Georgia’s Tides and Currents

Today was one of our trickiest days. Georgia has about eight feet of tide so that translates into some serious current at the docks. Obviously, it’s best to extricate yourself from your slip, and turn in a narrow fairway, at slack current. Georgia also has the most troublesome of the shoaled trouble spots, most notably Little Mud River. It is best to transit those pinch-points with some extra water—in fact, most sailboats can’t get through without tidal help. Add to our wish-list a rising tide, just in case you draw 6 feet and try to go through when it’s only 5 ½ feet deep.

But sometimes all those planets don’t align. So our plan today was a split fleet, depending on the difficulty of slip assignment and the constraints of each boat’s keel. Part of the fleet left at first light with leader Tom Hale, and part of the fleet departed at slack current with leader Mark Doyle. Our goal: to stage as close to tomorrow’s trouble spot as feasible for each boat.

S/v Minuet poured it on, putting out all their canvas along the Ogeechee River:

Minuet (1)

And morale was high on s/v Foreign Affair, where new crewmember, Carla Meister, joined for one of the most challenging parts of the 800-mile ride:

Foreign Affair

 

So, tonight, the entire fleet is scattered, anchored amongst the winding saltmarsh creeks of the coastal plain of Georgia: Duplin River, Queens Island, Wahoo Island, or Crescent River anchorages. It’s not a bad compromise!

As I stand on deck in the dark, I see the little white lights of all the anchored boats. Yet, as far as I can see, with a 360º view, there isn’t a single house light in sight. The waxing gibbous moon is glowing with a broad halo of Georgia humidity. And I hear the night sounds of a Georgia anchorage: the lapping of the strong current on our anchor bridle, the clapper rails clap-clapping from the adjacent saltmarsh, and crickets vibrating from the distant pine hammocks. About 90 percent of Georgia’s sea coast is undeveloped, a rare thing along the Eastern Seaboard. It is a privilege to be able to experience it so intimately.

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