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


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  #1  
Old 06-29-2010
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Depths of inlets

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?
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Old 06-30-2010
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New River Inlet was dredged in April, so you should be OK with that, but Bogue has some shoaling to 1' near at least two of the markers, and I will give you the URL for that, below.

SSCA used to have letters reporting on ICW changes since the last Moeller/Kettlewell guide update (the new one was just out in February 2010), but now... there's also a website for this!
A sample:

13 May 2010
NC: Bogue Inlet, shoaling

Shoaling to a depth of 1.0ft MLW has been reported in the vicinity of Bogue Inlet Buoy 1 (LLNR 29495) and Bogue Inlet Bouy 3 (LLNR 29503). Mariners are advised to transit the area with caution. Chart: 11541.

The site (at the location of interest to you): Waterway Cruising Guide | Navigation Updates
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Old 06-30-2010
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A lot of this is due to the fact that many inlets have shoals that constantly move. This makes charting them with any precision impossible. Entering one without local knowledge can be a problem.

What is the draft of your boat. Most inlets will be able to handle boats with a reasonable draft, say upto 6' or so, fairly easily.
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Old 06-30-2010
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CruisersNet.net has a lot of very current info. Almost all of North Carolina was dredged this year, most places have >10 feet. As sailingdog says, most of the inlets move so the marks are not plotted on a chart but they are there for you to follow by eye. Look for "Class A" inlets, these are what the big ships use and you can definitely get any sailboat in where they go. You can also gain several feet at any of the smaller inlets if you time your approach with the high tide.
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Also try hailing TowBoat US or SeaTow for local knowledge before you enter; I've found them to be right on - after all, they spend the entire day pulling boats off where they have grounded, they know where the trouble spots are and how to avoid them.
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Old 06-30-2010
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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!)
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Of course, they might be interested in having you go aground... but most are too ethical to do that..
Quote:
Originally Posted by eryka View Post
Also try hailing TowBoat US or SeaTow for local knowledge before you enter; I've found them to be right on - after all, they spend the entire day pulling boats off where they have grounded, they know where the trouble spots are and how to avoid them.
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Old 06-30-2010
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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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Old 06-30-2010
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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.
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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.
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