Capt. Burnham offers compelling words of caution which should be taken seriously during falling tides at the intersection of the Waterway and St. Augustine Inlet at statue mile 777.3, especially at marker #60 where the channel makes a dogleg turn. And, no matter how often it happens, as any displacement hull vessel operator will relate, it is a strange sensation in the pit of your stomach when Mother Nature, in the guise of a crossing tide, unexpectedly wrests your boat from your control! While Capt. Burnham’s remarks pertain to St. Augustine Inlet, such adverse crossing tides can occur at a number of inlet/Waterway intersections.
We were cruising north from the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine and planned a short daysail north up the AICW and back again. On a ebb flowing tide, two currents collide with the eastbound flow through the St. Augustine inlet. The southbound AICW ebb current and the northerly ebb current from Salt Run. A vessel traveling south on the ebb current of the AICW that desires to continue westward to the Bridge of Lions, will be swept past floating RED AICW marker “60″ into the path of a vessel heading eastward from the Bridge of Lions toward the inlet. This is not a narrow channel but the eddies created on an ebbing tide will cause a southbound vessel on the AICW to momentarily lose steerage at this right hand turn UNLESS the Captain APPLIES SUFFICIENT POWER to maintain forward momentum. Exercise CAUTION if you are leaving St. Augustine and you see vessel traffic coming from the north on the AICW. If that southbound vessel turns westward away from the inlet into the ebbing current it will lose the apparent speed of the southbound current as it turns right around the floating RED AICW marker “60″ and MAY be swept into the path of the eastbound vessel if caught in the eddies. This is especially true for displacement hulled vessels and vessels not at planing speeds. Give these southbound vessels ALOT of room to make their turn to the west.
Thank you Captain Burnham. We plan to be heading south through this area in mid-January.