ACOE Surveys of Inlets

5/5/2017, more updates due to recent dredging and Charleston ACOE charts are included.
by Bob423, follow my progress at fleetwing.

There is great news for the spring migration! All of the problem inlets have been dredged, allowing a straight shot through in most cases. I'll cover the major ones  below in north to south order;

In the listing of problem areas below, the links given will always show the latest ACOE depth survey. The Wilmington District ACOE keeps the same URL for each problem area chart so when clicking on the link, you may bring up a more recent chart than the one I display in this article. You can check on the date of the survey along the right edge of the chart and compare it to the listed date in my article. At any rate, follow the latest chart for navigation help.

In the newly dredged inlets, it's a straight shot through. The only inlet where waypoints are needed is New River due to shoaling in the ICW channel. It's been referred to as the "Dip Route" in comments as it looks like a zigzag course where the ICW crosses the inlet. I've passed through all the inlets south of Beaufort, NC and they are now easy passages but stay in the middle. Only the charted channel was dredged, not the edges.

Browns Inlet surveyed 12/8/2016
Browns Inlet surveyed 12/8/2016 at MM 238.2 and page 75 in 2106 ICW Cruising Guide. This was the home of the famous "S" curve but it was dredged 12/8/2016 so now it's a straight path through. The buoys have been moved, just split the red/greens

New River surveyed 3/15/2017

New River Inlet surveyed 3/15/2017 at MM 244 and page 76 of the Guide. It's been dredged in the past but it's filling in again near 72A. Look closely at the ACOE waypoints, they show a zig-zag course to avoid the shoaling near 72A. Follow WP 3, 4, 5,and 6. They are the critical waypoints. The others just follow the channel. It's also referred to as "The Dip Route".

New River ACOE waypoints as of  3/15/2017
WP3 77 º 20.886 ' W  34 º 33.203 ' N
WP4 77 º 20.988 ' W  34 º 33.150 ' N
WP5 77 º 21.063 ' W  34 º 33.176 ' N
WP6 77 º 21.157 ' W  34 º 33.208 ' N

Topsail Inlet surveyed 4/26/2017 at MM 270.5 and page 79 of the Guide. The inlet crossing has been dredged but only the three red buoys remain. Just go down the center of the channel, don't hug the reds.

Masons Inlet surveyed 4/24/2017 at MM 280.2 and page 80 of the Guide. In the Guide it's referred to as Howe Point, the nearest landmark, but the ACOE calls it Masons Inlet. This is the passage where you used to hug the dockhouse, it's now been dredged. Just split the red/greens.

-Carolina Beach Inlet surveyed 4/22/2017 at MM 293.7 and page 83 of the Guide. In the Guide it's called Myrtle Grove Shoaling. Just follow the charted channel. Note that you do not want to hug G155! It was moved in the past to account for shoaling and has not yet been moved back as of 5/5/2017 to its correct position on the edge of the channel. There have been reports of groundings by sailboats getting too close to G155.

Western end of Snow's Cut, survey 11/8-9/2016
Snows Cut at MM 296. Snows Cut isn't even in the Guide, it was fine in May of last year. However, it looks like there's been active shoaling down to 3 MLW in southern end of the cut in the middle of the channel. The ACOE waypoints have you doing a zigzag course through the southern part of the cut going outside of the charted channel south of the bridge for the deepest water. The turn into Snows Cut from the north is not routine either, you have to swing wide to the green side, there's shoaling at the turn.

Snows cut ACOE waypoints as of 11/8-10/2016
WP1  77° 53' 21 .183" W   34° 3' 38.277" N
WP2  77° 53' 24.777” W    34° 3' 31.232" N
WP3  77° 54' 38.333" W    34° 3' 8.476“ N
WP4  77° 54' 58.817" W    34° 3' 7.587“ N
WP5  77° 55' 3.851” W      34° 3' 6.076" N
WP6  77° 55' 6.429" W      34° 3' 6.864" N

Lockwoods Folly surveyed 3/14/2017
Lockwoods Folly Inlet at MM321 and page 88 in the Guide. The passage has been dredged. The buoys have been moved to correspond to the dredged channel, just follow the buoys.

Shallotte surveyed 3/27/2017
Shallotte Inlet Crossing survey of  3/27/2017 at MM 330.5. It's been dredged, just follow the newly placed buoys (not on the survey chart but they are there now).

Florida and North Carolina have been doing most of the dredging. In Florida the shallows on the ICW opposite Ft Pierce were being dredged. There were two dredgers on site, one for mud and one with a huge drill that looked like it could go through rock. Dredging has also been completed at Ft Matanzas, it's a straight shot through and it's so wide it looks like the buoys have drifted. Just follow the buoys. Note that there are fewer green buoys now, G81D and C have been removed, no longer needed.

The Charleston ACOE has been busy updating their service and now show depth buckets other than just the one 3 ft to 12 ft bucket of years past. Now they look like a regular survey. They are divided into three PDF files. If you have an iPad, you can load the PDF file into one app and chart your course with another and use the dual window function of the iPad to see both apps at the same time (your navigation app and your PDF display app). The charts are all in order from north to south so as you progress you can scroll the PDF display app pages to keep up with where you're at and look ahead for the best route through a shallow spot. Unfortunately, they only surveyed the exact channel in most cases so you can't see if there's a better route outside the charted channel.

Little River to Buckport (as of 11/2016)
It shows severe shoaling by R22A that everyone, including me, didn't mark. Take a look. Other than that, there are no issues along this route.

Winyah Bay to Charleston (as of 11/2016)
This section includes the famous Isle of Shoals, aptly named. You can see the shoals on the chart as you run into them! It's just flat-out shallow around McClellanville. The surveys can help some but there's no deep path. Although the area just north of the Ben Sawyer bridge was dredged, the part from the previous shoal to the 65 ft bridge was not dredged and it's become very narrow and continues to shallow. You can see that on the surveys here.

Charleston to Port Royal (as of 11/2016)
Of interest are the sections through the shallows of the Dawho River, Watts Cut, Fenwick Cut, Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff, and Brickyard Creek.

I would love to include the ICW south of Port Royal (think, Hells Gate, Mud River, etc.) but the responsible ACOE for that area is not up to snuff. Maybe next year.  So the general advice is that you may find the charts useful in plotting the best courses through the shallow (I certainly used them for my trip of the ICW in the last two months) you also must pay attention to the latest Active Captain postings. My posts will appear as Bob423 with a very large number next to my handle reflecting all the posts I've made. Even so, nothing is absolute on the ICW - things change and remember - the captain is always responsible for the boat. Infallibility has not yet been invented for cruising or guidebooks no matter what anyone else says.

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