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Monday, December 7, 2015

Jax Figures IT Out - ICW Day #28

posted by Ardys

Before we left
Shore at Beaufort, S.C. The grasses at half tide.
Annapolis, most of our fellow southbound travelers told us that they were going to go down the ICW until Charleston or thereabouts, but certainly would not be continuing on the ICW into Georgia or Florida.  We heard, “Too shallow, too many bridges to get under, too hard.”  When you 
Darker green indicates where high tide was.
hear something enough times, you start to accept it as fact.  The other thing we heard a few times was, “I don’t think you (NORTHERN STAR) can do the ICW, referencing the height of our mast (63 1/2’) and our draft (6 1/2 ‘).  The usual fixed bridge height is 65’.  At high tide, there may be less room than that to get under.  Some parts of the ICW are notorious for shoaling and cannot be traversed at low tide.  Yup, we were pretty sure we were going to have to go offshore from Charleston and on.

Cruising Guide for the ICW
Then, we happened upon some fellow southbound travelers with a 6’ draft sailboat, Radio Waves.   They were planning to continue on the ICW and this made us reconsider our options.  Waiting for the right weather window for ocean passages is rather unpredictable.  And we are counting the number of days available to get from here to a safe place in Florida to leave our boat for a month while we visit family and friends in Tennessee and Minnesota around the holidays.  So we have ventured forward on the ICW following our new friends on Radio Waves.  We study the charts every night, noting the mile markers where there are bridges and where shoaling is a problem.  We have made good use of the Cruising Guide for the Intracoastal Waterway by Captains Mark and Diana Doyle.  

Garmin, Navionics and Active Captain, all on iPad
Those five manuals provide us with minute detail about the ICW mile by mile, describing anchorages, marinas and “trouble spots.”  We also are relying heavily upon the information we pull from our app, Active Captain, which is integrated with our Garmin charts.  Carl can see all comments from other boaters on his iPad and I can see all the same information on my iPhone 6+.  VERY handy.  We also have Navionics charts on the iPad and both Garmin and Navonics have the latest tide and current projections for various locations. When he’s driving the boat, I review the trouble spots and direct him on whether to hug the Green or the Red Marks, and so forth.  When I’m driving, he does the same for me. 
Birds' eye view of South Carolina ICW.  Lots of twists and turns.

Our review of the information available to us helps us decide what time we should get going in the morning so as to take advantage of tides.  Again I’ll say it—I continue to be astonished by the tides which are different every day, and different from one place to another.  I suppose that if you’ve grown up near tidal waters, your response to that might be, “Well, yeah—Duh!”.  For example, today, at Statute Mile (STM) 666, we pulled up anchor in Wally’s Leg (it’s a creek—I don’t name these anchorages, you know) rather late today (noon) because low tide was going to be at 12:12 PM where we were headed.  High tide would be at 5:17 PM.  We needed at least half tide to get through an area of shoaling in Jekyll Creek, at STM 680.  So, here’s the Math equation: If a sailboat leaves Wally’s Leg at 12:00 and needs at least half tide to get through an area of shoaling at 3:00 PM, how fast should the sailboat be motoring?  Answer:  No more than 4-5 knots/hr (or about 5 mph) Perfect.  We did just that.  We did run aground briefly but Carl was able to gun the engine and get us off again.  No big deal.  
American White Pelicans mixed with smaller Brown Pelicans
photo courtesy of Peterson Field Guide to Birds 
We have found some beautiful anchorages along the way.  The variety of birds is increasing and I am studying my Peterson Field Guide to Birds more and more.  We have seen large groups of huge American White Pelicans on sandy shores, a few Great White Egrets, lots of Terns bomb-diving the water for food, flocks of Brown Pelicans (much smaller than White), Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets (which always look to me as if they are skulking—they would be the Mafia of the bird world) and today I 
Dolphins in the Brickhill River, in our anchorage

saw what I believe was a Tricolored Heron.  I described it as I was looking at it through binoculars and later went to find it in my book.  There was the bird I had just described.  Carl thinks I should not call that a confirmed sighting because Tricolored Herons are uncommon, but then what do I call the bird I saw?  Even a novice birder can see an uncommon bird once in a while, right?
Jax is curious about dolphins
Tonights anchorage is wonderfully quiet.  There is little wind and so we can hear all kinds of squawking bird calls all around us.  Kind of like a jungle.  The dolphins have been swimming in small groups of 2 or 3 on all sides around us.  Sometimes I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them expel steam from their blowholes.  Jax is enthralled.
Almost forgot—you’re wondering what Jax has figured out?  Yesterday morning, he did his business on the bow of our boat—49 hours after his last BM.  My husband was right—he did NOT explode.  And now, Jax uses his self-assigned “head” whenever he needs to empty his bowels.  Whew—what a relief for the humans onboard.  And for Jax, no doubt.


Mangoes Marley And Mermaids said...

Tonight's anchorage was magical,wasn't it?!? The sounds of the birds and the dolphin families was just so cool! Happy to have met and traveled through Georgia with you guys! Hope to meet up with you again soon! Happy travels!

Jan K said...

Loved todYs blog.....sounds like you two are working very hard and learning a lot as you go! Very impressive. Ardys, you might like an app called iBird.....for identifying birds along the way. It has drawings and pictures, range maps, habitat and other good stuff! Happy sailing!