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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation > Depths of inlets
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


Thread: Depths of inlets Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-08-2010 11:02 AM
pdqaltair In fact, I wrote a guidebook to the Delmarva coast, with the goal and intention of keep the information on these inlets reasonably current buy printing on-demand and revising every few months (see blog). It's chalenging to nearly impossible--they move all of the time.

* Call the local Coast Guard station on the non-emergency number (you can get the phone numbers from the internet). They will know if the markers are on station and the controling depth.
* Local marinas can be a good information sorce, but since they want your business, I have found they are VERY optimistic. I mis-trust local knowledge if the person giving the information might have a business interest. Cynical, but that has been my expereince.
* Slack high-tide is best.
* On shore conditions are very bad. Not only is it rougher, but if you ground you are instantly in trouble. Seabreeze conditions are not so bad, because they are of limited range and generally do not pack big waves.

One of the best costal sailing preparations, IMHO, is to have a list of all of the Coast Guard station phone numbers for the area sailed. I have used those numbers several times for non-emergency concerns and they have always been helpful. However, some of the smaller braches only do law enforcement and SAR and do not maintain channels; you will need to get that information from the group HQs.

For a typical cruising monohull, between Cape Charles VA and Lewis DE, only Ocean City and Chincoteague make any sense.
07-08-2010 11:01 AM
RichH With the exception of Georgia traveling the AICW is actually SHORTER in distance that going 'outside'. By going 'outside' you will invariably be forced to go additional long distances through the inlets, etc. and that stacks up to a LONGER ride.

The benefit of going outside is that you can sail continuously for days if necessary. So if you prefer to anchor each evening, then (with the exception of crossing GA) its 'shorter' and less distance overall to follow the ICW in most cases - due to the 'length of MOST inlets'. The ICW in NC (south of Beaufort), SC , Northern FL, is essentially a 'straight shot'. Charleston, Tybee, Waccamaw, Port Royal, Beaufort SC, etc. inlets are LONG distance inlets,
07-08-2010 10:46 AM
UnlikelyVoyager
Quote:
Originally Posted by EpicAdventure View Post
Thanks for the replies. Really good stuff here.

My reason for asking is as I'm thinking about running down the ICW, I wonder how feasible it is to make day jumps on the outside -- giving more opportunity to sail than motor along. Looking at charts, there is a good number of inlets along the way -- if they are usable...
I'm doing the same thing in the opposite direction: going up the ICW and ducking outside when conditions allow. Going outside is faster than the ICW iff you can do 50 or 60 miles. Otherwise, the time needed to get out of the inlet and back in to find an anchorage can really eat up you time.

I can only sail for about 24 hours at a stretch, so the inlets not only need to be passable, but close enough together so I can get back in before I fall asleep!

My small boat has done 100 miles in 24 hours with perfect conditions, but I use 60 miles as a safer limit. I prefer to head out late in the afternoon, sail all night so I can stay awake, and then sail into the inlet during daylight the next day. I've scared myself twice trying to run dodgy inlets at night. Never again!

I'm also very careful to check the wind forecast before heading off shore. I am looking for fair winds in a reasonable range... say 10 - 20 knots. If there's no wind, it's much faster to motor in the ICW. If there's a storm coming, I'd rather not be in it.

Again, if the wind is against me, I find it's faster to motor in the ICW than to beat into the wind all day. This can be a problem when the wind turns against you for 2 weeks at a time, as it does sometimes.

Whenever I stop for fuel or ice, I always ask the dock master about conditions ahead. They hear lots of stories and are usually familiar with conditions 20 miles or so in either direction.

If I want to run a questionable inlet, I position myself near the inlet and wait for a big sailboat to head out. Then I follow in her wake! It hasn't happened yet, but I'm ready to turn around if the big boat runs aground.
07-01-2010 11:44 AM
nolatom I'm not suggesting you leave your information-gathering til the last minute, but I've almost always gotten a good answer by just asking for "local knowledge" over the VHF (make contact on 16, then switch away). You probably get the most timely info this way, and people are usually willing to help a stranger/fellow sailor out.
07-01-2010 11:16 AM
ottos
Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
I think the Jersey shore inlets and all the fear people instill in me about them is the single reason I've not tried to get down to cape may or barnegat. Because I really really want to get out on the ocean someday! (if the temps ever get below 85 again!)
Denise,

You've developed a HEALTHY respect...trust your instincts, but don't be afraid. Cape May is straight forward...I haven't done Barnegat yet.

Don't run them in a storm; don't run them when wind and current oppose; update your charts; run them at slack; and follow somebody with a deeper draft than you !
07-01-2010 10:09 AM
ottos OK, I may be naive but the Coast Guard publishes the Local Notice to Mariners weekly which should supplement the Coast Pilot, and the charts with discrepancies and corrections.
06-30-2010 06:25 PM
EpicAdventure Thanks for the replies. Really good stuff here.

My reason for asking is as I'm thinking about running down the ICW, I wonder how feasible it is to make day jumps on the outside -- giving more opportunity to sail than motor along. Looking at charts, there is a good number of inlets along the way -- if they are usable...
06-30-2010 12:10 PM
RichH
Quote:
Originally Posted by eryka View Post
You can also gain several feet at any of the smaller inlets if you time your approach with the high tide.

Timing your approach/passage for HIGH tide isnt necessarily wise when 'shooting inlets'. At inlets the historical CURRENT is the most important factor and the max current is totally dependent on how the specific inlet historically 'flows' .... as in many the max. current flow is 'just before' HIGH tide and WAY before LOW tide ... and every (small) inlet has its own individual current flow characteristics vs. the state of the tidal heights.

You really need the CURRENT FLOW data to safely 'shoot' an unfamiliar inlet, especially in adverse conditions. - Eldridge tables, PC current prediction programs, etc.
06-30-2010 12:00 PM
RichH
Quote:
Originally Posted by EpicAdventure View Post
I've been looking at a lot of the inlets into the ICW along the east coast. It seems like it is tough to tell what the depths are of these inlets from the charts. They often have notes saying that the markers frequently move and there are usually not depths in the area of the inlet.

For example, looking at some of the inlets south of Beaufort such as New River Inlet, Bogue Inlet, etc.

How does one know if inlets such as these are deep enough?
A lot of 'stimulus money' has been spent on improvements for al lot of the inlets on the SE coast BUT the NOAA charts (and a most of the chartplotters, etc. that are based on NOAA charting) will ALWAYS have the inlet depths and proper courses GREYED OUT because even after 'renovation' they are immediately subject to shoaling and bottom changes - due to liability/legal issues.

I just posted this on a similar thread .......
An INVALUABLE source of data for 'shooting inlets' on the SouthEast US coast.
White Sound Press

Shows all the buoys, etc. that are "NORMALLY GREYED-OUT" on NOAA charts and chartplotters. Give specific hints, directions, etc. for each inlet from Norfolk VA to Miami. . and which inlets to STAY OUT OF with a sailboat. Most of the depths are taken by the authors using sophisticated depth sounding / recording hydrographic devices. .... its all the 'stuff' that NOAA doesnt list because of 'legality' issues due to the always changing conditons/bottoms, etc. in the SE coast inlets.
Also gives very good 'hints' and advice on 'shooting inlets' in a slow sailboat during less than ideal conditions.

If you sail the SE US coast this text/book is INVALUABLE.

Contacting directly with local BoatUS or SeaTow or even the 'local USCG' station will often give you the CORRECT course and depths especially when the 'published data' is old and 'doubtful', especially in the 'shifty' inlets.
06-30-2010 10:57 AM
SVAuspicious I've had very good experience with local knowledge from Towboat/US. On the phone, calling the 800 number and telling them where you are will generally get you patched through directly to the local tower. Local towers have been very responsive to calls on VHF as well. Great service, and they never even ask if you're a member!

@DeniseO30 - don't stress over the inlets, or the ocean for that matter. It simply isn't that hard. You might try Cape Henlopen and Lewes DE before Cape May -- a gentler introduction ... YMMV.
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