Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Barefoot Landing - at a dock

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We didn't have far to go so we eased out just before 9:00 am. Ann backed Fleetwing while I managed the lines and pushed us off the dock. Ann is very comfortable at the wheel and she can handle most anything. Once underway we had a few shallow spots reported by other boaters but they turned out to be boaters who had not followed the charts correctly. I've often said to follow the markers rather than the charts but it has to be applied intelligently. In one case a red marker was followed by a green one with another red one in the distance. Some of the boaters immediately turned and headed for the next red marker since the course included a dogleg to the left (greens on left, reds on right in ICW when heading south). The trouble with that strategy is that the chart showed the channel continuing quite a ways before turning left so if you turned at the green towards the next red you would find shallow water! After awhile you learn to take both the markers and the charts into consideration before navigating a course. You can be misled and run aground if you don't consider both sources of information.

The next challenge was "The Rock Pile", a section of the ICW where the builders unexpectedly ran into ledge when they expected sand and mud. In trying to operate within their budget, they compensated by narrowing the channel so the costly process of excavating rock could be contained in budget. The channel is plenty wide enough for one boat but risky for two. There are numerous examples of boats losing their props, holing their bottoms, etc. when trying to get to one side to make room for a passing boat from the opposite direction. The ledges lie only a foot or so under water, deadly. So when you are at the entrance to the "Rock Pile" you call ahead on channels 9, 13 and 16 announcing that you are about to enter and ask any opposing traffic to identify themselves. If someone else is already in the channel, just wait until they exit before proceeding. In our case today, I did the 9, 13 and 16 procedure and got no reply. As we were just about to entrer I saw a huge power boat heading north. He never replied to my alerts. Later on I heard him ask the bridge behind us to open so I know he had his radio on! Nice guy?!

So we made it through okay and now we're docked at Barefoot Landing Marina. The area is a collection of outlets, restaurants and entertainment venues. On Wednesday we'll explore the shops and see a show at the Alabama theater, tough day planned...