Riggs and I have been moving southwards in search of warmer weather. On Saturday we left Wrightsville Beach (ICW mile 283) and kept to the ICW, stopping for the night at a free dock in Southport NC (mile 309). We had time to explore Southport's nice downtown area, and did some Christmas shopping there.
Sunday we crossed into SC and stayed overnight at Barefoot Landing (mile 354), a large open-air shopping complex built around an artificial lake and having a long marina-dock along the ICW. Yes, we actually paid to stay there! The dock filled up but the shops were mostly empty. I was overdue for a shower and was disappointed to find that they had no such facilities, plus we were tied up just below the picture windows of a Greg Norman's Australian Grille restaurant. If I did my normal bath on Spray's rear deck I could cause some diners to lose their surf&turf.
So it was a ripe captain who on Monday piloted Spray down the Waccamaw river, one of the prettiest sections of the ICW so far. We past remote Bucksport SC which I'm told has some connection to Bucksport Maine, and eventually pulled of the ICW into Thoroughfare Creek at mile 389 and dropped anchor opposite a huge sand dune that Riggs really enjoyed playing on. Plenty of privacy there for my much-needed bath.
We are now into the SC low country (even though I haven't seen a 100' hill since NY), which is marshland covered with grasses. We are also back into a region of significant tides, and the anchorages have changing currents as a result. Tuesday we continued south (actually more westerly), pausing to tour the harbor of Georgetown SC, which looks to be worth a stop on the return trip. For our overnight we chose 5 Fathom Creek, which is near McClellanville SC. The creek is surrounded by grass-covered marsh (see photo above) but a dinghy ride to explore town was worth it. A fishing community with huge old live oaks dripping with spanish moss.
Since the wind was expected to kick up on Wednesday, and the 5 Fathom Creek has significant reversing currents, we tried using 2 anchors off Spray's bow, one upstream in the creek and one downstream. This seemed to hold during the night but when I woke up at 6:30 am I noticed two things: 1) the wind had certainly kicked up and 2) we were moving!. One of the anchors had broken free and had wrapped its line around the other's. I immediately fired up Spray's diesel and spent an hour getting things untangled and got us underway.
I had originally planned for a liesurely 25 mile cruise today to leave us just 15 miles short of Charleston, but since we were underway so early, and since the wind was screaming, I instead called the marina in Charleston and asked if they could take us a day early. They said yes so we plowed forward into a strong headwind and opposing current. While the wind was strong, the ICW was mostly protected so waves were minimal, until we finally burst into wide Charleston Harbor, where a nasty 4 foot confused sea welcomed us.
We were taking the waves on our port bow, with huge spray dowsing the windshield, when my cell phone rang. It was Jeff Siegel who was expecting our arrival in Charleston tomorrow but was monitoring our progress via our Spot tracker. He says 'Are you in Charleston Harbor?' and I get directions from him on how to find the Charleston Maritime Center while struggling to keep Spray upright. A very bouncy 10 minutes later Spray is pulling into the marina while Jeff and Karen come to the slip to meet us (with Jeff filming on his iPhone - see at their blog: http://takingpaws.blogspot.com/ )
So after a rather hairy morning (what with dragging anchors, high winds and waves, etc) we got Spray tied up and Riggs emptied (thanks Karen!) and the Siegels invited us aboard their trawler 'Acapella' for a lunch of wonderful soup. Riggs and the Siegel's dogs Dyna & Dylan formed an uneasy relationship due to turf issues and size differences. I hope some outdoor play tomorrow will make them (Riggs that is) more comfortable with each other.
This marina (Charleston Maritime Center) is small and ideally located next to Charleston's French Quarter. Riggs and I have taken two long walks, checking out the shops and scads of restaurants. Right now I've paid for three nights here, but I'm tempted to extend that to a week. Stay tuned.