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    • Extreme Shoaling at Hell Gate, AICW Problem Stretch, Statute Mile 602

      We began hearing of extreme shallows at Hell Gate last year, see /?p=145174 and /?p=146335. Now Captain Healy gives us up-to-date confirmation that MID TO HIGH TIDE is a requirement for passage through Hell Gate. This is trusted advice…TAKE IT!!

      As of 4/22/2015 at 19h45:
      Egg Island, GA, tide data: L – 17h09
      Range: -0.2 to +8.0
      Readings at 19h45: +2.8
      – NB, one-half way between G91 and R89: 6.2′
      – At G89: 5.8′
      – 100 yards north of G89: 5.6′

      Conclusion: minimum depth at normal low would be 3.0′, less for celestial low tides; not navigable at low tide for most cruising boats. Channel is narrowing, and tidal currents require careful attention.
      Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary, currently northbound at Hilton Head, SC
      Monk 36 Hull #132

      Unluckily, I had to pass both Hell Gate and Jekyll Creek at dead low tide the last couple of days. Both were 4 feet. Jekyll was 4 feet from beacon 20A to 13. High banks of mud less than 50 feet on both sides means the channel cannot be more than 100 feet wide when full. I consider this to be a no passing zone. Hell Gate was 4 feet from just before beacon 89 for another few 100 feet. I draw 3′-9″ and just had my Fathometer rebuilt, so I now have confidence, but have not touched bottom recently for the final accuracy test.
      Ray Schmidt

      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

      Comments from Cruisers (3)

      1. martin -  April 24, 2015 - 4:19 pm

        Just another reason to wait for a 24 hour window and bypass Georgia completely by leaving out of Port Royal sound and gliding along the coast to Florida. This usually takes me 20-24 hrs under sail.

        Reply to martin
      2. Al McGillivray -  April 24, 2015 - 3:34 pm

        SV Airtime (draft 5′ 3″) passed through Hell Gate from the south this morning (April 24, 2015) at 10:00 approximately 2 1/2 hours after low tide. Low tide at Egg Island was at 07:32. The lowest depth I saw was 6.0 feet but I know I was a little too far to starboard expecting the incoming tide to set me more to port. We were behind 2 other sailboats with drafts of 5 feet + that passed through approximately 1 hour previously. The lowest depth reading conveyed by radio was 6.2 feet.

        My advice for this passage is trust the aids to navigation, do not believe your chart plotter, stay centre channel and exercise caution.

        Reply to Al
      3. Richard Ross -  April 24, 2015 - 3:06 pm

        We passed thru Hells Gate in early March, within 1/2 hour of a normal low tide, and saw a minimum of slightly over 5 feet. We draw 4.5 feet, and did not touch bottom. However, another boat closely following us on a slightly different track reported 3.5 feet. From this, and from Jim Healy’s remarks, it would seem that the channel is now very narrow. The problem is to figure out just where the deep water is.

        Reply to Richard
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