Today was a short 45 miles, but 3 opening bridges and 3 areas that have shoaled in. Shoaling on the ICW is always interesting. There are many places that have silted in or where currents have piled up sand, all invisibly below the surface. This means you can be chugging along in 15 foot deep water and then hit a pile of sand 3 feet below the surface. Merlin is a relatively deep draft boat and needs 6.5 feet of water. The controlling depth oft he ICW is 8-10 feet, so 6.5 foot draft should be no problem,….right? Well yesterday 4 boats got stuck at the same place and time at one of these areas. We made it through be leaving the marked channel and going thru what should have been shallower water. We knew to try this from comments other boaters have left on a boaters website called active captain, a real help to us. Here is the comment and screenshot of our chart that got us thru without getting stuck
The currents here run to 2 knots and tides are about 5 feet, just to confuse things. Anyway these tools are great. Then there are the bridges. Our mast is about 60 feet tall so we need to wait for low bridges to open. 2 of the bridges open only on the hour, and the other one opened on the hour and half hour, so we time our approaches carefully. But with currents that can help or hurt your speed by 30% this can be a challenge. Couple that with arriving at the bridge early with 15 other boats and a current trying to push you into the bridge, it can get really interesting. But we made it and dropped anchor at Wrightsville Beach and went ashore for a beach walk.