Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jekyll Island Anchorage – thin water along the way

Great Sunrise at Wahoo Creek
We had a gorgeous sunrise this morning and as we prepared to take Hoolie ashore, a trawler passed close by and they appeared to be hailing us. I got on the swim platform and as they got closer they asked, “Which way out of here?” I pointed towards the head of the anchorage and said we were leaving in 15 minutes and that they could follow us out. They said their anchor dragged during the night and they drifted for awhile and they were lost?! Apparently, all they had for navigation was radar and charts – and looking for markers, of which there were none where we were at. Navigating these marshes where there are no landmarks and where they twist and turn in all directions could confuse most anybody (unless they have a chartplotter). There’s nothing around to take old-fashioned compass headings from. All the land looks the same, both on the charts and by eye. They didn’t take us up on our offer and so off they went and we never saw them again, hopefully they’re not wandering the marshes right now.

He sat on the dock while we took Hoolie ashore,!
We carried 9 and 8 feet of tide most of the way and yet we still saw 12 ft spots! The markers are few and far between and you’d better have a good, up to date chartplotter with current maps before trying the ICW! Even with that aid, however, the “recommended route” on the chart occasionally goes up on land!! For those occurrences you have to make a little adjustment… Even so, the chartplotter is invaluable, we’d be lost without it.

Look at the mud Hoolie gets to play in when we don't have a dock
The further along we got, the less tide we had left until the tide reached zero! We were now at mean low water (MLW), a situation no sail boater wants to encounter along the ICW in Georgia. The challenge was when we reached Jekyll Island with 0 MLW and two guides with contradictory advice. One said to expect 4.0 ft MLW right in the channel! The other said that it was okay with 7.0 MLW in the channel. Since we draw 5 ft, it’s the difference between making it through or spending serious time stuck in mud. The second guide had very detailed directions on the passage which we followed to the letter. In fact, a huge powerboat came up behind us as we entered the channel and he dropped back to let us guide the way! We took it slow and I gripped the wheel so intently that my hands have cramps now. Slowly, slowly we crept through, seeing the 7 ft MLW as promised by the second guide, whew!

We’re now at anchor in 6.5 ft of water for the night, very peaceful. However, we still haven’t sailed hardly at all. We don’t have to far to go Monday so we’ll try sailing then.