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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

      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

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