The temperatures here in South Carolina reached near 80 degrees this past weekend, only a few days after we had seen highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s, so it was just too nice of a day to sit in the slip and work on projects. Every once in a while we have to stop and tell ourselves to enjoy the boat and not work on it all of the time. As we have refitted each boat for cruising. we have worked hard and long getting equipment installed and repairs made so when the time came to head out on a cruise, we untied the docklines and were still doing projects. This time we will spend some time on sea trials and using the boat and new equipment we install before we start our next cruise.
The current here in the creek runs strong through the marina so entering and leaving the slip has to be timed for slack water as much as possible. It is tight getting in and out and since our experience with the boat is almost nil, we will tend to be more cautious until our skills and confidence levels are higher. We had a low slack water at around noon, so started our preparations for leaving the dock about 11:30 AM and backed out of the slip a little before noon. For some reason, it seems to take less effort and preparation to get this boat ready to shove off than it did the sailboat.
We had a moderate southwest breeze and absolutely crystal clear blue skies. A perfect spring day for a short trip on the Beaufort River and the local boating community was taking advantage of the great weather. We headed north toward Brickyard Creek, keeping an eye on the depth sounder since it was a low, low tide. We chose not to run Brickyard Creek because we knew there were some very shallow spots and did not feel like finding the bottom today. Along the way we found a local Police boat that for some reason was sitting high and dry way up in the marsh grass. No anchor out or any visible signs of the boat being secure and too far up in the grass to be re-floated at high tide. At least that is the way it appeared to us. Before we hit the shallow areas we turned around and headed for the downtown waterfront.
Beaufort has been one of our favorite stops along the ICW for many years. The main Marina is right in the heart of downtown and is a stopover for almost all cruisers along this stretch of the waterway. The town has that old southern charm and main street is lined with shops and restaurants. The old style hardware store that was a favorite of many has closed and is now art stores and variety shops. The streets out of town are lined with old southern mansions and trees with Spanish moss waving in the breeze. Unfortunately there are no grocery stores, hardware or parts supply stores in the downtown area, but you can find most else. As we cruised past the Downtown Marina, we found there were a few cruising boats tied up at the end of the T-dock and the usual group of suspects were at anchor just out of the channel. Many of these boats have been here for years but there is still plenty of room if one preferred to anchor instead of staying at the marina. A free dinghy dock is provided for the boats anchored out. If a tour is to your liking, the marina hosts horse drawn buggy tours of the town.
We got a big kick out of going back and forth under the Lady's Island Bridge without having to wait for an opening. With a 20 foot air draft, it will be great to not have to deal with many of the bridge opening schedules and some not so friendly bridge tenders. The boat was handling well and getting a much needed exercise of the engine. If there is one thing a diesel engine does not like, it is to sit around and not be used. We also needed the practice in this new to us boat before we head out into the sunset. The time flew by and we headed back to the slip before the currents from the incoming tide reached maximum. We got back into the slip without incident and our neighbors hardly knew we were back. All in all, one of those great days on the water.