this indicated shoaling, these anchorages may no longer be accessible. If your vessel is fairly shoal draft and you feel adventuresome, poke into the creek and let us hear from you.
1. THE FOLLOWING AIDS HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED DUE TO SHOALING.
A. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 2 (LLNR 30140.02).
B. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 4 (LLNR 30140.04).
C. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 5 (LLNR 30140.05).
D. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 6 (LLNR 30140.06).
E. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 6A (LLNR 30140.07).
F. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 7 (LLNR 30140.08).
G. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 8 (LLNR 30140.09).
H. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 10 (LLNR 30140.1).
I. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 11 (LLNR 30140.11).
J. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 12 (LLNR 30140.12).
K. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 12A (LLNR 30140.25).
L. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 13 (LLNR 30140.13).
M. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 14 (LLNR 30140.14).
N. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 15 (LLNR 30140.15).
O. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 16 (LLNR 30140.16).
P. OLD TOPSAIL CREEK BUOY 17 (LLNR 30140.17).
2. CANCEL AT TIME//131200Z NOV 18//
Our thanks to authors/cruisers Robert and Ann Sherer for sharing observations and photos of their voyage south this Fall via his Bob423 Facebook page.
Went through Lockwoods Folly today and found 4.6 MLW as a minimum. I would strongly recommend a half or full tide for the passage. A new GPX track from Hank Pomeranz through there is available in the link (since you can easily find a lot less water). It is also available off the Waterway Guide Alert and my blog site. Or, you can download my track of 10/18/2018, and follow that which avoids a few other shallow spots too.
The GPX route can be downloaded at
By the way, R46B was off station, it was up on land.
Shallotte was no problem. Just follow the buoys for 9.7 MLW.
Our sincerest thanks to Tom Hale for sharing this detailed look at Waterway conditions along the North Carolina coast as fellow cruisers prepare for the Fall migration.
For the past 5 years I have been monitoring the ICW. My drive is largely enlightened self-interest. We transit the ICW route every year. Over time, we have developed a small group of like minded travelers with whom we have shared notes and observations. The sources I have come to rely on are the USCG Districts 5 and 7 weekly Notice to Mariners, and the USACE Wilmington NC and Charleston SC, district web pages. I also have learned a lot from, and shared content with Hank Pomeranz of Southport SC, Bob Sherer (AKA bob4230 and a small fleet of experienced cruises who transit the ICW and the ocean inlets on a regular basis. My notes and observations following Florence have been posted on the SAIL Magazine Secrets of the ICW Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SailTheICW/ ) ) and on SAILfeed at (https://www.sailfeed.com/writers/icw-snowbird-rally/)
North Carolina ICW Inlet Crossing Updates 10/19/2018
In the days following the passage of hurricane Florence, the USACE Wilmington District survey crews were out on the ICW surveying the waters and collecting data. In just a matter of weeks all of the most critical sections of the NC ICW were resurveyed and the survey content was made available on the USACE Wilmington website ( https://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Hydrographic-Surveys/AIWW/CFRLR/) . The overall impression is that the ICW route is passable, although it is shoaled in some places and narrowed along much of its length, particularly in the known trouble spots. The USACE provided waypoints for transiting the trouble spots. Any cruiser venturing through this section of the ICW should have access to the above website and should study the route and the waypoints. One extremely important component of the USACE surveys is that they precisely place the ATONS as they were located at the time of the survey. Your charts will not necessarily be accurate in this regard.
A month after Florence, hurricane Michael transited this area. As of 10/19/2018 I have not found any subsequent USACE surveys. The foregoing information is based upon the post Florence surveys with anecdotal observations and input from cruisers who have transited post Michael .
The following screen shots show the USACE surveys post Florence, displayed on NOAA charts. I placed the waypoints where they seemed most appropriate given the survey data. They are similar to where the USACE survey waypoints are placed. There are no new surveys after the passage of Michael: the ICW channel may have changed!
There were three areas which particularly caught my attention after Florence and which have been further defined by subsequent vessel transits post Michael.
New River Inlet crossing – Comments from cruisers post Michael say “square off the corner” at way point 2. Do not round off that corner. It appears that there has been additional shoaling as a result of hurricane Michael. Watch out for the shoals at waypoint 5. The channel through here is narrow. There is about 3.5 feet of tide in Lockwoods Folly . It is strongly advised that if you draw 4 feet or more, enter on a rising tide .
2. STM 320 – Just about one mile east of Lockwoods Folly and immediately west of R36 there is a shoal encroaching on the red side of the channel. Stay centered. If the depth finder starts to 2. indicate shallow water, try sliding a bit towards the south “green” side of the channel right here.
3. Lockwoods Folly – The USACE surveys have placed the ATONS in new locations. You MUST have access to this information. The Surveys are available as PDFs. As of 10/19/2018 cruisers have reported that the ATONs were in agreement with the USACE charts. In particular, notice G47! Reports post Michael indicate that between R46 and R46B there may be additional shoaling Similar reports have come in between R48 and R48B.
An additional means to view the USACE surveys is in Google Earth.
1. Open Google Earth
2. Open USACE Wilmington District Web Page
3. Find the inlet crossing of interest. Let’s choose, New River Inlet Crossing.
4. Click on the KMZ link and a KMZ file will be downloaded.
5. Click on the downloaded file and it will open in Google Earth. Voila.
6. The KMZ file does not have the ATONS. However, you can create a path through the inlet crossing and manually enter the latitude and longitude of the waypoints.
Experienced cruisers, Jim and Peg Healy, continue to generously share their observations and advice as they make their way south for the winter. Thank you Jim and Peg! Regarding Jim’s observations at the New River Inlet/AICW intersection, see LNM: AICW Buoy 70 Off-Station.
Today is Friday, 10/19/2018. Sanctuary and crew traveled from Morehead City to Wrightsville Beach. The section from Morehead City to Swansboro is unremarkable. No significant changes.
I have updated all of my routes to incorporate the data made available from the USACE, so I mean no criticism of anyone. Following are just my observations, as I had a couple of surprises.
At Brown’s Inlet, the USACE routes are the correct shape, but displaced a bit to the north. In other words, heading south, if I had let the autopilot drive the route, I would have overshot the turns. The waypoints did not quite coincide with the markers in the water, and I had to make manual corrections. The good news is, there are floating Red and Green markers at Brown’s Inlet that accurately guide boaters through the area.
I planned perfectly to arrive at the New River Inlet at dead low tide. (Listening for applause…. Hearing none, I continue…) Southbound past Mile Hammock Bay approaching the New River Inlet ICW Crossing, three markers are prominently visible; they are prodigiously confusing. To the visual left, there is I think floating R72A; it is not more than about 30 ft off the shoreline; to it’s visual right, there is a now obsolete Green, and to it’s right, a second probably obsolete Red. So, left to right, red, green, red… What to do, what to do? ALL STOP!
A boat before us had gone between the Green and rightmost Red marker; the original ICW markers… and promptly ran aground. OK, that’s what I had expected from the description of the shoaling in that area, but the leftmost Red floater is so close to the shoreline that one doubts it is correctly positioned. I called the grounded boat, and the captain said he had watched boats honor that leftmost Red successfully. So I proceeded at idle speed (never approach anything faster than you’d want to hit it), but I can tell you, that routeline puts the boat very close to shore; more so than the preplan USACE route. And, water depths are prodigiously shallow; no more than 4.5″ at MLW. The USACE route’s shape is right on, but I again found the actual waypoints did not coincide with the physical placement of markers… the route needed manual intervention. Then as I approached the south end of the Inlet, there is a lone Red marker on a post. The USACE route does not honor that marker; it holds the marker to STBD. I was confused, and decided to honor the marker. My track went well wide of the preplan route, and again, I saw no more than 4.5′ – 5′ of water.
Finally, similar observation about the Mason Inlet Crossing. There are Red and Green floating markers that correctly identify the route through the area, but the route waypoints do not quite coincide with the markers in the water. They are close and the shape is correct, but manual corrections are needed.
So anyway, the route guidance is very good, but does need onsite adjustment. It’s not always possible to time tides, but to the extent one has a choice, low tide is not the best time to transit New River Inlet.
Just my observations…
Jim and Peg Healy
Monk 36 Hull #132
Our thanks to Robert Sherer, ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423, for this report and survey of Shallotte Inlet/AICW Intersection.
The ICW at Shallotte Inlet has a new survey as of 10/1/2018. Just follow the old channel but note the placement of G81, it’s on the red side of the channel. That could be confusing. You can still honor the buoys but you have to hug G81. I’ll have a GPX route Wednesday.
Our thanks to Hank Pomeranz of Carolina Yacht Care for this report of shoaling at Marker #162A in Snow’s Cut. See Shoaling Surveyed from March 2017. Snows Cut is a 1.5 mile cut connecting Cape Fear River with the east coast Waterway at Carolina Beach.
The second image shows the south side of the cut. Note that waypoints 3 and 4 take you a bit south around some 6′ humps between R162 and G161A. I can personally attest to their existence. Those waypoints are not meant to take you outside the channel between the 2 marks but rather to keep you a bit to port [southbound]. Finally, it is definitely shoal at 162A. No reason to take this one close aboard.
This ICW buoy 154A is on the west side of the Waterway as the channel intersects the Carolina Beach Inlet.
SEC NC BNM 424-18
NORTH CAROLINA – MYRTLE GROVE SOUND TO LITTLE RIVER (Chart 11534)
CAPE FEAR RIVER NEW RIVER BUOY 154A (LLNR 39726) REPORTED MISSING.
If you have navigated New Topsail Inlet recently, let Doug and us hear from you!
Have never used top sail inlet south of surf city. Do you have any information on the inlet?
Love all the information on your site
This destroyed ICW light is on the west shoulder of the Waterway immediately north of its intersection with Masonboro Inlet channel.
2. SEC NC BNM 348-18
3. NORTH CAROLINA – NEUSE RIVER TO MYRTLE GROVE SOUND (CHART 11541)
4. NEW RIVER – CAPE FEAR RIVER LIGHT 128 (LLNR 39625) RPTD DESTROYED. PORTIONS MAY REMAIN.
Last dredged in 2017, Carolina Beach Inlet is noted for shoaling and a shifting channel. The approximate location of new buoy 8A is marked with a pin on our Chartview. Local knowledge is strongly recommended for navigating this inlet.
CCGD5 BNM 340-18
NC – NEUSE RIVER TO MYRTLE GROVE SOUND (CHART 11541)
1. THE FOLLOWING AID TO NAVIGATION HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED.
A. CAROLINA BEACH INLET BUOY 8A (LLNR 30303) IN APPROX POSIT 34-04-56.842N 077-52-32.869W (34°4.9474N / 077°52.5478W, 34.082456 / -77.875797) .
Last dredged in 2017, Carolina Beach Inlet is noted for shoaling and a shifting channel. The approximate location of uncharted buoy 4, re-positioned in May, is marked with a pin on our Chartview. Local knowledge is strongly recommended for navigating this inlet.
1.MARINERS ARE ADVISED THAT SHOALING HAS BEEN REPORTED BETWEEN CAROLINA BEACH INLET BUOYS 4 AND 5 ACROSS ENTIRE CHANNEL TO A DEPTH OF 2 FEET MLW. MARINERS ARE ADVISED TO USE EXTREME CAUTION WHILE NAVIGATING THIS AREA.
Our thanks to Bev Burger for confirming (sadly!) that Topsail Island Bridge is not at the old charted 65ft, but 64ft as noted in a NCDOT notice in 2012: https://cruisersnet.net/3862. Why the clearance gauge board was incorrect is unknown. See https://cruisersnet.net/45168.
Topsail Island Bridge (at milemarker 252.5) is shown as a 64’ fixed bridge. Upon approach (with a very clear 65’ +) we hit the bridge with our anchor light. (We need 64.5’ clearance and did not have any issues with other bridges marked 65’.) We estimate the bridge is off the markets by 1/2 – 1’. Please proceed with caution.
And we know the bridge is listed at 64’ in the guide, but the markings on the bridge showed a clear and visible 65’ which is why we proceeded. So not only is the bridge a lower bridge, but the markings from the water line are what are not correct.
The new approximate location of uncharted inlet buoy 4 is marked by a pin in Chartview. Last dredged in 2017, Carolina Beach Inlet is noted for shoaling and a shifting channel.
CCGD5 BNM 288-18
NC – NEUSE RIVER TO MYRTLE GROVE SOUND -CAROLINA BEACH INLET (CHART 11541)
1. THE FOLLOWING AID TO NAVIGATION HAS BEEN RELOCATED.
A. CAROLINA BEACH INLET BUOY 4 (LLNR 30280) RELOCATED TO APPROX POSIT 34-04-57.357N, 077-52-02.361W (34°4.9559N / 077°52.0394W, 34.082599 / -77.867323) .
The Atlantic Waterway passes through the center of Wrightsville Beach at statute mile 283. Even with repairs to the sewer pipe, until water quality tests signal all-clear, this is not a time to be overboard for any reason.
Wrightsville Beach public works staff will be conducting water quality testing today after nearly 75,000 gallons of untreated sewage was spilled into the Intracoastal Waterway on Saturday night.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL 12/10 REPORT by Terry Lane of Lumina News
Popular Banks Channel has two anchorages, Northside Anchorage and Southside Anchorage which is located south of the Banks Channel’s flashing daybeacon #15.
Good anchorage at N34 degrees 12.149′, W077 degrees 48.250′
Room for 5-7 boats and MLW is about 12′. 2 knot current. Quiet at night.