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jimbo
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all at Sailnet. I figured I would post a quick blog about a trip my wife an I just took on our 45 Coronado. We are very new to coastal cruising. Our plan was to travel down the west coast of Florida starting at Panama City Florida where we keep our boat. Only posting to help others know about trusting charts about depths.

Here is a quick rundown.

Day 1: 6 foot waves in the Bay in Panama City. Anchored for the night. Figured the ocean would be rougher.
Day 2: Made it to Cape San Blas. Spent the night.
Day 3: Tried to leave but waves were 9 to 11 with some 13 footers.
Day 4: Went to St George Island and Ran out of Diesel. Figured out that nothing was connected to aux fuel tank. We were told Perkins and Generator were connected to two different tanks. Got towed in by seatow. What a fantastic Investment. Bill would have been $1000.00. Muck and water were now in all the fuel filters.
Day 5: Met Harry, A semi famous local repair guy. He helped us go through fuel system and run each engine from a different tank. Had to empty aux tank which had 40 years of fuel in it.
Day 6: Finished up boat and toured the area
Day 7: Headed out to Carabelle
Day 8: Decided to head back because of coming bad weather.
Day 9: Ran aground right off the tip of cape san blas. Chart plotter said 14ft deep. Two hours later seatow arrived. We bumped the ground over and over waiting on them and hence the rudder problems.

They towed us back to Cape san blas and the next day to Panama City. Total Seatow bill would have been $3900.00. Three cheers for seatow membership. $169.00

We made it back safe. After a few weeks we got a quote from the boat yard for roughly $8000.00 to replace the rudder. Boo. We didn't have our tranducer installed and we were going by the chartplotter and we were trusting the depths. When a map says shoals...... Go waaaaay around. That means the sand moves. Very expensive lesson learned. Hope this post helps someone in the future. I still love sailing and I will do it again.
 

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Where did you go to on St George Island? There are no facilities there nor harbor except a place at the State park with very shallow water.

How far off Cape San Blas were you when you went aground? Notoriously unreliable soundings there.
 

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bell ringer
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most important instrument is the depth sounder, but I doubt you don't know this now
 

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As this is an area I cruise, I would like more info. What pass did you take to get "inside" to Carrabelle? Was it Sikes Cut to Apalachicola, the pass tween Dog Is and St George or what?
When you went aground, where you really off Cape San Blas or the west end of the St, Joe peninsula?

Going back from Carabelle, why not go to Apalach and thru the ICW to Panama City? That section of the ICW is true wilderness and Apalachicola is cool..
 

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jimbo
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Where did you go to on St George Island? There are no facilities there nor harbor except a place at the State park with very shallow water.

How far off Cape San Blas were you when you went aground? Notoriously unreliable soundings there.
We got towed thru the pass between St George and little st Georgia. Was supposed to be only 5 ft deep but seatow got us thru. We draw 5.5 ft. We were towed to apalachicola.

We looked to be 3 miles off of the tip of San Blas
 

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jimbo
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As this is an area I cruise, I would like more info. What pass did you take to get "inside" to Carrabelle? Was it Sikes Cut to Apalachicola, the pass tween Dog Is and St George or what?
When you went aground, where you really off Cape San Blas or the west end of the St, Joe peninsula?

Going back from Carabelle, why not go to Apalach and thru the ICW to Panama City? That section of the ICW is true wilderness and Apalachicola is cool..
Seatow brought us thru between st george and little st georgia to apalachicola. From apalachicola we went down that narrow channel all the way by Dog Island. Btw,... Harry from apalachicola is a great guy. Best mechanic I have ever met. Great local character too. He lives at Scipio Creek Marina.
 

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Master Mariner
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I guess you never read the warning on your chart plotter, as it warms up, that specifically states that the unit should NOT be used as your sole form of navigation, but only as an aid to navigation? Charts aren't a bad thing to have aboard, if one is traveling to unfamiliar waters. CORRECTED charts.
You also learned that you'd have been safer at sea, no matter that the waves were 10'. Less comfortable, but safer.
I'm sorry they were such expensive lessons, but ones others can learn from and ones you won't forget, right?
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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that is the problem with GPS and Chartplotters. People tend to trust them like they do in their car. If a shoal is marked "here" it must be there.. same with reefs, wrecks, and islands.

I read somewhere that more groundings and wreckings occur because people trust their GPS to be 100% accurate and will cut corners closer than if they had been boating without.
 

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Am not sure what shows up on chartplotters as I use only paper charts but even 5 miles off that Cape I think my charts show "breakers". I cannot confirm this as I dont have them here. I wouldnt get within 7 miles of that cape considering how unreliable the soundings are. The area around Cape San Blas is the fastest changing shoreline in Florida. The site of the original Cape San Blas light is way out to sea now. Scares me to even think of coming near that cape, specially when the wind is normally out of the south.
 

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bell ringer
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Am not sure what shows up on chartplotters as I use only paper charts but even 5 miles off that Cape I think my charts show "breakers". I cannot confirm this as I dont have them here. I wouldnt get within 7 miles of that cape considering how unreliable the soundings are. The area around Cape San Blas is the fastest changing shoreline in Florida. The site of the original Cape San Blas light is way out to sea now. Scares me to even think of coming near that cape, specially when the wind is normally out of the south.
Paper charts aren't any better that a chartplotter, all a chartplotter is is a ditigal chart with a GPS. The chartplotter is really tells far at Lat&Lon, but if the chart is wrong it doesn't matter much.
 

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most important instrument is the depth sounder, but I doubt you don't know this now
It really is.

And, the most important thing to know about charts and chart-plotters when cruising the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is to remember that these areas get chewed up by major hurricanes on a regular basis. You see the damage they do on the land. What is not so apparent, is how they change the sea floor, and it often takes a little while for the charts to catch up.

Sand really gets moved around by them. A good example. Look at most charts for the pass between east and west Ship Island in the Mississippi sound. You used to be able to walk between those two islands before Katrina. Most charts still say you can. But, it's 10 to 15 feet deep between them now.

And, all that sand went somewhere.

Another place to avoid is the Cape Romano Shoals. I was cruising by them a few years ago, in what the chart said was plenty of water, and even the depth finder said was 10 feet. When my wife shook me and pointed ahead of the boat. A sand bar, and we were at least seven miles from shore. I looked to the left and right and realized there were bars all around us. I backtracked using the bread crumb trail on the GPS, went out 15 miles and then went around them. :).

But, it took a long time for my blood pressure to go down.
 
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Sorry to hear about your troubles. Look at it this way, you are paying for an education like no other!

About chart plotters, I've got the spiffiest, gee-whiz plotter money can by and the darn thing has me going across land when I operate in the Mississippi Delta, Port Aransas, and Tampico. They're nice but don't trust them, or anything else exclusively. A good rule of thumb is to have three ways of fixing your position when operating nearshore or inshore....I typically use visual, radar, and GPS.

Best of luck!
 
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