Atlantic Boat and Marine News and Information
Beware the Jetties
CHARLESTON, SC (04/14/08) --

Jetties are not an uncommon feature of many inlets and harbors. The Charleston Harbor jetties are somewhat unique, however, in that they extend out into the Atlantic Ocean nearly three nautical miles. They are a full half nautical mile apart at their closest point and because they are typically submerged at high tide, they can be devastating to the unsuspecting mariner not paying attention to chart details.

The jetties were built in the late 1800's to prevent silting in the entrance to Charleston Harbor. Even though they are clearly shown on charts and chart plotters, we still have about 5 serious jetty groundings a year. The most serious to date was during a storm in December of 1997 when the 35 foot sailing vessel Morning Dew crashed into the jetties. All four aboard lost their lives.

Already this year the Coast Guard has reported several jetty groundings. In February, Coast Guard Sector Charleston rescued two people from their sinking boat after they hit the south jetty. The two were traveling from Beaufort when their 44 foot vessel Sure Fire struck the submerged structure. Fortunately, no one was injured and although the vessel was seriously damaged, she was salvaged. Just last week four boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after their vessel ran aground near the jetties. They were on a 33 foot vessel and were airlifted to safety.

Good seamanship demands attention to detail. Wherever your travels take you, study and plan ahead. Identify potential hazards that, left unnoticed, may ruin your day.


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