This is one to come into with at least a half tide beneath you!
This bathymetry recorded on the way into Carolina Beach State Park Marina shows a spot at near high tide of 6 feet… which is really 8 ft with our transducer offset. The problem is, that spot will only have 3.5 feet at low tide. (4.5 is the rise and fall here).
There is a LOT to see here on Treasure Island. Uber & taxis, restaurants, very historical place. For example, the largest land and sea battle of the Civil War was fought here.
We left Deep Point Marina early to get in here at high tide at 8am, rather than chance it yesterday afternoon at low.
This beautiful Beneteau trawler Linda Lou from Lake Superior came in a half hour before low tide yesterday to take on fuel ($3.80/gal). They left at dead low to continue north on the ICW, with no apparent difficulties! Lucky! Nice folks too!
Evidently, the carnivorous plant, the Venus Fly Trap grows plentifully in this State Park and surrounding area.
There were also posters up that indicated the harvesting or trampling on this protected species of plant is a felony!
On the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) just north of Myrtle Beach SC, (mm 350-353) is a narrower-than-normal section of channel. Normal underwater dredging (excavation) would not work due to the rock / geology. The narrow channel “looks” normal. What we don’t see is where the underwater channel is, and where the uncut shallow rock is.
There are signs on each end of this 3-mile stretch of ICW.
It is recommended to call “Securite” on VHF-16 as one enters this area so anyone coming your way can coordinate the pass.
This morning, we were one of five northbound PC-s (pleasure craft). One of the group, Elenor, a pilot style express cruiser, was in a hurry, so we let him pass us before getting to the “Rockpile” and he agreed to let us know if there was any southbound traffic. There was none. The whole experience as a bit anti-climatic and uneventful. Just what one hopes for. We timed it so we’d have over 12” of tide in our favor for this area. (The rise and fall was only about 24” here.)
We followed new Looper friends Greg and Tammy of This Is It, who also departed Osprey Marina with us within an hour of sun-up this morning.
At one point in this area, a 20’ center console wanted to overtake us all. He was likely a LOT more familiar with these waters than all of us.
USCG and International Rules dictate that overtaking vessels have to stay clear of the vessels they are overtaking. We simply stayed in the center of the channel, and let him go around us. It reminded me of one commercial tow with barges on the western rivers. We called him on VHF to see if he had a preference on which side we should pass. His response, “I’m gonna stay right in the middle. Pass on either side you want.” This response was a bit atypical, but at the end of the day, the vessel being overtaken does not have to “move over” in narrow waterways for vessels wanting to pass.
If there was any oncoming traffic today, the common advice is, “Don’t be too generous when you move over a bit.”
May your first experience in the “Rockpile” be as uneventful as ours!
I think getting an EARLY start on this weekend day was part of our success. (An early start on a weekday may probably be even better!) .
Local Looper Jerry McNeely braved today’s nasty weather to come visit us at the Charleston Maritime Center (SC) this afternoon! He brought us a gift from he and his wife, Judi… a pineapple! … to welcome us to the Charleston SC area. Their boat is Imagine.
We had met them and their dog “Dixie” months back at Green Turtle Bay.
“It doesn’t get any better than this!” we thought, after he left. Except we should have taken HIS pic with us! Judi was back in the car, as she is recovering from [successful] foot surgery.
Most of us growing up on boats were taught, Red-Right-Return, meaning (by International Standards) you should keep the red buoys (or day markers) on the right when coming back IN to any port.
It is easy to remember! BUT, like the infamous “i before e” rule in English grammar, there are exceptions!
Many people doing the “Great Loop” start in Florida and begin by going counter-clockwise, navigating up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), the “inside” route up the east coast.
But ahh, on the ICW, the Red-Right-Return rule doesn’t work. Most of this North-South route is not “in” or “out” of a harbor! To solve this the USA established a domestic standard for the ICW that green aids to navigation (AToN) would be on the ocean-side of the channel. And red AToN would be on the mainland side.
It is easy to remember that most red-blooded mammals are on the mainland “inside” side, and conversely, the fish and deep green ocean is on the “outside.”
Instead of Red-Right-Return, most counter-clockwise Great Loopers will follow the ICW with red on the mainland side, and green on the ocean side, (including the Gulf of Mexico). Even on the west coast of Florida, the mainland gets RED markers; the Gulf of Mexico gets green (north/south does not matter.)
So, there are TWO standards: an International Standard, and an American ICW Standard.
You can always tell which standard a buoy or day marker is using by looking for the yellow sticker. Yellow stickers mean you are in the ICW.
No sticker? That means the more international standard of Red-Right-Return applies to the waterway you are following.
Occasionally they put the opposite stickers on the AToN, as shown below.
Last Saturday, when we followed the ICW into Port Royal Sound and then the Beaufort River, Shelly remarked, “The buoys switched sides on us!” She was correct! Because Port Royal is a major international shipping port, the AToNs are set up for ships in the conventional Red-Right-Return configuration.
But because we were ALSO on the ICW, the buoys had their yellow stickers. However, for quite some distance the ICW yellow stickers were opposite from normal. The pointed red nun buoys got a square. The flat topped green can got a triangle yellow sticker. There are only a handful of places where you will see this on the ICW. This indicates you are still on the ICW, but the AToNs colors are are switched to the international system for this [short] section of the ICW.
What about the Inland Rivers?
Months ago, when going down the Mississippi River we kept green on our right and red on our left. Why? Because we were heading DOWN river. it was great because the current was with us, saving time and fuel. So, green was on the right going WITH the current.
So therefore, the “rule” on the western rivers is Red-Right-Against the current. This is easy to remember cuz most rivers eventually flow into oceans. So “returning” = going upstream, against the current!
Even on the rivers there were places where the buoys switched on us! But there was a good reason for it…
When we took the big left onto the Ohio River, the buoys switched on us because we were now bucking the current. We were heading UP river! So the red AToNs marked the right side of the channel, and the green marked the left.
There were no yellow stickers on the inland rivers. You’ll only see those on the ICW.
What about side trips off the ICW?
Whenever you leave the ICW, to go into a side river or anchorage that has navigation buoys or day beacons, you won’t see ANY yellow stickers there either. Yellow stickers are only on the ICW. No stickers mean: Red-Right-Return, just like we all learned as kids!
Addendum – Side Trips off the ICW
Below… Here is a graphic example of a “side trip” on the ICW. R4, G3, and G5 will NOT have yellow stickers. Normal Red-Right-Return standards will apply in that waterway.
However G233 and R232, which are aids to navigation (AToNs) on the actual mainline ICW, WILL have yellow stickers!
There are no yellow stickers on AToNs R2 and G1 shown here, as they are not on the ICW.
We spent night one on the anchor in Factory Creek, then tied up at the highly recommended Lady’s Island Marina: Courtesy Vehicle, 0.5 miles to Publix, and the absolute best ‘Hardware & Home’ store [Grayco] you’ll ever visit. I promise!
We arrived at at Thunderbolt Marina in Savannah GA. 4396 statute miles since pushing off from Lindenhurst NY on May 25, 2021. It is so great to be underway again!
All of our navigation electronics where set to Nautical Miles when we moved to salt water years ago. Unfortunately, that was not the best or optimum setting for doing The Great Loop. All the Inland waterways starting on the Erie Canal, then continuing south from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico are tracked in statute miles. Cruising guides, and even physical mile markers along these rivers are in Statute Miles. You would think that once we reached the OCEAN, things would revert back to Nautical Miles. NOPE! The Intracoastal Waterway is all catalogued and referenced in statute miles.
Statute Mile: 5280 ft
Nautical Mile (equal to one minute of earth’s latitude): 6076.12 feet.
For most, The Great Loop comes out to about 6000 statute miles. We’ll see what our mileage figure is in a month or two!
This Duplin River anchorage is TIDAL. So the current will make our boat turn 180 degrees in the middle of the night, and pull the anchor in the opposite direction.
Pods of Porpoise, at least one Bald Eagle, and scores of other water bird species were also seen this day. I especially like the diving Pelicans! We can see the splash a half mile away in the calm morning waters. .
We left Fairfax FL about 10:00am EDT, we dropped anchor off south west shore of Cumberland Island… very close to St Mary’s Inlet in Georgia. The times shown on this map are an hour behind (standard time instead of daylight savings time).