Carolina On My Mind

Beaufort, South Carolina is one of those don't miss stops along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and I don't think we have ever missed it. Our stay at Lady's Island Marina gave us a chance to sit out bad weather, catch up with old friends, help out old friends and renew our acquaintance with this wonderful town. But after nine days, we had the itch to move on to points north. The Chesapeake is calling and the summer is upon us. The currents in Factory Creek run pretty strong and although we could have gotten out of the slip, as we did it often when we lived here, it is still less stressful to pull out at slack water. On the day we left, slack water occurred at about 11:30 AM, so the late start and the early afternoon thunderstorms would make for an short day. Once in the Beaufort River, the incoming tides gave us a favorable current and a few extra miles per hour without burning additional fuel.

The currents along the ICW can be a big help or a big hindrance. Many boaters try and use the tide and current predictions to help make distance each day. But we can tell everyone that trying to play the currents is a complete waste of time. On this day, they worked for us almost all day, but we have learned over the many years that this is just a crap shoot at best. Sometimes, like this transit, the currents will provide us with a boost all day, and other times they will work against us. We have learned that you get up, get underway, and take whatever you get. Usually, the currents will switch back and forth several times during the course of the day. This occurs most often near inlets. If the tides are outgoing, as we approach an inlet, the current is running in our favor. As we cross the inlet and head away from it, the currents will be against us. Every once in a while we get an outgoing tide and hit the inlet at slack water. The tides reverse and we get the benefit of the incoming tide as we pass the inlet. This doesn't happen too often, but it does happen. The currents can add or subtract as much as 2 to 3 miles per hour to our speed. The reason we use miles per hour instead of knots when transiting the ICW is because the distance along the entire ICW is measured in statute miles so we don't have to do any conversions.

Our destination for the evening was Toogoodoo Creek (page 32, The Great Book of Anchorages, Norfolk to Key West), about 43 miles up the waterway from Beaufort at statute mile 495. We left Beaufort at slack low water and headed north on a rising tide. Two hours north of Beaufort is the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff and one of the very shallow spots in the waterway. With a 2-hour rise on the 7-foot tides, the shallow entrance to the cut off the Coosaw River was plenty deep enough for us. At low tides, the depths would have been less than our 4-foot draft. The rest of the day was uneventful and we made good time in the favorable currents. We reach the Toogoodoo at around 4:30 PM and the clouds were starting to build from the west. That meant thunderstorms were coming. Anchoring in most of the rivers in the Carolinas also means taking tides and current into consideration. We drop the anchor with the boat pointed into the current and let the current drop us back on the anchor. We arrived at low tide so were confident in the water depths where we anchored, but we had to allow for the 7-foot rise in the tides to determine how much anchor rode we put out. The depths when we arrived and dropped the hook were 8 feet at the spot in the river we chose, but the 7-foot tides meant we would be in 15 feet of water at high tide. Our typical anchoring scope is 7-to-1, and given the fact that the bow of our boat is 4 feet off the water and the depths would be 15 feet at low tide, we adjusted scope for 19 feet. That means close to 140 feet of anchor rode for us to feel secure overnight. It also gives us some security when the thunderstorms roll through and can have potential wind gust up to 50 knots or more. The currents will also reverse a couple of times overnight as the tide switches, but our Manson Supreme anchor has done a good job of resetting in the reversing currents. Otherwise, we might have to lay out 2 anchors, fore and aft, and we really don't like to do that. By morning, the anchor rodes will be all twisted.

The thunderstorms rolled in at about 8:00 PM, but fortunately they only contained rain and some lightning, but no wind. Sitting in these narrow rivers with strong winds against the currents can be very uncomfortable and the boat does some very strange things. In a couple of hours, the storms were gone and the rest of the night was very peaceful. The next morning we were underway early with plans to anchor at South Santee River. During the day, the forecast changed and the reports were for 15 to 25 knots of wind overnight and thunderstorms. We switched plans and headed for McClellanville to tie up at Leland Oil Company Marina. We had had reports that they now have new docks. On our last stay there, the docks were in pretty bad shape. We were pleasantly surprised to find a new floating aluminum dock on concrete pilings with new power and water posts. At 3:45 PM, we were tied up and secure to wait out weather. Surprise, surprise, the winds were calm all night and not a drop of rain fell. You gotta love our weather service. Their employees are the only people in any industry that can be consistently wrong, never loose their jobs and get paid very well for it.

We watched a strong weather front progress toward the east coast with very severe weather and knew that it would be necessary to get secured the next day when even folks like us, uneducated in meteorology, could tell it wasn't going to be fun for the next day or so. Winds to 25 knots and severe weather was approaching. We shoved off as soon as the tide came in enough for us to get off the docks and get the boat turned around in the river. A quick 3 hours would get us to Georgetown, another one of our favorite waterway stops. By 10:40 AM, Beach House was secured to the dock in Georgetown. The heat had been really brutal for the last two days. The heat index had reach 105 to 110 degrees by afternoon and even on this day, the temps had reached 85 degrees by 10:00 AM. It would be good to be tied to a dock with power so we could run the air conditioner as much as we needed. Now it was a matter of waiting to see what the weather would bring. We'll let you know how things turned out.

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  1. Hi Guys..
    Love your posts!!
    Quick question. I am looking at gensets. Has the one you purchased lived up to your expectations?? Is it good on fuel? Love to have your thoughts.
    Our best to you!
    George and Donna
    36 Gulfstar Trawler
    Kuttawa Ky

    1. George and Donna, The NextGen is doing a great job. It will run or 16,000BTU air conditioner and everything else on the boat without much effort. It's getting a real workout with this heat. It seems to burn less than a pint an hour by our estimations. I highly recommend it. Chuck


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