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    • Cowen Creek Anchorage (South Carolina AICW, Statute Mile 544.5)

      I agree with Captain “Rapid Roy’s” comments below, in that if you have a well functioning GPS chartplotter aboard, entry into Cowen Creek is a pretty basic operation. My remarks in the South Carolina Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory are meant for those who do not have one of these electronic marvels. In this instance, there ARE several unmarked shoals which flank the entrance to Cowen Creek, here and there, which require careful DR navigation to avoid.

      Hey Claiborne:
      I really like your anchoring guides. However, I think you have some flaws in the entry you have for Cowen Creek. (Mile 544.5 on the Beaufort River, between Beaufort SC and Hilton Head). I’d like to suggest some corrections on this one.
      1). I think it’s misleading to talk about “negotiating several unmarked shoals”. Yes, if you’re coming from the north, you must go far enough south to clear Cowen spit. If you watch your chartplotter, the entrance to Cowen Creek is wide and deep with NO UNMARKED SHOALS. Take a look at the wider area chart, and this should be self-evident. From the south, it’s a no-brainer. Coming from the north, you’re in good shape if you go far enough south to go around the south side of the old range light charted at 32 degrees 20.12N, 80 degrees 39.34W. Do that, and it’s a wide and deep water entrance with no issues.
      2). Your little anchor symbol on the chart photo is way upstream in the creek. Yes, it gets narrower up there, but it’s all protected and nearly always flat water once you’re in the creek. Most cruising boats don’t go that far up to anchor. I’ve seen 3 or 4 cruising boats anchored in the area 32 degrees 21.64N, 80 degrees 38.89W. ( Middle of the creek, abeam of the “o” in “Cowen Cr” label on the chart.)
      3). Optionally… there’s another anchorage area for someone who really wants a “Hurricane Hole”. It’s the straight stretch of the creek, t32 degrees 22.99N, 80degrees 38.54W. There is deep water all the way there so it allows even a sailboat to reach these areas, going past private docks on Distant Island and around a double set of bends. It is really protected. .
      FYI… ( my credentials for sharing this…) I’m a full time live-aboard cruiser, and spend half of my time living in the Beaufort area and half time cruising on a 38′ sailboat. Cowen Creek is a nice, nearby wilderness anchorage, a few minutes away from the marina. It’s where I take “visitors” when they come to visit my wife and I, and they want to spend a night on the sailboat anchored out. (Smile!).
      Rapid Roy
      S/V “Gideon”

      Click Here To View the South Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Cowen Creek

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Cowen Creek

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    • Inlet Marina (Statute Mile 775.5)

      Inlet Marina, A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, flanks the eastern shores of the AICW, a short hop north of St. Augustine Inlet, and hard by the southern side of the high-rise Vilano Beach Bridge. There is newly opened restaurant on-site, and a new Publix supermarket within walking distance. You can easily provision while filling up those hungry fuel tanks!

      As promised, we stopped at Inlet Marina in St. Augustine Thursday. We checked out the prices on fuel at Comachee Cove, Conch House and the Municipal Marina. Inlet’s price with the usual discounts was .10 – .20/gal less than the others. They do have the best price of any St. Augustine marina on the ICW. Still, it was .15 higher than the price in Jacksonville.
      The fuel dock is located on the east side of the ICW between the Villano bridge and the fishing pier, which makes entering look somewhat intimidating. However, there is deep water all the way in and out to both bridges, so maneuvering with our 54′ boat was relatively easy. Dockmaster Jay and his staff are on hand to assist. I would not hesitate to take anything up to 80′ into the dock, although I would be sure to have adequate help on hand if the tide is running or there is a strong wind with a westerly component.
      The Publix supermarket is within walking distance, as is the Villano beach on the ocean. There is a good restaurant with Tiki bar on site, and the entire place is dog friendly, which was very important to us. Although the marina does not have transient slip Jay will allow boats to tie up at the fuel dock overnight for $25. There is no electric. There is water, but it does have a strong sulphur odor. The town of Villano provides a free 100′ floating dock located just south of the fishing pier next to Inlet Marina. There are no services, but boats are allowed to tie up all day to visit the town and the beach. Overnights are not technically allowed, but Jay says it is not enforced.
      In my opinion, Inlet Marina and the town of Villano Beach are a good place to stop for a day to take on some fuel, re-provision and relax on the beach or at the restaurant.
      Bill Root

      Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Inlet Marina

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Inlet Marina

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    • Report from Mooring Field at Marina Jacks, Sarasota, FL, Statute Mile 73

      Marina Jacks - Click for Chartview

      Marina Operations/Marina Jacks abuts the east-northeastern shores, to the northeast of red unlighted daybeacon #8A in Sarasota Bay, in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Florida.
      The mooring field, which is the subject of Captain Power’s report below, has been controversial, first, because it displaced a very popular anchorage, and secondly, some claim its cost benefit ratio to the city of Sarasota is very much a negative concept. On the other hand, there was a legitimate problem with abandoned and derelict vessels in the old anchorage.
      Sarasota IS one of the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program sites, so the regulations surrounding their mooring field are legal, at least according to Florida state law. Federal law is another matter entirely, but that’s another discussion for another day!

      After much controversy in Sarasota, Marina Jacks opened its mooring ball field about a year ago. We recently used the field. The marina management, staff, and facilities are first rate. It is located right downtown with numerous restaurants nearby and a Whole Foods within easy walking distance. The only drawback is that out of the 35 balls, only 3 are set aside for transients. They do take reservations but you will have to move on if your ball is reserved before you want to leave. The daily rate is $20. You can still anchor outside of the field boundaries but it is a lengthy ride to the dinghy dock.
      David S. Power
      s/v Two If By Sea

      The City of Sarasota just approved doubling the number of moorings. The article didn’t mention how many would be for visitors.
      Dawn Moore

      The REAL violation is that this entire program is a violation of the right of cruisers to anchor, as provided for in federal regulations. Every single cruiser who uses the balls in Florida’s mooring fields helps to justify this move by the state of Florida on behalf of well heeled waterfront property owners, leading ultimately to a total loss of our anchoring rights.
      Sure, it doesn’t seem to mean much to take a ball, but when you support this sort of thing, you empower the bureaucrats who seek to remove our rights.
      Think on that the next time anchoring outside the mooring field seems a bit too far for you.
      Wally Moran

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Marina Operations/Marina Jacks

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Marina Operations/Marina Jacks

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    • Delegal Creek Marina (Statute Mile 600)

      The poorly marked entrance to Delegal Creek Marina leaves the combined paths of the AICW and Vernon River, immediately north of the infamous Hell Gate section of the Waterway. Captains Chuck and Claria give GOOD advice below for successfully navigating the tricky entrance passage.
      The article below is copied from the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association Forum!(

      I’ll second the vote for Delegal Creek Marina, at MM 600 on Skidaway Island. Yes, it can be a little tricky getting in there the first time, their channel markers don’t line up with what’s on your chart plotter. Go to and then click on Delegal Creek Map under Marinas tab for directions on getting in. If you’re coming in with less than + 3′ of water on the tide table, call the marina office for instructions, and if your still a little concerned as to where the deepest water is they will come out and guide you in.
      Then if you want a special treat for dinner, call Renee at 912-598-7929 and order Chicken Pot Pies delivered to your boat. Call her a few hours before you get there and she will deliver them hot, if you wait to call her until you get in late in the afternoon, they will be frozen. Of course, a delightful dinner at one of the club houses is always a special treat as well. An inexpensive stop you will enjoy, $.94 per foot with Boat US discount. We now stop every time we go by. It’s a nice 61 mile run from our home in Beaufort, SC.
      Chuck and Claria Gorgen

      We echo Chuck’s comments. The only thing to add is that the current can be tough for docking, especially a single screw. With that said, it is a definite stop and try to time for slack tide, especially when leaving. Dock master is excellent for giving advice on how to dock.
      John Winter

      Click Here To View the Georgia Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Delegal Creek Marina

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Delegal Creek Marina

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    • Umbrella Cut Alternate AICW Passage (Statute Miles 685.5 to 695.5)

      On 4/22/13, as part of a NE Florida – Georgia Wish List, we posed the following question:

      Statute Mile 695.5 to 685.5 ‘“ anyone cruise the alternate `Umbrella Cut’ AICW passage to bypass St. Andrew Sound this spring? If so, what depths did you discover? Is this passage still a viable alternative for cruising size craft?

      Responses follow: (UPDATED on 5/16/13, with the detailed report from Captain Kevin Quinn below)

      Cruising News:
      I would like to report to you about my horrific day cruising back to Savannah GA from St. Augustine FL on Wednesday the 1st of May 2013 in my Catalina C36 MKII draft 4’3’. The main point of my report is the `Alternate ICW back route around the infamous St. Andrews Sound. Well the weather was as bad as I have seen in years, the wind never dropped below 30 knots all day. I have crossed St. Andrews Sound in rough weather before and the crossing is never good not even in low winds. We were getting bad reports all day from boats that crossed St. A. Sound, none were good. Two things convinced me to go the back way; one the ICW in the Cumberland River was worse than my previous crossings of St. A., two it was one hour before high tide. I fought the Cumberland River above and below the waves to get to the Red `40’ Dayboard and was glad to make the port turn into Floyd Creek and the Red `A34’ Dayboard. Once in Floyd Creek the water calmed and was flat. There was plenty of water but never having gone that way I kept a close eye on the depth gauge. When I turned into the wind at the Green ` A31’ Dayboard the waves were only one foot high but the wind was ripping the tops of the little buggers and throwing them at me horizontally. I could see another sailboat about a mile in front of me. So I felt if he did not stop I would be OK. At the Green `A27’ There is a wreck marked and it is visible at high tide. When I was between the wreck and the `G A27’ I marked 9 feet of depth. Now if you subtract 8 feet of tide from that, at low tide there will not be much water there. At the `G A21’ I also showed 9 feet at high tide. Crossing the Bulkhead there is open water again 4 foot waves and good depth. There was good water and depth all the way to Dover Cut. I entered Dover Cut at the Red `A14’ Dayboard. It looks small and intimidating on the Chartplotter and when you are in it, it is as small and curvy as it looks. But it is deep. That is till you get to the end and it does shallow up. The `R A8’ and `G A9’ are side by side at the entrance to Umbrella Creek and there I marked 9 feet and that is at high tide. Now all the charts I looked at have some warning about the low water in the Umbrella Cut but there I marked 18 feet all the way. From there it is a straight shot across Jekyll Sound to the back side of Jekyll Island but still it was a rough crossing on that day. St. Simon Sound was rougher than any of my St. Andrews Sound crossings and St Simon is completely closed in and protected.
      So I made it and it took two hours from the Red `A34’ to the Green `A3’. My recommendation is that you can go the Alternate ICW route around St. Andrews Sound as long as it is two hours before or right at high tide. Even the locals like long time sailor Barney Riley at Golden Isle Marina say they never go that way. There is no local knowledge, I asked Barney, BoatUS and `Down’ the Army Corps of Engineers Hydrostatic boat that happened to be in the area sounding and they all said they had no knowledge and had never been that way. The `Down’ did say they had a boat assigned to that area and hoped to have some data soon.
      Kevin Quinn

      Came thru here on 4 17 13. Dead low tide. We draw 3 and one half. Saw several spots of 1 or two feet under keel. Also saw a bear cub along the way.
      Greg and Donna
      on The Lady in Red

      Would use St. Andrew Sound in place of Umbrella Cut even if I had to wait out weather for the Sound. 40 foot boat with a 4.5 foot draft.
      Raymond W. Smith
      “Fire Dog”

      My wife and I utilized this alternate route northbound while bringing our GB42 home in June,2012.
      We were at near- low tide. We took it slow. We experienced a “light” grounding in a spot that just looked like it was going to be trouble. We were going slow enough to back off and “nose” our way thru by searching for deeper water. At higher tides, for those who want to avoid the “sloppy sound”, this is a great alternative. We would always use this route– unless we have our vessel stabilized.
      We still have a hole in our after cabin panelling from a table lamp we forgot to secure, when we came thru the sound and experienced the chaos that the wind, tide and waves can cause.
      Clyde Lee
      Diane Willis
      1987 GB42 CL

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Umbrella Cut Alternate AICW Passage

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    • Cruising on Albemarle Sound from the AICW to Columbia, NC, on the Scuppernong River

      We wish more cruisers would choose to depart the familiar confines of the AICW, and cruise west on Albemarle Sound to this impressive body of water’s many anchorages and ports of call. The Scuppernong River, which makes into the sounds southern banks, west of Alligator River, is one of the best destinations for Albemarle Sound cruising, and the free (for 48-hour) Columbia Town Docks are a great place to rest from your travels. Or, you could choose to pick up a wet slip at Cypress Cove Marina (see below). Either way, it’s well worth your time, IF the Albemarle does not have its dander up!

      Because our marina (Cypress Cove, formerly IYC) is at Columbia, we often cruise west on Albemarle Sound. It’s a nice trip if the waves are 2 ft or less and the wind is behind you. Edenton is nice but so is Columbia which has a free dock, a relatively new shower building and a pumpout available. Nice town to stroll around – waterfront boardwalk – several restaurants. Cypress Cove is improved over its former life as IYC – the folks are friendly and helpful and many repairs can be done on-site.
      Jean Thomason

      Click Here To View the North Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For the Columbia City Docks

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Columbia City Docks

      Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Cypress Cove Marina

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Cypress Cove Marina

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    • Airport Marina – Town Creek, Beaufort, NC (near Statute Mile 201)

      Town Creek lies just north of Taylor Creek and the principal Beaufort waterfront. This former body of water hosts at least two anchorages, as well as Town Creek Marina, BUT we must say that “Airport Marina” is a new one for us. If anyone else has patronized this facility, WE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU. Please use the “Comment” function below or follow the “Click Here to Contribute Cruising News” link, on the above right of this, and all (except Chart View), SSECN pages, and share your impressions of Airport Marina!

      We have a Pearson 303, 4.5′ draft, and planned on anchoring in Town Creek, after finding so many unused mooring balls in Taylor creek that it looked like they might tangle our anchor. This was the end of April. We found Airport Marina, right next to Town Creek Marina, a bargain at $10 per night including water and power. Owner loaned us a car to go shopping.
      Captn. Rob Loew and mate Sandy

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Town Creek in Beaufort, NC

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    • Unusual Incident at Great Bridge Lock, AICW Statute Mile 11.5

      Great Bridge Lock - Click for Chartview

      As Capt. Conover states this should not happen often. Have you heard of similar issues of who controls vessels in the lock? Let us hear from you.

      Just a warning. Last year a sailing vessel in the locks got rigging stuck in the lights, a light was damaged..and while the vessel was under control of the “dockmaster”..and against maritime law..the vessel was charged 5K for repair of the light. someone really needs to check with the lockmaster, and get the RULES. Once a vessel is under control of the locks..lines tied or handled by the shore crew..who is responsible for damages. When does the control go back to the captain. I would think as soon as vessel EXITS the lock, not when the lines are tossed (and the vessel raised up into the light system). This should not happen often..but flooding cause a several foot rise..and with a sailboat with a 65 ft mast/and a 8 foot topsail..(sideways)..they sure got a scare and a BIG BILL.
      Joan Conover
      SV Growltiger
      Hampton VA

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s NC-VA Bridge Directory Listing For Great Bridge Lock

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Great Bridge Lock

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    • Report from Big Foot Slough Channel, off the AICW in Pamlico Sound

      Big Foot Slough - Click for Chartview

      Big Foot Slough Channel is the primary entrance from Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke and Silver Lake Harbor and is used by the vast majority of cruising craft and both Ocracoke car ferries. It is a narrow channel and caution should always be exercised. Based on Capt. Deharts’ observations, last year’s shoaling in the channel seems to have been alleviated by dredging completed last November, 2012. Therefore, we are cancelling the Navigation Alert posted early last year.

      Cruising News:
      No problems with Big Foot Slough channel into Ocracoke. Minimum depth I saw on a trip there last week was 14 feet. Still some shoaling on the green side just after you enter the channel, but these areas are well marked by cans. If you have never been there or haven’t been there in a while, remember it is green to starboard when approaching Ocracoke from the sound!
      Sykes DeHart

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Big Foot Slough

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    • Chartplotter and Charting Issues at Cumberland Dividings AICW Problem Stretch, (Statute Mile 704)

      Cumberland Dividings - Click for Chartview

      Cumberland Dividings, just north of where the AICW intersects the southerly reaches of the Brickhill River, has multiple problems. First, some charts and chartplotters show the magenta fairway line running on the western side of the red markers in this area. Those who blindly follow this erroneous magenta line will run aground every time. Also, and perhaps even worse, the Waterway is shoaling badly along its western flank, north of marker #63.

      AICW MM704 Cumberland Dividings Problem
      We transited this area northbound this afternoon. I was watching a Garmin chartplotter (new 2011) and the newest NOAA raster chart displaying on a laptop at the lower steering station sent to my Nexus via a VPN connection. Even the newest NOAA raster chart shows the magenta line to the west of the red daymarks (the real channel is to the east side of the daymarks). The daymarks are properly marked with the ICW triangle. A sailboat following us failed to honor the red daymarks – fortunately they stayed very close to the red (even though they were was leaving them on his starboard side) and made it through. The most current NOAA ENC chart has the correct course passing over dry land based on our track.
      This same problem has existed since at least 2005 or so. How long does it take NOAA to correct a chart?

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

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To This AICW Problem Stretch

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