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Cumberland Dividings and St. Marys

Discussion in 'Roger Long - The further adventures of Strider' started by Roger Long, Feb 5, 2015. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    We buttoned up Strider last weekend and headed back north in a rental car so I could attend a meeting about the research vessel design. Six hours up the road, I got a text that the meeting was canceled since no one from New England could get out by air. We were able to reconfigure plans with friends and spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening exploring Wilmington.

    The next morning, we zipped (at safe and appropriate speed, of course) down Route 95 straight to Harris Teeter on St. Simon’s Island for a hasty re-supply, returned the rental car, and were finally ready to begin cruising in earnest.

    Departure morning was cold but winds were modest and it was tolerable but “invigorating” in the cockpit. The couple who had been in the marina about the same length of time we had left a couple hours ahead of us headed for warm weather and drinks with little umbrellas ASAP so we figured we had seen the last of them. Wrong. When we came up to the infamous Cumberland Dividings, there they were stuck fast.


    Long ago, some NOAA chart draftsman was either hung over on Monday morning or similarly indisposed and drew the worst chart error I can recall.


    The magenta line, which is supposed to indicate the recommended route, will often take you aground on in the changeable waters of the ICW. Here, however, it is show going on the wrong side of the red markers. The proper route goes right over what appears to be a bit of solid ground. Innumerable cruisers, coming up to this spot with the chart image in their heads and looking at the red markers improbably far over to port, have run hard into the mud bank. When there are conflicts between chart and day beacons, FOLLOW THE MARKERS! We did and never saw less than 13 feet at dead low water.

    I sometimes miss the old days. We would have been obligated to anchor at the edge of the channel and fuss about for an hour or two helping them lay out an anchor to hold them when the tide refloated them and row a tow line over to see if we could pull them off. It would have been great fun. However, they had already called TowBoatUS and were in no danger so we accepted their wave off and continued on to the fabled cruiser’s town of St. Marys.

    It’s been a long time here since I had to report a navigational mistake of my own. Half a mile from the anchorage, the engine died. My mental math about fuel consumption had failed me and the distraction of the excitement in the dividing made me forget to check the gauge. This is why I always keep the jib ready to roll out. We were quickly under sail and anchored as people did for hundreds of years.

    After bleeding the fuel system and switching to the second tank, we had a happy hour with a dozen oysters. Dinner of a Low Country Boil followed producing a beautiful smile in the snug cabin.



    The next day and night were rainy. We explored St. Marys and visited several of the small museums that make this such a special place. The rain is predicted to end just before slack tide this morning which we need to back into the awkward fuel slip at Lang’s and we’ll them be on our way into Florida.

    Full album here:

  2. gandalf


    Joined Jun 15, 2009
    18 posts, 0 likes
    Vancouver 32
    US Portland/Falmouth
    Well stuck here in Maine I am off course jealous but I so fondly remember the marshes of Georgia and Fort Frederica with my 9 yr old in 1990. Subsequent trips I have generally run off shore from Charleston to Fernandina Beach. Some day perhaps again the inner voyage. Like you I think my days of cruising alone are generally done. Unlike you I have yet to find an Admiral to accompany me. Pax

  3. RichH


    Joined Feb 14, 2005
    4,775 posts, 12 likes
    Tayana 37 cutter; I20/M20 SCOWS
    US Worton Creek, MD
    Actually the 'channel' there has continually greatly changed to its new location from about 8 years ago. Presently, 59A is now actually in/near the MIDDLE of the 'new' channel .... if southbound, you then parallel the bank from 59A and go straight across the intersecting creek until the depth becomes shallower than ~15-20ft.; turn to stb and hug that far bank and then slowly return to the infamous magenta line. If one 'reads' the water, it all becomes clear.
    Its amazing that the CG hasnt corrected this ERROR by relocating the majority of the 'marks' at this ever shifting area. All the 'commercials' traveling this area simply run quite tight to 'the green side' all the way through the turn.

    Another same type of infamous AICW channel drift that hasnt been "re-marked" for years is further south on the Amelia River (R42??? ~30°14'N / 81°28'W) near Alligator Creek .... all the commercials hug the outer/green side of the bend using their depth sounders and ignore all 'the reds' which are waaaay far from the actual channel.

  4. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    According to reports and what I saw, I think the markers have been moved. We ran roughly between the reds and the general line of the shore and had no less than 13 feet at dead low. It was easy to see the mud banks when we went through and the markers appear to now be perfectly placed. This section would be a no-brainer without charts. The latest charts show it quite well but there are a lot of old ones out there on chart plotters.

    Here is our track on Blue Charts:


    You can see the divot where we went over to talk to the sailboat aground on the mudbank.

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