We opt’d for a late 11AM departure from Beaufort, SC. When we went to leave the current was pushing us so hard against the dock that our bow & stern thrusters were not able to move us away from the dock. A fellow boater on SV Bay Dreaming came over and held our spring line so I could motor the stern off the dock and then back into the current. Amazing how strong the current can be in this area with 7-8′ tides.
Soon we were at the Southern tip of Paris Island.
Our friends Ann & Todd’s son Conner is there going through boot camp as we pass. We are reminded by the sounds of freedom (Jets screaming overhead).
My brother just let me know that yesterday a guy caught a 17′, 3500lb. great white shark off Hilton Head Island.
Today’s trip was short and we only passed a few sights pictured below
Soon we were dropping anchor in the 20 kts winds and it surprised me when after lining up bow into the wind we quickly spun around in the strong current with our stern facing the wind.
The sunset’s here in the lowlands of South Carolina are amazing.
We weighed anchor at first light in the Waccamaw River and it was foggy.
I felt bad that we had to put on our automatic fog horn so early in the morning as there were other boats sleeping on anchor (or at least they were sleeping). At times the fog was thick enough that you would not be able to see the small duck hunting boats that zip around in this area.
It rained all day. Not good for the folks who lived along the river banks. The river had already overrun its banks and many of the riverbank homes were dealing with flooding. More rain was the last thing they needed.
Then the fog would return.
When it was clear we got to see the lowlands of South Carolina. Beautiful grasses that extend out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Along the way we passed a steel hulled sailboat that was anchored in the same location as when we came up this part of the ICW in the spring. I guess like many is just permanently anchored along the ICW?
We passed someone’s boat that was still tied to the dock but had sunk for some reason or another.
Our plan for today was to attempt to make it all the way to Charleston, SC. The currents were helping us along and there was not traffic or bridges to slow us down. We ran right up until dark and had to settle on a wide open commercial anchorage just off Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor. Kelly asked that we pick an anchorage that had cellular service as it was football and she had been watching the Giants / Bears game but the Patriots game was on next.
We anchored next to a large sailing catamaran and the winds were blowing. The weather was bad as there were thunderstorms moving through that were bring wind gusts up to 55 MPH. A quick look at my weather apps showed them passing directly over us on anchor.
While on anchor I captured some of the storm.
Our leg today looked something like this … (80 NM)
We had spent a fun two nights at St. James Marina with friends. Kelly & Wende got to compare charity bracelets made by their niece, Michaela over drinks.
While we were at the dock I watched a sailboat snap a piling off. I felt bad for the captain as there was some mis-communication that had the sailboat backing out of a fairway in the marina and then incorrectly tying up to a T-dock that was reserved for a similar sized sailboat that had just entered the marina’s entrance. The captain quickly untied from the T-dock and attempted to back up but while he must have thought he had shifted from reverse into neutral, was clearly still accelerating in reverse. He hit the piling and snapped it off without putting a single scratch in his boat. I don’t know what the manufacturer of this sailboat is but that’s a solid boat.
After that excitement, I spent some time finding an iPad app that would give me detailed charts of the Bahamas. I settled on the Aqua Map app. I had been using Charts & Tides by Navionics.
I was not happy that when Garmin bought ActiveCaptain.com they killed the integration with other iPad navigation apps in favor of integration with their own chartplotters.
I had been using Charts & Tides for the last 15 months because it was not very expensive to purchase the Navionics charts for the US & Canada ($30 or so) and the app gave me ActiveCaptain integration. ActiveCaptain.com was a web page that had a live map and a database of crowd sourced data and reviews of marinas, anchorages, local knowledge and hazards to navigation. Better yet iPad navigation apps could download the ActiveCaptain database of information for offline display in any compatible iPad navigation app. ActiveCaptain integration is a must for cruising the ICW. It puts small icons right on your navigation screen that show you marinas, places to anchor, hazards to navigation and local knowledge of inlets and difficult areas. Charts alone don’t list the nearest place to anchor when it’s dark and you need to stop for the night. Knowing there is a shoal around the next bend in the ICW and the only way to safely get past it is to hug the red daymark to within 30 ft is knowledge that active captain gives to you right on the navigation app’s screen (if the app has active captain integration). The Charts & Tides app which is extremely easy to use and very intuitive had ActiveCaptain integration until Garmin bought them and they seem very slow to fix the broken integration. You can however buy a Garmin Chartplotter and get ActiveCaptain. hmmmm?
I did not want to be forced to buy an expensive Garmin chartplotter. When we purchased MV Simple Life we chose to outfit our trawler with Raymarine electronics for navigation. Expensive navigation electronics like chartplotters, radar, depth and AIS are essential but when cruising the ICW you need to use an iPad with a navigation app that supports ActiveCaptain.
Aqua Map has ActiveCaptain integration and also allows you to purchase the very detailed Explorer charts for the Bahamas. I have never sailed around the Bahamas so step one was to purchase the charts and start studying the different islands and cays to plot my own safe routes to anchor locations of interest.
When we awoke our friends Jim & Wende had left squid wings and fishing tackle on our swim platform. I had been asking Jim for tips on catching fish in this area of the Atlantic and advice from someone who fishes the area is exactly what we need.
Soon we were making our way past ICW MM 325
We made it through the Lockwood Folly section of the ICW without touching bottom near low tide.
We passed many amusing sights along the ICW shore.
We passed this sailing catamaran that must have just gotten to tired to continue or find a place to anchor off the ICW so they just dropped anchor on the edge of the ICW. They used both a bow & stern anchor to prevent swinging into the channel but I would not be comfortable with the fog that another boat would not hit us.
There were hazards that were floating down the ICW like this dock.
As we came into Myrtle Beach area we started to see lighthouses & golf courses.
It was raining and foggy.
Soon we were tucking into the Waccamaw River to anchor for the night.
Kelly made an amazing chicken fajita dinner to enjoy as the sun was setting in our swampy anchorage. It was yummy!
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.
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
We passed this “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.
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.
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.
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?
Even more surreal were the clouds. It’s easy to find beauty in these!
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.
Tree lined Waccamah river
While the river is beautiful the sunset is amazing..
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…
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.
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.
Once they were gone we borrowed the marina’s courtesy car. A classic Ford wagon but it’s FREE (just put gas in it).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next day I used the “courtesy car” to run to a local liquor store to stock up on Captain Morgan & some local IPAs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Each Division / District has its own website so you’ll have to spend some time finding the hydrologic maps from each ACE District. That’s a narrow drugged channel that you must stay inside of Stay 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!
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.