Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Gone to Carolina

We are under way in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore Pritchards Island, roughly abreast of Beaufort, SC. We left Port Royal Sound this morning intending to make Charleston Harbor tonight, but winds which were forecast to be on the starboard quarter are, instead, on the nose, making for a bumpy ride. We have bailout options at St. Helena Sound and the North Edisto River, and it remains to be seen if we will tough it out and go the distance.

Sunday we came in from offshore at St. Catherines Sound on an incoming tide, and rode the flood all the way upriver to where it stops, at the headwaters of the Bear River, the junction of Cane Patch Creek and Buckhead Creek. We dropped the hook in a familiar spot a short distance from the Florida Passage (map).

That put us a stone's throw from our good friends John and Laura Lee, but I again tested positive under way. Even though we are both past the nominal end of infectiousness per CDC guidelines, the positive antigen test gives us pause to spend any time with friends. We had a nice dinner and a quiet evening on board, enjoying lightning fast Internet from space, as the Starlink now seems to be "roaming" properly. We got a glimpse of the total lunar eclipse before it was obscured by cloud cover.

We got an early start yesterday morning, to transit the infamous Hell Gate at high tide, and then make our way into Delegal Creek, where there is a 3'-4' bar at the entrance. We tied up at the fuel dock at the Delegal Creek Marina (map) to bunker 300 gallons at the relatively good price of $5.25. We dropped lines and skedaddled back out of the creek 45 minutes later, with the tide dropping just a foot. We cleared the bar with plenty of depth to spare.

Back on the ICW before lunch, we continued our northward journey through Savannah. Seldom do we pass through Savannah, our old stomping grounds, without stopping, but we're on a mission. Louise checked the outside weather and determined we could make a passage today, and I consulted the charts to determine that we could make Charleston on a long day. That would catch the schedule up a bit and give us more breathing room.

Sunset over Georgia from our anchorage on the Bear River.

Normally when we are trying to make miles and we have a good window, we'll do an overnight passage. That lets us do in one day what normally takes us 3-4 days. And we had just come to the point of doing outside passages again, after my heart surgery, on our northbound jaunt from the Keys. But COVID has wound back the clock, and we're again restricting ourselves to daylight running. That sets a firm limit of 15 hours or 90-ish miles; Charleston Harbor is 90-ish miles from Savannah on the outside.

Going outside from Savannah means running out the Savannah River, and this morning that would have been ten miles against two knots of incoming tide from the last reasonable anchorage. Making Hilton Head by the end of the day looked good, but we'd be arriving at the very shallow Fields Cut, just north of the river, at a low tide of -0.8', basically impassable for Vector. Instead we opted to race down the Savannah River on the outgoing tide yesterday afternoon.

Our plan was to check out a possible anchorage behind Tybee Island, near the mouth of the river, which would have made for an easy departure this morning, with a backup plan of continuing to Hilton Head via Calibogue Sound. Ocean swell wrapping around Tybee made that option untenable, and instead we picked our way across the bar at low tide and headed for Calibogue. At least I had the current with me in both directions, as the tide changed while we were in Tybee Roads.

That push got us all the way to Skull Creek by the end of the day, ironically having us run right past $4.99 diesel. Oh well. Not worth waiting for that fuel dock to open back up this morning. We continued on to the last anchorage before Port Royal Sound, a spot called Seabrook Landing, and dropped the hook (map). We had a quiet night.

With a very long 11-12 hour day to Charleston today, it would have been tempting to weigh anchor in the early hours. But there was that pesky tide again. It's ten nautical miles from the ICW to the northbound turn out of Port Royal Sound. At 7am, that would have been against an incoming current of 2.2 knots. We opted instead to weigh anchor at 8:30, where we had just 1.7 knots against us at the start, and a slight following current just before we made the turn. That means dinner at sea and an arrival after sunset, but Charleston Harbor is an easy entry in the dark.

As I wrap up typing, we've already passed the first bail-out option, and, unless seas get worse, we will probably press on the whole way to Charleston. We should ride into the harbor on the last of the flood. It's a coin toss right now whether we will go back outside in the morning and head to Winyah Bay, or continue up the ICW, timing the various shallow spots along the way.


  1. I can't imagine anchoring in Charleston Harbor. So many wakey boats! ;) When the tide cycle is not cooperating, the logistics become that much more difficult!

  2. Please forgive me if this is an impertinent question, but reading this post I found myself wondering if you miss the bus at all? I think I have been reading your blog since, maybe, 2006. When you lived in the bus, your travels ranged far and wide. Now you have the boat, you seem to have settled in to a routine that goes up the east coast in spring and comes back down in fall, with considerable time spent in Florida. Does it feel repetitive when compared to the life you had in the bus? I’ve been wondering this for a while now, and finally plucked up the courage to ask. Thanks, and I again apologise if this comes over as intrusive or impertinent.

    1. Excellent question. At this moment, yes, it feels repetitive, and I am blaming the pandemic and then medical issues for three years of east coast runs beyond plan. We were in the Bahamas when the pandemic started, and, frankly, I was hoping that was the year we were going to finally get past the Turks & Caicos and into the Eastern Caribbean. The pandemic turned us around, and then trapped us here -- even Canada proved elusive. Prior to that, we'd escaped the east coast several times -- once for our excursion up the Tenn-Tom, down the Mississippi, and around the gulf to Brownsville, TX, once to complete the Great Loop, and three times cruising the Bahamas, one of which took us all the way to T&C. The future is uncertain, due principally to ongoing Covid-related travel restrictions that vary widely among different countries. But my hope is that we will eventually cruise the Caribbean and possibly through Central America and on to the west coast. Right now, we're in desperate need of paint, and that may yet dictate another east coast season.


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