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St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach – Captain Ted Jones Reports

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 04-28-2010

The author of the note below, Ted Jones, is the former editor and co-owner of the late, much lamented “Coastal Cruising” magazine. We are pleased that Ted is now sharing regular reports with the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net about his cruises.
There’s a whole passel of useful cruising news in Ted’s note below. Let’s all “go to school” on what he has to share!
Note Ted’s less than happy experiences while cruising NE Florida with water levels much thinner than usual, almost certainly the result of “wind tides.”

We arrived here from St. Augustine late yesterday afternoon after a difficult slog through waters which were as much as two feet below normal levels. We met a tug pushing a barge at the narrowest part of that section of the ICW with two “S” turns. I called him on 13 and suggested a port to port pass and said we would stay out of his way. On the starboard edge of the channel we had a depth sounder reading of 4.5 feet (actual 6.5) and were crowded cheek by jowl with the barge. We passed within 20 feet of the barge. A few minutes later I looked back, and the wind had pushed the barge further to the south and it had run aground. When last seen, the Island Pilot (tug) was trying to pull his charge back into deeper water.
It was a stressful day of watching depths in mid channel get down to 3.5 feet at times (we run aground at 2.5 feet), and the NW wind continued to increase to force 7. When we got to Fernandina Beach, we sought shelter in a back creek where the current is strong, but we rode okay with both anchors out.
This morning we came into the marina, washed our laundry, and plan to leave in the late morning, heading offshore as we did in early January sailing in reverse from St. Mary’s inlet and on up to Beaufort, SC,
which should take us 24 hours give or take. The forecast is for the NW winds to diminish tomorrow, remaining up to 10 knots, then on Thursday, the wind should go around to the south and blow us up St. Andrew’s Sound to Beaufort.
Several of our companion reverse snowbirds have dogs aboard, so do not have the option of avoiding Georgia by sailing offshore.
Tomorrow, we leave Florida behind with mixed feelings. It might be a great place to visit in the winter time, but we surely wouldn’t want to live here year around.
Ted Jones

Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fort George River Anchorage (Statute Mile 735)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 04-23-2010

We love to anchor on Fort George River, within sight of historic Kingsley Plantation. Swinging room is just a bit skimpy, and entering the river channel from the AICW can be a little tricky for first-timers.

On 4/9/2010 we entered Fort George River from the ICW, passing closely to the ICW (R”72″) marker at the mouth and favoring the southern shore all the way past Kingsley Plantation. At dead low tide, we never saw less than 7 feet. We anchored just beyond the plantation and went ashore with the dinghy for a very informative visit of a unique piece of American history. Lots of no-see-ums and it is a main thoroughfare for a bunch of center-cockpits in a hurry, but they are gone after dark. Lots of current too, but a nice anchorage and lovely spot.
Allen Ames

Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Fort George River

Amelia Island Yacht Basin (Statute Mile 720.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 03-30-2010

The entrance to Amelia Island Yacht Basin lies just off the AICW, immediately north of the Kingsley Creek Bridges.

Sanctuary and crew did not care for Amelia Island Yacht Basin. It is well protected, but the basin is very shallow. We stayed there Sunday, 3/29/2010, and we were in the mud at the tee head at low tide. They charge $1.60/ft for the boat, which is competitive for the area, and $20 for 50A electric, which is theft. Anyway, we couldn’t use the heat pump because of the low water levels, and they griped but finally gave back $5.36 for that. And, you’re a very long walk from the office, too.
Net is, for comfort and convenience, you’re better off at Fernandina Beach.
Just Jim’s opinion…
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary

Amelia is very protected, but you are a distance from town. Fernandina is not as protected, especially if you are on the outside dock, but you are right in the middle of town with many great restaurants and quaint shops.
Glen Moore
Last Dance

Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Amelia Island Yacht Basin

Fernandina Harbor Marina (Statute Mile 716.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 03-30-2010

I’m glad that Captain Arnold had such a good experience at Fernandina Harbor Marina. We’ve always enjoyed our time spent here.

Spent a happy three days at Fernandida Harbor Marina – only $1 a ft per day including power – at first class slips with excellent facilities – including a great new Captains Lounge with wide screen tv and a computer with WiFi. Freds – not the best grocery store in town – is within walking distance but with luck you can hitch a ride to Publix from friendly locals.
Captain Arnold

Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina

Florida Petroleum Company (Fernandina Beach, FL – near Statute Mile 715.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 03-05-2010

Any of you who have ever taken a gander at my “Cruising Guide to Eastern Florida” knows already about the HIGH docks at Florida Petroleum Company in Fernandina Beach. Yes, indeed, this fracility often has good diesel fuel prices, and many cruisers fill up here time after time, but the docking accomodations are far from ideal for cruising size craft.

Subject: FLA Petroleum
Cruising News: We stopped here last week when the wind was blowing pretty hard from the west. The fuel dock is a commercial dock for larger boats and was about 8 feet above my lower deck. We docked ok but got lucky with that wind shoving us toward the dock. Leaving was another matter. Difficult to get away without scratching or marring something. Not the best place to go in a west wind.
Capt Dave

Click Here To View the Current Fuel Prices at Florida Petroleum Company

AICW Shoaling South of Fernandina Beach, (near Statute Mile 717.5), 1/22/10

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 01-22-2010

Here’s a new one, at least for yours truly. A glance at chart 11489 reveals that #18, the marker front and center in Captain Hardy’s message below, marks a hard swing in the Amelia River/AICW channel, a short hop south of Fernandina Beach.
A conversation with the dockmaster at nearby Fernandina Harbor Marina as of 4/30/10 confirmed what I suspected, namely for the last three days there have been unusually low tides along the northeastern Florida coastline. I was told as least one foot below the usual levels. So, I’m sure these water levels contributed to the problems described below, but, nevertheless, there is also clearly an AICW shoaling problem near #18!

Subject: Shoaling near Fernandina Beach
Cruising News: We ran aground heading north today approaching R18 as you turn the corner on the Amelia River towards Fernandina Beach. It was low tide and our chart plotter showed 12 ft in the area where we and another boat were aground. A motorboat kindly ‘waked’ us and we got off. We draw 5ft. The other boat had to wait for the tide to rise. The deeper water was on the red side however we had to cut very close to the green can at the turn to stay afloat.
Harriet Hardy

We were in the parade of the sailboats yesterday slowly heading north on the Amelia River (4). It was approaching low tide and as we went under the bridge at m720. We were amazed at how low the water was in the Amelia Island Yacht Basin. I don’t think any boats could have gotten out. The lead boat ran aground, the other 3 passed to port, then at R18 another went aground, so we again passed to port but still we ran agound, once we were off we continued to favor the red side and had plenty of water…the other 3 sail & the powerboat continued on the green side. There was a very low spot in the middle of the channel. Pick either side but don’t go down the middle between R18 & R16.
We were in the parade of the sailboats yesterday slowly heading north on the Amelia River (4). It was approaching low tide and as we went under the bridge at m720. We were amazed at how low the water was in the Amelia Island Yacht Basin. I don’t think any boats could have gotten out. The lead boat ran aground, the other 3 passed to port, then at R18 another went aground, so we again passed to port but still we ran agound, once we were off we continued to favor the red side and had plenty of water…the other 3 sail & the powerboat continued on the green side. There was a very low spot in the middle of the channel. Pick either side but don’t go down the middle between R18 & R16.
karenbut@aol.com
Capt. RL& Karen

Just wanted to confirm the above observations regarding depth in the ICW just south of Fernandina Beach. We draw 5′ and touched bottom several times during our transit northbound when we were just south of Red #18 in the Amelia River. Our paper and electronic charts showed depths in the 12 foot range at MLW. We were transiting at low tide during this event. A “Towboat US” operator stopped by after he had just finished towing a sailboat that had run aground in this same spot. He advised us to stay as far east towards shore when going north from Green #3 towards Green #1 and Red #18 on the river to avoid the shoaling in this area. He then would line up as a range Green #1 and Red #18 and then would honor Green #1 to continue the turn north. After the turn he advised heading straight towards the paper mill and favoring the eastward side of the ICW at least as far as the Fernandina Harbor Marina. We were able to follow his directions without further mud bouncing. He shared that since Hurricane Fay – this area has been a problem at low tide. Our recommendation would be to transit this area at mid – to high tide depending on your draft.
Fair Winds, Beth Bauer aboard S/V Adagio

Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position on the AICW/Amelia River

Great, Breakfast Spot In St. Marys Village

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 01-12-2010

We just love to break off from the AICW, immediately north of the Georgia – Florida state line, and track our way up St. Marys River to the like named village. This little community is a delight, unless the winds happen to be blowing from one of the nearby paper mills (and that doesn’t happen too often).
St. Marys has always had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good places to satisfy a healthy appetite, but over the last several years, breakfast has been sort of left out. No More! Read Captain Wilson’s message below, and you’ll know where to chase away the night-time hunger goonies
!

Just 2 1/2 blocks from the waterfront in St. Mary’s, GA on Osborne St. Is the Cedar Block Cafe that serves breakfast starting at 7:00 am. It’s the only game in town during this time of year and at this hour. They just opened December 1st of 2009. Very warm welcome and specialty coffees to boot.
John Wilson

Fernandina Harbor Marina (Statute Mile 716.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 12-17-2009

Below are a couple of in-depth reports and some great pics centered on Fernandina Harbor Marina, some by way of our fearless Waterway reporter, Captain Jane Tigar. To be somewhat succinct, Fernandina Harbor Marina is a great place to stay, and now that they have new showers and a Laundromat, it’s even better. The adjacent downtown business district is packed with great places to eat and shop. Give this facility your most serious consideration!

It was an exhilarating and rough day on the waterway. A vessel in Jekyll Sound reported 39 knots; it felt like at least that and it was wind against current. We are calling it our literal shake down cruise. Having done Jekyll creek, the gale on Jekyll Sound and Cumberland Dividing, we decided we earned a treat. What a great treat it was.

Whole fresh flounder at Marina Restaurant in Fernandina. They are running an unbelievable special of two dinners for the price of one if you buy two beverages. $20.95 for two whole flounders cooked to perfection with two sides. Salad was real and fresh. Pepper and salt grinders on the table. Honest good food, truly the best flounder we have ever had. Plus the people are so friendly; couldn’t ask for cheerier hostess and servers. The hosteas and servers seemed to know many of the customers by name and their ‘usual’. The place was packed by 6:30 PM. No mystery there.

I forgot to mention, I think, we found over 20 feet at an hour and a half or so before high tide at inside face dock. 12-13 feet at entrance channel. Also, supreme kudos to marina staff who expertly spun us off our stern to leave in conditions of gusty wind and a strong current. Truly professional.


Here is a view of the larger basin at Fernandina Harbor Marina.

Most of the vessels you see on the inside of the face dock are refugees from today’s galenon Jekyll Sound. It was blowing here, too, and dock hands were throughly professional getting us all in safely.


The low modern looking building, to the left of Atlantic Seafood, houses the boaters lounge and facilities. The building with the peaked roof to its left is the tourist office.


Cruisers’ Lounge – Fernandina Harbor Marina.

By the way, free wifi at the marina. Transient rates $2 a foot with electric.

It’s been several years since we have stayed here. Big improvements! Clean and modern showers, heads and laundry and a boaters lounge with free wifi. The lounge is open early morning to sunset. Showers, heads and laundry 24/7.
S/V Lady Jane

After spending a few days on the hook, we decided to treat ourselves as well and head into the Fernandia Harbor Marina. The weather didn’t improve much so we took advantage of the new great Captain’s lounge. This room offers hot coffee, huge flat screen tv, comfy seating or for cruiser’s that work aboard a table and wi’fi reception. It’s a marvellous clean room and very airy, we met several cruisers waiting out the weather and it was a treat. We also ventured to the Italian restaurant Pompeo’s and had a marvellous meal!! Excellent stop!
Dick and Elle Lssman

Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fort George River Anchorage (Statute Mile 735)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 11-15-2009

Fort George River provides one of the most historic anchorages in Florida, as you can drop the hook within sight of Kingsley Plantation, and then dinghy in for a tour. About a year ago, there was a report here on the Net from a fellow crusier who found some shallow water while entering the river from the AICW. As you will see below, Captain Bill did not find this shoaling, but did discover that swing room and shelter can be a bit on the thin side.

We’re presently in this anchorage, with two boats near G “3″ and three closer to G “5″. We arrived at about half tide and found the bottom coming up uncomfortable quickly (6′ draft) as we approached the dock (shown as two pilings in the chart) for Kingsley Plantation (marked “ruins”), a National Park Service site. We opted for the bight on the north shore near the G “3″. There’s more swing room and holding is good. One source suggests following a line between Fl R “72″ and R “2″ to enter the river – don’t. It leads through a charted shoal. Instead, favor the north shore and follow current charts. Otherwise, this is a standard issue SE GA, NE FL anchorage with lots of marsh, no-see-ums, and tidal currents – but it sure is pretty.
About the plantation – this is a good trip ashore. The park closes at 5PM but the dock closes at 4:30PM; “closes” means a ranger comes to the dock and chains the gate shut. Curiously, the same sign announcing the 4:30PM closing time also states that docking is limited to 59 minutes (one wonders what bureaucrat dreamed that up…). Plan your visit accordingly.
Rick Emerson

After leaving St Mary’s, Kittiwake stopped here for the 3rd time in 5 years. No trouble getting in , with tide rising (about mid-tide, almost full spring Nov 1), but had vibes. Sure enough, aobut 4 AM, front came through with some NW and N wind, and Kittiwake was heading for the plantation docks. Up the hook, ride around in the dark and settled in a little further West until enough light to start traveling. Can’t figure out anything I could have done different, but next time will try the Talbot River anchorage (oxbow on W side of ICW, just N of Ft George River anchorage) – not as much water or room – but talked to the folks anchored there overnight, it had better protection from NW and N in the south end.
Capt Bill,
s/v Kittiwake

Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Fort George River

Fernandina Beach Mooring Field (Statute Mile 716.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 11-12-2009

Fernandina Harbor Marina, as a self-sustaining business of the Marina Department for the City of Fernandina Beach, is dedicated to exceptional service to the community and our customers. As AmbassadorThe discussion below is copied partically from the Net’s “Ask Your Neighbor” page (http://cruisersnet.net/category/ask-your-neighbor/), and partly from other nautical lists.
The long popular Fernandina Beach anchorage was converted several years ago to a mooring field. Dinghy dockage as well as many other services are available at the adjacent Fernandina Harbor Marina, A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

Anyone used the moorings at Fernandina? How hard is it to get one this time of year? Are they good moorings? I’m looking to hold up for Ida’s pass on Tues
Doug Gould

Some moorings are held for reservations and some are “first come, first served”, although a call the day of an expected arrival should work, if a mooring’s available (checkout is 11:30). The western-most row of moorings is close to shallow water (~4′ at load tide) and held only for shallow draft vessels. We opted to anchor in Bell River; current is typical for the area and holding seems to be good. The town is attractive, although the view from the water, with paper mills one either side, makes the area seem like a place to skip. Instead, it’s worth the stop.
Rick Emerson

We are a 41′ trawler and used them in May 09 and loved it….just call them and they pass you a mooring number and you have full use of all the facilities. Nice town too…..we will go back. Plus it is a great place to get fuel…..
Knot Tide Down
Heading to Knoxville on the TN Rvr

We just used them when we went by last week. Joe guesses when you call, they assign you a mooring ball for your vessel size. We saw some 47-45 footers on them. They are in the open. They have an area inside the marina that is $1 a foot that’s a little tight to get into so they mostly put boats on the seawall’s inside and outside ($1.75 a foot). Get there before too much wind, and if we got into an inside slip I know you can.
Mik and Joe,
Asian Lady

Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marian

Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For The Fernandina Beach Mooring Field

Bells River Anchorage (just off Fernandina Beach, Statute Mile 716.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 11-08-2009

Fernandina Harbor Marina, as a self-sustaining business of the Marina Department for the City of Fernandina Beach, is dedicated to exceptional service to the community and our customers. As AmbassadorWhile not as convenient to Fernandina Harbour Marina (A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR) as the new city mooring field, anchoring in Bells River is more private, and, in good weather, it’s still an easy dinghy trip into the charming community of Fernancina Beach.

We stayed in the “downstream” anchorage and it was fine with a good anchor and plenty of rode. A bit spalshy ride to town but that is what the dink is for. Great lunch intown. Another ruiser said the marina facilites (available to us on anchor, too) were really nice.
Joanne S. Woodward

Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Bells River

Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina

Great Dining at Fernandina Harbor Marina (St. M. 716.5)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 11-01-2009

Fernandina Harbor Marina, as a self-sustaining business of the Marina Department for the City of Fernandina Beach, is dedicated to exceptional service to the community and our customers. As AmbassadorYummmm! And, let’s not forget that Fernandina Harbor Marina is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

Tied to the dinghy dock for some essential shopping, and buying fresh shrimp, (Atlantic Seafood) right by the dinghy dock. Shrimp was superb, but so was dinner at the on site restaurant in the marina. It renewed my faith in “eating out” after our disaster meal at Fishy Fishy in Southport, Friends went there for lunch and said it was top notch also. Highly recommend.
Beverly Feiges

Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fort George River Anchorage (Statute Mile 735)

Posted by admin | Posted on 04-19-2009

The report below concerning the anchorage on Fort George River, is far more positive than one which still appears earlier on this page. Fort George River intersects the AICW, a short hop north of the St. Johns River, and has long been a favorite anchorages in northeastern Florida. Then, just two weeks ago, a report surfaced here on the Net’s “Eastern Florida” section about shallow water near the river’s western entrance. As you will read below, looks like Captain Fred successfully avoided these shallows.

Subject: Fort George River Anchorage (Statute Mile 735)
Cruising News: Subject:Fort George River Depths
AMARSE was anchored in the Ft. George River Anchorage the night of 04/15/09.  Departing early in the morning of 04/16, we saw nothing less than 8.8 feet total depth even across the river mouth.  The GPS tide chart indicated that we were 1.8 feet above MLW so that should have yielded at least 7 feet of water at MLW.  We followed Skipper Bob’s advice to use the a range line using the
R72 on the ICW and the R2 on the George River as range markers to intersect the waterway.  We also followed his advice to favor the the southern shore on the George River to G5.  I believe that this is a very good anchorage spot and don’t forget to use your window screens to avoid feeding the voracious “No-See-Ums”. (YMMV)
Fred Reed
M/V AMARSE
Marine Trader Sundeck  Draft 4 1/2


Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Fort George River

Important – Shallow Water Report on Fort George River Anchorage (Statute Mile 735)

Posted by admin | Posted on 03-24-2009

This is the FIRST report we have had here on the Cruisers’ Net about a shoal buiding into the channel leading to the popular anchorage on Fort George River. This body of water intersects the AICW, north of the Waterway’s intersection with the St. Johns River, south of Nassau Sound and north of Sisters Creek.
IF ANYONE ELSE HAS VISITED FORT GEORGE RIVER LATELY, PLEASE E-MAIL US WITH THE SOUNDINGS YOU DISCOVERED. We currently rate this anchorage very highly in our “Eastern Florida Anchorage Directory (
http://www.cruisersnet.net/eastern_florida_anchorages/anchorages_-__eastern_florida/), and if Captain Chris’ reported depths are confirmed, we will need to change our account of this anchorage ASAP. So, please e-mail me at CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net, with any recent Fort George River observations!

Subject: Fort George Depths
Cruising News: Today, two hours before high tide we entered the Fort George River.  In less than an eighth of a mile we were aground in the center of the channel.  Exploratory moves north and south did not reveal water that would float our boat at low tide (we draw 5.5 ft).  It looks to us as if there is a three foot +/- bar across the river mouth now.
Chris Wain

I e-mailed Captain Chris and asked for more details, and whether he could have mistakenly left the channel. He was kind enough to immediately reply:

Claiborne,
Anything is possible, but we stuck at 30:26.876 -81:26.720 .  It may be that the channel was south of that but we didn’t find it.  We have a policy of not ancoring upstream of anything we can’t cross at low tide, so we moved on to the open spot off Harrison Creek. Given the slick calm last night and E’ly this morning it was fine. The only traffic was dolphins. 
Chris

Comments on Fort George River from other fellow cruisers:

We spent the night at Kingsley Plantation February 15 this year on our way to the Bahamas.  We went in with the tide under us with no problems anchoring in front of the plantation house near where the chart says ‘ruins’.  Then next day (quoting from my February 16 log) “Got up both anchors and left the river at dead low tide with no problems.”  Our boat is a Crealock 34 and draws 5 ft.
Bill Murdoch
Irish Eyes


Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Fort George River