Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] ICW bridge clearance and depth report

Stephen Davis

Great report John! You are a braver man than I, but enjoy your inland expedition. 

Aloha SM72

On Aug 14, 2017, at 11:24, john.biohead@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:


Hi All,

  I note that occasionally there is interest in visiting the inland waters of the US east coast, but there is concern over height and depth issues.   We wanted to visit the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.  We initially looked at the Okracoke inlet however after calling the USCG station at Hatteras for a consult, we were warned that the reported depths are not accurate and are in fact much shallower.  Their patrol boat with a 4 ft draft touches bottom routinely. More phone calls for local knowledge reported we should be able to enter at Morehead City so that is where we tried.    I now report that a stock Super Maramu can enter the Pamlico Sound via Morehead City and the Core Creek section of the Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW), narrative and details below.  


Bridge height was the only part of the entrance that required special planning.  Depth even at low tide was not a problem at any part of the trip.


We took the route through the 65ft fixed Morehead City Bridge/Newport River, not the Gallant Channel.  The new fixed 65ft Gallant Channel Bridge is under construction with a lot of scaffolding and barges and the channel is shallower and trickier to navigate than the main Newport River channel.


We arrived on Saturday, Aug 12, 2017 and anchored just inside the harbor to wait for the tide.  There is a spot to anchor just south of the main channel between red 22 and green 23 buoys.   There is a beach along the channel to picnic on.

We waited for the afternoon low tide which was to be 0.26 ft, and then approached the bridge.  That day there were a lot of thunderstorms and a constant 20 knot wind blowing right up the channel to the bridge.  The clearance marker on the starboard side of the adjacent railroad bridge was covered with growth making it difficult to see from a distance so we had to motor pretty much right up to it to see it.  We could not see water lower than the 66 ft mark.  According to local knowledge there should have been over 68 ft of clearance. With mast at 65.75ft and the wind pushing us into the bridge we decided to wait for the morning low tide and hope for more benign conditions.


Next morning, Sunday, August 13, 2017 , weather was perfect, light wind and a slightly lower tide predicted (0.01ft).  This time we could see water at the 67 ft mark barely showing.  We approched very slow and stopped about a foot from the bridge.  The Admiral eyeballed the mast with binoculars and reported it looked good, so we proceeded slowly.  The VHF whip antenna (2-3ft higher than masthead) touched each girder, but being flexible, just bent under.  It looked like we had a foot of clearance between the bridge and the instruments at the mast head. 


We then proceeded up the ICW at 6.2 kts to the Core Creek Bridge , also a 65 ft fixed span.  Maintaining 6.2 kts you will reach the Core Creek bridge at its lowest tide time. If you miss it there is space to anchor and wait off to the starboard side of the channel.


The height boards at Core Creek were easier to read and showed in excess of 67 ft.  We proceeded slowly as before.  The VHF antenna barely touched.  We then continued at 6.5 knots up Core Creek/Adams River to the Pamlico Sound . 


One caution is the power boaters who have zero respect for a sailboat passing under a bridge.  At both bridges we had large power boats moving fast try to run under the bridge at the same time with us.  The wake from these boats can erase your one ft of clearance. Additionally, half of the boaters did not have a radio turned on.


Second note is the tides can be affected by wind and rain events.  Watch the height boards before passing under the bridges, don’t assume the low tide will be sufficient.  67 ft showing on the boards was good for us.


At the moment we are tied up at a public marina in Washington , North Carolina , at the head of the Pamlico River .  As we docked a friendly Dutchman recognized the finest cruising boat ever made and came over to introduce himself.  He noted that Annie was the first Amel he has ever seen this far inland in America .   


Washington , NC , seems (after one night) like a very nice quiet town with a brand new waterfront municipal marina.  They have 50amp/240v service at the dock along with usual amenities. There is a place to anchor out, and a public dinghy dock. I have been told that the depth of the anchorage is 14 ft.  So far there have been no bugs to speak of.  There are restaurants along the waterfront and a West Marine store three blocks away.   Washington appears to be one of those small American towns that time forgot.  It is presently in a revitalization phase becoming a vacation spot for the Raleigh/Rocky Mount crowd.  While in the Pamlico we plan to check out Oriental, the “sailing capital” of North Carolina and also New Bern, supposedly a trendy an up and coming city both located on the Pamlico Sound. 





SM #37, with original B&G instrument package at mast head and a 6 inch tall tricolor LED mounted on top of mast head.  VHF antenna also mounted on top of mast head.  Water tank at 800L and fuel tank full.  Emek solar arch mounted at stern.  Vessel was not carrying a dinghy or outboard for this passage.


Morehead City Bridge :  Predicted tide 0.01 ft, 67 ft barely showing on height board.


Core Creek Bridge : predicted tide 0.01 ft, in excess of 67 ft showing on the height board.


Pamlico River Channel:  followed the markers and we had 2-3 meters below keel  most of the way with a short stretch of 1 meter.


Depth under keel was sufficient at dead low tide.  Depth indicator read <1 meter for a few short stretches after the Morehead City bridge, but was 1 meter or greater through rest of  canal passage.  We never touched bottom.  Note the bottom here is mud/sand and fairly soft, so if one did touch it is not likely to damage a Super Maramu.

Regards,  John 

John Clark

SV Annie, SM 37

cruising Pamlico Sound USA

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