Monday, March 27, 2023

Charleston blues

We are under way northbound in the ICW, just passing Georgetown, South Carolina as I begin typing. We will likely end the day somewhere around Myrtle Beach which, sadly, lacks any decent anchorage.

Sunset over Racoon Island from the S. Edisto.

Friday we hit the notoriously shallow Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff at a tide of five feet, giving us plenty of water. At least until we got to the dredge Cherokee, working on improving the situation. To go around his wires I had to swing out into what would have been just three feet at low tide.

We pressed on through the also shallow Fenwick Cut but then ran out of tide to make Watts Cut, and so we dropped the hook in the South Edisto River (map) at just 2:30 in the afternoon. 20 knots of wind and an odd turbulence at this curve in the river made for some chop in the anchorage, and, in hindsight, we should have pressed on another three miles to a more protected spot, in spite of two knots of adverse current.

Dredge Cherokee working the cut. If you zoom in you can see her positioning wires hanging from the outriggers.

Waiting on a favorable tide level for Watts Cut gave us a leisurely 9am start on Saturday, and we had a fair tide most of the way to Charleston. We had a bit of excitement as the Coast Guard was making announcements about a plane crash, and we had to hold position outside Elliot Cut as police and fireboats came racing through, but that's the most we saw of it. Earlier we were hailed on the radio by long-time blog reader Larry, headed off in the other direction.

We had the anchor down in Charleston Harbor at a familiar spot in the Ashley River (map) just after 2pm. Again an early stop, but we needed a grocery store, and we would not have enough tide to continue north out of the harbor anyway. We managed to just miss the day boat catching fire in Wappoo Creek; from our anchorage we could see the plume of smoke, and the fireboats arriving some 20 minutes later, having been drawn off-station by the plane crash.

Fiberglass boat fully engulfed. The CG is now reporting it as a hazard.

We love Charleston, and with perfect weather we could easily have made this a week-long stop, save for that pesky painting appointment. And so on this pass it was not really a Charleston stop at all. We tendered ashore to Brittlebank Park, where the dock was sitting on the bottom and I needed to paddle the final five feet, and we walked to the Saffire restaurant in the Marriott Hotel, a poor substitute for the scores of great restaurants in this foodie city. At least it was inexpensive, and the food was fine.

After dinner we walked next door to the Publix to load up on provisions for the next lonely stretch of ICW, and returned to the tender with two full sacks. At least the tide had come up and I did not need to paddle off the dock.

We caught this spectacular sunset coming back from Brittlebank. The camera does not do it justice.

Yesterday morning we got a fairly early start to have a favorable tide for the shallow stretch north of the harbor. We've been through this harbor so many times our tracks make the chart look like a plate of spaghetti, as usually I have to dodge a ship or two on the way across, and today was no exception.

Just as we were getting to the shallowest part of the ICW north of the harbor, we were overtaken by the tug Bobbie Ann running light boat. She drew 11', and we put a track on her and followed it for the rest of the day. We made a short stop at the Isle of Palms Marina to pump out our tanks; one of the most efficient pumps we've ever used, and reasonable at $5 (plus the tip for the dockhands). Louise tied the boat up from on deck as usual, and the dockhands were beside themselves, remarking they had never seen anyone tie their own boat up.

Sunset over the low country from the Santee River.

The tide cycle had us in good water all the way to the North Santee River, where we dropped the hook for the night (map). It was calm, quiet, and dark, but the bugs kept us indoors even in pleasant temperatures.  We made good use of our new provisions.

We had to wait for this unique swing bridge to open this morning on the Minim canal. Basically a barge with a hinge at one corner and a bow thruster.

As I wrap up typing we are coming up on Statute Mile 390 from Norfolk. I think this is the longest we've ever stayed on the Atlantic ICW, and the forecast is suggesting we may well end up going the whole distance. If we end up getting a window to go outside, that will be my next blog update.

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