As the northbound migration begins, we are getting some early reports on conditions along the ICW. The overall impression this spring is that after the damages caused by the hurricanes, the winter storms have apparently not made too many additional changes. There is even some positive news of impending dredging projects at several key points. We are now northbound and have now transited 5 of the southern ICW problem stretches. Indeed, for three of these, the only news is good news, and none of these are worse than in the fall.
The following are my observations during one pass through each of these areas. We have calibrated our depth finder and we have noted the state of the tide at each point. The reported depth is corrected to the expected depth at MLLW along our track. A boat on a different track might have a different observation. We have found that the Navionics Sonar charts have been very good at providing updated bathymetry.
Ponce Inlet STM 843 Northbound. Between Green/Red can 7 and R 18A we saw an abrupt shoal of 7.4 feet at the time we had +1.7 feet of tidal help. Our track is the green line. The blue line is our route with waypoints on the left. At MLLW on our track we might have seen only 5.75 feet. As we transited between RG7 and R 18 we appeared to be in the visual center of the channel. I cannot say whether a more northerly track or southerly track might show better depths
Matanzas inlet STM 792- This stretch of the ICW was dredged in 2017. It is deep and wide. Perhaps the biggest issue here is that none of the most up to date charts (11495 dated 3/10/2018) show the correct green buoy locations (Reds appear to be correct), or rather they show several green buoys on the chart which are not actually there and are not needed since this section was dredged. Just follow the marks and there is plenty of water. There is one shoal spot just 100 feet north of where buoy G81 A is positioned (Actual position, is shown by green arrow) not as shown own any of the charts.). It is probably about 6.5 feet at MLLW. Just stay on center or slightly favor the reds. Approximate location of 81 B shown by blue arrow. Also note, I surveyed this area with my dinghy and recorded and uploaded the depths for Navionics which clearly shows a shoal north of G 81A.
Jacksonville crossing STM 741 - This area at the north end of Pablo Creek was dredged and re buoyed. Once again, some the buoys are not correctly shown on the latest updated charts (2/03/2018) making this section confusing. The buoys are in the same locations we saw them on early February and for both transits through here we just followed the USCG ATONs. G1 and R2 are correct as are R8 and G9. However, R6b is no longer there and several other buoys have been added. Water depth corrects to 10 to 20 feet MLLW. Blue route has waypoints listed. The highlighted track is our latest transit.
Fort George River ICW crossing. STM735 - There is shoaling building in from the east at the mouth of Garden Creek. We saw 7.2 feet at +3.8 feet of tide. This shoal has 3.4 feet at low water. Stay slightly to the red side of center and you’ll see 12 feet. The shoal clearly shows in the Navionics Sonar Chart. Because we had significant tidal help our track shows we intentionally crossed one of these shoals.
South of Fernandina STM 719 - The recommended route is now along the western shore. There has been dredging and remaking of the channel over the course of the winter. If you follow the recommended route (Blue), you will see +12 feet at MLLW. The highlighted track was our most recent transit on 3/18.
Cumberland Dividings STM 704 - This is not a big worry, but we have personally left bottom paint on the red side near R60. Just stay to the green side and there is deep water. This is more likely to be a concern going south when you would instinctively stay to the red side.
St Andrews Sound. - Chart 11491 updated ( 02/03/2018) G30 and E31 are not where they are shown on the charts. They appear to be located in the same place that we saw them in November. The jog in our track near the red arrow is the location of R 30. The jog in our track at the green arrow is the present location of G31. The attached Navionics chart shows their locations. We rounded the corner off by 0.39 nautical miles. We had +7.8 feet of tide help and consistently saw depths over 15 feet. The NOAA sounding and the Navionics sonar chart agree that there is 7+ feet in.