Because of the high winds, we spent an additional day at Denegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island in NE Georgia. Our slip was actually on the outside fuel dock, so we didn’t get a lot of protection. We were able to spot some of the wild pigs that roam across the water from us.
We shoved off in the morning of March 31st, our oldest son’s 34th birthday, our sights set on Hilton Head, SC. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, and the winds were very calm. Again, the ICW wound its way through salt grass rivers, twisting and turning along. More trees appeared on the islands as we passed, with new Spring buds and bright fluorescent green of new leaves.
For abut a mile the ICW runs through the Savannah River, which is the border between Georgia and South Carolina. Again we encountered some very swift currents, sometimes pushing us as we passed ocean inlets, other times bucking against us. We are still
getting used to the slowness of a trawler. Our average speed is roughly 8 knots, or slightly over 9 miles per hour. A long day of cruising is 65 miles, which we used to do easily in 3 or 4 hours in the Bayliner. But I’m thankful for the creature comforts we now have aboard.
Late in the afternoon we docked at the Palmetto Marina up the Broad River on Hilton Head Island. Again, we were on the outside T-dock, exposed to the wakes of bypassing boats. We walked to the nearby Hurricane Bar for happy hour, and met some interesting locals. Among them was Tommy Hawk
(famous skateboarder Tony Hawk’s cousin) who was a wild and crazy motorcycle and BBQ enthusiast. We enjoyed their company, swapped some of our life stories, and drank a tad too much.
On April Fool’s morning we went out for a delicious breakfast at the nearby Sunrise Cafe. We got going a little late, but it was pristine cruising weather. We drove past the picturesque town of Beaufort, SC, and the engine started hiccuping. Jim quickly dropped anchor in the channel, removed the engine covers, and examined the situation. Again, there was a lot of water in the Racor filter, which he drained. While pulling up the anchor, a boat approached us, telling us on the radio that his neighbor’s dock was available if we were having trouble.
Gladly, we followed him, and tied up. Allan Rae aboard ‘Evening Star’ assured us that his neighbor Rick Butler’s dock was used for transients like us. It was a Great Looper and SSCA Cruising Station, available for those in need at no charge. It came complete with power and water, a wonderful example of the typical low country hospitality.
Because of the new moon that night, low tide was lower than normal, the muddy bottom exposed for hundreds of feet in that flat country. I took advantage of the offer to walk the long dock, through Rick’s beautiful yard, and around the rural streets in the neighborhood.
April 2nd was another perfect cruising day with temps around 80 and plentiful sunshine. The rivers of the ICW were again bordered by salt marsh, passing many ocean sounds. We made it to the huge Charleston harbor, and had a little trouble navigating to the Charleston Maritime Center. That night we walked to Market Street, and around the historic
district, admiring the old houses, then stopped at an Irish Bar with live music. After a little grocery shopping (only as much as we could carry), we went back to the boat. But one problem, we were locked out! The key would not open the lock on the sliding door, so I suggested a window. Luckily one of the sliders in the salon was open because it was such a warm day. Jim was able to crawl in on the starboard side from the dock, and squeeze through. Another item to add to the repair list!
The following day after a couple loads of laundry we took the water taxi across the harbor to Patriot Point and explored the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier used during WWII, the Korean War, and to pick up 3 Apollo astronauts who had orbited the moon after splashdown. We got a private tour of the USS Laffey, a destroyer, saw an old submarine, and a recreated Vietnam supply camp. We water taxied across to the old historic district, and went back to Market Street. Being hot and thirsty, with achy feet, we stopped in at Henry’s for a couple drinks and some jambalaya. We
met up with 2 business men; one from Detroit, the other from Germany. On the sidewalk we had a nice long discussion with an old gent from England, who was slurping and munching on a large waffle ice cream cone as he talked. We hired a bicycle cab to bring us back, a young gal pedaling hard and fast to earn her wages.
Charleston was full of history and people from everywhere. Being an international seaport and tourist city, the harbor was busy with passing ships, tour boats, and water taxies. The marina we stayed at was security central (including Homeland Security) for the upcoming 10k Bridge Run, with an expected 50,000 runners. It was a bustling place, home to the South Carolina Coast Guard and even a cruise ship stop.
On Friday the 4th, we left Charleston behind after re-fueling and pump out. Again, it was a little confusing making our way through the shipping channel to find the ICW, but spotted 2 sailboats heading that way, so followed them into the narrow river. We cruised about 65 miles that day, again with perfect weather, to Georgetown, another South Carolina historic city.
For about a 5-mile stretch, two dolphins swam right along next to us, almost touching the port side of our stern. It was so magical I laughed out loud! They stayed with us even while passing a sailboat.
We had no engine problems along the way through the low country, although we had black sludge and water in the Racor filter again once we landed at our destination of Georgetown. Docking at the Harborwalk Marina was a miraculous event. We both thought we’d be making a call to our insurance company! Between the wind, current, and tight quarters, Jim managed to spin us around and basically parallel park, sandwiching the boat between 2 others. I was thankful for the capable dock hand, who caught our lines and secured us before any damage was done.
That evening we walked Front Street and the large boardwalk along the waterfront. The pool tables at Castaways Bar lured us in for a couple drinks and games of pool. We saw an old 1956 Volkswagon Bug (great year), and went back to the boat for dinner aboard.
Yesterday we made it to the south end of Myrtle Beach. It was another warm and sunny day, and since it was Saturday, there were many weekend boaters out enjoying the weather. The ride here was different, the low marsh country changed to woodlands along the deep water of the Waccamaw River. Late in the afternoon we pulled into Osprey Marina at Statute Mile 373. It is aptly named, with almost every marker along the way adorned with osprey nests, their twigs and Spanish moss obscuring the navigation number.
Since we were given a spot along the furthest dock from the marina office, they gave us a golf cart to use. Also, their is a large illusive resident alligator on site, sometimes in an adjoining swamp, or even in the marina basin. It is really beautiful here, with the mature trees surrounding the water, and an adjoining goat farm.
Shortly after arrival, a boat flew out of the marina past us. We complained about the wake, and found out the boat owner left the fuel dock without paying. Marina personnel were soon to follow, but the gal at the marina desk did some fast detective work and soon had phone numbers and the name of the guilty party. Soon the police arrived. That was our excitement for the night.
Today a cold front has moved in along with thick cloud cover. Alas, the jeans made another appearance today. We did a couple loads of laundry, Jim did some boat maintenance and hosed down the decks. In a little bit we are heading to a pizzeria (they are coming to pick us up), then to a nearby grocery store. They will deliver us back with our provisions to the marina. Such service! And I’m sure we’ll hear “y’all come back” when we leave.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will cruise out of South Carolina, the beautiful low country behind us, and head to destination unknown in North Carolina.
A-RIVER-DERCI to y’all!