Once the home for acres of orange plantations (hence the name), and now geared more toward sport fishing and recreational boating, Orange Beach is a pleasant stopover point on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway off the Gulf of Mexico.
Ashore are a variety of interesting things to do and places to see, but most importantly, you can take a break in the area for a few days and restock the galley and your provisions before you enter some fairly remote stretches of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) farther west. The GIWW passes through the area just north of Bayou St. John near Mile Marker 164.
The majority of the marina facilities in Orange Beach are centered near Perdido Pass on Cotton Bayou just west of the inlet, and Terry Cove to the north behind Robinson Island. Of the five marinas in Cotton Bayou and Terry Cove, three of them have transient facilities set aside for visiting guests. The marinas with haul-out facilities and related repair services are locate in Terry Cove.
Use NOAA Chart 11378
Visible in the image above is the 54-foot fixed vertical clearance Perdido Pass Bridge, which crosses the inlet channel about .6 mile northeast of the jettied inlet entrance - limiting passage for sailboats with tall masts. Depths in the inlet range from nine to 17 feet, with the west (port on entry) side of the inlet holding the best depths as a long shoal extends west into the inlet near the east jetty (this shoal appears in the lighter water above).
The water out and around the Perdido Pass are toward the Gulw of Mexico has 22- to 27-foot depths with no obvious shoals, so arriving vessels can make their approach fairly close to the inlet. From the south via the Gulf of Mexico, first set a course to arrive in the are of waypoint 30 15.807N 87 33.399W. Once you have arrived in the area of the waypoint set a course of about 347 degrees magnetic to intercept flashing green 1 and flashing red 2 off the west and east jetty inlets, respectively (both visible above).
Once you have arrived in the inlet, stay toward the west side, minding that there are no further aids to navigation until you round the Perdido Pass Bridge. If you want to reach the marinas in the Terry Cove area (Cotton Bayou to the west is fairly shoal - four-foot depths), proceed north from the Perdido Pass Bridge to pick up red daybeacon 8 and green daybeacon 9, which start you through the cut past Robinson Island and into Terry Cove. Most of the marinas are situated on the west (port when approaching from the south) side of the cove in seven-foot depths.
If you want to intercept the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, head east from the Perdido Pass Bridge, and then pick up and follow the following string of daybeacons: Green daybeacon 1, red daybeacon 2, green daybeacon 3, red daybeacon 4, green daybeacon 5, red daybeacon 6, green daybeacon 7, red daybeacon 8, green daybeacon 9, green daybeacon 11, red daybeacon 12, and then green daybeacons 13, 15, and 17, minding the flashing red aids along the way. This will put you on the GIWW at flashing red 58 west of Inerarity Point around Mile Marker 163.
See our Local Notices to Mariners blog for updates on the latest conditions and advisories for this area.