U.S. Coast Pilot 4 NOAA

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2017. Edition 49.



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The Atlantic Coast of the United States from Cape Henry to Cape Florida is low and sandy, backed by woods. From Cape Florida to Key West the coast is formed by a long chain of small islands known as the Florida Keys. The Florida Reefs extend seaward of the keys and are nearly parallel to them.

The coastline of Virginia from Cape Henry southward to the boundary of North Carolina is firm land for 13 miles; then it becomes a barrier beach, covered with sand dunes for 11 miles. The boundary between Virginia and North Carolina is the only marked boundary on this section of the coast. The easternmost boundary monument is a granite shaft 6 feet high about 0.5 mile west of the beach.

Cape Henry to Key West

Cape Henry

This chapter describes a 190-mile section of the Virginia and North Carolina coastline between Cape Henry and Cape Lookout, known as The Outer Banks, and the series of sounds and tributary waters behind the banks through which the Intracoastal Waterway passes from Chesapeake Bay southward. The Outer Banks, a line of long, low, and narrow islands, include the Portsmouth Islands, the uninhabited Core Banks, and Bodie, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Islands, parts of which comprise the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Cape Lookout

This chapter describes the deepwater ports of Morehead City and Wilmington, and the smaller ports of Beaufort, Swansboro, Jacksonville, Wrightsville Beach, Wrightsville, Carolina Beach, and Southport. These smaller ports are principally engaged in barge, fishing, and small-craft traffic.

Also discussed are the waters of Cape Fear River and its tributaries; Bogue, Stump, and Topsail Sounds; and Beaufort, Bogue, and New River Inlets, including some of the lesser inlets.

The section of the Intracoastal Waterway from Morehead City to Cape Fear River is described in chapter 12.


This chapter describes the coast of North and South Carolina from Cape Fear to Charleston Harbor.

Also discussed are the deepwater ports of Charleston and Georgetown, SC; several smaller ports of which Wando and Mount Pleasant are the more important; Winyah Bay and its tributary rivers; the waters of Ashley, Wando, and Cooper Rivers and their tributaries; several of the minor rivers; and the shallow inlets which make into this section of the coast, including Shallotte, Little River, Dewees, North, Price, and Capers.

This chapter describes the coastline from Charleston Harbor to Savannah River. The coast, low and timbered, trends in a southwesterly direction for 65 miles and is broken by St. Helena, Port Royal, and Calibogue Sounds, and by numerous inlets from which there is access to the interior by way of the rivers emptying into them. Shoal water extends 3 to 8 miles offshore.


This chapter describes the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida from Savannah River to St. Johns River, and includes the deepwater ports of Brunswick, GA, and Fernandina Beach, Fla. Also discussed are Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, Doboy, Altamaha, St. Simons, St. Andrew, Jekyll, Cumberland, and Nassau Sounds, and their tributaries, and several of the small towns along these waterways.


St. Johns River the largest in eastern Florida, is about 248 miles long and is an unusual major river in that it flows from south to north over most of its length. It rises in the St. Johns Marshes near the Atlantic coast below latitude 28°00'N., flows in a northerly direction, and empties into the sea north of St. Johns River Light in latitude 30°24'N. The river is the approach to the city of Jacksonville and a number of towns near its shores. Some of these places are winter resorts while others are centers of farming districts and citrus groves. Deep-draft vessels go as far as just below the Main Street Bridge. Southward of the Jacksonville bridges, commercial traffic is light and consists almost entirely of oil barges. Many pleasure craft navigate this part of the river, usually going only as far as Sanford, though small boats have navigated the river as far as Lake Washington, 188 miles south of Jacksonville.

St Johns River

This chapter describes the Florida coast southward from the St. Johns River (30°24'N., 81°24'W.) to Miami (25°46'N., 80°08'W.), and includes the deepwater ports at Port Canaveral, Fort Pierce, Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades, and Miami. Information for offshore navigation is given first, followed by a detailed description of the coast, inlets, and seaports.

This chapter describes the Florida Keys and the various passages that lead through it from the Straits of Florida and Hawk Channel to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Also discussed are Key West Harbor and the small-craft basins at Key West, Boot Key Harbor, Safe Harbor, and several other small-craft harbors along the Florida Keys.

Strangers using Hawk Channel and the various passages through the Florida Keys can obtain the services of fishing boat captains and other qualified charter-boat captains at Miami or Key West who will act as pilots or guides.

Intracoastal Waterway

The part of the Intracoastal Waterway described here is the toll-free “canal” which affords continuous protected passage behind the Atlantic Coast and the Florida Keys for more than 1,243 statute miles between Norfolk, VA, and Key West, FL Route 1 the basic route, follows Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal to Albemarle Sound; Route 2 the alternate route, is through Great Dismal Swamp Canal to the sound.

Also described in this chapter is the Okeechobee Waterway, which junctions with the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Lucie Inlet.

It is a good policy to download the Booklet Charts and print out at home before departure. click below.

Sailing to Florida


Created with images by Mariamichelle - "vizcaya miami florida" • NOAA Photo Library - "wea01195" • tpsdave - "florida coast beach" • m01229 - "Looking at the new Cape Henry Lighthouse (HDR)" • rjones0856 - "Cape Lookout Lighthouse" • amateur photography by michel - "Jaguar Territory" • dawnhops - "Florida Sunset"

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