To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Marsh Island — the value of experience

Started: ICW Mile 710, Cumberland Island, 30°45.943′N 081°28.329′W

Anchored: 2 miles from ICW Mile 740, Marsh Island, 30°23.74′N 081°30.43′W

Log: 31.2 nm. Time 5¼ hr. Engine 5¼ hr.

Yesterday we hiked Cumberland Island. I think we put in maybe 10K meters. CA thinks it might have been farther. We walked the Parallel Trail from the dock to Stafford Campground. It was delightful to do a little leg-stretching in the cool air.


Today we motored through a tough bit of the ICW between Fernandina and the St. John's River. Last year, we ran aground twice in that stretch. It's not well marked, the shoals are shifting very quickly.

This year, we managed to handle it much more smoothly.

Experience, right?

Yes, but not merely our experience.


It's the use of the Active Captain app on the iPad coupled with a Dual XGPS150A GPS antenna that does it. The Active Captain database provides us details of local knowledge about the shoals and how to traverse the area.

CA reads the various comments, sorts the hogwash from the useful stuff, and recommends a course. Wonderful to have combined wisdom (and some garbage of limited value) from other folks who've transited the area and shared their experiences.

Last year I was sort of able to drop to marks to indicate problems. I wasn't smart enough to drop marks showing the solutions. Duh. This year, I dropped marks in the deep water areas that we found. Next year, I'll know where to go — drive over the marks I left.

Another Example

Another example of our experience not really being all that interesting was today's fabulous tides. I sort of looked over the tides for today. I have a nice tide app on my phone that shows heights, but not currents. It showed high tide around 10-ish. Active Captain shows both heights and currents.

I didn't look closely at the currents for the whole 30 mile stretch of ICW. I think that people who know the waters can tell where the ebbs and floods start and stop. I have no clue. And there's no summary. It's a lot of details for each tide station along the way.

But this morning, we rode the flood up the S. Amelia river, and then rode the ebb down the Saw Pit and Sister Creek to the St. John's river like we knew what we were doing. It was breath-taking. We were doing 7+ knots in places with Mr. Leman just sort of idling along.

If only I could plan that kind of thing.

Now we're on the hook in a wide spot on the St. John's river. Tomorrow morning the tide should be flooding in the morning, giving as a healthy push for the next 20 miles to Jacksonville and the Ortega River.

Equipment Failures

Up until a few minutes ago, I thought our forward range light had failed. I intensely dislike the little Perko 1331 Steaming Light. I assume there's some clever way to get the bulb and the reflector into the rubber framework, but when you're hanging 25' above the deck, and don't want to risk dropping everything, it's right painful to work with.

I think I'd like to replace it with some kind of "Masthead Combo Light:" a forward steaming/range light plus a light that shines down on the foredeck. This allows me to also replace a light that hangs underneath the spreader — if I can rearrange the wiring. The really cool LED masthead lights are amazingly expensive: $200 for a cheap one to \(550 for an inexplicably expensive one. But if I get a 31mm festoon LED bulb (\)30) maybe that's good enough.

In this case, there are two problems. First, the darn thing is feeble. Not very bright at all. Second, you have to remember to turn it on when you turn the running lights on. And off when you turn the masthead tricolor on.

I forgot to turn on the running light, causing me to wonder why it wasn't working during my late-night watch.

I get these watches:

  • 16:00 to 20:00. This includes sunset and the associated prep for night ops: lights on, sails reduced.
  • midnight to 04:00. Mostly this involves patiently watching miles tick by.

  • 08:00 to noon-ish. This may run past noon, depending on lunch prep.

CA gets these watches:

  • noon-ish to 16:00.
  • 20:00 to 24:00. This, too, involves patiently watching miles tick by. We try to minimize sail handling at night.

  • 04:00 to 08:00 so she can enjoy dawn at sea.

She also does meal prep, so she puts in more hours awake than I do.

Since we've only done this about seven times, we're not completely sure what we're doing. We're trying to get it to be a simple, regular, boring thing we do.

Our Macerator pump doesn't seem to work. It spins. It makes a lot of noise. But the holding tank level doesn't go down. We tried it when we were off shore. Every few hours we gave it another spin to see if the clog had passed through. Nothing.

The previous failure modes had been (1) no noise at all and (2) jammed and unable to turn. The difference between the two ways of not making noise was subtle. I took the old pump apart and found that the parts had corroded enough that the macerator assembly had fallen apart and couldn't be reattached. The replacement pump also didn't run. We left the seacock open until enough water had sloshed around that the hoses were clear enough that the pump could run.

I think that means I have to ream out (or replace) the hose from holding tank to pump. I'm not sure how to get access to it. It might involve removing the holding tank to get at the fittings. I think they're accessible under the hanging locker behind the companionway ladder.

The problem with holding tank and macerator isn't so much the yuck factor. There is a big yuck factor. More is the testing problem. We can't test the macerator until we're three miles off shore.


Attribute Value
Depart Started: ICW Mile 710, Cumberland Island, 30°45.943′N 081°28.329′W
Arrive Anchored: 2 miles from ICW Mile 740, Marsh Island, 30°23.74′N 081°30.43′W
Log 31.2 nm.
Time 5¼ hr.
Engine 5¼ hr.