The ICW path through the new River Inlet has changed over the past few years. Starting in 2016 it now includes a “dip” at R72A. The path between R70 and R76 is now called the “Dip Route”. The marks can be confusing, and the stress is compounded by strong cross setting currents.
Southbound, R12 and R12A add to the confusion. They mark the New River Inlet Channel and are not part of the ICW. They have however caused great confusion. R12A is in direct line with ICW R70 and R72 which leads some southbound boats to pass R72A to port and head to R12A . It does not help that the numbers 12A and 72A can look quite similar from a distance through binoculars. And they find themselves aground. Some southbound boats taking the Dip Route have successfully left R72A to starboard and then, for some reason, believe they must leave R12 to starboard. And they find themselves aground.
Northbound you will spend the day travelling the lovely picturesque NC marshes. There are a few bridges to contend with but generally it is an easy day’s run. Easy, that is until all of a sudden you are thrown into New River Inlet crossing. If you have not prepared . If you’ve not studied your charts or laid out a route on your chartplotter it can be disorienting. And while you are studying the chart to figure it out, the cross currents can set you on the shore. The tow boat operators here stay quite busy.
With a little planning, a check of the tides and currents as you approach, and perhaps route set in the chart plotter, this run becomes little more than an interesting piloting challenge.
WARNING TODAY, APRIL 6, 2019
We transited the New River crossing northbound. R72A is off station, way off station. The buoy is shown on the charts 250 feet off the shore. Today it is approximately 40 or 50 feet off the shore. As we approached it we were being set down river by a near maximum ebb current, the buoy appeared too close to shore. We ran directly at the marker, slowly. The water was rapidly shoaling from near 20 feet to under 7 feet. The buoy was clearly not where the charts indicated. The space between the buoy on the shore was too tight. Making a quick decision we turned to port into the channel to hold position in the current. As we moved away from the shore the water immediately deepened. Taking that as an indicator we pushed on and left it to starboard about 10 feet from the boat. As we passed the buoy, we had 9.9 feet of water.
Our track in yellow. 4/06/2019 as seen in Navionics Sonar Charts
Our track on Aqua Map Master Dashed yellow line is our track.
Close up of R72A area. Dashed yellow line is our track.