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Old 27-06-2011, 12:04   #1
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Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

I'm looking to make my first trip from Oriental, NC to Ocracoke in the next weekend or so. I've studied the charts and would appreciate some advice / tips.

Once I pass to the west then north of Royal Shoals it appears from the chart that I would have enough water to cross Bluff Shoals to arrive at either Nine Foot Shoal Channel or Big Foot Slough Channel. My vessel has a 6 foot draft so I have to exercise a little extra caution.

Anyone here with experience on these channels? Nine foot shoal channel looks less complicated? You tips would be appreciated.
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Old 27-06-2011, 13:39   #2
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

I don't have a chart in front of me so I can't recall specifics but....Review the approach channel to silver lake and maybe follow a ferry in if it is your first time. It is a good time of year because you have plenty of light and its a pretty short run from Oriental. A few years back I had engine troubble comming south from Manteo. I ended up attempting to navigate the enterance to Ocracoke at night. I spent about 6 hours on a sand bar.(I draw 4'4"). Also, with a NE or SW wind the chop can really stand up and slow your progress on the shoals.

Ocracoke is a great place to spend some time.
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Old 27-06-2011, 13:59   #3
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

Big Foot Slough has been a real problem for 5'+ draft boats until very recently. The hazard marker was just updated with new info on June 15th.
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Old 27-06-2011, 14:42   #4
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

I was there a week ago. I came and went through the Big Foot Slew Channel, the one the ferries use. I saw 6.5' near marker 11. The rest was pretty deep. Favor the green side in that area.

Just to avoid confusion, the Big Foot Channel is red left leaving as it is part of the Ocracoke inlet channel from the sea. As soon as you hook back to go into Silver Lake you are red right. We saw a big power boat leave greens to the left and ended up in 4' of water and aground.

Nine Foot Slew is not well maintained and I would not attempt it with more than a 5' draft.
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Old 27-06-2011, 15:04   #5
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

I stopped in Ocracoke several weeks ago and braved the channel. I had to study the chart for several minutes to figure out how the markers work. The first couple of miles or so of Big Foot Slough channel heading into Silver Lake is red left, green right. That is because the channel goes out to Ocracoke Inlet so you are actually outbound on that part of the channel.

The Nine Foot Shoal Channel intersects from your right inbound so ignore its markers which are confusing. Follow the red/greens until you get to flashing red "SL". In actuality that marker is a red/green which makes a lot more sense as it is a green as you make a hard turn to port to enter the final channel into Silver Lake. Then the markers become red right returning into Silver Lake.

The NOAA chart is accurate except for SL being a red/green and once you figure out the marker sequence you will make it in fine.

Having been in and out once I would try the Nine Foot Shoal Channel as it is slightly more direct coming from Oriental, but for the first time use the Big Foot Slough Channel as it is a bit more straightforward and the ferry boats come and go through it.

The NPS docks are pretty good. With a Golden Age Passport the cost is 60 cents per foot ($1.25 without) plus $3 for power and so you can't beat that deal.

David
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Old 27-06-2011, 15:32   #6
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

I use 9 foot shoal channel, but with 6 ft of draft I would be real careful around red "8" if it's anywhere near low tide. I went through there last fall about mid tide and saw 7 feet. It might be an issue for you at low tide. I like 9 ft shoal channel because it means less time tangling with the ferries. Most sailboats cannot traverse Big Foot Slough Channel in the time between ferries. They will run you down if you are in their way and with 6 foot of draft you might have significant difficulty getting out of their way without running aground if you tangle with one in the wrong spot. 9 foot shoal channel gets pretty tight near bigfoot slough channel, but it should not present much of a problem, just make sure you don't mistake big foot slough marker red "8" for 9 foot shoal channel marker red "4" . It's sometimes easier to see from near marker red "6" than is marker number 4 because it doesn't blend into the background as much. If you head towards BFS red "8" from NFS red "6" you will find yourself hard aground. In Big foot slough channel make sure you go around the SL marker. You can cut inside it if you know the waters and where your going, but any boats end up aground by cutting inside too soon. Have fun, it's a lovely trip.
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Old 27-06-2011, 15:42   #7
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

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They will run you down if you are in their way and with 6 foot of draft you might have significant difficulty getting out of their way without running aground if you tangle with one in the wrong spot.
Are you saying that a professional, licensed captain operating a public transportation ferry is going to risk their entire career if not the lives of their passengers to "run you down" because you're not moving fast enough?

I've come through the channel before it was dredged. I draw 6 feet and slowed down to a crawl - maybe 2-3 kts. I had zero problems negotiating the ferries I saw and in fact, they were very helpful in giving true local knowledge. They draw about 6 feet too and traverse the channels multiple times a day.
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Old 27-06-2011, 15:58   #8
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

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Are you saying that a professional, licensed captain operating a public transportation ferry is going to risk their entire career if not the lives of their passengers to "run you down" because you're not moving fast enough?
One was run down last year, when I arrived they were still searching for a body. I don't know the results of the investigation, but it occurred in Big Foot Slough Channel and there was at least one life lost. Needless to say the ferry won in the test of gross tonnage. My understanding from the locals was that the ferries are running in a narrow channel and are limited by their draft and must maintain steerage because of the currents. If you can't get out of the way it sucks to be you. I don't think the guy is going to run you down just because you're a sailboat going slow, but they aren't going to risk a boat load of passengers if they're going to put the boat at risk avoiding you. I don't know the details of the accident, day/night visibility, use of lights etc. , I just try not to tangle with the ferries.
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Old 27-06-2011, 16:25   #9
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

Read the NC Ferry schedule at http://www.ncdot.org/download/transi...ryschedule.pdf

They run every 2 to 3 hours. Even a slow sail boat can make it through with dancing with them.

The only dicey spot is near green 11 other than that there is plenty of depth and width to pass or be passed by a ferry.

Ferries are NOT a problem.

George
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Old 27-06-2011, 16:29   #10
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

The story wasn't hard to find:
http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/1...ySection=story

It never mentioned anyone being in the water. No one died. It happened at 8 pm with the sailboat crossing the bow of the ferry. It's sort of a different situation than 2 boats heading down the channel.

Again, my direct experience with the ferries in that channel is that they are incredibly helpful and courteous.
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Old 28-06-2011, 11:38   #11
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Thumbs up Re: Oriental to Ocracoke / Silver Lake

Thanks to everyone for all the great posts and links. I've had my boat for only a couple of months. I've studied the charts and with your posts I feel much more confident. I've ordered a chartplotter to mount at the helm so that should help as well.

The admiral will love all the shops in Ocracoke

I'll post back to this thread once I make the trip to and from.
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