|Sunrise, Minim Creek Anchorage|
We had our plans all worked out for the next leg of our journey, from Beaufort, SC, up to Georgetown. This is a problematic stretch of the waterway, with several patches of low water and a couple of bridges we had to be careful going under. This meant getting just the right timing of high and low tides to have clearance on both ends. So we delayed our departure from Beaufort for a week to get it just right. (No problem—we love Beaufort!) Well, you know what Robert Burns said about the best laid plans of mice and men.
Monday, the Cinco de Mayo, was a beautiful day to set out. We slipped our mooring just in time to make the nine o’clock opening of the Lady’s Island bridge and passed under our first bridge with a good foot and half to spare over the tip of our mast. As usual, a few dolphins showed themselves as we were setting out, and in spite of a fair amount of traffic ranging from paddle boarders to jet skiers, we looked for a pleasant day on the water. The goal was to reach the notorious Ashepoo-Coosaw cut, a five mile stretch where we had calculated 3 feet of water at low tide, on a rising tide, then anchor for the night on the other side.
All went well until we reached the Marine Air Force refueling station about an hour out of Beaufort. We were passing the Marine base dock when Angie noticed this guy in a life jacket frantically waving and yelling at us. We wheeled around to see what the nutcase wanted and were informed that we couldn’t go through because the marines were conducting firing practice up ahead. No guard boat, no sign, just a guy on the dock waving his arms. He told us the firing would go on until noon, and that we would have to anchor some place and wait to go through. While we were doing that, several more boats came along and would have passed on through if we hadn’t radioed them to tell them what was going on. One power boater was very skeptical of our “rumors” and kept spouting off on the radio about how this didn’t make sense. Well, just before noon a marine launch did show up from the firing area and tell us that the firing would be over at one thirty. A little after one a power boat came through from the other direction, evidently missing whatever warnings the marines had placed on that end, and that ended their playing war. This put us three and a half hours behind schedule and would get us to the Ashepoo-Coosaw cut on a falling tide.
|The Marine who was supposed to stop traffic|
Night Watch reported nothing less than seven feet, so we turned back toward the cut. I must have misjudged the entry, because as we went between the entrance marks, our depth gauge went to five feet and and Bel Canto started slowing down. We must have plowed a furrow through the silt, because she kept going and soon we were back in 7 to 10 feet of water. The next day was a “normal” day on the waterway, and we set anchor in the Stono River, just South of Charleston, in order to take Elliott’s Cut at slack tide in the morning. You might remember us writing about going through Elliott’s cut on the way South. The current was four or five knots against us, and it took us 40 minutes to go a half mile. This time we breezed through on the end of the ebb tide, crossed Charleston Harbor, and in an hour or so we were back on the waterway. Our timing was perfect, rising tide for the problem areas, but not so high that we couldn’t make it under the troublesome Isle of Palms bridge.
The day was hot, but it would have been a pleasant day, with dolphins surfacing next to the boat a couple of times. Would have been except for the plague of small black beetles that descended on us. Fortunately they didn’t bite, but they did drive us crazy landing on us and on everything around us. They usually died when we brushed them away, leaving an ugly yellow stain where they had been. At the end of the day, Angie must have cleaned up a thousand corpses. Fortunately a breeze came up and blew most of the beetles away. With a straight stretch of the waterway ahead, we were even able to sail for our usual 20 minutes. A little after three thirty, we decided to pull into the Awendow Creek anchorage where we are now, about half way between Charleston and our destination of Georgetown.
|Sunset, Awendaw Creek Anchorage|
The Next DayThat was supposed to be the end of this blog entry. But I lost the layout and didn't have time to do it over before it was time to take off on the rising tide. As I said, we had a five mile problem stretch of water ahead of us, sometimes called the McClellanville stretch. From our anchorage in Awendaw Creek I could see a couple of trawlers heading up the waterway, so I radioed them to get a report on the water levels. The report was positive, and at a little after one, we hauled anchor and started up the waterway again. We tiptoed our way along for most of the five miles. I was steering and trying to judge from the inlets where the shoaling would be. Well I misjudged (I should have followed the advice of my co-captain and just aimed for the next green marker). Suddenly the boat stopped, and the depth sounder showed three and a half feet of water under us. We were stuck. We were still on a rising tide, but a fairly stiff wind was blowing us toward shore, so I doubted if we would float off this time as we had before. We asked the crew of a passing power boat to go by us at full speed, hoping their wake would bounce us off, but they demurred, saying it wasn't their boat. After a few attempts to motor us off, I reluctantly called TowBoatUS in Georgetown for assistance. (We have insurance that covers this). We were told that their estimated arrival time was in 50 minutes, so in the meantime we set to work to do what we could to get ourselves off.
I was totally exhausted after that ordeal, and captain Angie took us to our next anchorage, where we are now. On the way the dolphins rejoined us and seemed to be having great fun playing in our wake. Just before we reached the anchorage, Angie asked me to take the wheel. "Do you trust me?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "but I have to go pee."
|Sunset, Minim Creek|