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Kayaking To Cumberland Island? Check The Tides!
Kayaking to Cumberland Island, Georgia, is truly coastal Georgia kayaking at its best. Cumberland Island has long been a destination for tourists seeking beaches and classic jungles; But over the past 15-years, kayaking to the island has become a must-do for paddlers from all over the world. The journey to Cumberland Island, however, is not for beginners; and even experts can find themselves Up The Creek if they don’t identify the current.
Tidal currents in the area are very common and can be a double-edged sword. If you know what the tides are doing and work with them, tidal currents can make your trip fun. If you don’t listen to the currents, they can make your dreams come true. There is approximately a 6-foot to 10-foot tidal range here on the east coast; means that, depending on the time of the year and the time of the month, High tide can be 6-to-10-feet above low tide. That translates to a lot of water coming and going through this water every 6 hours. The result is that tidal currents can reach 6-kts or more! For reference, that’s how fast a competitor in a kayak makes the race.
So, check the tides before you head out to the island – or before paddling anywhere within 20-miles of the coast. With the tide in your favor, the trip to Cumberland can take anywhere from an hour and a half to a little over 4-hours, depending on your location. From the boat out of Crooked River State Park, the journey to Plum Orchard is approximately 6-miles and to Sea Camp is approximately 9-miles. For those in the back country seeking solitude at Brickhill Bluff, the trip is about 12-miles (paddle 6-miles to Plum Orchard, then 6-miles up the Brickhill River to your destination camp). With a 5-hour window of tidal current (you lose some time when walking to the shore), any of these places can be easily reached by an experienced kayaker.
To discuss local currents in an area, you should contact a local expert, or at least pick up a current map from a local fishing tackle shop. or grocery store. On the coast, everything that happens in the water is affected by the tides in one way or another, so the charts should be easy to find. After getting the tide report, check the tide on the day you plan to paddle and then use the correct setting for your put in and take out. The time specified in the form will be calculated on the side bar; but it takes about two hours for that water to reach the put at Crooked River State Park (the most popular jumping off of the paddlers to Cumberland). When kayaking to Cumberland Island, in other words, find the High Tide for your departure date and add two-hours to that. You’ll want to leave soon after High Tide at Crooked River State Park and ride the currents out to the island.
To return, you will have to leave the island after the storm and ride the current, or flood, as it causes the body of water to flow and pull the water back at the Crooked River State Park – where you want. until before the next Kingdom. If you don’t return to the Crooked River before High Tide, the tide will change and the tide will back up in the river as it returns to the Atlantic. Don’t Think You Can Paddle Against Now! You Can’t Do It. Think of the Crooked River as a reversible treadmill that changes direction every 6-hours, and quickly accelerates to speeds that are unmanageable for paddlers.
Combined with the wind, the tidal currents in the Crooked River can sometimes create extreme conditions that require skill to negotiate. Make sure you’ve met the competition and check with local experts when you’re planning your trip to avoid any travel mistakes. Paddling to Cumberland Island is worth the effort, so check the currents, and make sure you understand the currents before you put in, to make sure your the trip started and ended on a good note. .
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