Cruising/Navigating - North Carolina’s AICW

North Landing River to Little River Inlet

The North Carolina portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) begins in the north on North Landing River near Sandy Point located at (MM "34.0"), the Virginia/North Carolina State Line. It proceeds in a generally southwesterly direction to Little River Inlet and the South Carolina State Line at (MM "340.9").

Aids to Navigation

Buoys and Marks

Intracoastal Waterway buoys and navigational markers are like most other lateral marks in the U.S. the difference is that yellow triangles or yellow squares are added to the mark to indicate they are ICW markers. The rule is: When proceeding southbound on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (Norfolk, VA to Cross Bank in the Florida Keys) or northbound / westbound on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (Ft. Meyers, FL to Brownsville, TX); markers with yellow triangles are kept to starboard and yellow squares are kept to port at all times.

While Yellow Squares are typically found on green buoys or beacons and yellow triangles are typically found on red buoys or beacons, this is not always the case. Use Caution!

Green ICW Marker Red ICW Marker

Regardless of the Color of the Mark!

Charts

NOAA Charts #12206, #11553, 11541, and #11534 provide coverage of the North Carolina portion of the AICW.

Chart #11206 covers the AICW from (MM "34.0") at the Virginia / North Carolina State Line to Albemarle Sound via Route #1 and to (MM "65.0") at the mouth of the Pasquotank River via Route #2. (MM "65.0").

Chart #11553 covers the AICW from (MM "65.0"), Albemarle Sound to the Neuse River(MM "170.0").

Chart #11541 covers the AICW from the Neuse River(MM "170.0") to (MM "290.0") at Myrtle Grove Sound.

Chart #11534 covers the AICW from Mile (MM "290.0"), Myrtle Grove Sound to (MM "425.0") at Casino Creek.

Chart #12206 - Norfolk to Albemarle Sound
Chart #11553 - Albemarle Sound to Neuse River
Chart #11541 - Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound
Chart #11534 - Myrtle Grove Sound to Casino Creek, SC

Distances and Milages

All distances along the North Carolina Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway are given in statute miles unless otherwise noted. Statute miles are used in order to conform to the distances shown on the small craft charts typically used along this route.

The North Carolina portion of the AICW (southbound) is measured based on increasing mileage between the North Landing River (MM "34.0") and Little River Inlet (MM "340.9") and for a total of 306.9 SM (266.7 NM).

Channels

The Federal project depth for the North Carolina portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from North Landing River at the (Virginia/North Carolina State Line) to the Little River Inlet at the (North Carolina/South Carolina State Line) is 12 feet.

The actual controlling depths in the channels may vary due to shoaling. This reduces the available water depths to less than the Federal project depth until maintenance dredging can be accomplished.

Communications

Bridges and Locks – VHF Channel 13.

Bridges, Locks, and Overhead Power Lines

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina Bridge Schedule

The following table lists the bridges; their schedules, and restrictions along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) in North Carolina.

The minimum overhead clearance of fixed bridges over the North Carolina portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is 64 feet.

This list is believed to be accurate as of July 2019. If any errors or omissions are noted, please e-mail us at with any corrections or recommendations.


Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Bridge Schedule
Coinjock to Onslow Beach

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina


Coinjock to Sunset Beach

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
50.0 Coinjock Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
84.2 Alligator River Swing Bridge 14’ Opens on Demand Winds exceeding 35 knots. 13
114.0 Fairfield Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
126.0 Wilkerson Creek Bridge 64’ Fixed Bridge    
157.0 Hobucken Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
196.0 Core Creek Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
203.6 Morehead City-Newport Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
203.6 Morehead City RR Bascule Bridge 4’ Normally Open Closes for RR Traffic 13
206.5 Atlantic Beach Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
226.0 Emerald Isle Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
240.7 Onslow Beach Swing Bridge 12’ The draw shall open between 0700 - 1900 on the hour and ½ hour. Other times on demand. No openings when closed by the military. 13

Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Bridge Schedule
Topsail Island Beach to Sunset Beach

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina


Topsail Island Beach to Sunset Beach

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
252.5 Topsail Island Bridge 64’ Fixed Bridge    
260.9 Surf City Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
278.1 Figure Eight Island Swing Bridge 20’ Opens on the hour and ½ hour.   13
283.1 Wrightsville Bascule Bridge 20’ The draw shall open between 0700-1900 on the hour. Other times on demand. Closed 2nd Saturday of July 0700-0900. Closed 3rd and 4th Saturdays in September from 0700-1100. Closed 0700-1030 on the last Saturday of October each year or the 1st or 2nd Saturday of November. 13
295.5 Snows Cut Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
312.0 Oak Island/Ft. Caswell Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
317.0 Swains Cut Bridge 67’ Fixed Bridge    
323.0 Holden Beach Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
334.0 Ocean Isle Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
338.0 Mannon C. Gore Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    

The North Carolina ICW Bridge List as well as the entire AICW Bridge List (Norfolk to Miami) can be downloaded for your personal and private use below. The ZIP files contain the schedules in Adobe (.pdf) file format:

AICW North Carolina Bridge Schedule - Download

AICW Bridge and Lock Schedule (Norfolk to Miami) - Download

Temporary Long Term Bridge Restrictions

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Restrictions
206.5 Atlantic Beach Bridge 65’ Planned bridge maintainence for 12/01/2019 to 01 31/2020 will reduce the vertical clearance to 60’.
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina Locks

(1) - South Mills Lock (52x300) feet. The lock schedule is 0830, 1100, 1330 and 1530 seven days per week 365 Days a year. The drawbridge adjacent to this lock will operate as normal and in conjunction with the lock openings. There will only be one operator at Deep Creek and one at South Mills, so the bridge will not be manned when the lock is being operated, and vice versa. Locks and bridges monitor channel 13.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - North Carolina Overhead Cables and Power Lines

Approximately (23) overhead cables cross North Carolina’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. (1) Cable crossing has an authorized clearance of 68 feet; located at Snows Cut (MM "295.8"). The remainder of the cable crossings have an authorized clearances of 74 feet or greater.

Caution - Many of the overhead cables over the waterway carry high voltage, and an extra margin of safety should be allowed during threatening weather.

Tides

The tides along the North Carolina Coast are semi-diurnal from North River south to Little River Inlet exhibiting (2) equal high and low tides every ≈24 hours 50 minutes.

Beginning at North River at the Virginia/North Carolina State Line, with almost non-existent lunar tides, the tidal range increases southbound to Sunset Beach Bridge near the North Carolina/South Carolina border with a mean tidal range of 4.8 feet.

Entrances, Inlets, and Passes

There are numerous Entrances, Inlets, or Passes between the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the coastline of North Carolina. From Oregon Inlet in the north to Mad Inlet to the south, there were (≈22) at last count. Most all provide access to sheltered inland waters with many providing access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

While most of these are only suitable for shallow draft vessels and/or local knowledge, some can be considered navigable for most vessels. We have listed 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 - North Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Oregon Inlet to New Drum Inlet

Oregon Inlet

Oregon Inlet located 64.7 NM SSE of Rudee Inlet, VA and 64.5 NM northward of Hatteras Inlet. , about 2.5 miles southward of Bodie Island Light. Oregon Inlet provides access to Pamlico Sound and eventually the AICW.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "OI" Mo(A) WHIS) located 2.4 NM NNE of the entrance at 35°48’38" N / 075°30’56" W. NOTE: The position of this buoy is frequently shifted with changing conditions. Topmark is not installed on this aid.

Prominent on the approach is Bodie Island Light (Fl (2) 30s 156ft 18M) shown from a conical brick tower, white and black bands above granite base, black ironwork. A 150 foot radio tower operated by the Coast Guard is 1.7 NM NNW of the entrance and is also visible on the approach.

The approach is over a shifting bar and the buoys are not charted due to being frequently shifted in position to mark the best water. Breakers, charted, and uncharted, and wrecks line the approach channel and are covered with a least depth of 2 feet.

The entrance is protected by a jetty on the south side. The jetty is marked by "Oregon Inlet Jetty Light" shown from a pile with a black and white diamond-shaped daymark. A fixed highway bridge crosses the inlet. The new Bonner Bridge will have a vertical clearance of 70 feet.

The inlet, used by local fishing vessels but not recommended to strangers. It requires continuous dredging; it deepens with northwest winds and fills in with northeast winds.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected about 28.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "70.0") near lighted beacon (Iso 6s 21ft 8M "N") or74.2 NM below the entrance at (MM "172.3") near lighted beacon (Fl R 2.5s 15ft 5M "4").

Cautions - Mean tidal range at the inlet is about 2 feet. Tidal currents in the inlet are reported to be as much as 5 knots, but with southwesterly winds as much as 6 to 8 knots. The aids to navigation in Oregon Inlet Oregon Inlet Channel to the junction with Old House Channel, and buoys in Walter Slough, Old House Channel and Davis channel are not charted because they are moved frequently. The hydrography in Oregon Inlet is also not shown due to its continually shifting nature. Continuous shifts in the channel conditions due to recent weather conditions may have rendered aids to navigation unreliable in North Carolina's Outer Banks Inlets. Mariners should use extreme caution when operating in these areas. Mariners are urged to seek alternate routes for transits to and from the sea.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at the inlet is about 2 feet. Tidal currents in the inlet are reported to be as much as 5 knots, but with southwesterly winds as much as 6 to 8 knots.

Hatteras Inlet

Hatteras Inlet, 12.3 NM southwest of Cape Hatteras Light, 67.3 NM SSW of Oregon Inlet, and 12.4 NM northeast of Ocracoke Inlet affords access to Hatteras, NC, the Pamlico Sound, and the AICW.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "HI" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.5 NM south of the entrance 35°09’48" N / 075°45’15" W. NOTE: The position of this buoy is frequently shifted with changing conditions.

The approach is made over a shifting bar that is subject to continual change. Some buoys are not charted due to being frequently moved to show the best water. Local knowledge is recommended.

Prominent on the approach is Hatteras Inlet Light (Iso 6s 48ft 10M) shown from a skeleton tower on a black house on the southwestern point of Hatteras Island.

The entrance is a dredged channel that leads to Rollinson Channel 1.8 NM northeast of the entrance. The entrance channel is reported to shoal rapidly and should only be used with local knowledge. It is marked by lighted and unlighted beacons and buoys whose positions are being changed frequently.

A second marked channel leads southeast and is used by the Hatteras Inlet Coast Guard Station and the North Carolina State Ferry.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 2.0 feet. The tidal currents in the channel through the inlet are influenced by winds and attain velocities of about 2 knots.

Ocracoke Inlet

Ocracoke Inlet, 12.4 NM southwest of Hatteras Inlet and 18.3 NM northeast of Drum Inlet provides access to Core Sound, Pamlico Sound, and eventually the AICW.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "OC" Mo(A) WHIS) located 2.0 NM ESE of the entrance at 35°03’28" N / 075°58’17" W. NOTE: The position of this buoy is frequently shifted with changing conditions.

Prominent on the approach is Ocracoke Light (F 75ft 15M) northward of the entrance.

Ocracoke Inlet approach and entrance are subject to frequent changes. Numerous buoys are not charted due to being frequently moved to mark the best water. The approach and entrance is over a shifting bar between the southern end of Ocracoke Island and the northern end of Portsmouth Island; the bar is subject to frequent changes.

There are unmarked shallow channels leading from Ocracoke Inlet to Pamlico Sound, but they should not be used without local knowledge because of the shifting shoals. Strong currents have been experienced in these channels. Mariners are advised to exercise caution while navigating in the area.

Tides and Currents - Tidal range is 1.9 feet. The currents in the inlet and connecting channels are influenced by the winds. The ebb current usually has a greater velocity than the flood. Velocities up to 4 knots have been observed.

New Drum Inlet

New Drum Inlet, 19 miles southwestward of Ocracoke Inlet, is an opening in the barrier beach leading to deep water in Core Sound. The channel is not maintained by dredging and is constantly shifting. The inlet was reported to be dangerous and not recommended for use by anyone.

Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Cape Lookout Inlet to Brown’s Inlet

Cape Lookout Inlet

Lookout Bight, on the west side of Cape Lookout is 6.4 NM east of the Beaufort Inlet approach channel. We have included this more as an anchorage than an inlet, although shallow draft vessels can access Core Sound via this inlet with careful navigation.

As an anchorage, it affords good protection for vessels in the inner bight in 7 to 28 feet, good holding ground of soft mud. Prevailing swell from the southwest is effectively excluded, but the surrounding terrain is too low to greatly restrain the force of wind. A severe blow from a northerly direction may cause a vessel to drag, but most boats drop an extra anchor if the wind reaches gale force from any direction.

Power Squadron Spit, the west side of Lookout Bight, is subject to continual change and is partially protected by a rubble-stone breakwater awash at low water and hardly visible when a heavy sea is running; its outer end is marked by a lighted buoy about 300 yards northwestward of its seaward end. Mariners should give it a wide berth in bad weather.

A channel extends from deep water in Lookout Bight through Barden Inlet and Lighthouse Bay to deep water in Back Sound. The channel is very unstable and has a tendency to fill; strangers should use extreme caution. The channel is well marked; however, the uncharted buoys and daybeacons through Barden Inlet are frequently shifted in position to mark the best water; local knowledge is advised.

Tides and Currents - Tidal range is 4.0 feet.

Beaufort Inlet

Beaufort Inlet is 57.5 NM southwestward of Ocracoke Inlet and 20.4 NM east of Bogue Inlet about 220 miles southwestward of the Chesapeake Bay entrance and the same distance northeastward of Charleston. The entrance lies between Shackleford Banks to the east and Bogue Banks to the west. It allows access to the AICW, Beaufort, and Morehead City, NC.

NOAA Chart #11543 - Cape Lookout to New River is suggested for the approach to Beaufort Inlet while NOAA Chart #11547 - Morehead City Harbor is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "BM" Mo)A) WHIS RACON (––) AIS) located 6.8 NM SSE of the entrance at 34°34’-49" N / 076°41’33" W.

The approach is deep with a project depth 45 feet over the bar. It is well-marked with lighted buoys and lighted ranges.

Prominent on the approach The A-frame phosphate building and the tallest water tank at the State Ports Authority Terminal and the Highway 70 bridge over the Newport River are the most conspicuous landmarks from seaward.

The entrance is also deep and well-marked with lighted buoys and ranges.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 2.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "204.4") near lighted buoy (G "27" Fl G 2.5s).

Cautions - Heavy swells build up in Beaufort Inlet Channel with northerly or southerly winds, making boating hazardous.

Tides and Currents - Tidal range is about 3.5 feet. Tidal currents along Beaufort Inlet Channel attain velocities of up to about 2 knots. They usually set along the channels, except at the entrance to Morehead City Channel, they usually set across the channel near the end of the flood period and beginning of the next ebb. It was reported in 1983 that the current will attain a velocity of 4 to 5 knots off the southwest corner of the State Ports Authority Terminal, and whirlpools will develop off the southeast corner at maximum tides.

Dangers - Cape Lookout Shoals is the principal danger in the approach to Beaufort Inlet. A dump site for dredged material is just west of the entrance channel. Lesser depths than charted may exist in these areas; caution is advised. A number of wrecks, some of which are marked, are in the approaches.

Bogue Inlet

Bogue Inlet is located 20.4 NM west of the Beaufort Inlet Approach Buoy and 12.9 NM northeast of New River Inlet. It affords access to the AICW and Swansboro, NC. The entrance lies between Bogue Banks to the east and Bear Island to the west.

NOAA Chart #11543 - Cape Lookout to New River is suggested for the approach to Bogue Inlet while NOAA Chart #11541 - Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by buoy (RW "BI" Mo(A) WHIS located 1.1 NM SSE of the entrance at 34°37’35" N / 077°06’07" W.

The approach and entrance to the inlet is obstructed by a shifting bar extending about 0.5 NM seaward and is subject to frequent change. The approach and entrance channel is shallow and marked by uncharted lighted and unlighted buoys that are frequently shifted to mark the best water.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 2.1 NM above the entrance at (MM "227.6") near lighted beacon (Fl G 2.5s 15ft 4M "45").

Cautions - Strangers should wait for a rising tide and never attempt to enter when the bar is breaking. The channels inside the inlet are also subject to considerable change, particularly during southeast and southwest storms.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 2.2 feet in the inlet.

Dangers - A fish haven, covered 15 feet, is about 4 miles southeastward of Bogue Inlet.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: Bogue Inlet Depths.

Bear Inlet

Bear Inlet is 3 miles westward of Bogue Inlet. It is unmarked and used by local boats only; it is not recommended to strangers.

Dangers - Danger zones of firing ranges are in the ocean between Bear Inlet and New River Inlet and in New River. A Sea Turtle Sanctuary, Marine Protected Area (MPA), extends from Bogue Inlet to New River Inlet.

Brown's Inlet

Browns Inlet is 6 miles westward Bogue Inlet. It is unmarked and used by local boats only; it is not recommended to strangers.

Dangers - Danger zones of firing ranges are in the ocean between Bear Inlet and New River Inlet and in New River. A Sea Turtle Sanctuary, Marine Protected Area (MPA), extends from Bogue Inlet to New River Inlet.

Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
New River Inlet to Masonboro Inlet

New River Inlet

New River Inlet is 35.0 NM westward of Beaufort Inlet and 19.0 NM northeast of New Topsail Inlet. It provides access to the AICW, Sneads Ferry, and Camp Lejeune, NC.

NOAA Chart #11543 - Cape Lookout to New River or NOAA Chart #11539 - New River Inlet to Cape Fear is suggested for the approach to New River Inlet while NOAA Chart #11541 - Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "NR" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.0 NM SSE of the entrance at 34°31’02" N / 077°19’33" W.

The approach bar channel is subject to continual change and local knowledge is advised. Buoys marking the bar channel are not charted because they are frequently shifted in position.

The entrance channel is likewise subject to continual change and should be entered with caution.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 0.9 NM above the entrance at (MM "246.0") near (R N "74").

Cautions - Caution is advised when navigating the area. A strong ebb current from the inlet causes a break on the bar when there is a sea outside. The break is especially bad when the ebb sets against a south or southeast wind.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide at the inlet is 3 feet.

Dangers - New River Inlet is considered dangerous by local pilots, and entrance should not be attempted except under the most favorable conditions.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: New River Inlet Depths.

New Topsail Inlet

New Topsail Inlet, 19 NM southwestward of New River Inlet and 12.5 NM NNE of Masonboro Inlet , The bar channel leads to a junction with two dredged channels inside the entrance. The buoys marking the bar channel are frequently shifted in position to mark the best water and therefore not charted; caution is advised.

NOAA Chart #11539 - New River Inlet to Cape Fear is suggested for the approach to New Topsail Inlet while NOAA Chart #11541 - Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "NT" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.3 NM ESE of the entrance at 34°20’12" N / 077°38’27" W.

The approach and entrance is over a shifting bar. The buoys marking the channel are not charted due to being shifted frequently to mark the best water.

Howards Channel inside the entrance is well marked with unlighted buoys with a charted depth 8 to 11 feet of water (2019) to the intersection with the AICW. The channel is subject to continual change and the buoys mark the best water. Local knowledge is advised.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 1.7 NM above the entrance at (MM "270.0") near (G C "99").

Cautions - Caution is advised when navigating this area, the inlet should not be entered by strangers. A southwesterly or northwesterly storm totally changes the configuration of the inlet.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide at the inlet is 3.0 feet.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: New Topsail Inlet Depths.

Little Topsail Inlet

Little (Old) Topsail Inlet, 1.5 miles southwestward of New Topsail Inlet, is closed to navigation.

Rich Inlet

Rich Inlet, about 4.5 miles southwestward of New Topsail Inlet, is constantly changing and was reported closed to navigation in 1983.

Mason Inlet

Mason Inlet is 8.5 miles southwestward of New Topsail Inlet. The inlet was restored in 2002 with 12 feet reported at the entrance, thence 10 feet to the Intracoastal Waterway. The inlet is subject to continual change and local knowledge is advised.

Masonboro Inlet

Masonboro Inlet, about 12.5 NM southwestward of New Topsail Inlet and 22.3 NM NNE of Cape Fear, provides access to the AICW, Masonboro, and Wrightsville, NC.

NOAA Chart #11539 - New River Inlet to Cape Fear is suggested for the approach to Masonboro Inlet while NOAA Chart #11541 - Neuse River to Myrtle Grove Sound is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "A" Mo(A) WHIS) located 0.5 NM southeast of the entrance at 34°10’24" N / 077°47’51" W.

Prominent on the approach are two tanks and many multistoried buildings on the beach northward of the entrance.

The approach has a least charted depth of 21 feet (2019). The approach channel buoys are not charted due to frequent shifting to mark the best water.

The entrance is protected by jetties and is deep and well-marked. Good water is available thru Shinn Creek Channel to its intersection with the AICW.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 1.4 NM above the entrance at (MM "285.2") near (G C "129").

Cautions - Strong tide rips form on the ebb current.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide on the bar is 3.8 feet.

Dangers - Strong tide rips form on the ebb current. Two shoal spots covered 6 feet 0.2 NM SSW of the approach channel.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: Masonboro Inlet Depths.

Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Carolina Beach Inlet to Cape Fear River

Carolina Beach Inlet

Carolina Beach Inlet is about 6.2 NM miles south of Masonboro Inlet. It affords access to the AICW.

NOAA Chart #11539 - New River Inlet to Cape Fear is suggested for the approach to Carolina Beach Inlet while NOAA Chart #11534 - Myrtle Grove Sound and Cape Fear River to Casino Creek is suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "CB" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.0 NM ENE of the entrance at 34°04’54" N / 077°51’11" W.

Prominent on the approach is a 452-foot tower almost in line with the approach course to the inlet.

The buoyed approach is over a shallow bar with a least charted depth of 6 feet with the buoys marking the best water.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 0.6 NM above the entrance at (MM "293.6") near (G C "155").

Cautions - The inlet is subject to continual change and should be used only with local knowledge.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide on the bar is 4.2 feet.

Dangers - Wrecks and obstructions just to the south of the entrance.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: Carolina Beach Inlet Depths.

New Inlet

New Inlet, about 17.5 miles south of Masonboro Inlet and 4.7 miles north-northeast of Cape Fear, is constantly changing and was reported closed in 1983.

Cape Fear River

Cape Fear River is the approach to the city of Wilmington, NC and lies immediately westward of Cape Fear, 363 miles south of Norfolk, VA, and 315 miles north of Jacksonville, FL, by coastwise routes. It provides access to the AICW, Southport and Wilmington, NC.

NOAA Chart #11536 - Approaches to Cape Fear River is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11537 – Cape Fear River (Cape Fear to Wilmington) and NOAA Chart #11534 - Myrtle Grove Sound and Cape Fear River to Casino Creek are suggested for the entrance.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "CFB" Mo(A) WHIS RACON(–·–·) AIS ) located 6.8 NM SSW of the entrance at 33°46’17" N / 078°03’02" W.

Prominent on the approach is Oak Island Light (Fl(4) 10s 169ft 24M), shown from a cylindrical tower, upper part black, middle white, and lower part gray, on the western side of Cape Fear River entrance. An abandoned lighthouse on the west side of Smith Island. Water tanks at Yaupon Beach and Southport and at Kure Beach and two silver radar domes about 1.3 miles southward of the tank at Kure Beach are visible well to seaward. Frying Pan Shoals platform tower (33°29’06" N., 77°35’24" W.) is reported to be a good radar target in the approach to Cape Fear River.

The approach is deep with a controlling depth of not less than 37 feet mid-channel. It is well-marked by lighted buoys and lighted ranges. Shoals line the upper limits of the approach with depths of 10 feet to bare in spots.

On the approach to Cape Fear River from northward, the safer course is outside of Frying Pan Shoals Lighted Buoy 16. When approaching from the south vessels should set a course to pass outside the broken ground extending offshore between Cape Romain and Winyah Bay. When clear of this broken ground, the course can be shaped for Cape Fear River Entrance Lighted Whistle Buoy CF.

The entrance is deep with a least controlling depth of 39 feet to the intersection with the AICW, it is well-marked with lighted buoys and lighted ranges

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 2.9 NM above the entrance at (MM "308.5") near lighted buoy (R "18" Fl R 4s).

Caurions - Caution should be exercised in Cape Fear River at times when tides are higher than normal and after heavy rains as logs and floating debris may be encountered.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 4.5 feet. The tidal currents on the bar run with considerable velocity and as a rule set nearly in the direction of the channels, but on the last of the flood and first of the ebb they set to the eastward across the channel, and on the beginning of the flood they set to the westward. In the entrance and river they set in generally the direction of the channel. The relative velocities of flood and ebb depend upon the stage of the river. During freshets the flood at times is completely overcome by the river current and the ebb is greatly increased.

Dangers - Frying Pan Shoals are the principal danger in the approaches to Cape Fear River. Isolated wrecks, some marked, and obstructions with varying depths over them are in the approaches. Bald Head Shoal and Jay Bird Shoals (Middle Ground) are dangerous shoals on either side of the bar channel.

Open Down Arrow AICW - North Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Lockwoods Folly Inlet to Mad Inlet

Lockwoods Folly Inlet

Lockwoods Folly Inlet is found 11 NM westward of the Cape Fear River Entrance and 7.1 NM ENE of Shallotte Inlet. It provides access to the AICW and Holden Beach, NC.

The approach channel is over a shifting bar that breaks at virtually all stages of tide and wind. It is shallow with depths of 6 feet (March 2019) and is marked with uncharted and unlighted buoys.

The entrance channel deepens and is navigable, but is unmarked, until its junction with the AICW.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 0.4 NM above the entrance at (MM "321.6") near unlighted buoy (G C "47A").

Cautions - Strangers should not attempt this inlet.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 4.2 feet at the entrance.

Dangers - There are three charted wrecks, all showing at low water, near the entrance to the inlet; two are at the mouth, and the other is about 0.3 mile to the westward 200 yards offshore.

The most recent hydrographic depth survey can be found at: Lockwoods Folly Inlet Depths .

Shallotte Inlet

Shallotte Inlet is located 19 NM westward of Cape Fear River, is entered between Holden Beach to the east and Ocean Isle Beach to the west. It provides access to the AICW.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (RW "SH" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.0 NM south of the entrance at 33°52’58" N / 078°22’54" W. NOTE: The position of this buoy is frequently shifted with changing conditions.

The approach is made over a shifting bar. The bar channel is subject to continual change, and the buoys marking it are shifted frequently to mark the best water and therefore not charted.

The entrance channel is winding and is also subject to continual change; the buoys are not charted.

The inlet, used only by local fishermen and not recommended to strangers.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 0.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "330.4") near unlighted buoy (R N "80A").

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at the inlet is about 4.6 feet.

Tubb's Inlet

Tubbs Inlet, 4 NM northeast of Little River Inlet Approach Buoy and 6 NM westward of Shallotte Inlet, is seldom used. It is unmarked and not recommended to strangers. A shifting bar with breakers extends offshore.

Mad Inlet

This inlet is completely filled in and is now closed to navigation.

Compass RoseNEXT - ICW - South Carolina Route Segment

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