Gathering in Georgetown

Georgetown, SC – Thursday, 4/22

The wind of yesterday ushered in a cold front, and when Denise woke up it was 46 degrees.  She went for a run in the neighborhood around the marina and near The Citadel.  She has run here several times before, but still snapped a few pictures along the way:

Once back on the boat she worked on emails and the blog post a bit while Mark dealt with some work issues and prepping for the part.  Finally he received a text that the package had arrived, walked up to the marina office, then returned and began the install.  He had predicted it would take approximately 30 minutes, and he met his goal (a first in the history of boat repairs). He tested the thrusters and all was right with the world again on our Island Office.

So we left the Bristol Marina right at noon and headed out into the Ashley River. We passed the City marina and the Coast Guard station, and eventually the downtown. 

It was a beautiful, but cold day on the water and we got to see Ft. Sumter on the horizon with a dredging operation going on in Charleston Harbor blocking part of the view.  We also passed a large ship that was just getting under way from an anchorage and the “Spirit of Charleston” tour boat.

We re-entered the ICW near Sullivan’s Island and cruised slowly through the no-wake zone; another area where the waterway is bordered by homes with boats on their docks.

We continued through this part of the ICW with no real issues. Eventually we came up to Isle of Palms and the marina we have had friends stay at.  The area is always filled with people on jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and other personal watercraft. We were thankful it was not a Saturday or Sunday as it would have been crazy and a pain to navigate around.  We did see a few brave souls out on jet skis, despite the still-cool temperatures. 

Jet Skiers near Isle of Palms

In passing the Isle of Palms Marina, Mark spotted a “Chesapeake Buy Boat” at the docks.  This is one of those types of boats that Denise is fascinated with (along with the Trumpy yachts, and the Sabre/Back Cove family of boats, of course).  You can read about these cool vessels here.

Within minutes of passing the Isle of Palms we were the ICW turns very remote and beautifully scenic. This is definitely South Carolina Low Country with its marshes, small creeks and impassable inlets that feed into the waters. 

Just north of Isle of Palms

For most of our journey we would pass by these unspoiled waters.  And then we came across the lone house in the middle of nowhere and got to see both dolphins in the water and a bald eagle at perch.

As we cruised further north we wound our way through more remote areas, with some houses interspersed throughout. To our west was the Francis Marion National Forrest with hiking trails, an RV park, and camp sites.  It is so great that this pristine area is part of the National Parks and will not be developed. Unfortunately, right along the ICW border there are several houses that back up to the park’s eastern-most boundaries. However, these are far fewer than the rest of the SC ICW.  On the eastern side of the ICW, most of it is uninhabitable and is made up of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. 

The bad part about this part of the ICW is the constant shoaling that is created by the currents as the tide changes make their way through the numerous curs and tributaries.  We follow Bob Sherer on the “ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423” Facebook Page and we use his routes through these areas in AquaMaps (navigation app) to assist us.  Bob (aka “Poughkeepsie Bob”) used to do this as a volunteer, but now does it for Waterway Guide.  This has become the go-to replacement for Active Captain since Garmin bought that peer-review application and people quit posting to it.  The problem for us this year is that we are ahead of Bob and his tracks are 6 months old.  The good news is that many of the usual problem areas have recently been dredged and we had plenty of depth. However, ones that have not recently been dredged required diligence on the part of Captain Mark.   

Once such area that has recently been dredged but is always a challenge is McClellanville; a small town just off US 17 and sandwiched in the middle of these natural areas.  We have heard good things about this little place, including usually good fuel prices. However, we have yet to visit.

Continuing further north the ICW crosses the South and then the North Santee Rivers and then turns into something like a canal in that it is narrow and a pretty straight shot.  To our east is the Tom Yawkee Wildlife Center and its Welcome Center. Here there is a barge (Miss Ellie) that acts like a ferry to transport vehicles across the ICW. 

We use this as a landmark when heading north knowing we don’t have much further to go to Georgetown. Within 15 minutes the ICW takes a left turn into the Winyah Bay, and here we entered the channel to take us into Harborwalk Marina at Georgetown; our spot for the night and right on our predicted time of 4:00 pm.

We had been in communication with “Cathy Ann” via the Back Cove/Sabre’s FB group and knew they were in Georgetown; we were anxious to meet face-to-face for the first time. As luck would have it our slip was right next to theirs.  After settling the boat, checking into the office, getting showers, and a quick conference call for Denise, we joined them on their boat for happy hour.  Jeff & Cathy were very gracious hosts and had also invited another Looper couple Dave & Lisa (“She’s the One”).  We had a chance to talk about our mutual looping experiences, friends we have in common (“Donna Pacem” and “Balahula”) and our Back Cove boats.

David & Lisa had to leave, but we went to dinner with Jeff & Cathy at the River Room Restaurant.  This was a new restaurant in town and was quite popular. We had to wait a bit for a table, but our time was spent getting to know each other better.  We had a delicious seafood dinner and really enjoyed the company of our new found friends.

IO and Cathy Ann

After dinner we went back to the boat and made plans for tomorrow.  Mark looked at the weather over the next two days, and looked at fuel stops along the way to determine the best (cheapest) place to stop.  Denise published the last blog and then we retired for the night.

Over the next two days we are going to push hard and cover a lot of miles.  We need to be in Beaufort, NC on Saturday night and the weather Sat. afternoon is going to deteriorate.  So, our plans are to get as far north tomorrow as possible, and then get up early on Saturday to arrive before the rain.  Of course we will adjust accordingly on Friday if in fact this changes.


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