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Old 25-07-2016, 14:03   #1
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ICW Marker information on charts

I feel like I'm missing something obvious here, so hopefully the responses will be quick and kind. As I attempt to navigate the narrow, shallow channels of the ICW, I'm looking for as much information as I can gather to follow the best path. I understand most of the information on the charts that appears next to the symbols representing navigation markers. What I don't understand is what appears at the end of the line. Here's an example. This information is found next to marker "161" just east of the Cape Fear River.

Fl G 4s 15ft 5M "161"

Here's what I think I know. This is a green marker (#161) that flashes at 4 second intervals. Hopefully, I'm at least correct up to this point. But what does the "15 ft 5M" information mean?
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Old 25-07-2016, 14:20   #2
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Flashing green light, flashing every 4 seconds, 15 feet high, 5 mile nominal visibility, #161 painted on the mark.

Note: the mnemonic "Even red nuns have odd green cans" will also tell you that the shape of the green mark will be square as opposed to triangular. If it was a buoy, it would be a can (as opposed to a nun shape for the reds). "Red right returning" will also tell you what side to keep which mark as you are returning from or going to sea. The ICW is marked as "returning to Texas" except, of course, those stretches where the ICW is combined with another set of marks like those of a river. Keep a sharp lookout for where the colors switch sides.

We have large red and green "chip clips" that we hang on the bimini in easy view so that we'll be reminded what side we should be keeping which marks. It's easy to get complacent so we try to use everything we can to keep us alert.

Hope this helps!
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Old 25-07-2016, 14:25   #3
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

15 ft high? Does that mean that at low tide the marker will be 15ft above the water? And if so, how does this information become useful?
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Old 25-07-2016, 14:37   #4
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Well, at night it tells you how high up you need to look for the light. If it says something like 191ft 27M, you're probably looking for a lighthouse as opposed to a regular light on a piling. Just another aid to identification.
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Old 25-07-2016, 14:38   #5
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

It's actually the height above chart datum. Chart datum will be listed somewhere on each chart (usually in the corner for paper charts). So it could be MLW, MHW, etc.

The main thing that info helps with is to assist in identifyication so you know you're looking at the right mark.

Another trick we've learned is to use a paper chart backup (we use Kettlewell) and use one of those little "sign here" post it arrows to keep track of exactly where we are as we work our way down the ICW.

~~~~~
Edit: Sandy beat me to it. ;-)
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Old 26-07-2016, 08:44   #6
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

But what does the "15 ft 5M" information mean?"

15ft is the height above water
5M is distance you can see the light
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Old 26-07-2016, 08:45   #7
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

There are additional markings of yellow squares and triangles on ATONS for the AICW that help sort out the route where it overlaps/shares marks with other channels. The easy way to remember which side to pass is the the triangles are on the "mountain" side regardless of the shape/color of the mark/buoy that the triangle is found on.
Always a very good idea to keep track of your position on a paper chart whether you prefer a pencil line or a sticky arrow. Plan your days run ahead of time by tracing your intended route and looking for where the ATONS change sides.
Here is a link to the ATON primer from the USCG.
U.S. Aids to Navigation System
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Old 26-07-2016, 08:58   #8
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Get Active Captain on your smart phone. Real updates from captains who just passed where you are going yesterday. Can have it talk to you with the phone GPS on and AC software to tell you of hazards and changing depths.


Get Tow Boat or Boat US towing, you will run aground somewhere, Hell's Gate south of Savannah is my first guess :-) and anywhere else the shoaling is fast.

Have fun along the way. Sam
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Old 26-07-2016, 09:13   #9
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Here is another helpful mnemonic: RENT COGS
R = Red Buoy
E = Even Numbers
N = Nun Shape
T = Triangle Shape

C = Can Buoy
O = Odd numbers
G = Green
S = Square Shape
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Old 26-07-2016, 18:47   #10
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Hello,
The only thing I would like to add is the 4 second flash. It would mean to me the channel is straight. At a important turn or split you may have a different light characteristics like a quick flash. There are a few your should learn. As for the 5M, this is a range, you should read up on geographic range, based on height and nominal range based on conditions.
Good luck
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Old 26-07-2016, 18:52   #11
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Hello,
You should get a copy of chart number 1. It has all the symbols and light characteristics found of charts and a list of all the charts available around the US and there different scales
Good luck
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Old 26-07-2016, 19:26   #12
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Re: ICW Marker information on charts

Thanks for the responses. We use Active Captain regularly and have already taken advantage of TowboatUS after running aground at the Shallotte Inlet. So, good advice, but the information i was looking for was specifically about the height of the markers and the visibility range. Thanks to those who filled me in.
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