Low Country Cruising!

Myrtle Beach, SC (Tuesday, 4/16)
This past weekend Denise had been mentioning how hot it seemed to be compared to last trips north on our boat. Well today all that changed.  Yesterday’s winds ushered in much cooler weather and we woke up to temperatures in the low 50’s.  It was the first day to wear long pants for Denise.

We had planned a long day on the water and wanted to get an early start. We had to go through an area in McClellanville that has a large shoal area encroaching on the ICW channel and needed as much water as possible.  Because of the timing of high and low tides and the time it would take us to get up to this area, we needed to leave as early as possible.

With that in mind, we left Bristol Marina before the sun was even up and headed out the Ashley River to Charleston Harbor.  We passed by the City Marina where we saw the Carolina Queen docked, and we saw more cranes working on new construction projects. Oh how this city has changed.  We also were treated to a gorgeous sunrise over clear skies.

With little water traffic at this time of day we quickly made our way across Charleston Harbor and picked up the ICW channel at the end of Sullivan’s Island.  Here there is a no-wake zone so it is slow going for a while, but we could speed up until we got to Isle of Palms. We keep saying we want to stay here one time, but with free dockage at Bristol Marina it is hard not to always stay in the heart of Charleston.

Shortly after Isle of Palms we passed another dredge, but the crew had not yet started work for the day and we had no problem getting around them. The shoaling in this area has been bad because of the currents from the nearby inlet, and because of the recent hurricanes.  Fortunately, much of the ICW is now being dredged and this area is no exception.

Dredge just north of Isle of Palms

Dredge just north of Isle of Palms

Through most of the morning we cruised through remote parts of low-country South Carolina. We passed by several remote homes, Clemson University’s Camp Sewee, and the Francis Marion National Forest Recreation Area.

Eventually we came to McClellanville and at 3 hours before low tide saw shallow depths of 6 – 9 feet. Since we only require 3’6” (we like to say 4’ to be safe) we were ok, but we were still thankful we left Charleston early.  In 3 hours we may not have been able to pass this area at low tide, especially since today the tide was going to be lower than average by almost half a foot.

We made it through another shallow area further up the ICW, and then soon came to the floating “swing bridge” near the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. This is really a barge (“Miss Ellie”) that moves across the ICW channel to form a bridge, enabling cars to cross.

Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center floating swing bridge

Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center floating swing bridge

Next we entered into the Winyah Bay, a wide open area between the SC barrier islands and the ICW.  It was very windy and the boat got quite a lot of sea spray all over it. Although most of the morning we had been headed east, here we finally turned north (for a while) and passed the town of Georgetown.  We usually stay here for a day or two and enjoy the quaintness and fine hospitality of this great town, but not this trip.

Once across Winyah Bay, the ICW enters the Waccamaw River, with Pawleys Island to our right.  This is one of the prettiest parts of the river, with beautiful scenery, lots of birds and wildlife. We passed Wacca Wache Marina (where we stayed in 2017) and the nearby anchorage that had a few interesting boats.

Here the ICW begins getting narrower and there are houses with docks along the way, slowing our progress.  Much of this area was affected by high water during the hurricanes of 2017 and 2018 and many of the homes are being repaired or even totally rebuilt.

We came into an area known as Socastee where there is a swing bridge that has a 10’ height requirement, so we had to have it opened for us.

Socastee Swing Bridge

Socastee Swing Bridge

As luck would have it, they have an “open on demand” schedule and it took no time to get through.  The bridge operators in SC are really very friendly and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Denise had a conference call scheduled for 3:00 and we needed to be near a place where she could take the call without the boat engine running.  Since some of the area had been slow going, it was going to be tight to make it to the marina in time for the call.  To add to this concern, we had to stop and get fuel at the marina before moving into our slip.  Every minute counted and waiting on a bridge or slowing for a fishing boat, sailboat, Jet Ski, etc. was creating a bit of stress.

In this part of the ICW, the channel is very narrow and there are houses all along.  As we moved north we passed the Barefoot Landing (east side), now re-developed into a bunch of high-end restaurants, and the Barefoot Landing Marina (west side); where we stayed for a week in 2017.

Finally we reached the entrance to the channel to take us to the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, with a clearly visible Governor’s Lighthouse as a landmark.


Governor’s Lighthouse – Landmark to MBYC

We headed straight to the fuel dock and just in time; Denise had nearly 5 minutes to get on the conference call while Mark took care of putting fuel on the boat.  He was also successful at getting the dockmaster to let us stay on the fuel dock until the call was over.  Once complete, we moved the boat to the slip for the night.  Mark gave the boat a good wash to get all the salt spray off of it while Denise cleaned up the inside (it is amazing how filthy it gets in such a short time).  We grabbed showers and walked over to Clark’s restaurant for dinner, which is right next door to the Yacht Club.

The Yacht Club was highly recommended by other cruisers who have had extended stays here and through MTOA – a cruising organization we belong to. In fact we met the MTOA Port Captain (Bud Lloyd) and his wife Elaine as we were heading out to dinner. Bud is the Assistant Dockmaster at the club and was the one who gave us permission to stay on the fuel dock for a little extra time.

We would have liked to enjoy  all the amenities of this club: a pool, nice surrounding areas and a restaurant (unfortunately closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), but our visit this time is only overnight.  Perhaps next time we come this way we can spend more time here.

After dinner we were going to take a walk around the marina, but the cool night air coupled with sheer exhaustion changed our plans. Instead we headed back to the boat for writing the blog, cataloging pictures and watching a little TV before calling it a night.

Here are some pictures from the MBYC and of the day:

Myrtle Beach Yacht Club pool

Myrtle Beach Yacht Club pool

Yacht Club Pet stop

Yacht Club Pet stop

Artwork in womens restroom

Artwork in womens restroom

Marina and sourrounds - MBYC

Marinas and condos around MBYC


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