Georgia’s
Entrances, Inlets, & Passes

There are approximately 12 Ocean Entrances, Inlets, or Passes along the coastline of Georgia at last count. Starting with Tybee Roads in the north to St. Andrew Sound to the south, many provide access to sheltered inland waters and quite a few provide access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

While most of these are only suitable for shallow draft vessels and/or local knowledge, many should be considered as un-navigable, and some considered navigable for most vessels. We have listed most of them below along with useful information on each to aid you in deciding if you wish to use a particular inlet.

Open Down Arrow AICW - Georgia Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Tybee Roads (Savannah River) to Ossabaw Sound

Tybee Roads & Savannah River Entrance

Tybee Roads (Savannah River Entrance) is located 10.0 NM southwest of Port Royal, SC, 65 NM southwestward of Charleston, SC, and 10.4 NM northeast of Wassaw Sound, GA. The Savannah River forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina providing access to the AICW and Savannah, GA.

Savannah River Approaches

NOAA Chart #11512 - Savannah River Approach is suggested for the approach, while NOAA Chart #11512 - Savannah River and Wassaw Sound is suggested for the entrance to the Savannah River.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 7.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "575.8 ") near lighted beacon (Fl 2.5s 16ft 4M).

Approach

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "T" Mo(A) RACON (––·) AIS) located 7.9 NM ESE of the entrance at 31°57’52" N / 080°43’10" W). It is recommended that no vessel, regardless of size, anchor within a two-mile radius of the approach buoy. The approach channel is deep (40+) feet and well-marked with lighted buoys and ranges.

Prominent on the approach is Tybee Light (F 144ft 19M) shown from an octagonal brick tower, upper and lower thirds black, with a white center, on the southern side of the entrance. The three water tanks on Hilton Head Island are prominent in the approach from the north. Also prominent from seaward are a water tank on Tybee Island, the flashing red lights atop the three radio towers on Oatland Island, and the five 200-foot tanks on Elba Island, about 9 miles above the entrance.

Entrance

The entrance is protected by a low lying jetty to the north and a submerged jetty, at high water, to the south. Both jetties are marked just off of their ends by lighted beacons. Deep water is found in the entrance (40+) feet and the channel is well-marked with lighted buoys and ranges from the entrance all the way to Savannah, GA.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 7.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "575.8 ") near lighted beacon (Fl 2.5s 16ft 4M).

Cautions

Shifting shoals from South Beach Hilton Head Island to the Tybee Roads ship channel tend to intimidate boaters unfamiliar with the area. But a safe passage through here is routine. There are several unmarked obstructions in the approaches. A danger area of an Air Force air-to-air and air-to-water gunnery and bombing range is about 15 miles seaward of Tybee Light. When approaching from the northeast, do not cross the shallows north of R "8" through R "14"; a submerged breakwater exists 0.6 NM NNE of the approach channel. Make your turn at buoys (R "6" Fl R 2.5s or R "4" Fl R 4s) in deeper water.

Tides & Currents

The mean tidal range is 6.8 feet at the entrance and the velocity of the ebb current from the entrance jetties to Savannah is from 2.2 to 3.1 knots. The flood current has a velocity of from 1.6 to 2.4 knots.

It is reported that currents in the river can reach 7 to 8 knots in the vicinity of Garden City Terminal (southwest side of the river just below the U.S. Route 17A bridge).

The current is considerably influenced by winds and freshets. Currents set in the direction of the channel except at the entrance near Tybee Light, where the flood sets northwestward across the channel. Between the jetties the flood sets 260°. Freshets occasionally occur in the spring.

Wassaw Sound

The entrance to Wassaw Sound is about 10.4 miles southwest of the Tybee Roads approach buoy and 12.9 NM NNE of St. Catherines Sound. It affords access to the AICW, Thunderbolt and Savannah, GA.

Wassaw Sound

NOAA Chart #11511 - Ossabaw and St Catherines Sounds is suggested for the approach to Wassaw Sound while NOAA Chart #11512 - Savannah River and Wassaw Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The junction of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is 8.6 NM above the entrance at (MM "585.6") near lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 16ft 5M "40").

Approach

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (R "2W" Fl R 4s) located at 31°51’33" N / 080°53’01" W. The approach channel is over a shifting bar with depths ranging from 2 to 15 feet. It is marked by both charted and un-charted lighted and unlighted buoys. The reported controlling depth was 10 feet through the marked bar channel.

Entrance

The entrance, used mostly by small boats, is well marked by lighted and unlighted buoys and beacons. Once across the bar the channel depths range from 21 to 31 feet until well inside the entrance.

Cautions

Shoals extend offshore a distance of 4 to 4.5 miles from the entrance, forming a shifting bar. The entrance to Wassaw Sound is subject to frequent change. Approach buoys "4, 6, and 8" are not charted as they are frequently moved to mark the best water. A sunken wreck covered 4 feet, about 1.2 miles southeast of Wassaw Sound buoy (G C "9") was reported in about 31°53’01" N., 80°52’57" W.

Tides & Currents

Mean tidal range is 7.1 feet. Tidal currents in Wassaw Sound reach velocities up to 2.2 knots.

Ossabaw Sound

Ossabaw Sound is 4.7 NM southwest of Wassaw Sound and 8.3 NM northeast of St. Catherines Sound lying between the southwestern point of Wassaw Island and the northeastern point of Ossabaw Island.

Ossabaw Sound

NOAA Chart #11511 - Ossabaw and St Catherines Sounds is suggested for the approach and entrance to Ossabaw Sound.

The junction of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be made via either the North Channel 10.7 NM above the approach buoy near (MM "602.6") at lighted beacon (FL G 4s 16ft 5M "87") or the South Channel at 9.5 NM at (MM "601.1") near lighted beacon (Q R 16ft 4M "92").

Approach

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "OS" Mo(A)) located 4.6 NM southeast of the entrance at 31°47’48" N / 080°56’10" W.

The approach is split between (2) channels; the North Channel and South Channel which divide at unlighted buoy (RG N "N") 2.6 NM west of the approach buoy. The North Channel is well-marked and has least depth of 12 feet while the South Channel is not as well-marked with a least depth of 10 feet.

Entrance

The entrance is 2.8 NM wide with depths ranging from bare to 24 feet. The marked channels provide depths of 10 feet or greater.

Cautions

Shoals extend offshore a distance of 4 to 4.5 miles from the entrance, forming a shifting bar.

Tides & Currents

Mean tidal range is 7.1 feet. Tidal currents in Ossabaw Sound reach velocities up to 2.2 knots.

Open Down Arrow AICW - Georgia Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
St. Catherines Sound to Doboy Sound

St. Catherines Sound

St. Catherines Sound lies 8.3 NM SSW of Ossabaw Sound and 9.9 NM NNE of Sapelo Sound lying between the St. Catherines Island and Blackbeard Island.

St. Catherines Sound

NOAA Chart #11509 - Tybee Island to Doboy Sound is suggested for the approach to St. Catherines Sound while NOAA Chart #11511 - Ossabaw and St Catherines Sounds is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 0.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "618.7") near lighted beacon (Q R 12ft 4M "114").

Approach

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "STC" Mo(A)) located 7.5 NM ESE of the entrance at 31°40’13" N / 080°00’12" W. The approach is over a bar marked by charted lighted and unlighted buoys with a least depth of 12 feet in the approach channel.

A prominent sand dune, 3 miles south of the north end of St. Catherines Island is reported to show well from seaward.

Entrance

The entrance is marked by an unlighted buoy with depths of 30 to 50 feet mid-channel.

Cautions

Dangerous shoals extend offshore for 5 NM. The main body of the sound is exposed and becomes quite rough in moderately bad weather.

Tides & Currents

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 7.1 feet. Tidal currents have considerable velocity at the entrance.

Sapelo Sound

Sapelo Sound is about 9.5 NM SSW of St. Catherines Sound and 11.9 NM northeast of Doboy Sound and lies between the southern end of St. Catherines Island and the northern tip of Blackbeard Island. It affords access to the AICW. No towns of any importance are on the sound or tributaries.

Sapelo Sound

NOAA Chart #11509 - Tybee Island to Doboy Sound is suggested for the approach to Sapelo Sound while NOAA Chart #11510 - Sapelo and Doboy Sounds is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 1.1 NM above the entrance at (MM "632.5") near lighted beacon (Q R 12ft 4M "138").

Approach

The approach is marked by an unlighted buoy (RW C "S") 5.8 NM ESE of the entrance located at 31°31’13" N / 081°03’53" W.

The approach is over a shallow bar with a least charted depth of 12 feet in the approach channel and is marked by unlighted buoys.

Prominent on the approach is the shoreline break for the entrance which can be seen from 8 NM offshore on a clear day.

Entrance

The entrance channel is deep with a least charted depth of 22 feet, wide, and reasonably well marked by unlighted buoys.

Cautions

Vessels should stay in a depth of over 5 fathoms until the bar channel buoys are seen because shoals extend about 5 NM offshore. Dangerous changeable area (31°32’29" N. / 081°08’01" W) about .25 NM north of the approach channel with depths of 1 foot.

Tides & Currents

Mean tidal range is 6.9 feet. In the entrance to the sound the velocities of flood and ebb are 2.1 and 2.5 knots, respectively.

Doboy Sound

Doboy Sound is about 11.9 NM SSW of Sapelo Sound and 3.1 NM NNE of Altamaha Sound with the entrance found between Sapelo Island to the north and Wolf Island to the south. It affords access to the AICW. No towns of any importance are on the sound or tributaries.

Doboy Sound

NOAA Chart #11509 or NOAA Chart #11502 is suggested for the approach to Doboy Sound while NOAA Chart #11510 is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 2.6NM above the entrance at (MM "649.5") near lighted beacon (Q R 16ft 4M "178").

Approach

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "D" Mo(A)) 4.5 NM ESE of the entrance at 31°21’14" N / 081°11’24" W.

The approach channel is well marked with unlighted buoys and a least charted depth of 10 feet mid-channel over the bar with depths increasing to 35+ feet.

Entrance

The entrance is deep (30+) feet and marked by a single lighted beacon (Fl R 6s 12ft 5M "8").

Cautions

Shifting shoals extend about 4.5 NM offshore, when approaching the sound, vessels should stay in a depth of 5 fathoms or more until the approach channel buoys are sighted. The marked channel over the bar at the entrance to Doboy Sound is not considered safe for strangers except on a rising tide and a smooth sea. If there is too much sea to cross the bar, vessels are advised to enter via St. Simons Sound.

Tides & Currents

The mean range of tide is about 6.8 feet in the sound. Tidal currents in the sound have a velocity of 2 knots at the entrance.

Open Down Arrow AICW - Georgia Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Altamaha Sound to Hampton River

Altamaha Sound

Altamaha Sound is about 3.1 NM SSW of Doboy Sound and 4.3 NM NNE of Hampton River with the entrance found between Wolf Island to the north and Little Egg Islands to the south. It affords access to the AICW. No towns of any importance are on the sound or tributaries.

Altamaha Sound

NOAA Chart #11502 Doboy Sound to Fernandina is suggested for the approach to Altahama Sound while NOAA Chart #11508 Altamaha Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 1.6NM above the entrance at (MM "656.6") near lighted beacon (Q R 12ft 4M "198").

Approach

The approach and approach channel is marked by a single charted lighted beacon (Fl 2.5s 5M). The approach is obstructed by a bar covered 4 feet and shoals bare to 2 feet border the channel.

Once over the bar, depth of 7 to 23 feet can be found in the deeper areas.

Entrance

The entrance is nmarked with depths ranging from 11 to 35 feet.

Cautions

Shallow bar across the entire approach. This inlet not recommended for strangers.

Tides & Currents

The mean range of tide is about 7.2 feet in the sound.

Hampton River Entrance

The Hampton River Entrance is located 7.3 NM SSW of Doboy Sound Approach Buoy and 11.4 NM north of the St. Simons Sound Approach Buoy. Located between Little St. Simons Island to the north and Sea Island to the south.

Hampton River Inlet

NOAA Chart #11502 Doboy Sound to Fernandina is suggested for the approach to Hampton River while NOAA Chart #11508 Altamaha Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 10.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "664.3") near lighted beacon (Fl G 2.5s 10ft 5M "223").

Approach

The approach is winding and unmarked through shoals covered 1 to 6 feet blocking much of the entrance. The approach channel has depths ranging from 7 feet to 35 feet. The bar obstructing the entrance is covered from bare to 5 feet.

Entrance

The entrance is unmarked with depths from 20+ to 33 feet. Channel Markers begin 1.4 NM above the entrance.

Cautions

The approach and entrance are obstructed by shoals that are dangerous to navigation. A shifting channel through the shoals extends 4 miles to seaward from the entrance. The approach and entrance are unmarked local knowledge is strongly advised.

Tides & Currents

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is about 6.6 feet in the entrance. Tidal currents have a velocity of 2 knots.

Open Down Arrow AICW - Georgia Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
St. Simons Sound to St. Andrew Sound

St. Simons Sound

St. Simons Sound is found 15.6 NM south of Altahama Sound and 8.2 NM NNE of St. Andrews Sound. St. Simons Sound is 0.8 mile wide at the entrance and affords access to the AICW, St. Simons Island, and Brunswick, GA.

St. Simons Sound

NOAA Chart #11502 - Doboy Sound to Fernandina is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11506 – St. Simons Sound is suggested for the entrance to St. Simons Sound.

Approach

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "STS" Mo(A)) located 9.4 NM southeast of the entrance at 31°02’49" N / 081°14’25" W. The approach is obstructed by dangerous shifting shoals forming a bar that extends up to 5.5 NM offshore. A deep (38 feet) dredged channel leads through the bar. The approach channel is well-marked by lighted buoys and a leading light range as well as contemporary lighted ranges.

Prominent on the approach is St. Simons Light (F Fl 60s 104ft 18M) shown from a white conical tower on the north side of the entrance to the sound. The towers of the fixed bridge crossing Brunswick River and the tall stacks of the Hercules Powder Company in Brunswick.

Entrance

The entrance channel is deep 36+ feet and well-marked with lighted buoys and ranges as far up as the foot of Second Avenue in Brunswick, GA.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is met 1.0 NM above the entrance at (MM "677.8") near lighted buoy (R "20" Q R).

Cautions

Dangers - An unmarked wreck, covered 25 feet, is in 31°03’10" N., 081°13’45" W., about 1.4 miles eastward of the entrance to the bar channel. Sediment traps are on the north side of the approach channel. These traps may shoal at a rapid rate, spilling over into the adjacent navigation channel; mariners should exercise caution when operating near them. A rock ledge, about 600 to 800 feet long and covered 23 feet, is parallel to the south side of Cedar Hammock Range.

Tides & Currents

Tides and Currents -. Tidal currents normally follow the general direction of the dredged channel across the bar with a velocity of 2 knots. During northeasterly weather there is a strong southerly set across the bar channel and in southeasterly weather a strong northerly set.

St. Andrew Sound

St. Andrew Sound is found 15.6 NM south of Altahama Sound and 13.2 NM NNW of St. Marys Entrance and is located between Jekyll Island to the north and Little Cumberland Island to the south. It is 0.8 mile wide at the entrance and affords access to the AICW and Jekyll Island, GA.

St. Andrew Sound

NOAA Chart #11502 - Doboy Sound to Fernandina is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11504 – St. Andrew Sound and Satilla River is suggested for the entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is met 0.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "689.7") near lighted buoy (R "32" Q R ).

Approach

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW C "STA") located 5.7 NM southeast of the entrance at 30°55’33" N / 081°18’58" W. The approach is over a shifting bar extending about 5.0 NM offshore. The approach is marked with uncharted buoys to mark the best water. Charted depths in the approach channel range from 12 to 69 feet.In 1983, the reported controlling depth was 12 feet in the buoyed approach channel.

Prominent on the approach is an abandoned lighthouse on the northern point of Little Cumberland Island.

Entrance

The entrance channel is deep with chjarted depths to 70+ feet.

Cautions

Vessels should stay in 5 fathoms or more until the approach buoy is sighted. Breakers are common on easterly side of the approach channel and the northerly side of the entrance. A sunken wreck was reported about 1.9 miles eastward of the abandoned lighthouse.

Tides & Currents

Mean Tidal range is 6.8 feet with a current velocity of about 2 knots in the entrance.



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