Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Route To Jekyll Island And Navionics Demons Arise!

I need anyone with experience with Navionics to read this post and reply to me.

Also, click the picks to see larger images.

Our view towards the ICW at Sisters Creek
And the other way on the dock at Sisters Creek

The salon helm

The nautical chart of the inlet
at Amelia Island.


If there is anyone who would oppose any kind of dredging of Jekyll Creek in Georgia it would be the people who own and operate the Jekyll Harbor Resort Marina at Jekyll Island. The water dockside is deep, and tying up there is a better strategy than possibly attempting to pass through Jekyll Creek at low tide. And this caution is well deserved. 

Amelia Island
Amelia Island
Amelia Island from the
Flybridge helm
Amelia Island
Trying to pass the short distance of the most shallow part of the creek at anything other than high tide is tricky. We did once and rubbed the bottom most of the way … and Why Knot is a shallow draft vessel. So most pull into the marina and spend a day or two and enjoy this old-fashioned resort island until a high tide of their liking shows up.

We departed Sisters Creek about 9:00 am for the 54-mile trip up to Jekyll timed to arrive at the marina during the afternoon ebb slack water anytime after 4:30 pm. It was one of those weird days where I couldn't make it work mathematically to do otherwise. To arrive at Jekyll at a high tide and pass on by it to, let's say, Brunswick, meant we would have had to depart Sisters Creek during a rushing current in the dark. That wouldn't do. So I settled on a more casual strategy: leave Sisters Creek when a slight current was on our bow and lollygag most of the day to arrive at Jekyll Harbor Marina at slack water during low tide.

Railroad Swing Bridge
A waterside restaurant

Everything was unexceptionally normal for a boating day. The weather was fine, the water conditions were fine, the boat was fine, we were fine, everything was fine.

Well, not everything.

That's not the right place for a boat.
Not a good situation.
I've made a commitment to use the Navionics platform on my tablet as my primary planning and navigation system this season. I particularly liked that I could do my route planning on my laptop then sync it to my tablet. That suits me and the way I think, and up to this point that feature has been terrific. As a matter of fact, I've planned all 52 of this season's routes already on my laptop. So far so good.

There are two ways to plot a route. The standard, manual way where I (or you) would start a route and click each waypoint. We've all done that – no big deal. But Navionics has another way to do it too. It's a fully automatic plotting function where I click the starting point and the ending point and it figures out the complete course. Pretty fancy. (I think other chartplotters have that function, but it's new to me.)

Fernadian Beach Marina is still closed.
"Keep Off Dock"
For the first route, from Ortega to Sisters Creek, I plotted the course the standard way, one waypoint at a time. When we were actually underway and ran the route, everything was hunky-dory. Note that I even used airplane mode on my tablet. The tablet hummed along nicely without a burp or bump, and other than the program being a resource hog and sucking the life out of the tablet's battery like Dracula sucked blood out a damsel's throat, everything was groovy. (To be fair, when I had used Navionics in the past it used a lot of juice then too. During the couple of years that I used Plan2Nav I did not experience the same drain.)

Chart of Fernadina Beach
Another stack of boats.

But the second route, the one from Sisters Creek to Jekyll Creek, I used the automatic plotting feature. It worked, it created a route, but I had to do some editing to it. The mistakes were not terrible, like wanting to go over land masses, but more along the lines of not following the ICW line or not being the most direct route. I could have bailed out on it and manually made a new route but I decided to go ahead and use the auto-route anyway. What was done was done.

King's Bay Submarine Base
Old Fort Clinch at Fernadina

Well, when we finally got going on the auto-route from Sisters Creek, not only did my tablet have burps and bumps but major heart attacks as well. It froze, auto-restarted, skipped lengths of the route, it wouldn't hold course-up or north-up, and generally acted wonky. And, of course, it had it's greatest fits during parts of the route when a chartplotter was needed most. Lisa ended up at the helm me with a paper chart to keep me on track.

At Jekyll Island
The bridge at Jekyll Island
I figured all that craziness had something to do with the automatically generated route needing to still somehow update. The first route, as I said, was downloaded onto my tablet and ran just fine in airplane mode. The auto-route didn't like airplane mode at all, and when we were in more isolated areas, even with it connected to the inter-world, perhaps, the app didn't like the situation and had a tantrum. I don't know for sure if that was the case, but it sounds right. Our next route to Brunswick, albeit short, is a regular 'ol waypoint by waypoint manually input route. I'll let you know what happens.

Jekyll Harbor Marina at Jekyll Island
As I've asked, if anyone has experience with the Navionics application on a tablet if they could let me know if they've experienced the same thing.


Cap'n Jack said...

hi D, I'm a big fan of Navionics auto routing(AR) although I carry & update paper charts along our routes as a back-up ( I just like the backup check and also keeping my hand in on the traditional stuff). Used AR on our recent Austraiian east coast 10 week trip, Plugged in the depart/arrival points and always zoomed in to check its plotted course on plotter and paper charts before activating...great system and it worked very well. We're starting our part G.Loop cruise from Marylands to Florida Keys in late June this year.Plan to be in Tampa for Xmas. It's disappointing to see you say Navionics doesn't follow the ICW as an ARoute.... was it's suggested route shorter or deeper water in places compared to the ICW "dotted-line"? Also can you give me any advice or information about the tidal flows along the Atlantic ICW, as we'll be going north to south..?? Our preferred boat we're buying draws 3'7".

Darrell "Skipper Darrell" Grob said...

Thanks for the comment Cap'n Jack. As far as the auto routing and ICW goes, it didn't try to put a route over land or anything like that. The ICW Magenta Line route is a maintained route (for the most part) and when you go off of it to any degree it COULD be surprising, especially after the hurricanes of the last several years. The ICW has new shoaling challenges up and down the coast. And while the magenta line is by no means a guarantee of safe and hazard free cruising, it is at least watched carefully by a lot of eyes. Navionices sonar view is very helpful.

For tide and current info my main resource is the Tides and Currents website by NOAA. Here is a link to it. I hope that helps.

Darrell "Skipper Darrell" Grob said...

I didn't finish my thought on the magenta line and AR - the routes sometimes took detours away from the magenta line.