We could’ve made the passage more quickly, but I needed a few days of easy travel. So, we decided to divide the hundred miles or so from one city to the other into three days. We meant to leave a little earlier than we did on Thursday, May 21, but I was waiting on some mail to arrive at the Westin from our mail-forwarding service. It never did. The Westin Savannah Harbor has some weird mail policies. So, they’ll have to forward it on to us in Charleston. On a positive note, we did eat an unexpected, very good, brunch at the hotel before leaving.
We pushed away from the dock at 11:20 and began heading back down the Savannah River, a.k.a. Horse Fly Ambush. On the way into Savannah the other day, we were swarmed with horse flies. I must have killed two dozen with a fly swatter with many more getting away after sucking our blood. Those things are fast and hyper! On the way back down the river today, they came out in force again, though not as bad as before. I killed a dozen or so, and sustained less bites (probably due to being covered with Deep Woods Off!
As soon as we turned off the Savannah River and headed toward the Calibogue Sound, the horse flies disappeared. Thank goodness! We covered 40 miles on Thursday, making our way past Hilton Head and through the Port Royal Sound. Eventually, we turned up the Beaufort River and anchored in a lovely anchorage just south of Beaufort, S.C. That’s pronounced “B-ew-furt,” not to be confused with a town on the coast of N.C. whose name is spelled exactly the same, but pronounced, “B-oh-furt.” I just figured this out today for myself (and I saved you the trouble).
When planning an ICW trip, it’s necessary to consider tides and currents. Ideally, you’d like to be going with the current most of the time (our speed can double when compared to heading into the current). You’d like to go through the shallows and the shoals when the tide is high and through the fixed bridges when the tide is low. When they are directly next to each other that’s a problem (actually you’d like a mid-tide). If you are going to dock somewhere you’d like to arrive at slack tide, so that you don’t have to fight the current to keep from hitting nearby boats and docks. Anyway, now that I’ve offered this primer on navigating the ICW, today’s trip worked out perfectly. We traversed the shoals around Field’s Cut, exiting the Savannah River just before high tide and we passed beneath our two fixed bridges of the day on a falling tide past mid-tide.
We are the only boat in a very large anchorage just off the ICW about a mile south of Beaufort. We arrived just before 6 p.m., giving us just enough daylight to dinghy into town for dinner. Beaufort is another lovely old coastal town. We had the best meal at a place called Breakwater Restaurant and Bar. Cindy had some fried chicken that was smothered with a white gravy and was melt-in-you-mouth delicious! After dinner, we returned to Beatitude for a beautiful quiet night in our secluded anchorage which we had all to ourselves. We sat in our salon watching the crescent moon descend into the western sky, accompanied by the brilliant Venus. There must have been some kind of celestial alignment event since Cindy beat me in two games of the card game, golf. I believe I had won perhaps forty in a row before that.
After accumulating the tide and current data, we decided to make our departure time just after 10 a.m. The change in the temperature from the time we went to bed to when we awoke was remarkable. We were uncomfortably hot and sweaty in the evening, but awoke to cool, breezy temperatures in the morning. The change was quite refreshing. So, we weighed anchor and started toward the Ladies Island Swing Bridge in Beaufort. My information stated that it opened on the half-hour. Unfortunately, my information was wrong. It opened on the hour. So, we went very slowly in circles for forty-five minutes waiting on the 11 o’clock opening. That was the only glitch in the day’s travels.
I did re-engage the armies of the horseflies, once again. There were at least two dozen killed or wounded (mostly killed) on the horsefly side, with no human casualties (although there was some human aggravation). Those things swarmed the boat again just as we neared the mouth of the Coosaw River and stayed with us for most of the trip. I would have gladly agreed to a cessation of all hostilities, but they were belligerent. Oh well… it made time go by quickly. Things worked out well today from a tide and current standpoint. The one fixed bridge we went under had 67’ clearance at mid-tide. We saw no less than 9 feet of water all day in the areas of shoaling. The weather stayed cool, so a sweatshirt was the apparel of choice throughout the day.
We covered right at forty nautical miles today, dropping anchor in 12 feet of water (at low tide; that’ll be 20 feet an high tide) with 140 feet of chain rode. Our location tonight is about the most secluded, idyllic location you could ask for. There is no civilization anywhere close by. We are located on Toogoodoo Creek in the Toogoodoo Marshes (I just like typing that word). Once again, we are the only vessel in sight. We have this large anchorage all to ourselves. Putting eighty miles behind us on the first two days means that tomorrow’s travel in to Charleston, will be much easier. I figure we’ll have about 27.5 miles to cover in all.
In order to arrive at the marina near slack tide and to avoid bridges at high tide, we started earlier today than we had the last two days. The anchor was out of the water by 7:30 a.m., and we were heading the one mile back down Toogoodoo Creek to join up with the ICW. Today was a gorgeous, brightly sunlit, yet cool and breezy day with a high in the 70’s. The trip up the Intercostal Waterway was picturesque. The past few days, I’ve been surprised at the dearth of boating traffic on the ICW. That all changed as we neared Charleston on a Saturday (and on Memorial Day weekend). By the time we approached Charleston Harbor, there were boats of all kinds coming from every direction.
There were no significant issues during the 27 nautical mile trip from Toogoodoo Creek to Charleston Harbor Marina. Cindy worked on art in the salon while I manned the helm station. We encountered two 65’ bridges today (each cleared with no problem before high tide) and one drawbridge. The only real challenge for the day was entering Elliot Cut which connects the Stono River with Charleston Harbor. Current can be a problem here as the volume of water flowing through a narrow opening can reach a significant velocity (4-5 knots according to reports). We probably encountered a 3-3.5 knot current as our progress was slowed to around 3 knots for a while. But, Elliot Cut was soon past and we were rounding the southern tip of the City of Charleston . As we did so, our marina came into sight just before the 186’ tall Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The dock master was on the dock to help us tie up when we arrived at 12:30 p.m. We’ll rest this afternoon and go to dinner tonight. Tomorrow, we hope to meet up with our dear, long-time friends, Justin and Shera, who live in Charleston.