The alternate route discussed below by Captain Byron is the Umbrella Cut Route which takes you northbound from Mile 696 in Cumberland River through Floyd Creek, across the Satilla River and into the Little Satilla to rejoin the AICW at Mile 686 in Jekyll Sound. This is often considered the route of choice when the primary Waterway route through St. Andrew Sound is kicking up. If southbound, do NOT confuse Umbrella Cut with Umbrella Creek where severe shoaling has occurred.
11/25/13 Six years ago when we were headed south we used the Umbrella Cut successfully to avoid crossing St. Andrews Sound when the seas were running high. This year the winds were 20 knots from the northeast and we wanted to try it again but were surprised that there was no recent info. We checked with locals and decided to try it on a mid and rising tide. We found it is still a viable alternative. We timed our approach for 2 1/2 hours before high tide. Our boat is a 34 foot trawler with a 4 ft draft. There was a strong following sea and as we made the turn into the cut we were pushed out of the channel where we saw 7 ft. That gave us pause but we kept going and found nothing less than 9 or 10 all the way through. We stayed midchannel away from the markers and kept to the outside on unmarked curves. We transited the alternative route all the way through Fields Creek without incident. As we exited and rejoined the ICW shortly behind us came a 45 foot boat out of the channel as well. I hope this observation is helpful.
We also took the umbrella cut October 14, 2012 due to seas being up. We went through at low tide and had only 1 depth alarm at 3 feet which I cleared immediately and the depth went back to 6 feet. Most of the passage we had depths of 5 to 8 feet. We stayed in the middle of the waterway when there were no markers. I was concerned about using the cut with the horror stories out there. We stoped at Jekyll Harbor Marina to ask the locals about the cut. They said they use it all the time and I would have no problem. We also had a 40+ foot sport fishing boat follow us through at low tide.
Thank you all for the great post up, as we say on the big river. Am planning on going north on the AICW this coming spring and it has been very helpful hearing from light draft vessel operators!
Capt. Jerry Robbins