Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Ten Day Run, part 1

Departing Barefoot Landing was a bittersweet event. On the one hand, we were back on the water, heading south, on a ten day push to get to Jacksonville, Florida. And that’s a good thing. It’s exactly where we like to be with Why Knot. That’s where she belongs.
On the other hand, we had to say good-bye to Rick and Margi. We thoroughly enjoyed the ten days that we had to spend with them. They’re lovely people and during this last summer, our activities were all measured around when we would get to North Myrtle Beach and see them again.
We also got to see Rick and Betsy of Rick and Roll. They live in Topsail, SC and had their boat tied up at Barefoot too. They came down to the marina a couple of times while we were there. Alas, their reason to be there is because they are selling their boat. They have decided that cruising up and down the coast was no longer for them. It was fun to see them also.
We didn’t spend the whole ten days sitting around the boat. There were always shopping trips to go on and restaurants to eat at, which the Grand Strand has a million to choose from.
We even took Why Knot out for a daytrip. She has a fuel capacity of 750 gallons and we wanted to make sure the tanks were full before we got down to Florida and the Bahamas. There is usually a price difference between Florida and almost anyplace up north by as much as a dollar per gallon as it is. But we found out that a marina twenty miles south of Myrtle Beach called Osprey Marina had diesel fuel at only $3.11(.9) per gallon, including taxes. That’s about as cheap as it comes, so with Rick and Margi as crew, we set out down there to fill up. We believe we are now fueled up enough to go to the islands and to piddle around Florida for most of the summer.
Our ten-day cruise plan to Jacksonville is an interesting one, mostly because it includes us anchoring out more; eight nights out of the ten. But, of course, nature has had a hand in us having to modify it greatly. The main reason is that it is just too damn windy and cold! So, for the first several nights, we are marina hopping with our first stop in Georgetown, SC, and then at the Harborage at Ashley Island marina in Charleston. The first leg down to Georgetown was uneventful, except for the windy conditions. But the second leg down to Charleston was quite interesting.
You experienced boaters can probably guess what I’m talking about, but you lubbers don’t. That leg has a reputation for having some of the shallowest waters on the entire eastern seaboard, especially around an area called Isle of Palms. And, of course, we arrived there at low tide.
The muddy shores were bare as we carefully picked our way through the narrowing channel. For most of the time, we followed two trawlers and fast moving sailboat. For most of the stretch our depth sounder rarely showed anything over seven feet under our keel, most of the time less than five, and a few times it showed the dreaded double dash lines that showed it was lower than two feet. We even bounced off the mud on a couple of occasions.
Then, with just a mile or two of the troubled stretch to go, we saw a group of four sailboats all grounded at the edges of the navigable gash in the channel. The two trawlers went first, then the sailboat, then us. We watched the two trawlers weave carefully past the bow of one particular sailboat that was stuck literally just a few feet from deeper water. The sailboat in front of us slowed to a crawl. I had Why Knot all the way back in idle speed, but we were still faster than them. Uh oh. Then, they made a slight turn to port and I saw an opening to gently glide past them and one of the stuck boats. We passed by the shoaled sailboat’s anchor with just two feet to spare, but we were in a VERY narrow strip of 10 feet of water. We got through. The sailboat that we had been following also made it through, barely. From there we motored on into Charleston.
Many boaters we know have said that that particular stretch of water has been a deal-breaker in their fervency to continue on being cruisers. I can’t say I blame them. I don’t like it either. For the most part, I find the ICW to be a pretty innocuous thing. It’s like a certain road you have to drive every day that isn’t particularly in good shape, but it’s not dangerous and it gets you where you’re going…except that small strip that’s full of potholes and with pavement so rough it can break your back. You’d like to avoid it, but you can’t.

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