AICW/Jekyll Creek – Captain Jane Reports (Statute Mile 683)
Our “fearless, roving reporter,” Captain Jane’s, report below is one of the most in-depth looks at the AICW/Jekyll Creek “Problem Stretch” we have had her on the Cruisers’ Net. EVERYONE who will be traversing these shoal plagued waters this fall, or even during the spring of 2011, will want to take a CLOSE look at the account below!
So, is it Jekyll Creek or Hyde Creek? Is it ridiculously shallow and perilous or fine or something in between?
There are two well-publicized schools of thought on approaching Jekyll Creek. One is that it is so shallow you should only go near high tide on its way up. The other is that you should go at low tide so that you can see where the channel is. Other advice is to favor the Green side of the channel and some say the opposite.
A recent November morning, several boats ahead of us on first-light parade out of Duplin River and neighboring Georgia anchorages chose the low-tide option which happened to be when at normal cruising speeds most of us would arrive there. As the captain of the fastest boat in the group said over the VHF: We’ll let you know if we get stuck.
We compromised, throttled back and took Jekyll Creek at two feet above MLW. We chose neither the green nor the red side of the channel and observed the ranges with great fidelity and respect. We found nothing less than 8 feet of water and we practiced no form of complex intuition or sorcery. We also heard of no boats going aground ahead of us and presume the early morning group did just fine. While we were safely docked at Jekyll Harbor Marina, we did hear two vessels hail Towboat US for advice on Jekyll Creek and the Towboat US response was that there is a 3 foot spot at MLW and it’s best to transit Jekyll Creek at mid-tide rising.
We know that each transit is a little different and it’s not always easy to know if you were really in the middle of the channel — we could have been lucky. However, in our experience in the Spring of 2010 and November 2010, Jekyll Creek is actually Jeckyll and not Hyde.
Wait a minute — that’s not a picture of Jekyll Creek! Correct! Who has time to photograph Jekyll Creek with all the ranges and depth sounder “just in case” worship? This is a photograph of Faith Chapel in the Jekyll Island Historic District, among the homes and playground of the millionaires of the early 20th Century. Think of this as incentive to take the inside passage and transit Jekyll Creek. We encourage you to stay an extra day or arrive early enough to get in a visit to the historic district. It makes for a delightful afternoon. We recommend borrowing bicycles from the marina or walking (it’s about a mile) or asking one of the marina staff for a lift to the district. While there is a trolley tour, we’ve heard that walking is more fun and gives you an opportunity to enter buildings that are not part of the trolley tour. The Goodyear Cottage is home to the Jekyll Island Arts Association and features monthly exhibits. Through November is a show called “Blackberry Creek” featuring local artists — painters, sculptors, potters, and more. It’s a great opportunity to pick up holiday gifts — mugs, bowls, knitted hats, scarves … creativity abounds and your purchase helps support the artists and the arts association. In December, the gallery features the “Advanced Members Show.”
A favorite of our afternoon self-guided walking tour (with suggestions from one of the employees at the museum) was the Jekyll Island Faith Chapel. Built in 1904, Faith Chapel features charming architecture and wooden gargoyles and a signed Louis Comfort Tiffany window. This little architectural jewel is open from 2 to 4.
S/V Lady Jane