IMPORTANT – AICW Navigation Alert: More Groundings at Wrightsville Beach/SR 74 Bridge, Statute Mile 283.1, 12/5/12
With a closed vertical clearance of 20ft, and a very restrictive opening schedule, the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge crosses the AICW at Statute Mile 283, southwest of marker #125. This is one of the most irksome spans on the entire North Carolina section of the AICW, and now we cruisers are going to have to contend with adjoining shallows north of the span!
Note that the shoal described below, on the “green side” lies on the Waterway’s eastern flank, north of the Wrightsville Bridge. As Captain Hardy advises, ALL captains should be SURE to wait for a bridge opening in mid-channel, and make every effort to avoid a drift to the east. Otherwise, you WILL be giving the local Sea Tow captain some business!
We ran aground at the bridge just north of the one mentioned here. We were racing the clock to be there on time, and being the only boat, the bridge tender did not open it for us, even though in the three minutes it took him to open the beige, we would have been in perfect position if he had started the opening at three. In backing out from the bridge, we ran aground on the east side. Worse than that, we ran aground again after going through the next bridge and hugging the shoreline to port coming around the corner to head for our night’s anchorage. didn’t bother looking at the chart; it seemed so simple, just stay close to the boats and head for green marker 23. Wrong! We ran up on the plainly marked shoal. this destroyed many years of boasting about almost never running aground, twice in one day!
At least 4 boats we know went aground while waiting for the Wrightsville Beach bridge to open in the past few days. The shallow spot is on the green side when approaching the bridge from the north. There aren’t any markers at the shoal but boaters should stay in the center of the channel when waiting for the bridge.
Giving other boaters a tip when traveling south at the wrightsville beach bridge’¦. stop in center of channel before you get along side the false palm tree north and East of the Bridge and before coming along side of Green marker to port also for those anchoring in Banks channel and you are heading south following the shore south to just passed the Coast Guard Station on your port turn starboard at red and green marker keeping it to starboard following the green markers to ICW and turning south at floating green marker you are now in ICW.