Sunday, November 20, 2022

Charleston fly-by

We are under way downbound on the South Edisto River on a cold November evening. We had actually planned to be in Charleston this evening, but circumstances, detailed below, suggested otherwise. It will be sunset in a few minutes, and we will drop the hook in the twilight near Fenwick Cut.

Tuesday morning we took advantage of the marina's pumpout and then dropped lines for the ICW southbound, with the weather not conducive to an outside run to Little River. At Calabash Crossroads we turned toward the Little River Inlet and dropped the hook around 1:30 in a familiar spot (map). We just missed our friend Tim aboard s/v Paquita, who left the inlet a couple of hours before we arrived for a long outside run to Fort Lauderdale.

Vector on the inside of the face dock at South Harbor Village. As seen from near the restaurant, which is about a half mile walk.

We had a comfortable afternoon, but by dinner time the wind had shifted and the swell coming into the anchorage was rolling us, so we deployed the stern anchor to keep our nose into it. That worked great until 1am, when another shift had the waves on our beam again, and we weighed the stern anchor for the remainder of the night. The rough night had us lingering in the calm of the morning, and we did not weigh anchor until after 10.

It would have been an easy shot out the inlet for an outside run in marginally acceptable conditions down to Winyah Bay. But other than easier driving on autopilot, there's no percentage in it for a day run, as the channel into Winyah Bay adds another six miles, a full hour, to the trip. We instead made our way back to the ICW on a fair tide and continued south to Georgetown.

I wrote in my last post that lining up Thanksgiving was my next project, and I spent time both Tuesday and Wednesday getting everything nailed down. I found two restaurants in downtown Savannah offering the holiday meal, and a call to the city dockmaster revealed that the docks would be open and available on the normal first-come, first-served basis. Since our last visit they've dropped the fees and instituted a two-night maximum.

Georgetown is full of stray cats, and this one has found a daytime home in the marina office. She waits at the door each morning to be let in. She was very sweet.

We had a lovely cruise through Myrtle Beach and into the Waccamaw River. Long-ago RVing friends from the Red Cross who now live in Myrtle Beach came out to wave as we passed by, and someone we've never met posted a video of Vector cruising through Socastee on Facebook. We dropped the hook in a new-to-us anchorage at Bull Creek, just off the Waccamaw (map).

After calculating all the routes and stops to Thanksgiving we determined that we had time for a two-night stop in Georgetown, where we had figured to drop the hook. The weather forecast was calling for overnight lows in the 40s both nights, with the daytime highs only in the 50s, and after contemplating a cold stay with even colder tender rides to shore, we decided to splurge on a dock if one was available.

Evidently, cats are not the only feral denizens. They have apparently reached detente with the chickens.

The Harborwalk Marina, closest to town, was booked up, and we settled for the Georgetown Drystack Marina another quarter mile further away. After picking our way into the shallow harbor at dead low tide, we were tied alongside the face dock (map) before lunch time. They gave me a cash discount, throwing in the 50-amp power. It was nice to have all the heat we could want, and as usual Louise took advantage of 240 volts and unlimited water to get all the laundry done.

Mid-afternoon we spotted Esmeralde steaming into the harbor with our good friends Dorsey and Bruce and their adorable, if excitable, Scotty pups Maisie and Ollie. We arranged to meet for drinks and dinner at the Corner Tavern, which has great burgers and a selection of decent drafts. We had a great time and lingered for quite a while.

Esmeralde, always in Bristol condition, arrives to Georgetown. That's Bruce handling lines on the aft deck as skipper Dorsey pilots to the marina.

Friday afternoon, when it was not exactly warm but not freezing either, I took the e-bike out for a spin. I did some exploring further afield in town before landing at the Piggly Wiggly for some provisions. The Pig is a terrible store even in their biggest locations, and in this little burg it's even worse. I came back with just a little more than half the full list, but enough to get us by for a while.

After dropping off the groceries I did a bit more exploring and then stopped by Esmeralde over at the Harborwalk Marina for a quick visit. That involved a lot of dog interaction, which simultaneously made me miss having pets and be relieved that we do not have pets. The dogs are a lot of fun and a lot of work. As I was leaving the suggestion was floated to get together again for dinner, and we all ended up over at Marker 42 Low Country Cantina, a quasi-Mexican affair which had decent food but no drafts. This after walking out of Rollin' Local because they would not seat only two of us, even though the other two were less than five minutes away. We again had a lovely evening and agreed we might re-connect in Charleston in a couple of days.

Loose Italian sausage was on my grocery list. Every one of eight packages was aged to this brown color. Cased items on the left show what the color should be. There's no excuse for this, Piggly Wiggly.

Yesterday we dropped lines on a fair tide and headed toward the ICW. Outside weather would have been good for a run all the way to Charleston, but here again the outside day run is a full 16 miles, or 2.5 hours and eight gallons of fuel, longer than the ICW route, owing to the long channels to sea. On either route we would make Charleston Harbor too late in the evening to do anything but anchor and eat aboard.

On the inside route we did not need to anchor in the busy harbor or after dark, choosing instead to stop at a familiar anchorage at Inlet Creek, just east of the Ben Sawyer Bridge (map). That let us get past the worst shoal on the entire ICW, just a bit east of there, at a high tide of +5 feet. That was enough extra water for us to try an experimental route across the shoal, which turned out to be deeper than the previous "best" route by 1.7 feet, and our recorded track across that shoal has now been incorporated into the latest published tracks used by thousands of cruisers every season.

Reminding myself why we're not staying at the free city dock. Although it looked like a couple of boats tempted the $1,092.50 fate.

We had a very calm and peaceful, if a bit chilly, night aboard, and this morning weighed anchor early to get across one final shoal before Charleston. The early start had us dropping the hook in our usual spot in the Ashley River (map), across from the City Marina, right at 10am. We always enjoy Charleston, and I was looking forward to dinner ashore.

That enthusiasm waned as it got progressively colder in the saloon. It was still in the 40s, with a high today of only 50, and we had arrived with the engine barely warm and little charge on the batteries. Spending the night in Charleston would also have us pushing against a full 2+ knots of current in the morning to stay on schedule for Savannah. By 11am we were both in agreement that we'd be better off weighing anchor at slack tide and spending the afternoon under way, with plenty of heat available in the pilothouse.

Esmeralde followed us out of Georgetown Harbor and when we got to the wide deep water of the Waccamaw they came by us at full speed for a photo op.

And thus here we are in the South Edisto, having come through the troublesome Watts Cut at a tide of over 6'. The depth alarm, set at 10', was nevertheless screaming, so we'd be well aground at low tide. We have another very shallow spot about two hours ahead of us, so we will need to get an early start on a falling tide to have enough water to get through.

My next post here will be after we depart Savannah, sometime over the holiday weekend. We wish all our family, friends, and readers a very happy Thanksgiving.

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