I would like to report to you about my horrific day cruising back to Savannah GA from St. Augustine FL on Wednesday the 1st of May 2013 in my Catalina C36 MKII draft 4’3”. The main point of my report is the “Alternate ICW back route around the infamous St. Andrews Sound. Well the weather was as bad as I have seen in years, the wind never dropped below 30 knots all day. I have crossed St. Andrews Sound in rough weather before and the crossing is never good not even in low winds. We were getting bad reports all day from boats that crossed St. A. Sound, none were good. Two things convinced me to go the back way; one the ICW in the Cumberland River was worse than my previous crossings of St. A., two it was one hour before high tide. I fought the Cumberland River above and below the waves to get to the Red “40” Dayboard and was glad to make the port turn into Floyd Creek and the Red “A34” Dayboard. Once in Floyd Creek the water calmed and was flat. There was plenty of water but never having gone that way I kept a close eye on the depth gauge. When I turned into the wind at the Green “ A31” Dayboard the waves were only one foot high but the wind was ripping the tops of the little buggers and throwing them at me horizontally. I could see another sailboat about a mile in front of me. So I felt if he did not stop I would be OK. At the Green “A27” There is a wreck marked and it is visible at high tide. When I was between the wreck and the “G A27” I marked 9 feet of depth. Now if you subtract 8 feet of tide from that, at low tide there will not be much water there. At the “G A21” I also showed 9 feet at high tide. Crossing the Bulkhead there is open water again 4 foot waves and good depth. There was good water and depth all the way to Dover Cut. I entered Dover Cut at the Red “A14” Dayboard. It looks small and intimidating on the Chartplotter and when you are in it, it is as small and curvy as it looks. But it is deep. That is till you get to the end and it does shallow up. The “R A8” and “G A9” are side by side at the entrance to Umbrella Creek and there I marked 9 feet and that is at high tide. Now all the charts I looked at have some warning about the low water in the Umbrella Cut but there I marked 18 feet all the way. From there it is a straight shot across Jekyll Sound to the back side of Jekyll Island but still it was a rough crossing on that day. St. Simon Sound was rougher than any of my St. Andrews Sound crossings and St Simon is completely closed in and protected.
So I made it and it took two hours from the Red “A34” to the Green “A3”. My recommendation is that you can go the Alternate ICW route around St. Andrews Sound as long as it is two hours before or right at high tide. Even the locals like long time sailor Barney Riley at Golden Isle Marina say they never go that way. There is no local knowledge, I asked Barney, BoatUS and “Down” the Army Corps of Engineers Hydrostatic boat that happened to be in the area sounding and they all said they had no knowledge and had never been that way. The “Down” did say they had a boat assigned to that area and hoped to have some data soon.
Came thru here on 4 17 13. Dead low tide. We draw 3 and one half. Saw several spots of 1 or two feet under keel. Also saw a bear cub along the way.
Greg and Donna
on The Lady in Red
Would use St. Andrew Sound in place of Umbrella Cut even if I had to wait out weather for the Sound. 40 foot boat with a 4.5 foot draft.
Raymond W. Smith
My wife and I utilized this alternate route northbound while bringing our GB42 home in June,2012.
We were at near- low tide. We took it slow. We experienced a “light” grounding in a spot that just looked like it was going to be trouble. We were going slow enough to back off and “nose” our way thru by searching for deeper water. At higher tides, for those who want to avoid the “sloppy sound”, this is a great alternative. We would always use this route– unless we have our vessel stabilized.
We still have a hole in our after cabin panelling from a table lamp we forgot to secure, when we came thru the sound and experienced the chaos that the wind, tide and waves can cause.
1987 GB42 CL
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Umbrella Cut Alternate AICW Passage