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CAROLINA SAILING Intracoastal Needs Overlooked By Dan Dickison

Every year, thousands of private boats and commercial vessels transit the Intracoastal Waterway, which essentially runs 3,000 miles from Texas to Massachusetts along the coasts of 15 states.


he sections of this waterway that lie in Georgia and North and South Carolina include some of the most scenic expanses as the waterway meanders past marshlands, maritime forests, barrier islands, and hundreds of tributaries. As inspiring as some of these passages may be, many of them are fraught with problems, primarily due to unexpectedly shallow sections along the way. If you’re among the many who pass this way, you probably already know that maintenance (read dredging to maintain navigable depths) hasn’t been what it should be in recent years, and unfortunately, the outlook for the future doesn’t appear overly rosy either. By federal law, all sections of the ICW must be maintained to preserve a minimum depth of 12 feet, but active ICW passagemakers know that this law hasn’t been strictly adhered to for some time. Consider passages like Jekyll Creek and Little Mud River in Georgia, or those from Winyah Bay down to Charleston, SC, as well as numerous locations in North Carolina, like Carolina Beach Inlet. These locations and other trouble spots along the ICW have been creating passage problems for several years now. The tribulations of mariners in these locales is well documented online by active cruisers who regularly share their experiences on sites like The Salty Southeast Cruisers Net (; a good source for ICW advice and information, by the way). What’s Being Done So, what’s being done about this? According to Rosemary Lynch, executive director at the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association in Raleigh, NC, when the U.S.


May 2008