Fernandina Shallows with two GPX routes for 9 to 10 MLW
The shallows south of Beach have been a bane on cruisers schedules for years and yet there are two deep water paths through the hazard. The problems are the two unmarked shoals: one in the middle of the apparent route as you turn south around G1 and another one on the east bank just south of G1. The third shoal just north of G3 now has a red buoy to mark its location. If buoys were placed to direct boaters away from the shoals, then there would be no issues having a 10 MLW passage through the area.
After a dozen passages through the area, I mapped out a green side route for 9 MLW that many have used successfully. Last fall the Coast Guard asked Taylor Engineering of Jacksonville, FL to do a survey of the area and recommend a new route so the appropriate buoys could be relocated to provide safe passage. I was given a copy from Bill Aley of Taylor Engineering along with waypoints. This fall I used those waypoints to verify a 10 MLW route. So now we have an embarrassment of riches, two paths through the shallows, each one with 9 to 10 MLW.
The Taylor Engineering Survey is shown below:
Contrast that chart with a NOAA ENC chart below showing both the survey route (dotted line) and the green side route I posted earlier shown in blue which I’ve taken many times for 9 MLW.
Note the differences in the two routes as you round G1. The survey route (dotted line) would seem to take you into the shallows if you believed your chart but it doesn’t, the chart is wrong (shifted). Just look at the Taylor Engineering chart with their route plotted on a satellite view. At some point the buoys will be moved to direct boaters through the dotted line route.
I have two GPX files available, one with the green side route and one with the survey route (dotted line). With either the Fernandina shallow passage should no longer be a problem although it does appear that the survey route has more leeway in route width, besides we will be following that route at some point in the future anyway when the Coast Guard marks the new route with buoys.
The GPX files (standard disclaimer, user assumes all responsibility):
– For the Taylor Engineering Survey: tinyurl.com/gvmwrmd
– For the Green side passage posted earlier in the year: tinyurl.com/hnvfjo2
Thanks so much for the information and the route verification. We’re still working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to get the buoys moved, and to do some minor maintenance dredging to get a nice clean channel through the area. I hope for all of this to be done by this fall. The information that you provided will be very helpful in my ongoing coordination with the Army Corps and the Coast Guard.