Cruising/Navigating - South Carolina’s AICW

Little River to Savannah River

The South Carolina Segment of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) begins in the north at Little River Inlet, SC located at (MM "340.9"), the North Carolina/South Carolina State Line. It proceeds in a generally southwesterly direction to the Savannah River and the South Carolina/Georgia State Line at (MM "575.5").

Aids to Navigation

Buoys and Marks

South Carolina Intracoastal Waterway Aids to Navigation (ATONS) are like most other lateral marks in U.S. waters. In order to distinguish them from other lateral marks, the ICW buoys and beacons will also show either a Yellow Square or Yellow Triangle.

The rule is: When proceeding south on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in South Carolina, markers with yellow triangles are kept to starboard while marks with yellow squares are kept to port at all times.

Green ICW Marker Red ICW Marker

Regardless of the Color of the Mark!

Charts

NOAA Charts #11534, #11518, and #11507 provide coverage of the South Carolina portion of the AICW.

Chart #11534 - Myrtle Grove Sound, NC to Casino Creek, SC covers the ICW from Mile 341.0, the North Carolina/South Carolina state line to Casino Creek at Mile 426.0.

Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to the Beaufort River covers the ICW from Mile 426.0, Casino Creek to Mile 543.0 at the Beaufort River.

Chart #11507 - Beaufort River to St. Simons Sound, GA covers the ICW from Mile 543.0, at the Beaufort River to Mile 576.0 at the South Carolina/Georgia state line and onto St. Simons Sound, GA at Mile 674.0.

Distances and Mileages

All distances along the South 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 South Carolina segment of the AICW (southbound) is measured based on increasing mileage between Little River Inlet (MM "340.9") and the Savannah River (MM "575.5") for a total of 234.6 SM (203.8 NM).

Channels

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

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

Communications

Bridges – VHF Channel 13.

Bridges, Locks, and Overhead Power Lines

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina Bridge Schedule

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

The minimum overhead clearance of fixed bridges over the South Carolina portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is 65 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 - South Carolina Bridge Schedule
Little River to Socastee

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina


Little River to Socastee

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
347.0 Little River Highway Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
347.2 Little River Swing Bridge 7’ Opens on Demand   09
349.2 Robert Edge/Main St. Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
354.0 Barefoot Landing Swing Bridge 31’ Opens on Demand   09
355.5 Conway Bypass Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge (3) Spans  
359.0 Grand Dunes Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
360.5 Grissom Parkway Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
365.4 MB RR Bascule Bridge 16’ Always Open Abandoned  
365.5 Route 501 Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
366.0 Fantasy Harbor Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
371.0 Socastee Swing Bridge 11’ Opens on Demand May be delays during heavy traffic periods. 09
371.1 Thrailkill (Route 544) Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    

Open Down Arrow AICW - South Carolina Bridge Schedule
Socastee to Hilton Head

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina


Socastee to Hilton Head

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
372.0 Carolina Bays Pkwy Bridge ≈68’ Fixed Bridge    
401.0 Lafayette (Ocean Highway) Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
411.5 Tom Yawkey Pontoon Bridge 0’ Normally Open - Infrequent Use.   09
459.0 Isle of Palms Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
462.2 Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge 31’ The draw shall open on weekends and Fed. holidays from 0900-1900 on the hour. Other times on demand. Closed M-F 0700-0900 and 1600-1800 except Fed. holidays. 09
469.9 R.B. Scarborough Bridge 67’ Fixed Bridge    
470.8 Wappoo Creek Bascule Bridge 31’ M-F, except Fed. Holidays, the draw shall open between 0930 and 1530, only once on the hour & half hour. Other times on demand. The draw need not open from 0600 to 0929 and 1531 to 1900, Monday through Friday, except Fed. holidays. 09
479.5 John Limehouse Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
501.5 McKinley Washington (Dawho) Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
536.0 Ladies Island Swing Bridge 30’ On Mon - Fri, except Fed. holidays: From 0900 to 1500, the draw need open only on the hour. April, May, October & November 0900 to 1600, the draw need open only on the hour & half hour. Other times on demand. On Mon - Fri, except Fed. holidays: from 0630 to 0900 and 1500 to 1800, the draw need not open. April, May, October, and November - M-F except Fed. Holidays: from 0700 to 0900 and 1600 to 1800, the draw need not open. 09
539.5 McTeer Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    
557.5 Hilton Head Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge    

The South 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 South Carolina Bridge Schedule - Download

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

Temporary Long Term Bridge Restrictions

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Restrictions
372.0 Carolina Bays Pkwy Bridge ≈68’ Temporary - New bridge construction over the waterway may involve some waterway restrictions or closures.
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina Locks

None.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway - South Carolina Overhead Cables and Power Lines

Approximately (24) overhead cables cross South Carolina’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. (2) cable crossing have an authorized clearance of 69 feet; (1) located at Nixons Crossing (MM "347.4"), the other in North Myrtle Beach at (MM "356.4"). The remainder of the cable crossings have a authorized clearances of 83 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 South Carolina Coast are semi-diurnal from Little River Inlet south to the Savannah River exhibiting (2) equal high and low tides every ≈24 hours 50 minutes.

Beginning at Little River Inlet with tides of 5.0 feet, the tidal range decreases southbound to Socastee Swing Bridge with a mean tidal range of 2.1 feet. From this point south the mean tidal range begins to increase with Winyah Bay Entrance at 3.9 feet, Myrtle Beach is 5.1 feet, Charleston 5.2 feet and Beaufort with 6.0 feet.

Entrances, Inlets, and Passes

There are numerous Entrances, Inlets, or Passes between the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the coastline of South Carolina. Between Little River Inlet in the north and Port Royal Sound to the south, there were 26 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 - South Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Little River Inlet to North Inlet

Little River Inlet

The entrance to Little River Inlet is about 24.7 NM west of the Cape Fear River Entrance approach buoy. Located between Bird Island to the east and Waties Island to the west, it affords access to the AICW and Little River, SC.

NOAA Chart #11535 - Little River Inlet to Winyah Bay Entrance is suggested for the approach to Little River 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 "LR" Mo(A) WHIS) located 1.2 NM south of the entrance at 33°49’49" N / 078°32’27" W.

The approach is over a bar with a least charted depth of 10 feet mid-channel. The bar channel is subject to continual change and the buoys marking it are shifted frequently to mark the best water and are not charted.

The entrance is protected by jetties with lighted beacon just off the ends. The entrance channel is marked by unlighted buoys and lighted beacons. The entrance has a charted least depth of 14 feet until well inside.

The junction of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is 2.3 NM above the entrance at (MM "340.7") near lighted beacon (Fl G 4s 15ft 4M "119").

Cautions - The buoys and daybeacons at Little River Inlet are not charted because they are frequently shifted to mark the best water. Extreme caution is advised when entering and leaving the inlet.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at the inlet is about 5 feet.

Dangers - Several dangerous wrecks are south and west of the entrance. There is a large sand bar covered 5 feet just off the eastern jetty.

Hog Inlet

Hog Inlet should be considered unnavigable except for vessels drawing less than 3 feet and dead calm weather.

Murrells Inlet

Murrells Inlet is found 30.4 NM SW of Little River inlet and 19.4 NM NNE of Winyah Bay Entrance. Murrells Inlet provides access to Murrells Inlet, SC.

NOAA Chart #11535 - Little River Inlet to Winyah Bay Entrance is suggested for the approach to Murrells 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 "MI" WHIS) located 1.1 NM southeast of the entrance at 33°30’39" N / 079°00’45" W.

The approach is over a bar with a least charted depth of 11 feet.

The entrance is protected by jetties with lighted beacon just off the jetty ends. Charted depths within the entrance are 19+ feet until just inshore of the entrance.

There is no access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway via Murrells Inlet.

Cautions - The beacons and lights marking the channel are approximate. The controlling depths range from 1 to 6 feet above the entrance. Caution is advised when entering and leaving the inlet. Local fishermen use this inlet, but strangers should not enter without local knowledge.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at the inlet is about 4.8 feet. Inside the inlet, where the channel turns sharply to northward, the tide rips are strong at full ebb or flood current.

Dangers - In 1981, a wreck was reported off the entrance to the inlet in about 33°31’24" N., 79°01’30" 'W.

Midway Inlet

Midway Inlet should be considered unnavigable except for vessels drawing less than 3 feet and dead calm weather. There is no intersection to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway via Midway Inlet.

Pawleys Inlet

Pawleys Inlet should be considered unnavigable except for vessels drawing less than 3 feet and dead calm weather. There is no intersection to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway via Pawleys Inlet.

North Inlet

North Inlet, about 13.5 NM SSW of Murrells Inlet and 8.3 NM NNW of Winyah Bay approach buoy, North Inlet connects with Winyah Bay by way of both Town Creek and Jones Creek providing limited access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Strangers should not use this inlet. In 2010, the controlling depth over the bar was 3.3 feet. The inlet and the creeks are unmarked. Navigation is restricted to shallow-draft craft. In 1983, Jones Creek, the southerly of the two, was found to bare in places, and numerous oyster bars were reported.

Open Down Arrow AICW - South Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Winyah Bay Entrance to Five Fathom Creek Inlet

Winyah Bay Entrance

Winyah Bay Entrance is found 30.4 NM SW of Little River inlet and 42.9 NM NNE of Charleston Harbor Approach Buoy. It is located between North Island and South Island providing access to the AICW and Georgetown, SC.

NOAA Chart #11535 - Little River Inlet to Winyah Bay Entrance is suggested for the approach to Murrells 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 "WB" Mo(A) WHIS) 3.8 NM east of the entrance at 33°11’37" N., 79°05’11" 'W.

Prominent on the approach is Georgetown Light (Fl (2) 15s 85ft 15M) shown from a white cylindrical tower on the north side of the entrance and Four 400-foot stacks, at a generating plant west of Winyah Bay and about 4 miles southwestward of Georgetown, with prominent strobe lights at the tops.

The approach is deep, with a project depth of 27 feet, and well-marked by lighted buoys and a lighted range. When approaching from the south, mariners should stay outside Cape Romain Shoal Buoy 6CR and Hector Wreck Lighted Buoy WR4, before shaping for their approach, taking care to avoid the wreck, marked by a lighted bell buoy, about 9 miles east-northeastward of Hector Wreck Lighted Buoy WR4.

The entrance is protected by stone jetties reported to be in ruins the northern jetty is marked just off it’s seaward end with an unlighted buoy (R N "2N"). The southern jetty is unmarked and submerged at the seaward end.

The entrance is deep, project depth of 27 feet to Georgetown and well-marked by lighted buoys and ranges. South Island Bend channel is subject to shoaling and the buoys marking it are often shifted to mark the best water.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 8.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "410.5") near lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 12ft 5M "2").

Cautions - Heavy tide rips prevail near the ends of the jetties, and heavy seas run in moderate weather. The south jetty is visible only at low water. The southwest tip of North Island just inside the jetties is building out to the south and is encroaching on the easterly edge of the channel; caution is advised.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at the entrance is about 3.9 feet. In the channels tidal currents average about 2 knots. Outside the jetties, with fresh to strong northeast winds, a strong southerly current is reported to set across the entrance channel and with southerly and southwesterly winds a northerly set is experienced. Tidal ebb currents have been reported in the area from 6 to 7 knots, most notable in Range C and South Island Bend. During freshets in the rivers, also with westerly winds, the velocity of the ebb current between the jetties is reported to be very strong at times and the channel buoys between the jetties are nearly towed under.

Dangers - The entrance is not safe for small craft except in favorable weather. East Bank, covered 6 feet and marked by a buoy, about 2 miles south of the end of the south jetty; Hector Wreck, cleared to a depth of 9 feet and marked by a lighted bell buoy, about 12 miles southward of the approach buoy. The mistaking of Winyah Bay Range "B" Lights for the Entrance Channel Range Lights on the approach. Mariners are advised to familiarize themselves with the characteristics of these ranges before making the approach.

North Santee River Entrance

North Santee River and South Santee River Entrances, are both obstructed by shifting bars with little depth. They are considered to be unnavigable.

Vessels bound for Santee River are advised to enter by way of Winyah Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway.

South Santee River Entrance

Not Navigable (see North Santee River Entrance).

Cape Romain Harbor North Inlet

Cape Romain Harbor, with approach depths of 2 to 5 feet and 1 foot in the entrance should be considered unnavigable for most vessels. In 1983, the reported controlling depth was 3 feet.

Cape Romain Harbor South Inlet

Located between Cape Romain and Lighthouse Island. The approach, leading from the south, is through a large area of un-surveyed depths the entrance has least depths of less than 1 foot. In 1983, Cape Romain Harbor was reported closed.

Key Inlet

Located 2.8 NM west of Cape Romain Harbor South Inlet has least depths of 1 foot in the entrance and is considered Not Navigable.

Five Fathom Creek Inlet

Located 6.0 NM WSW of Cape Romain and is entered westward of Sandy Point at the western end of Raccoon Key. Five Fathom Creek Inlet affords access to the AICW and McClellanville, SC.

The approach is through a dredged channel with 9 feet reported in 2017 and is marked by lighted and unlighted buoys.

NOAA Chart #11531 - Winyah Bay to Bulls Bay is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to Beaufort River is suggested for the upper reaches of the entrance.

Inside the entrance, the channel through Five Fathom Creek deepens with depths of 9 to 38 feet. Within 0.75 NM of the junction with the AICW the depths become shallow; extreme caution is advised.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 4.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "430.1") near beacon (G "25").

Cautions - In 2014, the entrance to Five Fathom Creek from Bulls Bay had a reported controlling depth of 4 feet; thence in 1983, a reported controlling depth of 3½ feet to the Intracoastal Waterway. Caution and local knowledge is advised if using this inlet.

Dangers - Submerged dolphins are located just to the west of the approach channel at the entrance.

Open Down Arrow AICW - South Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Price Inlet to Breach Inlet

Price Inlet

NOAA Chart #11521 - Charleston Harbor and Approaches is suggested for the approach to Price Inlet while NOAA Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to Beaufort River is suggested for the upper reaches of Price Creek.

The approach and entrance is unmarked, but once inside the entrance, depths of 8 to 44 feet are found mid-channel

In average weather conditions, there are heavy breakers on the shoal on the eastern side of the channel and small breakers on the west side.

The controlling depth in Price Creek from the inner edge of the bar to the Intracoastal Waterway was reported to be 5 feet in 1983. An overhead power cable with a clearance of 85 feet crosses Price Creek about 0.5 NM above the mouth.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 2.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "448.2") near beacon (Fl R 4s 16ft 3M "86").

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 4.9 feet in the entrance.

Capers Inlet

Capers Inlet, located between Capers Island to the north and Dewees Island to the south, had a reported depth of about 1.5 feet over the bar, and breakers extended across the entire entrance.

NOAA Chart #11521 - Charleston Harbor and Approaches is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to Beaufort River is suggested for the upper reaches of Capers Creek.

Because of the shoal that extends eastward on the south side of the inlet and breaks the southwesterly seas, the channel can be entered when the wind is southwest. A shoal bare at about half tide extends southward along the eastern side of the inlet.

In June 1983, the reported controlling depth was 8 feet in Capers Creek from the inner edge of the bar to the Intracoastal Waterway. The channel is narrow and unmarked with numerous stumps and snags outside the high waterline. An overhead power cable over Capers Inlet has a clearance of 86 feet.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 1.3 NM above the entrance at (MM "451.6") near beacon (Fl R 4s 12ft 5M "96").

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 4.9 feet in the entrance.

Dewees Inlet

Dewees Inlet, 6.5 NM northeast of Charleston Harbor Entrance lying between Dewees Island and Isle of Palms, had a charted depth of about 1 foot over the bar in 2015 with breakers extending across the entrance. The inside channel is narrow, unmarked, and seldom used.

NOAA Chart #11521 - Charleston Harbor and Approaches is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to Beaufort River is suggested for the upper reaches of Dewees Creek.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 1.3 NM above the entrance at (MM "454.9") near beacon (G "109").

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 4.9 feet in the entrance.

Dangers - Two wrecks, about 0.35 mile apart, are off the eastern shore of the Isle of Palms The wrecks are believed to be the remains of Confederate ships that were apparently sunk by Union forces as they sought to slip into blockaded Charleston Harbor; they are unmarked and are covered 6 feet and 4 feet, respectively. An obstruction, covered 9 feet and unmarked, is about 2.0 NM off the beach at Isle of Palms. Caution is advised in this area.

Breach Inlet

Breach Inlet is between Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island. There is very little water over the bar, and breakers extend entirely across the entrance under almost all weather conditions. Currents are extremely strong in this inlet. A highway bridge over the inlet has a fixed span with a vertical clearance of 5 feet.

NOAA Chart #11521 - Charleston Harbor and Approaches is suggested for the approach while NOAA Chart #11518 - Casino Creek to Beaufort River is suggested for the upper reaches of Dewees Creek.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is intersected 0.9 NM above the entrance at (MM "460.0") near beacon (G "117A").

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range is 4.9 feet in the entrance.

Open Down Arrow AICW - South Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Charleston Harbor Entrance to St. Helena Sound

Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor, 43 NM SSW of Winyah Bay Entrance Buoy and 59.6 NM northeast of Port Royal Sound Approach Buoy. The AICW, as well as the Cooper, Wando, and Ashley Rivers, and the city of Charleston can be accessed. The approach and entrance is easy day or night in clear weather. It is also one of the best Harbors of Refuge on the southeast coast of the U.S.

NOAA Chart #11528 - Charleston Harbor Entrance and Approach is suggested for the approach to Charleston while NOAA Chart #11524 - Charleston Harbor is suggested for transit to the AICW or Charleston, SC.

The approach is marked by a buoy (RW "C" Mo(A) RACON (–·–) AIS equipped) located 12.8 NM southeast of the entrance at 32°37’05" N / 079°35’30" W. The approach channel is deep 45+ feet and well-marked with lighted buoys and a lighted range.

Prominent on the approach is Charleston Light (Fl (2) 30s 163ft 26M) shown from a triangular tower, upper half black, lower half white, on Sullivans Island on the north side of the entrance. The 155-foot conical tower of the abandoned old Charleston Lighthouse on Morris Island south of the entrance. Fort Sumter is on the southwest side of the channel just inside the entrance. ) The twin diamond-shaped towers of the Ravenel fixed bridge are reported to be 575 feet tall and clearly visible to the mariner before entering.

The entrance to Charleston Harbor is between converging jetties extending nearly 3.0 NM seaward. The north jetty is almost completely submerged at MHW. There are no lights on the jetties, and smaller craft approaching from the north close to shore at MHW should exercise extreme caution not to confuse the south jetty for the north jetty. It is recommended all vessels align well seaward of Lighted Buoy 18 before final approach to the jetty entrance.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 4.0 NM above the entrance at (MM "465.0") near buoy (R "2" Fl R 2.5s).

Cautions - The areas generally to the east and southeast of Charleston Harbor are used extensively by the U.S. Navy and other military services to conduct various types of surface, subsurface and aircraft training exercises. Not infrequently, portions of Charleston Harbor are affected by poor visibility. This occurs during line squalls of heavy rain accompanying the passage of frontal systems, rare snow squalls and fog. Fog over only a part of the harbor, however, is a reasonably frequent occurrence. Intracoastal Waterway; the eastern conjunction of this waterway with Rebellion Reach. Westbound vessels proceeding on the AICW into Charleston Harbor are not readily visible to vessels inbound from sea until they are clear of the northernmost part of Sullivans Island.

Tides and Currents - Tidal ranges average 5.2 feet in most harbor locations. Off the entrance to Charleston Harbor the tidal currents are rotary with velocities of about 1 knot. Near the entrance to the jetties the current sets fair with the channel at strengths of flood and ebb and can be expected to set across the channel with a velocity of about 0.2 knot about 3 hours after strength of flood and ebb, setting northeastward and southwestward, respectively. It is reported that tide rips, hazardous to small craft, may be encountered off the jetties when wind and current are opposed. The current at the strengths of flood and ebb are about 1.2 knots and 2.8 knots, respectively.

Dangers - The danger area of a former World War II minefield is off the entrance to Charleston Harbor. The area is open to unrestricted surface navigation but all vessels are cautioned not to anchor, dredge, trawl, lay cables, bottom or conduct any similar type of operation because of residual danger from mines on the bottom. A dangerous submerged obstruction with a least depth of 9 feet is southeast of the outer end of the south jetty located at 32°42’43" N / 79°48’37" W. Caution is advised. Rattlesnake Shoal, 3 miles offshore and the same distance east-northeastward of the north jetty has a least depth is 10 feet. A buoy is east of the outer end of the shoal. There are also several unmarked charted dangers inside the sea buoy; caution is advised in this area.

Lighthouse Inlet

Lighthouse Inlet located between Morris Island and Folly Island 3.9 NM southwest of the Charleston Entrance, has no channel across the bar which is covered 1 to 3 feet and reported bare in spots. The inlet is unmarked; entrance should be attempted only with local knowledge on a rising tide with a smooth sea. Small craft pass into Charleston Harbor by way of Lighthouse Creek and also into numerous sloughs north of Folly Island.

NOAA Chart #11528 – Charleston Harbor Entrance and Approach is suggested for the approach and entrance to Lighthouse Inlet.

Stono Inlet

Stono Inlet, 10 miles southwestward of Charleston Harbor entrance, is entered over a shifting bar, covered 2 to 4 feet between Folly Island and Kiawah Island. The inlet is subject to continual change and should not be attempted without local knowledge. The entrance buoys are not charted, because they are frequently shifted in position to mark the best water.

NOAA Chart #11522 – Stono and North Edisto Rivers is suggested for the approach and entrance to the Stono River

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 10.8 NM above the entrance at (MM "472.6") near beacon (R "18").

North Edisto River

North Edisto River, about 10 NM southwestward of Stono Inlet and 13.8 NM miles northeast of St. Helena Sound Entrance, is rarely used. Shoals extend offshore from the entrance as much as 3 NM and form a shifting bar.

NOAA Chart #11522 – Stono and North Edisto Rivers is suggested for the approach and entrance to the North Edisto River.

The approach is marked by a lighted buoy (R "2NE" Fl R 4s WHIS) located 4.0 NM southeast of the entrance at 32°31’21" N / 080°06’51" W.

The approach channel has a least charted depth of 10 feet and is well marked with lighted and unlighted buoys as well as a lighted range.

Prominent on the approach is a water tank about 1.7 miles northeastward of the entrance.

The entrance channel is marked by a lighted range, mentioned above, and by buoys that are moved, when practicable, to indicate the best water. The entrance is well defined by breakers.

In 1980, the centerline controlling depth was 9 feet up the creek to Rockville.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 6.6 NM above the entrance at (MM "496.7") near lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 12ft 5M "108").

Cautions - Flats, which bare at low water and are continually changing in character, are on both sides of the approach and entrance; caution is advised.

Tides and Currents - The mean tidal range just above the entrance is 5.7 feet. Currents on the bar are generally across the channel. The flood current sets about westward and the ebb eastward; both have considerable velocity. Inside the bar, in the channel between the breakers, the ebb current is to be guarded against, especially when it sets across the north breakers.

St. Helena Sound

St. Helena Sound is located between Edisto Island to the north and Hunting Island to the south, about 13.8 NM southwestward of the North Edisto River Approach and 21.7 NM miles northeast of Port Royal Sound Approach Buoy. It is rarely used. Shoals extend offshore from the entrance as much as 3 NM and form a shifting bar.

NOAA Chart #11517 – St. Helena Sound is suggested for the approach and entrance into St. Helena Sound.

The approach is marked by an unlighted buoy (G C "1") located 5.3 NM southeast of the entrance at 32°26’52" N / 080°19’14" W.

The main approach channel is well-marked with unlighted buoys and had a reported depth of 15 feet. Breakers and shoals line both sides of the approach; caution is advised.

Prominent on the approach is the 132-foot Hunting Island Light (F Fl 30s 132ft Priv)) and the elevated tank on the northern part of Hunting Island make good landmarks.

The entrance is deep (20+) feet and is marked by lighted beacon and unlighted buoys. Shoals exist on the southwestern side of the entrance covered 2 to 7 feet and the area is subject to continual change.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 8.0 NM above the entrance at (MM "518.6") near lighted beacon (Fl R 2.5s 16ft 3M "186").

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide on the bar and in the entrance to the sound is 5.8 feet.

Dangers - A partially submerged wreck was 4.8 NM NNE of St. Helena Sound Approach buoy Approach Lighted Buoy A in about 32°26.0’N., 80°16.0’W.

Open Down Arrow AICW - South Carolina Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Fripp Inlet to Tybee Roads

Fripp Inlet

Fripp Inlet is 7.5 NM WSW of the approach to St. Helena Sound lying between Hunting Island to the northeast and Fripp Island to the southwest.

The approach and entrance are well defined by breakers and flats that show at low water and are reportedly marked by private buoys. The entrance is subject to continual change; entrance should not be attempted without local knowledge. A highway bridge across the inlet has a fixed span with a vertical clearance of 15 feet.

Prominent on the approach are (2) spherical water tanks on Fripp Island.

There is no access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide just inside the entrance is 6.1 feet.

Skull Inlet

Skull Inlet, 3 miles southwest of Fripp Inlet, is a narrow passage with breakers at the entrance and very little water over the bar.

The approach and entrance are unmarked with 2 feet or less of water on the approach.

There is no access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Pritchards Inlet

Pritchards Inlet is 5 NM northeast of Port Royal Sound, is a narrow passage from the ocean to Moon Creek that connects with the upper part of Trenchards Inlet; there is very little water over the bar.

The approach and entrance is unmarked and the entrance is reported to shoal to bare at low water.

There is no access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

A partially sunken wreck lies 0.3 NM southeast of the entrance.

Trenchards Inlet

Trenchards Inlet, just northeast of Port Royal Sound, has a bar that extends about 2 miles from shore.

The approach and entrance is narrow and unmarked. The channel over the bar had a reported controlling depth of 3 feet in 1983. Local knowledge is advised.

There is no access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Port Royal Sound

Port Royal Sound is found 59.6 NM southwest of the Charleston Approach Buoy and 10 NM northeast of Tybee Roads Approach. It is one of the largest deep water harbors on the Atlantic Coast between Cape Henry and Key West, has an entrance about 2 miles wide between Bay Point Island on the northeast and Hilton Head on the southwest. It is the ocean entrance to Port Royal and Beaufort, SC.

NOAA Chart #11516 – Port Royal Sound and Inland Passages is suggested for the approach and entrance into Port Royal.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (RW "P" Mo(A) WHIS) located 8.8 NM SSE of the entrance at 32°05’08" N / 080°35’02" W and is between shoals that extend up to 10 NM offshore.

The approach channel project provides for a dredged channel 27 feet deep across the bar and through the sound. It is well-marked with lighted buoys.

Prominent on the approach are three water tanks on Hilton Head Island and the breaking shoals.

Several unmarked channels, all requiring local knowledge, lead through the breakers.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected 3.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "548.5") near lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 16ft 5M "246").

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 6.8 Feet at the entrance. The tidal currents on the bar have a velocity of 1.5 knots, off Hilton Head 1.8 knots and at Beaufort River entrance 1.4 knots. The current generally sets fair with the channel, except at the turn from the entrance channel into Bay Point Reach, where a strong current sets diagonally across the channel. Vessels should exercise caution lest they be set onto St. Michaels Breakers, eastward of the bar channel.

Dangers - The breaking shoals extending almost 10 miles off Bay Point, eastward of the entrance channel, and for about 8 miles off Hilton Head Island, are the principal dangers. In thick weather, vessels should not approach the entrance too closely especially on the flood, when the current sets directly onto the shoals. Danger zones of rifle and pistol ranges are in Broad River, Archers Creek and Ribbon Creek.

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.

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

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.

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 to 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.

Tides and 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.

Dangers - 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.

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