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

AICW - 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 2020. 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 Ongoing bridge maintainence through 11/30/2020 will reduce vertical clearance to 55’.  
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 11/30/2020 will reduce the vertical clearance to 55’. Full Navigational clearance available with 30 minute advance notice.

Found along the North Carolina Intracoastal Waterway



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.

AICW - 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 on the next page along with useful information on each to aid you in deciding if you wish to use a particular inlet.

NEXT - North Carolina’s - Entrances, Inlets, & Passes


Compass RoseNEXT - ICW - South Carolina Route Segment

^ Scroll to Top