St Simons, Buckhead Creek, Thunderbolt, GA, Beaufort and south of Charlestown, SC, 2016   Leave a comment

Submitted late due to unavailable wifi

We departed Cumberland Island, GA on 8 April 2016 and due to the weather, went north inside the ICW to St Simons, GA.  We generally stay at Morningside Marina in St Simons on the way south and north and it is always a pleasant stay.  We borrowed their courtesy car and refurbished the boat at the local grocery store.

St Simon's sunset

St Simon’s sunset

We departed St Simons early the next morning and again with predicted high north winds, we decided to stay inside in the ICW.  This year, the weather is not cooperating so we can go offshore,

barge traffic

barge traffic

which we prefer.  By going offshore, we do not have to be concerned with water depths, bridge heights, or boat traffic in the ICW.  That said, with predicted 30 knot north winds, we can still travel north in the relative safety of the ICW.  We planned our departure from St Simons to

ICW mark out of the water

ICW mark out of the water

coincide with a rising tide when we arrived at the Little Mud River.  The Little Mud River is notorious with very shallow water and an opportunity for us running aground.  As we entered the Little Mud River, we noted our lowest depth was 8.5 feet.  Considering an almost 8 foot tidal flow, it would have been impossible to transit this area in anything but a high tide.  Our first year, we remembered seeing a crane walking across the Little Mud River without getting its butt wet at low tide as we rested on our laurels aground and unable to move.  We cleared the Little Mud River area without any issues and as we started our crossing of the Little Sapelo Sound, the winds picked up with steady winds above 30 knots and gusts to 40.  As the afternoon continued, we had winds of 27-40 knots.  Our winds for the last 3-4 hours of the trip were 30+ knots sustained with gusts as high as 43 knots.  Yep, it was windy.  We anchored in Buckhead Creek, just south of the Florida Cut, so we could get up early the next morning and traverse the Florida Cut and Hell’s Gate, other notoriously shallow areas.   

At daybreak on 10 April, we departed Buckhead Creek and headed further north in the ICW.  Our path today was through Hell’s Gate, a very short but shallow cut in the ICW.  We hit the entrance of Hell’s Gate on a rising tide and the winds of 35-41 knots were literally pushing the water into the cut, making it deeper.  The lowest we saw was over nine feet and with the current running through the cut, we seemed to be flying through this section.  Our next concern was getting under the 65 foot Skidway fixed bridge with our 63 foot mast.  Our concern was with the winds pushing the water, we would not have enough clearance to get under the bridge.  As luck would have it, we had almost 67 foot of clearance, go figure!  The winds continued in the 28-37 knot range with a couple of gusts above 40 knots for the remainder of the day.  When we finally arrived at Thunderbolt Marina in Thunderbolt, GA, the winds were parallel to the docks so our docking was without fanfare or any excitement.  We like no excitement when it is us coming into the dock!  We walked down to Tubby’s Tank House Restaurant, which is always one of our favorite places to eat.  They were doing construction on the main dining area so we ate in the back, which is normally where they have special parties.  The food was good as usual but a bit disappointing as everything was served with plastic ware and plastic plates.  Maybe when we return in the fall, the restaurant will be back to its normal operations.

traffic on the Savannah River

traffic on the Savannah River

After a few down days in Thunderbolt, we departed on 12 April 2016

Up close & personal on Savannah River

Up close & personal on Savannah River

and made our way down the Savannah River to go offshore to the Port Royal inlet.  The weather was not the best, with a few sprinkles and 20 knots of wind.  After we made it out of the Savannah River Channel, the winds decreased to 8-12 knots with 2-3 foot seas.  We came into the Port Royal inlet and rejoined the ICW near Parris Island, where they make “recruits into

USCG boat offshore

USCG boat offshore

Marines.”  Just as we were tying to the dock at Beaufort Downtown Marina, it started pouring rain.  We both said, good timing and at least we were getting the boat washed from being offshore. 

We remained at Beaufort, SC until 16 April.  The last time we visited

Terri at Beaufort docks

Terri at Beaufort docks

Beaufort was two years ago so we walked and explored all over the small town.  Billy got a well-needed hair cut; Terri did the same so at least the

Terri in Beaufort

Terri in Beaufort

dogs stopped barking so much at us!  We also ate some nice South Carolina bar-be-que at the local restaurants and made a pot of good homemade chili since it was “cold” and wet.  Remaining in Beaufort also allowed the winds to calm a bit as there were gale

Bill in Beaufort

Bill in Beaufort

warnings up and down the South Carolina coast.

We departed Beaufort on another early departure in order to make it through the Ladies Island Bridge before it closed between 7-9am for traffic.  With the persistent high winds, we were a bit concerned the

approaching Lady's Island Bridge

approaching Lady’s Island Bridge

swing bridge would not open but the bridge tender swung the bridge open without any issues.  Our other concern today was traversing the Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff, another notoriously shallow area.  With winds on our nose, our speed was decreased and we crossed the cutoff at a falling mid-tide….not the best we could hope for but our lowest depth we saw was 6.5 feet, giving us less than a foot below the keel.  We made our way into the South

deer in the water

deer in the water

Edisto River where we saw six deer swimming across the river….a pretty neat sighting of wildlife along the ICW!  We had made a reservation at St John’s Yacht Harbor Marina, just south of Charleston, and arrived at the marina a little after 4pm.  This was our first time at this marina, which was very nice, and provided a good jumping off point to go through Elliott Cut, Charleston, and further north.

So, until our next update….

Bill and Terri

Posted May 17, 2016 by svsecondoption in Uncategorized

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