Today is the 30th of October and, as of this morning, we have only two days left to get to Charleston, SC. Eons ago, or so it seems, we had to commit to a date of arrival at the Charleston Maritime Center (which is NOT unreasonable, since November is “Migration Month” for cruisers.) To arrive later than the scheduled date of arrival, could put one a risk of loosing their entire reservation. In order to guard against this happening, Kim and I have been in touch with the Maritime Center’s Dock Master on a daily basis. He knows where we are and he knows where we’re going. So, for Kim and I, it was up early again, at the butt-crack of dawn, as we had to be on our way.
We departed barefoot landing as the first light of dawn illuminated the ICW. Today would be a long haul because we had to make Georgetown, SC today, or the distance would be to great tomorrow to guarantee our arrival in Charleston on the 1st. Everything went smoothly as we navigated the waterway and we even made the Socastee, SC Swing Bridge without having to wait on it to open. We only had to slow down a bit when we were about a mile away from the bridge and reached it just as it started its opening sequence.
After the Socastee Bridge, we entered the Waccamaw River, which normally is one of the prettiest parts of the entire East Coast ICW. Today, however, it was butt ugly. Rain had started about two hours before we made the river and as we entered it, the rain began coming down in buckets. With the increased rainfall and drainage into the river came mud, which discolored the normally clean water, and partially submerged logs, which were dislodged by the rain induced run-off.
These floating logs, called deadheads, are a boater’s worst enemy. They can damage a boat hull or tear up a prop (hmmmm, that sounds familiar) if a moving boat hits them. So, we kept our eyes peeled and listened to the VHF radio, reporting deadheads we spied and watching for those reported by other boats. While we saw quite a few of them, we traversed the entire length of the Waccamaw River without hitting any deadheads.
We finally made Georgetown, SC around 4:00 pm and tied up at the Harborwalk Marina. Mike, who’s the dock master and a former Marine and Gabe, his dog, were there to meet us and help us get settled. After checking in and paying for our stay, Schooner and Gabe had a play date, while Kim and I stretched our legs and walked about the Marina. Thereafter, it was time to concoct a bit of supper and turn in early, because tomorrow would be another early start.
Damn, the time changed last night! Let’s see, fall back? Yeah, fall back. That means that 5:00 am is now 4:00 am and sunrise, which used to be at 7:00 am is now at 6:00 am. If we used to get up at 6:00 am, we now have to get up at 5:00 am, but it still feels like 6:00 am, which has us all screwed up. Are we the only ones who feel this way??? No matter what the time was, we had to be out on the marina by sunrise. So, we got up at 5:00 am and were on the water by 6:00 (sunrise.)
Compared to yesterday, today was absolutely beautiful. As we wound our way towards Charleston, the tide worked in our favor once again. We made great time through the canals and dredged areas of the waterway, aided by the tidal flow and the extra water depth created by yesterday’s rainfall. But, this false sense of security can turn on you in a heartbeat. The tidal fall here (the depth change between high and low tide) is between four and five feet and if you’re not watching the tide clock, you can find yourself sitting on the bottom. And that’s exactly what happened to another sailboat that was waiting on the Ben Sawyer Bridge to open.
The Ben Sawyer Bridge is the last bridge before Charleston, SC. Located on State Route 703, the Bridge connects the town of Sullivan’s Island with the mainland at Mt. Pleasant. The bridge only opens once on the top of each hour, so if you don’t make a particular opening, you could have as much as a 55-minute wait until the next opening.
As we approached the Ben Sawyer Bridge, we noticed a lot of activity on the north shore. As we got even closer, we saw a partially capsized sailboat, hard aground, about a quarter mile from the bridge. Apparently, the boat had not made the last bridge opening, so it moved over towards the north bank to wait on the one. Since the time was getting close to low tide, the water level must have gone down enough to trap the keel in the muddy clay bottom. As the tide continued to go down, the boat finally tipped over, hopelessly stuck until the tide come back up again (which could be four or five hours later.) Since a Tow Boat was on site, there was nothing for anyone else to do, so we thanked our lucky stars that that wasn’t us stuck in the mud and kept up our speed; passing through the bridge at its 3:00 pm opening. Charleston, here we come!
From the Ben Sawyer Bridge, it’s all down hill (figuratively speaking) to Charleston. We dumped out of the river into Charleston Harbor and ran the last three miles to the Charleston Maritime Center unhindered. Arriving there 30 minutes later, we pulled into the Marina and were tied up in a matter of minutes. So, here we are and here we’ll stay for the next three weeks. We know that there’s some bad weather coming, but we’re tied up and secure and there’s no better place to ride out a storm than Charleston, SC.