The Sister Creek portion of the Waterway begins just north of the St. Johns River at mile 470 and continues northward to Gunnison Cut at marker #65. The shoaly portion of the Waterway identified in Captain Graham’s report below, lies just south of the AICW’s intersection with Fort George River.
If anyone else has had a similar or dissimilar experience while cruising through these waters, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information. Out of an abundance of caution, we are establishing a Navigational Alert for this portion of the AICW!
On 1 Apr 2012 at 1105 hours near MM 735 about 75 ft south of ‘G’ 73 hit bottom while cruising in mid-channel in a 5 ft draft boat at the beginning of incoming tide. Favor the Red side.
M/V Emerald Lady
We transited Sisters Creek northbound May 11 on our way to Fernandina Beach. The Waterway Guide noted potential shoaling between Red “74” and Green “73” about MM 735.5. As we approached Red “74” we slowed down to 5 knots (Far Niente is an Island Packet 45 and draws 5′) and began to monitor depth. At the time we were between Red “74” and Green “73” the tide was about 1/2 way up and rising. The depth started to rise from about 10-11′ to 7-8′ as we moved north. Then a couple hundred yards from Green “73” the depth fell again and we saw as much as 13-14′. I relaxed and increased the speed.
Suddenly about 100-150′ south of Green “73” and about 50′ west of the east side of the channel, our bow swung rapidly about 20-30 degrees to the west. We slowed noticeably and of course the depth sounder indicated 0′ feet (beneath the keel). We went from 13′ of water to 5′ during mid-tide. The boat plowed through the soft bottom and then the depth dropped rapidly back to 10-12′
I don’t know if favoring the Red side would have solved the problem, but the shoaling noted in the guide is real.
At the dock in Fernandina Beach we had a discussion with the Captain of a trawler that draws 4′. He saw similar depths in the area and tried the “red” side but observed little improvement.
Jeff Graham aboard
s/v Far Niente IP45 #33
Lying Fernandina Harbor Marina