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creedence623 03-01-2010 12:01 PM

Sanity Check-Does this route make sense?
I am going to be sailing from Norfolk to Tampa and am starting to get a little more detailed in my route planning. I was hoping someone with some knowledge of the area could give me a sanity check on my proposed route from Norfolk to Ocracoke Sound. I am doing this in a Catalina 36 MKI. Aprox 55 foot mast hight and 5'10" draft:

I plan on departing High Street in Norfolk for the 1100 opening of the Gilmerton Bridge. Travel the estimated 68 miles motor-sailing at an average 4 knots which I estimate to take approximately 16 hours. I can stop for the evening in either the Atlantic Yacht Basin, Blackwater Creek, or Midway Marina depending on progress.

Enter Albermarle Sound and sail South to Ocracoke inlet. One area of concern is my ability to pass under the William Umstead Bridge, is there a place with greater than 55 foot clearance along the bridge? I am trying to find a place to stop for a night so we donít have to enter Ocracoke at night as well. The plan is to enter the Atlantic at Ocracoke, and hug the coast southbound making 24-48 hour hops the rest of the way.

So, any causes for concern with my proposed route? Should I anticipate depth issues or bridge/wire clearances along the way?

As always, thanks for the help!

sailingdog 03-01-2010 12:39 PM

I just did the beginning part of this back in December.

If you're in Norfolk, I would highly recommend spending the first day travelling to the Atlantic Yacht Basin. Leaving from there gives you a good starting point for making the locks and bridges. Be aware that the bridges are generally closed for rush hour on weekdays—6-8 AM—and you will need to plan for that. Leaving Norfolk on a Saturday will let you go through most of the bridges on the northern end of the ICW on Sunday, when the traffic closures will be less likely.

Stick to the center of the channel, as there are unmarked deadheads and stumps along the outer edges of the channel. Mast height should not be a problem, though draft is pretty deep for the ICW...which has shoaled quite a bit in many areas.

Going southeast to Pamlico sound and the Ocracoke inlet is one option. However, the fixed highway bridge (U.S. Routes 64 and 264) between Redstone Point on the mainland and Weir Point on Roanoke Island has a clearance of 45 feet, which will be a problem for you. If you go east of Roanoke Island, you should be okay, provided you stay in the channel. Outside of the channel is way too shallow for your draft most of the time. However, this route in bad weather is not a good one, as it is very exposed and the channel is fairly narrow, leaving you little in the way of options.

I would recommend going the Alligator River-to-Pungo River route instead. This route has no height clearance issues for your boat and is much more protected than the Pamlico sound route. You have a lot of choices of marinas to stay at once you get to Belhaven. If you go and stay at the Oyster Creek Marina (#8 on the screenshot), you only have a 30 NM trip or so to Ocracoke Inlet, so you should be able to make the inlet before night fall fairly easily.

However, I would highly recommend not entering the Alligator River at night. The entrance channel is a dogleg and it is fairly shoaly. You should stick to the eastern side of the channel as much as possible, since the shoaling is worse on the western side. One good plan is to stay at the Alligator River Marina overnight. They have a depth of 7' IIRC, so you should be okay there. It is just north of the Alligator River swing bridge on the western bank of the Alligator River.

creedence623 03-01-2010 01:57 PM

Thanks Dog for the invaluable advice, I missed the Alligator and Pongo River route on the charts completely. Can I assume there are no significant show-stopping isues associated with my choice to leave Pamlico Sound at Ocracoke as opposed to Beufort?

sailingdog 03-01-2010 02:12 PM


Shouldn't be. Just watch your weather windows carefully before committing.

Mechsmith 03-01-2010 04:30 PM

As of Mar.06 Drum Inlet was not usable so don't count on it as a place to hide.

The folks at Cedar Creek Campground near Sea Level may know if it has been fixed.

Core Sound is shallow with a pretty good tidal current. I'd go with Dog.

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