Waccamaw River

As we sit here @8:30PM in the Waccamaw River, I can’t help but think how serene it is. Thinking back to where we began this morning, it was just 6:45AM. It’s a reminder that when your boat moves at 7 kts & you need to cover lots of ground,  you’ll be putting in long days at the helm. We used to sail for 12 hours with no bimini top in the beating sun. Now, a bit older & wiser, I hide from the sun in the pilot house. That’s not Kelly, she’s a sun worshiper. While underway during the mid-day heat, we closed the portholes and hatches to the bugs and ran the genset & AC. I know, SHAMEFUL, but Oh the coolness was a welcome reprieve against the heat and insects as we made our way down a very shallow ICW in SC.

Here is the AM sunrise in Charleston, SC.

Charleston Sunrise 2.JPG
Charleston, SC Anchorage S of Fort Sumter

As we made our way through the harbor, that very same sun became my biggest obstacle as we headed East. FYI: Don’t pick a course directly into the sun

Charleston Sun on bow
Piloting into the sun is like starring at a lightbulb

We passed this “Habah Monstah”

Habbah Monstah 1
Habah Monstah

But riding up the ICW involves paying attention to the water depth which soon dropped from and average of 12′ to under 6′. When you see the water get “thin” you slow down to prevent grounding in a way that you may not be able to power off the shoal.

Shallow Shoaling.PNG
Some areas as deep as a puddle 

I’d love to say as a captain that I never run aground but if you push hard, you’ll eventually run aground. The trick is to do it slowly. When the water is 6′ or less we proceed at low speed. We often zig zag back and forth as we move forward seeking a path to deeper water. Running aground is just a fact of life in the ICW.

Shallow 4.6 feet
Sonar graph showing water depth over time

 

Yes at 4’6″ we are aground. As a captain you learn to watch the depths and if you do run aground, do so gently. You’ll need to use that 26″ prop and 330HP to pull the bow of your 36K lb boat off the shoal that you just plowed onto. Go too fast and you’ll ground more than just the bow.  It’s also comforting to have a full keel that keeps your prop above the mud and sand.

Shallow 10
Docks, high & dry

After backing off and finding deeper water, we passed this house that just made me think .. how cool. It’s completely enveloped in trees and shrubbery. Maybe it’s a secret hideout?

Tree House 1.JPG
This house just makes me smile.

Even more surreal were the clouds. It’s easy to find beauty in these!

Clouds 1.JPG
Clouds. Are you stoned enough?

We set a date of 5/18 that we need to be in RI. Every Captain knows NEVER to do that. However, that is our fate. It means that we stress about getting the boat to a particular location on a particular day. Many times that can end in disaster because you are pushing too hard and not respecting mother ocean and the weather. We have already pushed past many other boats who chose to stay in port and I think they have the right idea. That said, we are hoping Mother Ocean will be kind to us when we need to run outside from Norfolk, VA to NYC. The anchorages are far apart and not the most protected on that leg of the journey.

But tonight, tonight it’s like a mirror on the Waccamah River. The dogs are in my lap and they are snoring away.

 

While the river is beautiful the sunset is amazing..

Waccamaw Sunset Good 0
Waccamah River sunset

 

As we get ready to retire for the night and glance up at the night sky, the stars seem to be close enough to touch. Time to contemplate life and existentialism. .  We Love feeling small in the cosmos…

Charleston SC

Our last night in Beaufort we got to meet the new owner of a 2010 North Pacific 43 called MV Quiescent and his crew mate (my fellow DB admins will recognize the term “quiescent” as we all have to place the DB in quiescent mode to perform a DB backup). Quiescent = in a state or period of inactivity, dormant.

Q-Mode meaning - what does Q-Mode stand for?
Stuff Tech Nerds Say

Kelly & I quickly set up chairs in our cockpit for our new NP friends and we enjoyed a beer and listened to their tale. They were nice folks who had just purchased the boat in Stewart, FL but had some difficulty during their trip North. After catching their lines when they arrived, I learned that they were having some electrical issues and had pulled into Downtown Marina to meet a boat serviceman to diagnose and repair the issue. After only a few minutes aboard the service guy said … “We have a bigger issue, the boat is sinking!”. Apparently, the PSS seal’s cooling hose had been pushed up against the prop shaft and melted. This caused water to begin filling the engine compartment. To add insult to injury the bilge pump switch was not operational. The water in the engine room had crested the engine room floor boards. A quick manual running of the bilge pump brought things under control as well as plugging the broken hose and adjusting the PSS coupling so it was tight enough that the flow of water coming in was down to a small stream. I’m happy they were able to get this under control as nobody wants to lose the boat they just bought on it’s trip home.

In the morning TowBoatUS strapped them into a hip tow and wicked them away to a boat yard to be hauled and repaired. I’m sure they will be back on the water within 24 hours. I hope we run into them again but under better circumstances.

Quiescent
MV Quiescent being towed in for some quick repairs

Once they were gone we borrowed the marina’s courtesy car. A classic Ford wagon but it’s FREE (just put gas in it).

Courtesy Car
It’s Free to a Good Capt

I used the courtesy car to make a run over the Lady’s Island swing bridge to Bill’s Liquors. While pulling into the parking lot a biker dude laughed and said he’s sure that the courtesy car knows how to drive itself to Bill Liquors. It was not the first time the car had pulled up out front.

Once back at the marina, we pumped out, took on 260 gallons of diesel, filled the water tanks and cast off our lines. Almost as soon as we headed North we were treated to about a dozen or so military jets screeching directly above our heads.

As the afternoon light was fading we were pulling into Charleston, SC. Charleston City Marina was full of large yachts as was the anchorage. 

Marina
Charleston City Marina

We had pre-selected several anchorages that just did not work. Most were very crowded and the reviews of a few others mentioned boaters fouling their anchors on underwater hazards. From the look of a sailboat mast sticking up out of the water I’d guess there was more than one boat sitting on the bottom of the anchorage.

As the last bit of light left the harbor we decided to simply drop the hook along the harbor’s shore and get some sleep.

Tomorrow we hope to make it to Georgetown, SC. A trip of not quite 60 miles North.

Turtle Island Anchorage

We made it to Turtle Island Anchorage.

It’s a beautiful quiet spot just inside along the Atlantic Ocean.

While standing on the bow, Kelly snapped this picture of the dolphins who escorted us around Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island.

The small Haig Point ferry past us as Daufuskie Island has no bridge.

Haig Point Community Video

Once on anchor we saw only a single tugboat slip past us.

As the sun set Kelly made us BBQ chicken & apple on toasted flatbread, yum. Bellies full, we retired to bed before it was even dark.

We awoke around 4 AM and snapped this pic looking off the stern of the boat.

The underwater lights were on and the only sounds we could hear were dolphins coming to the surface to breathe.

This sound was all around us and quite peaceful.

Beaufort, SC: The Other Beaufort

We weighed anchor in the AM and headed out of Toogoodo Creek. We followed the sinuous path that was spotted with shoals. During a VHF communication with a passing boat, the captain warned of shoals of only three feet ahead. We quipped back that MV Simple Life has a 4’10” draft (actually 4’8″ dry but after filling the tanks she sits a bit lower in the water) and that out to make things interesting. There were times when we were down to 3 kts as we hunted for deeper water but we made it to the Coosaw River as planned. What I had not planned on were the 25 knot wind whipped waves. Making matters worse, the current was flowing against the waves making them steep and breaking. Happy, our Boston Terrier, was not “happy”. She hates a lumpy ride. I had not bothered to check the weather in the AM. I was proceeding with the belief that while we were on the ICW, I could simply check the weather periodically. Even though I was aware of the Small Craft Advisory, I figured we’d never feel the full force of it while running “inside”. I was wrong. The Coosaw River runs West directly into where the 25 knot winds were coming from. We were forced to slog our way 8 miles in about an hour as the windshield wipers washed away the spray off the pilothouse windows. Not a bad ride thanks to the pilothouse.

Once we turned to port into the Beaufort River the tree-lined banks offered us some wind protection. Though even in the Beaufort River, the flags on the banks were out-straight.

US-SC & Pirates of the Confederacy

When we hailed Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC. Dockhand Troy gave us our slip assignment and caught lines as we neared the dock. We slipped just in front of the beautiful sport-fishing boat pictured below.

Sport-Fishing Boat off our Stern

Without hesitation we hopped off the boat and ran for some refreshments. We found Luther’s to be an amusing bar where the locals were.

Luther’s in Beaufort, SC

First IPA of the day and it put the smile back on my face.

We decided to check out a few more places so we hit up a fancy place called “Saltus River Grill” and while Kelly was eying their filet mignon, the only IPA on tap was terrible so I cleverly talked her into a restaurant called “Plums” that was two buildings away and served Stone IPA. Plums had amazing food and when we could not eat another bite, it was time to stroll back to the boat and check on the dogs. On our way we walked through Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. I snapped the pics below as the light got low.

Tree in Beaufort SC

The next day I used the “courtesy car” to run to a local liquor store to stock up on Captain Morgan & some local IPAs

Courtesy car

Precious cargo secured and it was time to replenish the fuel I used and get back home. For my brew-night pals, here is the list of local IPAs that I will be sampling and then reviewing using the Untappd app.

Well now it’s time to get ready to say goodbye to Beaufort, SC and on to Hilton Head, SC. We’ll check-in from an anchorage around Turtle Island next.

Sunshine Highway

We got a lazy start and the boat that was anchored next to us (captured in the photo below taken just after anchoring) was long gone by the time we weighed anchor.

Atlantic Ocean anchorage in South Carolina

Last night’s view of the sky was amazing. The stars popped like I have never seen. It would seem that being devoid of any extraneous light makes the cosmos seem even larger and us even smaller.

Moon

We navigated beneath several bridges.

Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge located at SM 462 along the ICW in Sullivan’s Island South Carolina.

Wappoo Bascule Bridge located at SM 470 along the ICW in South Carolina. Bridge height board

Both of these bridges had about 30′ of vertical clearance so no need to hail the bridge tender for an opening.

We also passed several ADVs (Abandoned or Derelict Vessels) along the way.

NOAA has a website dedicated to helping with ADVs.

Abandoned boats are a problem everywhere. When she is new everyone flocks to see her. When she falls into disrepair, her value can be upside down. The cost to junk an old boat or the salvage fee after an accident or storm only adds to the abandonment problem.

As we sailed into Charlestown, SC, you could see the tall steeple of what I think might be St. Philip’s Church built in 1836.

Charleston’s shoreline

While the thought of exploring Charleston was buzzing in our heads, we remarked that we could stop on the return trip. There are so many great stops along the ICW but if we stopped at all of them we’ll never make it to Florida.

The moss on the trees reminds you that this is South Carolina and not Rhode Island.

The type of tree that surround this home are everywhere along the shore. Maybe a type of oak tree?

I’m dying to see one of those live oaks that look like something out of a fairytale down here.

We passed many crab boats that would race between the crab pot floats that line the channel. You can always tell the boat up ahead is a crab boat because the birds follow them wherever they go. As the pot is pulled to the surface, the crabs are measured and those to small are discarded back into the sea. The flock of sea birds use this opportunity to nab an easy lunch.

Crab Boat

Don’t you just love that man’s best friend is tucked up behind the windshield absorbing whatever warmth from the sun could be found?

Kelly & I got a kick out of seeing this “flats boat” with a man on the back pushing it through the shallows with a push pole. I could only imagine how difficult it must be to balance on that small platform as the boat rocks. We slowed as we passed so our wake would not flick him into the cold water.

As the sun got low in the sky it became clear that I needed to pick which anchorage I was going to drop the hook in tonight. Kelly requests that I research anchorages ahead of time that have strong Verizon cellular signal strength so she can watch the football games using the NFL Mobile app on her iPhone. While cruising we consume cellular data like teenagers stranded at the adult party.

We anchored in a creek called Toogoodoo just in time to watch the Patriots game.

Toogoodoo Creek

Anchor to Anchor in South Carolina

We awoke this morning at sunrise and the Waccamaw River was still.

Only after looking at Google Maps did I become aware that the creek that we anchored in was really the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.

Our Anchorage in the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

Along the route to Georgetown, SC there were many hazards dotting the ICW.

We did not see many other boats as we traveled along. We did see this steel hulled schooner called SV Steel Away. Nice vessel for the ocean and anchoring in.

Steel Schooner Steel Away

We saw mossy trees.

Mossy Trees

As well as duck hunters in the mashes that lined the ICW.

Duck Hunting with Decoys

When we arrived in Georgetown, the air was scented with the smell of a paper manufacturing plant. We made the decisions to continue on.

Paper Plant in Georgetown, SC

As the sun began to set we were forced to find an anchorage and we picked this one on the Atlantic Ocean just a 1/2 mile off the ICW.

Our Anchorage Near Georgetown, SC

We dropped the hook just as the sun was setting and it was beautiful.

On Anchor Near Georgetown, SC

There was one other boat anchored with us which was about the only other boat we saw. This sailboat was from South Carolina so we are not even sure if they are snowbirds like us?

The last thing to do after a full day at the helm was to cook up some steaks on the griddle and sit back and relax.

Steak on the Griddle

Anchored in Somewhere South Carolina

We got a late start leaving St. James Plantation Marina in North Carolina. I think we were enjoying ourselves and were just slow getting moving in the AM. Kelly eventually woke and made an amazing breakfast on the griddle and I filled the water tanks, emptied the trash and pulled the boat over the pump-out and we were off.

Pulling out of the marina we were reminded how beautiful the houses are and what a great place this is.

St. James Marina Homes

As we exited into the ICW and headed South, we were reminded that this area has strong currents and tricky shoals that form around both Lockwood Folly Inlet and Shallotte’s Inlet. To offset the danger of running aground on a shoal we spent the wee hours downloading the US ACE (Army Corp of Engineering) navigation hydrologic maps of the inlets. What a great job the ACE does surveying these tricky inlets and making the sounding maps available for FREE to snowbirds like us. Thank you.

Current rip in the inlets. US ACE - Army Corp of EngineersEach Division / District has its own website so you’ll have to spend some time finding the hydrologic maps from each ACE District. Ocean Isle BeachThat’s a narrow drugged channel that you must stay inside of Shallotte’s Inlet Hydrologic MapsStay to Port.

As we headed South we saw many beautiful sights.

We have no idea what species of bird this is but we are committed to learning more about the aquatic bird species that inhabit the ICW.

This lighthouse was somewhere around Myrtle Beach. It’s though to see but there were Christmas lights strung off the walkway around the light.

An Atlantic Ocean inlet. Maybe this was around Lockwood Folly Inlet?

We find the breaking waves beautiful. What a great beach for walking the dog or just contemplating life.I think the sign said something like Greg Norman’s Australian grilleWe love that this guy was taking his dog for a ride. Man’s best friend loves the boat says Happy & Chief Martin Brody. “Born 200 years too late” – Jimmy BuffettSomewhere Myrtle BeachClose Encounters or an airport building, you decide.Who wants to walk under this rack with high winds and a 10K lb boat resting 80′ over your head?

There are many dangers along the ICW..

Slow down and read the signs of life… they point toward safetyLogs are the bumps in road of life They thud your hull or fold your wheel (that’s a propeller for the un-initiated)We hate to see beautiful commercial fishing boats listing on the bottom. We joke that we’d love to pull her up drain her beige, gut her and rebuild her giving her a sexy teak makeover. Kelly reminds me that the stink of a fishing boat is not washed off with soap. Ouch!

Heart breaking.

Well, we anchored in a narrow creek tonight. It’s inky black and a bit windy but we buried the 90 pound and 3/8 chain anchor deep by backing down on it. We were forced to only let out a short scope of rode. Any more and when the tide reverses we’ll swing into the banks of this narrow creek. So we’ll call it a night and make our way to Georgetown, SC in the AM.

Anchored in Somewhere South Carolina