Tag Archives: Shoaling

Nature Reminds us Who is in Control.2 — Cane Patch Creek

25kts gusting 30+ temps in 70s.

Well last night was a good one for bugs as well. In the futile quest to burn themselves to death on our deck level LED anchor light they became trapped in the dew on our dodger — perhaps 500 or so of the little buggers, er bugs. [This deck level light is for the folks who might think our masthead light is a star. We bought this one from some cruisers in Fiji who have quite a story to tell. Take a look at Bebi-Electronics]

We got away at 0828 which meant we entered the Little Mud River an hour before High Tide as we intended. We never saw less than 10.8 feet, but given tidal dynamics this means there’s ~4 feet at low tide — not a good thing.

The rest of the day was a sinuous meander up the rivers connecting the Sounds (Altamaha, Sapelo, St Catherine, Ossabaw) that Georgia is (in)famous for — that and listening to an ever more tense description of the pounding the region was to get later in the day. I kept the Weather Underground radar up on my Blackberry all day and was happy to see that as bad as it looked, it was coming our way slowly. The isobars ahead of the system weren’t all that steep, but we had a steady pre-frontal breeze of 20 knots with gusts to 25 the whole day.

The boat got a thorough dousing with salt water, and we were chilly through the day. This also became another “research a different anchorage” day. We settled on Cane Patch Creek off the Buckhead River off the Bear River just south of Ossabaw Sound (sounds like an AKC bloodline). It put us an hour short of Hell Gate which we want for our trip through. It also put us in a very sheltered spot for weather that was now looking uglier and coming faster. The Tornado Watches were up for the county we were in. [When cruising it is a good idea to have a map with the counties shown on it because the NWS issues alerts (VHF, TV etc) that way.]

We spent extra time getting the anchor set as the sky started to lower a bit. The still ebbing current was helpful because it allowed us to “jerk” the anchor in more firmly. [When we anchor we let out chain in 10-20 foot increments and allow the wind, current, or engine to jerk the anchor in a bit each time. When we reach full scope, we power back at full throttle to see the chain go “bar taught” before affixing the snubber, chafing gear and so on.] We were anchored at 1600. As you can see from the filmstrip above, things began to get bad so they could go worse around 1645 – each picture was taken a minute apart. I put the camera below after the last pic because I didn’t want a wet camera.

What you would have seen was a wall of water the color of Marine Corps camouflage. Our on-board radar had shown a bow-shaped rain return that looked as solid as a highway bridge eight miles long and eight miles away when we started the pictures. That line hit with 52 knot (60+mph) winds ten minutes later. It was over in about 20 minutes — no lightning closer than five miles and no hail (not like April 1980 in Destin). The very heavy rain lasted another hour.

A gentler but more electric (mostly cloud-to-cloud) squall went through at 2145, and another went through more gently still as today turned to tomorrow.I suspect the anchor is quite well set now… I know the boat is sparkling clean and salt free.

Nature reminds us who is in control — Twixt St Augustine and Nassau Sound

Showers, light winds, windbreaker weather.

The current swept us out of Oyster Creek Marina at 0952 this morning. The strong ebb meant we made the Bridge of Lions 1030 opening with time to spare. As we made the turn into the ICW from the inlet channel our speed dropped to 4.8 mph! Three days of nor-easter had piled water on the beach and through the inlet and into the wetlands. Today, it all wanted to go back to the sea in the opposite direction from ours. The buoy in the picture tells the tale.

Several of the bridges we went through — including the one partially blocked by a tug that wouldn’t respond to radio calls — had rips between the bulkheads. And of course, when we arrived at the St Johns River, the flood had started almost an hour early (just as in our trip down). [I rechecked the tables, and it isn’t me.]

When we arrived at the Fort George River to anchor for the evening, we discovered a three foot bar had formed across the mouth of the river (3 foot at low tide, we ran aground at 5.5 feet). So, we moved on up to Nassau Sound and anchored near Harrison Creek amongst the dolphins feeding in the evening. This isn’t a place we would chose in anything but the light air from the east we have tonight.

Our Share of Grass…No Not That Kind — Twixt Crescent R. and Jekyll Harbor Marina

Humid, SW’ly flow presaging a Front.

Today, we left in time to reach the Little Mud River at half-tide, rising, and through this much longer, windy and tedious stretch we also saw six feet. Once clear of this area and the shoals of Buttermilk Sound, it was another breezy carriage ride through the golden grasses. The waters broadened as we reached St Simon’s Island, and the sun shone more brightly.

After crossing the Sound and entering the creek that makes Jekyll Island an island, we slipped easily on slack water at the Jekyll Harbor Marina. Our timing was great as a small cruise ship went through a half hour later and took up most of the channel in the process. If you value your digestive tranquility, do not eat at the marina restaurant…it took three kinds of tablets to deal with the results. The dock crew is excellent though. In the picture, the wet, fouled portion of the piling is eight feet high.

HELL GATE — Twixt Vernon and Crescent Rivers

Humid and cool.

We continue to be surrounded by beauty of all kinds. The sea grasses, the birds, the tiny crabs that come up on the anchor chain, the clouds… (we could do without the Starling poop though).

We left in time to get to Hell Gate with three more hours of tidal rise available lest we run aground. We saw six feet of water at mid-tide which means only two at dead low. The USCG has attempted to close this route, but this would force people to go offshore in a bad area, so more and more of us worship at the altar of the tide table. We are regressing.

Fortunately, the Gate was less than a mile long and the rest of the day was a smooth, if windy, ride through a blanket of golden grasses. We anchored in the Crescent River just before sunset and raced to get the screens in place as the no-seeums were already at work. We anchored to avoid the shrimping fleet’s morning departure, but it ended up being unnecessary as they stayed in. It made for better sleeping though.

The picture is the Corps of Engineers’ Survey Boat the “DOWNS.” So even though the Georgia section of the ICW has received no dredging in nearly six years, they are trying to help people find a safe passage.

Entering Georgia — Twixt Bull Creek and Vernon RIver

Warmer, shirtsleeves in the pm.

Today, we got up early to get through some shoaling areas at mid-tide, rising. Glad we did. It’s amazing what this country has built and let go to hell. (sorry)

Our timing at Savannah River was perfect for close-up containership viewing if you like that sort of thing from a 40 foot boat… We anchored in the Vernon River just after lunch today so we can do the same kind of thing tomorrow.

Right now we are watching a young river otter try to cross the river against a fairly stiff current.

Change of Plans — Transiting Lockwood’s Folly and Shallotte Inlets

Warmer, calmer, beautiful.

Left at 1020 to hit these two inlets at half-tide rising. Used waypoints provided by the Corps of Engineers. Afterward, looking at the track we left relative to the charted channel, it was easy to see nature is in the process of closing off the ICW at these two points. They now look to be impassable at low tide for us. All in all it just required head’s up pilotage, but we can’t remember ever seeing anything like this in our 1980 trip.

We decided the weather had held us back to the point we must now break the trip in Charleston vice Beaufort, SC.

We did the necessary calling. Decided to change to “Dock Holiday’s” for tonight from another marina because they had a restaurant, and it was time for a break from cooking. Got a great and helpful reception from the owner when we arrived (despite his Novocaine wearing off), but the restaurant was closed for the season! Ah well, the pump out was free (if anemic). At bed time there was smoke on the water illuminated by orange dock lights — looked like something straight from Tim Burton.