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Old 07-11-2016, 11:44 PM   #41
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Here's what it says about Hatteras inlet in the Coast Pilot, no meantion of a classification:
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Old 07-12-2016, 07:34 AM   #42
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As with several other members here, I have been doing this a while. So far I have found no official list of inlet classifications. In my experience, inlets with a sea buoy and permanently marked channels such as Norfolk, Charleston, and Jacksonville are examples of the types of inlets that are considered to be class A. These are the shipping inlets. They are generally accessible in almost any weather.

Smaller inlets which are buoyed, but, where due to frequent shifting of the sand, the buoys are frequently moved, are considered Class B. The charts may show some of the buoys but may not show all of them. These inlets are generally not accessible or safe in some weather conditions. Jupiter inlet and St Augustine are examples. These are adequate for fair weather passages but local knowlege is advised.

The Class C inlets are generally not buoyed by the USCG but may have a few buoys or private aids. These inlets require local knowlege and are dangerous and impassable in bad weather.

There are several cruise guides which do describe some of the inlets in good detail. I have used some class B inlets after a phone call to the local Boat US tower. They generally are willing to provide the necessary local knowlege. I have used several class C inlets in 20-25 foot center console outboard boats. I have not tried any Class C inlets in my trawler, because she is my home and it is too great a risk for me.
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Old 07-12-2016, 07:57 AM   #43
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I generally agree with the classification as presented here, but have rarely ever heard of them referred to that way.....and still haven't seen it in writing....thus my ????? About an obscure or foreign or specific guide that uses the classes.

But I have been around enough and understand cretain circles/groups of professionals as well as average boaters use terminology and operational concepts different from others.

Just find it strange that all my time in the USCG, even operating on both coasts and with compaies like Sea Tow or BoatUS...I have never heard the classification. That's over 35 years of hearing about inlets and never hearing the classification. Just unusual in my mind because I kinda like the easy terminology and perception of the inlets probable (not definite) nature. But there must be a reason it is not more widespread.

But like the Captain tipping thread....there's a big world out there and ya just never know.....
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:48 AM   #44
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I will post my charts as soon as I can access them under the debris that is now my pilot house. Just to be clear ... I have charts that show Class A inlets but I have never seen Class B or C marked on a chart
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:56 AM   #45
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While you're at it, see if you can find some official discription of what defines a "class A inlet".

So far I'm drawing a blank.
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:30 PM   #46
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From offshoreblue, I found an interesting few paragraphs on this inlet subject:

We have all heard the term "All Weather Inlet" and the term "Class A Inlet" seems to be the nom du jour lately. Both of these terms have become popular in describing what "someone" thinks is an inlet safe to enter or exit under any weather conditions.

I say "someone," because I have been going to sea now for more years than I care to admit to and I have yet to find an official definition of either one. I have searched the libraries, the blogs, the bibles of navigation like Bowditch, and even Googled the terms: the results "Zero, Zip, Zilch point Sh..!" Ok, you get the idea. So, how can anyone classify an inlet as "All Weather or Class A" when apparently no definition exists to compare it against?

Many people in the past have tried to rank inlets based upon their ease of use. While this is a great idea and would definitely provide the mariner with a valuable tool in voyage planning, the results of these rankings are still very often subjective in nature.

What is easy for a 70 twin screw custom sportfisherman with 3000 HP on tap is not necessarily easy for a 36 30 HP sailboat. Likewise, a 35 Express drawing 3 feet may find an inlet to be negotiable while the same 70 sportfisherman above; drawing over 6 feet may find the same inlet impossible under the same conditions.

To further complicate the subject, just what does "All Weather" mean? Webster seems to think it means "usable, operative, or practiced in all kinds of weather" (emphasis mine). It makes me wonder if Webster ever got his feet wet? Personally, there are very, very few inlets that I would attempt in any recreational vessel during seriously heavy weather.


I think he points out well that we need to look at the information available on an inlet and then evaluate based on conditions at that time, our boat, and our experience. When in doubt, check with someone in the know. In some areas like the coasts of Washington and Oregon the CG is excellent with their information. In other areas, like the ICW, if you want a current state of the inlet, I suggest tow captains. I've found them to be very helpful.
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Old 07-12-2016, 02:17 PM   #47
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The problem is reliable, up to date info on inlets that obviously would be considered a class a inlet...say 1000 feet wide, 35 feet or more deep, jettied to deep water, well marked.

Problem is, many inlets are marked local knowledge which is complete BS too often. The locals all say, no problem man, it's a straight shot, never less than xx deep and only gets a little scary when breaking in a nor'easter blowing 35.

So travelling the ICW in a 4 foot draft boat, in calm, high tide conditions and a straight shot out or in...I am supposed to believe a cruising guide with "local knowledge required"? Or should it say, with a call and prior briefing, this inlet can sometimes be safely used in fair weather and high water....or similar.

Too many inlets I bet are underutilized because of overly cautious recommendations.

Sure even good captains can get into trouble sometimes....but it isn't like someone is forcing you to make a bad decision, right now it's mostly a no go because there isn't a hint of safe passage.
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Old 07-12-2016, 03:35 PM   #48
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I don't recall seeing a list either, but have heard the term Class A used many times. I kept my own informal list of inlet grades based on my own rough and admittedly imprecise criteria, but based on direct experience (60ft LOA, 5ft draft, twin engine "semi-displacement" hull.

Class A: Entrance to a shipping port and/or naval base actively maintained by the Corps of Engineers and USCG as necessary:

Portsmouth, Boston, Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Beaufort inlet, Cape Fear River, Winyah Bay, Charleston, St Simon/Brunswick, St Mary's, St Johns, Canaveral, Ft Pierce, Lake Worth, Ft. Lauderdale, Government Cut, Key West.

Class B: Very actively used by smaller commercial vessels such as fishing, tour/casino boats etc and large pleasure boats, lower priority on maintenance by the government, but reliably passable by boats such as ours. Some examples would be Merrimack River/ Newbury Port, Plymouth, Fire Island (borderline C) Manasquan, Absecon, Cape May, Ocean City, Barden Inlet (Cape Lookout Bight), Masonboro, Little River, Edisto/Kiawah, Beaufort River, Hilton Head, Wassaw Sound, St Augustine, Ponce, St Lucie, Haulover, Cape Florida/Key Biscayne, Marathon, Bahia Honda, Channel 5.

Class C , busy with small boat traffic, a little trickier than B's, often because of constant shoaling shifts, doesn't hurt to get some local knowledge, are sometimes closed by the USCG. Some examples: Westport Harbor, Moriches (borderline D), Barnegat, Little Egg, Indian, Rudies, Oregon, Hatteras, Murell's, St Catharine's, Sapelo, Doboy, Sebastian, Hillsboro, Angelfish Creek

Class D, very tricky, local knowledge essential, personally, no thank you!
A few examples: New River, Bogue, Topsail, Lockwood's Folly, Jupiter
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:17 PM   #49
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If you are contemplating using an inlet that is not particularly well marked, you ought to look at the crowd sourced charts from Navionics Sonar Charts. I have been using them for a couple of years now and have found that they are pretty good. Much more up to date and much more detail than the NOAA charts. You cannot take this data as absolute, but it is still pretty good and is a very helpful tool in places that NOAA has no coverage.
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:43 PM   #50
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The folks in Hatteras are great people. We loved our several adventures there lots historly.,. Google 'albatross fleet' as an example
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Old 07-12-2016, 07:29 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by tadhana View Post
If you are contemplating using an inlet that is not particularly well marked, you ought to look at the crowd sourced charts from Navionics Sonar Charts. I have been using them for a couple of years now and have found that they are pretty good. Much more up to date and much more detail than the NOAA charts. You cannot take this data as absolute, but it is still pretty good and is a very helpful tool in places that NOAA has no coverage.
The Corps of Engineers Hydrographic surveys are much more current and detailed for key inlets and waterways than NOAA, who waits to update based on some variety of COE soundings. Here is some North Carolina and South Carolina for instance. Keep in mind COE's "customer" is commercial navigators, and drives decisions on what gets dredged when. There is a wealth of other info on the various districts' sites.

Wilmington District > Missions > Navigation > Hydrographic Surveys

Charleston District Navigation – Hydrographic Maps
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:30 PM   #52
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[QUOTE=caltexflanc;460039]The Corps of Engineers Hydrographic surveys are much more current and detailed for key inlets and waterways than NOAA, who waits to update based on some variety of COE soundings. Here is some North Carolina and South Carolina for instance. Keep in mind COE's "customer" is commercial navigators, and drives decisions on what gets dredged when. There is a wealth of other info on the various districts' sites.


Thank you. Yes I use these sites regularly, and have done so for the past few years. . But this is only a good starting point. It does cover some sections of the ICW but not all of it and it does not do anything off the ICW. And some of it is not that current either. And its scope is very limited. As a wide ranging cruiser, I have found that this is a good reference, but only that. If you can have updated hyrographic data on your chart plotter, it is much more convenient than studying these PDFs. I work with Navionics to collect data in some trouble spots. This approach is the coming wave in hydrgraphic data collection and NOAA has now joined this crowd sourced data collection party. Right now they are far behind Navionics who is at this time the world leader in this data collection.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:29 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
I don't recall seeing a list either, but have heard the term Class A used many times. I kept my own informal list of inlet grades based on my own rough and admittedly imprecise criteria, but based on direct experience (60ft LOA, 5ft draft, twin engine "semi-displacement" hull.

Class A: Entrance to a shipping port and/or naval base actively maintained by the Corps of Engineers and USCG as necessary:

Portsmouth, Boston, Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Beaufort inlet, Cape Fear River, Winyah Bay, Charleston, St Simon/Brunswick, St Mary's, St Johns, Canaveral, Ft Pierce, Lake Worth, Ft. Lauderdale, Government Cut, Key West.

Class B: Very actively used by smaller commercial vessels such as fishing, tour/casino boats etc and large pleasure boats, lower priority on maintenance by the government, but reliably passable by boats such as ours. Some examples would be Merrimack River/ Newbury Port, Plymouth, Fire Island (borderline C) Manasquan, Absecon, Cape May, Ocean City, Barden Inlet (Cape Lookout Bight), Masonboro, Little River, Edisto/Kiawah, Beaufort River, Hilton Head, Wassaw Sound, St Augustine, Ponce, St Lucie, Haulover, Cape Florida/Key Biscayne, Marathon, Bahia Honda, Channel 5.

Class C , busy with small boat traffic, a little trickier than B's, often because of constant shoaling shifts, doesn't hurt to get some local knowledge, are sometimes closed by the USCG. Some examples: Westport Harbor, Moriches (borderline D), Barnegat, Little Egg, Indian, Rudies, Oregon, Hatteras, Murell's, St Catharine's, Sapelo, Doboy, Sebastian, Hillsboro, Angelfish Creek

Class D, very tricky, local knowledge essential, personally, no thank you!
A few examples: New River, Bogue, Topsail, Lockwood's Folly, Jupiter
The Coast Pilot would be a natural place for that kind of info but its not there.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:58 AM   #54
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For us, I'm not really sure how much use the labels would be beyond the Class A and those are pretty obvious. Everything else is so dependent on boat, conditions, recent changes, experience, availability of current, dependable local knowledge, traffic, missing markers, and sometimes even just finding a regular to follow in or observe. I was reading a review recently that read like this:

A boater reported coming through on November 1, 2015 after talking to TowBoatUS. Started at STA on a 270 heading with 2R and 4R to starboard. At 4R turn to SW keeping 5A and 7G to port. At 8R turn back to west going between 1G and the distant R2. TowBoatUS was very helpful and even texted a picture describing the approach.


That's an example of getting great local information. However, it's now also an example of 8 month old and outdated information.

We accumulate data each time we use an inlet and include the boat we did it in, the conditions for the day, the path we took, and any comments for future times. They might be something like "locals do it regularly and we had no problems or concerns" or "we had no real issue but would prefer to avoid in anything other than most benign conditions."

I would also say that our information would be of very limited benefit to an 8 knot trawler as our ability to power out and our ability to find a good speed to surf in would be entirely different. Every boat tracks so differently. I know some very good boats at sea that are horrific at tracking while entering an inlet with strong waves on their stern.
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:04 AM   #55
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Why are you travelling? If it simply to get there use good sense and take the short route (offshore) when possible. If it is to enjoy the trip, visit towns and meet people take the ICW. The ICW can be a good learning experience for everyone.
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:45 AM   #56
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An ability to run inside or outside gives you lots of options and variety.

I ran the outside route from Southport to Charleston at night early this year. We left the inlet before sunset, turned right, and timed our travel speed to arrive at the Charleston sea buoy around daybreak. Running at 9 to 10 knots, it was a low-stress way to travel. Ocean traffic after dark is nearly non-existent.

Obviously, you need crew that can stand watch (and stay awake). If the weather is good, and your kids can sleep on the boat, it's an easy trip.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:06 PM   #57
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An ability to run inside or outside gives you lots of options and variety.

I ran the outside route from Southport to Charleston at night early this year. We left the inlet before sunset, turned right, and timed our travel speed to arrive at the Charleston sea buoy around daybreak. Running at 9 to 10 knots, it was a low-stress way to travel. Ocean traffic after dark is nearly non-existent.

Obviously, you need crew that can stand watch (and stay awake). If the weather is good, and your kids can sleep on the boat, it's an easy trip.
Southport to Charleston is a good example. We normally go to Myrtle Beach because of family, but unless there was something inside or some place inside we wanted to see, we'd always go outside from Southport to Charleston. Normally for us, it's from Bald Head.
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Old 07-13-2016, 02:52 PM   #58
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Southport to Charleston is a good example. We normally go to Myrtle Beach because of family, but unless there was something inside or some place inside we wanted to see, we'd always go outside from Southport to Charleston. Normally for us, it's from Bald Head.
Different strokes for different folks.. when we were cruising we never wanted to do that and miss anchoring in and exploring the Waccamaw River area in particular, which was as much or more of a destination as anywhere we were going to in Florida. Southport to Little River... definitely outside with halfway decent weather, having done it once.
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Old 07-13-2016, 04:41 PM   #59
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I think the Waccamaw River is the prettiest, most interesting part of the AICW. To anchor for the night almost under the cypress trees is awesome. The night sounds can be a little eerie, but really nice.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:06 AM   #60
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The horror stories of the ICW are unfounded. The folks that have had bad experiences are those who failed to research the days travels on the night before. Between Active Captain, Skipper Bob's Anchorage Guide ($17) and looking at the tide chart you will have an uneventful great day of cruising. But if you are in a hurry and ignore the tides, the advice of the mentioned information source and like to travel at 20 knots........well all bets are off.
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