Saturday, December 28, 2013


We are anchored in the Wahoo River, just off Sapelo Sound near Saint Catherines Island, Georgia (map).  As with much of coastal Georgia, this is a long way from civilization, and we barely have cell coverage.  Very slow Internet access comes and goes, even with our cellular booster working.

We left yesterday on a rising tide, putt-putting downriver at just above idle speed and making just 4.8 knots to arrive at Hell Gate at a tide of +4' and rising.  That meant entering at max flood, and with a knot and a half of cross-current, threading the needle made for some challenging steering.  The autopilot, working from a magnetic compass, can't react quickly enough, mandating hand-steering through these sections, and with seven turns lock-to-lock, I have to steer from mid-spoke to move the rudder quickly enough.

Nevertheless we managed to keep it centered in the channel for the entire cut.  The depth sounder read in the tens for most of the cut, dropping as low as nine feet a few times.  That would be just five feet of water at low tide, impassable for Vector even mid-channel.  The possibility of grazing the edges due to current, chart inaccuracy, or just movement of the channel itself could have us aground even at much higher water levels, so we are glad we waited to mid-tide.  It would have been even more comfortable at high tide, which would also be slack current, but that would have given us a falling tide the rest of the day, and also removes the safety net of a couple more feet of incoming tide to lift the boat should we actually run aground.  Our experience in Tom Point Creek taught us to avoid risky areas at dead high tide -- a grounding could have us completely high and dry before help might arrive.

The rest of the day was uneventful and very pleasant -- this is beautiful countryside.  We are so late in the southbound migration that we did not see a single other cruising boat on the ICW the whole day, although there were two sailboats and another trawler sharing the anchorage with us last night.  We are alone now, though, again opting to leave on a rising tide for the somewhat challenging Creighton Narrows and Mud River ahead of us.

This spot would be an excellent launching point for an outside run via Sapelo Sound, but the weather outside is still uncooperative.  Instead we will continue south on the ICW, past the aforementioned challenging spots, and anchor tonight someplace north of Brunswick.  Tomorrow I expect we will be looking for a marina either in Brunswick or Jekyll Island, as remaining "inside" since arriving in Port Royal Sound 11 days ago means we will need a pumpout station soon.

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