Being back here at Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach is getting to be like being home. We spend a lot of time here for several reasons. The main reason is that it’s close to our daughter’s house. Another, is the people who both dock here and work here, they are some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Plus, being in Myrtle Beach, you have your choice of many, many different restaurants to explore. The crazy thing is though, we haven’t really found a great seafood place here. Most of the seafood here is ” calabash” style, meaning deep fried. And it seems as if every weekend there’s some sort of festival going on. Lots to keep you busy.

The last two runs it took us to get here from Charleston were pretty uneventful, if cold. Since we arrived too late in the afternoon to open the Wapoo Creek bridge, we dropped the hook in the Stono River. The bridge is closed between 4 and 6:30pm and we didn’t feel like waiting that long just to make a couple of more miles north. This put us three miles outside of Charleston Harbor. The next morning the bridge opened at 9am and we planned our departure accordingly. To get to the Wapoo Creek bridge from the Stono River/ ICW you have to go through Elliot’s Cut. The tidal current through this cut can be vicious and some smaller boats can only go through at  slack tides because of the current. The current, when we went through was as fast as I had ever seen it, but we were fortunate in that the current was with us.

Once past the bridge it’s a short run and you’re in Charleston Harbor. The only concern here is keeping an eye out for the tour boats to going to Fort Sumter and the container ships coming up and down the channel. Once through the harbor it’s back on the ICW. The next and last place we dropped the hook was South Santee River. It’s just off the ICW and a great spot for still water and solitude. Turns out we had a great sunset on our last night on the hook for a while.

The next day we struggled to maintain five knots speed against the current. That was with both engines running. The weather service had called for minor flooding because of the abnormal high tide and we were feeling the whole effect. The nice thing is that the scenery changed from dry marsh grass to cypress swamps. The cypress swamps in South Carolina are really unique in both their botanical aspects as well as their beauty. Watching the swamp and it’s always changing view helped the day pass a little quicker. The only concern besides the current that day was the bass boats. I finally figured out that there was a tournament going on and that was the reason for the amount of boats on the water. Those things are FAST! I was worry about the blind corners and getting tagged by one. But, wow, they must have been hitting 50-60 mph. Towards the end of the day we managed to hit slack tide and that brought us into Osprey doing about 7 knots. Good enough for me.

We’ll be here for a least a month, maybe more. I have some boat projects, some Genne projects,some blogs to write and Michele always has something working. Sounds like we’ll be busy…

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Here is Elliot's Cut. Chart view and actual. My normal speed with no current is 7.5 knots. Here you can see we have a 4 knot current running...

Here is Elliot’s Cut. Chart view and actual. My normal speed with no current is 7.5 knots. Here you can see we have a 4 knot current running…

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The architecture in Charleston so southern grand..

The architecture in Charleston so southern grand..

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The Ben Sawyer swing bridge outside Charleston and the bridge that crosses over from Mount Pleasant into Charleston

The Ben Sawyer swing bridge outside Charleston and the bridge that crosses over from Mount Pleasant into Charleston

Another eagle

Another eagle

The paper mill in Georgetown SC

The paper mill in Georgetown SC

Only in the south

Only in the south

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In the cypress swamp..

In the cypress swamp..

 

Until then….

 

 

 

 

Charleston…….Almost

 

When we left this morning the tide was dead low and I knew this may be problematic when we got to Ashepoo Cut in South Carolina. A few years ago I lead a gaggle of monohulls through this area acting as the depth finding Guinea pig. El Camino only draws four feet compared to the six and a half feet that the mono’s drew that were behind me. So, calling out the depths we all made it through that day, even though a couple of the mono’s touched bottom. As we approached the cut today, I noticed from afar that the marker at the entrance didn’t look right. Out came the trusty binoculars and it wasn’t a pretty site. The marker was laying on it’s side. Not good, not good at all. That thing should be floating. Backing off the throttle and slowing to 2-3 knots we approached the entrance. I’ve learned if there’s the potential for grounding, it’s better to do it at 2-3 knots or slower, then it is at 6-7 knots.

The channel here is very narrow and trying to stay in the middle with the high winds was tricky. Two hundred feet inside the cut, the depths fell off at a rapid pace. Another few hundred feet and I had six inches of water under the keel. Folks, that’s not a lot of water and the pucker factor goes up accordingly. This is the way it went for the next half mile or so. One foot then six inches, then two foot and take a breath, only to drop back to a foot again. After two days of relative boredom, this was actually kind of enjoyable. A challenge if you will. We did make it through unscathed.

Yesterday, timing came into place as well. I had been listening all morning to this tugboat pushing a barge up the ICW. I knew that at one point he would catch up to us because his speed was slightly faster then ours. About 2 o’clock he did catch up to us and went by, As he went by, we talked on the radio for a few moments and wished each other a safe trip. About an hour later, I heard him call Lady’s Island Swing bridge and ask if the tender could open the bridge. He asked, because the wind was pretty high and at 25 knots the bridge will not open. The tender came back and said, nope, not opening until the wind speed dropped. That was actually good news for me because I knew I couldn’t make the 3 o’clock opening anyhow. If I missed the 3 o”clock, the next opening was after 5 o’clock. However, the bridges will open for commercial traffic. I started the other engine and called the tugboat captain on the radio. He agreed to a ten minute delay in order to wait for me to catch up to him! He was already at the bridge and waiting for the wind to ease off when we got there. About every five minutes or so, he would call the bridge and get an update. Finally, the bridge tender said the wind had dropped and the bridge was going to open. I gave a sigh of relief and followed the tug through, saving two hours. What a great thing communication is…

Thunderbolt Marina is the largest marina in Georgia that's on the ICW.

Thunderbolt Marina is the largest marina in Georgia that’s on the ICW.

A small shrimp dock

A small shrimp dock

The tug that waited for us at the swing bridge.

The tug that waited for us at the swing bridge.

I'm assuming this is a high tech wind generator??

I’m assuming this is a high tech wind generator??

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Maybe it's my lucky day?

Maybe it’s my lucky day?

White pelicans in flight.

White pelicans in flight.

This is something you really don't want to see at the entrance to a cut. That marker is supposed to be floating.

This is something you really don’t want to see at the entrance to a cut. That marker is supposed to be floating.

We ended up anchoring yesterday by the Marine Base in Beaufort, South Carolina. The F-18’s were doing touch and go landings and the noise was incredible. I don’t understand how the homes here get used to it. I tried to capture the noise in the video.

 

Until then….

 

Never Say Never

As cruisers you really have to be able to roll with the punches and these next few days are a prime example. Michele and I have been through Georgia once headed north and once headed south and that was enough for us. We said we would never go through Georgia again. Well, here we are going through Georgia. The reason is the autopilot didn’t get repaired in time in order to ship to Marathon where we could receive it. But, that’s a story for a different day. The shortest run outside to skip Georgia is from the St. Mary’s inlet at Fernandina Beach, Florida to the Charleston inlet in South Carolina. That distance is around 170 miles and if we average 6.5 knots then that’s a 26 hour overnight run. For Michele and I that’s a hard run hand steering all night without an autopilot. With an autopilot, it’s piece of cake.

The thing with Georgia is the inside run is just plain boring. I tried to psyche myself up and told myself to sit back and enjoy the trip, it could be worse. That really did the trick and helped a lot…for the first four hours. Then the miles and miles of non-descript  scenery took over and numbed the mind. The currents here are strong, the tides have an eight foot range and the shoals reach out and grab you with little notice. With all that you have to be on your toes around each corner. And oh, the corners. The ICW in Georgia looks like an Olympic Super G slalom ski run. It turns, it twists, it doubles back on itself and that adds to illusion that it’s taking forever to get anywhere. So, there you have it, bored to tears but on your guard all at the same time.

I know there are some beautiful spots to stop at such as Cumberland Island and Savanna, and maybe one day we’ll visit those places…by car. 🙂

As it stands now, we’re two days out of Charleston which means four days out of Myrtle Beach. Once in MB it’s rest time fro a few weeks…

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A couple of eagles along the way

A couple of eagles along the way

This dredge pipe was at Fernandina Beach and it's the longest one I've ever seen..

This dredge pipe was at Fernandina Beach and it’s the longest one I’ve ever seen..

As it turns out we were fortunate enough to have our paths cross with our great friends Pat and Doug!

As it turns out we were fortunate enough to have our paths cross with our great friends Pat and Doug!

Something else Georgia is know for, the range boards. When they're lined up you're in the channel. Here, we're a little off to the right of the channel. These come in handy when there's a cross current.

Something else Georgia is know for, the range boards. When they’re lined up you’re in the channel. Here, we’re a little off to the right of the channel. These come in handy when there’s a cross current.

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The sub base at Kings Bay

The sub base at Kings Bay

Why chase the boat when you can just ride to the next stop?? See the pelicans on the back?

Why chase the boat when you can just ride to the next stop?? See the pelicans on the back?

This is always nice to see. The current is going with us here pushing us to almost 8 knots.

This is always nice to see. The current is going with us here pushing us to almost 8 knots.

 

Here’s a couple of videos for ya. One from when we were in St. Augustine and Michele found a new pet and the other a view of Georgia….

 

 

Until then…..