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Old 05-01-2011, 10:32   #1
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Can You Get Local Knowledge BEFORE You Sail . . .

I'm becoming more and more concerned about the controlling depth in the channel I normally take (Angelfish Creek) from Biscayne Bay to the outside, but this is a general question that could apply anywhere: how do you get (or, CAN you get) local knowledge BEFORE you set out? For instance, in this case, chart 11463 would leave you with the conclusion that the controlling depth at #2 (see inset #3, page B, of chart 11451 or chart 11463) could be as little as 4'. I know this not to be true for this channel (although I suspect it is shoaling, and would like to find out, hence this message), but in most instances I would not know that this channel was passable. Any suggestions? I know I can radio local towboat operators when I am in the vicinity, but generally I prefer to have a plan(s) in place before I go. BTW, LNM are no help, it seems to be quite a while since this channel has had an official sounding.

Thanks, Pete

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Old 05-01-2011, 10:54   #2
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To help with the general question, have you considered They are a good resource of cruiser input, popular locations are more frequently updated.

Some other websites that share information that might help: Cruiser's Net Waterway Cruising Guide | Home

Or perhaps you can call a local/nearby marina.


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Old 05-01-2011, 11:02   #3
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Cruisers net and waterway guide are pretty proactive on reporting many problem areas on their comprehensive websites. But no guide book or website is up to date on all problem areas. Sometimes you just have to ask around locally. Calling the 2 major towboat operators is a good idea also. If you really aren't sure, take your dink out and do some soundings yourself. A variation on 'trust, but verify'.
And make sure your towing insurance is paid up!
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:41   #4
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Jump in the Dink and take your lead-line and handheld GPS.

The dinghys of the Super Mega (Etc) 'Yachts' have their own depthsounders on board. I understand the most expensive can send the information directly to the bridge of the main boat.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 05-01-2011, 12:13   #5
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Old 05-01-2011, 12:24   #6
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If you don't have/can't borrow a hand held depth sounder, then the following methodology seems to work:

Get a pretty heavy weight (dive weight, etc), tie it on a bit of line so that it hangs down to a depth equal to your draft (plus whatever makes you comfortable), tie it off on your dinghy. Wait until low water slack, motor through the channel watching the weight line. If it does not hit bottom, neither will you! And of course, you might well wait for high tide to move your boat.

If there is any doubt we've found it better to check ourselves rather than depending on info from others. Especially, we've found that it is a bad idea to follow some newly met local in a canoe who promises to "take you to the best anchorage"... they simply don't always understand how deep a yacht's keel might be!


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Old 05-01-2011, 13:19   #7
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Old 05-01-2011, 13:32   #8
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Thanks everyone, before we get too many more responses about how to measure the depth in the dinghy, etc, I just want to mention that that doesn't happen BEFORE you leave, it happens AFTER. I'm really interested in finding out if there is a reliable way to get this information in advance of departure. Unless maybe I can ask someone else to go ahead and measure the depths in their dinghy?!? pete

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