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  #1  
Old 05-07-2013
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Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

In about two weeks I'm planning on an overnight sail on the outside from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC. I'm looking for a little local knowledge to make sure I've covered my bases.

I'm planning on making it relatively direct, and using the Frying Pan Shoals Slue. I'm planning on leaving the inlet about 8 am (ebb-to-slack, low tide approx +1 ft), so I ought to pass by the buoys marking the Slue around 4 pm (~35 NM), and ought to be clear of the Frying Pan Shoals about an hour after that (~5 NM).

Are there any special wind conditions I should be paying attention to (initially, I want to avoid a northerly or north-easterly wind, and would really prefer a southerly to north-westerly wind)? Anything special I'm not considering?

The boat has a draft of 6" with the board down, and about 3.5" with it up (I've heard that the Little River Inlet is well marked - is that correct?).

And of course, before anyone asks, the bailout plan is to use the ICW if the weather looks nasty. The outside trip is preferred because of the time savings, and the fact that I'd actually be sailing vice motoring!

Thanks!
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Old 05-07-2013
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Little River Inlet is well marked.

I am all for going outside, but you might think about staying inside until Masonboro Inlet (a day run north) which would allow you to avoid the shoals and the slue. I haven't been through the slue -- and a quick check online suggests that different people use that term to describe an inner pass and an outer pass (12 mi off). Anyway, the two times I was by there northbound, the first I came in Little River and went back out at Masonboro. The second, I went around the outside marker so I can't advise you . . .. There is just something about cutting through famous shoals that disturbs me. Good luck! Have fun!
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Old 05-08-2013
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

You head out of Little River by 8 in the morning and you're making at least 5 knots, you're going to end up at the Beaufort Inlet in the dark. I went out around 5 in the evening, and was tied up in Beaufort by noon the next day.
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Old 05-08-2013
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I do not know about little river but be careful with tides and currents around frying pan and cape fear. The seas can get sloppy there. A south or west wind wind will be your best bet, anything out of the north will be a bitch. I would vote for masonboro myself but I draw 5.5 so it is a bit different. I know it is exactly 62 miles from masonboro sea buoy to the morehead sea buoy. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 05-08-2013
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I'd head out through Little River Inlet, and come back into Cape Fear River at Southport (~27nm), taking the shortcut to G15, head up the ICW for about 20nm (if you catch the current right it could add 2.5 kts ), and then head out at Masonboro Inlet to Morehead City overnight. Going around Cape Fear means a 12nm detour, unless you choose "The Slot", but salvaging a vessel on National Seashore gets expensive.
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Old 05-09-2013
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

This is not the ideal place to go outside. You may want to use the ICW until you get farther north because of the shoals. You have to go out so far to get around them, that you add roughly 15 nm or more as oppossed to the ICW route, which is a much more direct route. Idk if distance is important to you or not. If it is, I would use the ICW for this area.
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I forgot to answer your question...Little River Inlet is deep and also well marked. You shouldn't have any problem in the daylight. If seas are heavy, it can get a little rough until yr well inside the jetty. Otherwise, it shouldn't be a problem. I've used this inlet several times.
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Thanks for the information - based on what you've told me, I'll probably go outside from Little River to Cape Fear, inside on ICW from Cape Fear to Masonboro, then outside Masonboro to Morehead City.

I guess I thought that the Slue was better marked - it's pretty clear on the chart, and has buoys, and doesn't appear too terribly shallow. (I understand its a natural cut of 20' depth.)
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Unless you're starting your day at the Inlet itself, I'd just stay inside until Masonboro.
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Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I try to go directly between Charleston and Beaufort, NC at least once a year. It's a wonderful time saver after having done the ICW a dozen times. Zoom out and look at the scallop of both coasts there and you can see how a direct offshore jump in and out of Frying Pan Shoals saves a lot of time (1 overnight versus 5 day hops usually).

The Slue at 12 miles is marked by an unlit red/green and then a sea buoy on the northern side. With radar, it's trivial as the buoys are plenty far apart. There's plenty of distance for accurate GPS positioning too although I like radar because it shows where the buoys really are.

For your draft, there's also a "4 mile slue" - look at the charts just outside the 3 mile limit. It looks about 7-9 feet deep there and is marked as the 4 mile slue.

Weather is always the determining factor for us. Things have to align nicely and I just don't want any weather on my nose all night long. Just a month ago, the weather didn't work out - we ditched into Winyah Bay and went inside to Beaufort/Morehead City. Take it when you can get it.

I've been out of Little River Inlet many times too. We draw 6' and when Shallote and Lockwoods Folly haven't been dredged, it's a much more enjoyable day to jump between Southport/Cape Fear River inlet and Little River inlet. First, the Little River inlet isn't charted because things move. It's very well marked but you really need to count buoy numbers and stop if you see one out of turn (it means you missed one and you're moving to a bad place).

Between Little River and Cape Fear you can stay just a mile or two offshore. With westerly winds, there will be nothing big and it's quite nice. We've jumped there with 5-8' NOAA predictions for that area and found 2' with 11 second periods which is flat dead calm. It's the westerly direction that's key in that case. NOAA's predictions are for 20 nm out - weather from the west cheats that.

All of that said, the traditional way to jump from Little River is like you're now thinking - go inside between Southport and Masonboro. Only a much larger jump like to/from Charleston seems to make sense to go all the way out to avoid Frying Pan Shoals to me.
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