Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Crossroads

We left Vero Beach on Tuesday, a nice, bright, sunny day. Our objective was to get to Stuart. We've never been to Stuart and there seems to be a lot of cruising activity there.

Part of the planning process for any leg of our travel involves, surprisingly enough, checking ActiveCaptain. We just implemented a new "Hazard" marker that details problem spots that develop in an area. Sure enough, our path would take us across a hazard called "The Crossroads" - the marker in yellow/orange above. This is the place where the ICW crosses the St. Lucie River and the St. Lucie ocean inlet. It's a very busy place that has been shoaling with sand over the last few months.

While approaching The Crossroads, we heard multiple boats calling for towing companies because they had grounded right at this spot (why aren't they reading ActiveCaptain!). We decided that we would arrive just after low tide and it wouldn't be a good idea to risk going through the area. Instead we anchored at Jensen Beach (another ActiveCaptain anchorage - we didn't know about it otherwise). Since we had the whole afternoon, I bothered Karen to the point of surrender in taking down the dinghy and traveling the 6 miles to see the The Crossroads first-hand before our appointment at high tide the next morning.

The kids loved the idea of getting in the dinghy as we zoomed off down the ICW at 25 knots. The 6 miles flew by and we were at The Crossroads. Lot's of boats everywhere and me with my leadline to measure the actual depths.

So it turns out there is only 4.5' of water in the channel at low tide. We would have gotten there a little after low tide and the depth would have been 5'. aCappella draws 6' and we would most certainly have gotten stuck. Chalk up another one for ActiveCaptain.

While messing around the area, the sheriff came by in his patrol boat. We had a nice conversation about the channel and all of the boats that ground there. A few boats a week bend props and break shafts by hitting the bottom there and a good five boats every day end up grounded.

This morning we got underway before sunrise to be right at The Crossroads at high tide. We never saw less than 7' although I have to admit we were all holding our breaths. Then up the river to Sunset Bay Marina where we got pumped out, filled our water tanks, and filled our gas tanks for the dinghy. We're now on mooring #51 ready for the next adventure...or hazard.


Anonymous said...

Would it be a good thing if you could upload your GPS track thru the area to AC?

I’m conflicted.

On the one hand I’d like to have the data, on the other I don’t know how I would be able to evaluate it.

Oh well, I’ve been thru there many, many times without mishap, and mostly without GPS.

Are you headed to the Gulf coast?

Mike T.
Merritt Island, FL

MV Red Head said...

There are some companies working on that type of GPS tracking with recording depth to create current shoaling info. Check this out:

Our track is at:

...but the resolution is too low to see where we got through the Crossroads.

We're going to Miami to wait for the boat show and then head off to the keys. We'll probably leave next week for the Miami Beach area and anchor out until the show comes alive. Big announcement for ActiveCaptain at the show!

John and Jeannie Coyle said...

Jeff & Karen,
We came through the crossroads last Friday and leaving this past Tuesday. We went at half tide arriving and high tide leaving and did not have any problems. Had good water all the way. Hope all is well.
We are in Ft Lauderdale and will be in the Miami Boat show then off for the Keys.
John & Jeannie