Monday, October 22, 2018

Charleston Maritime Center - Ann gets her Harris Teeter Fix

This is my favorite sculpture, a rising flock of seagulls
Ann just loves the Harris Teeter supermarket about two blocks away from the marina. We're told it's one of the social centers of the downtown area. If you want to get out for a spell, just drop by the store and browse, you'll probably meet someone you know.

We almost have a full moon - good tides!
Speaking of that, we had three boaters drop by today to say hi. We are seeing more and more of that as the years go by. I'll pass someone by and he or she will say, "Hi Hoolie" as I walk the dog. Everyone seems to know what Hoolie looks like. Then we start a conversation and get to know each other.

This marina remains practically empty. In fact, I've never seen it so empty in all the years we've been coming here. It's true that the passing boats will roll in a wave or two and if you get winds out of the east, it will be rocky. For us, that's outweighed by the access to downtown by foot and, of course, Harris Teeter. For others, the rocking will be too much.

On Tuesday, we plan a visit to the vendor market and then to the downtown stores. Ann had her Harris Teeter fix but now she needs some serious shopping time. I was hoping the new iPad Pro would be out by now and I could get one at the Apple store here but no luck there. The new models are due out on 11/30 now.

The sailboat is at the end of our dock - beautiful night
The ICW south of here is supposed to be dredged all the way to the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff which gets rid of a lot of shallow areas. I'll see for myself on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Charleston Maritime Center - at a dock

Charleston Maritime Center has recovered but nobody is here
Today was a trip through the shallows of the Isle of Palms. There were long stretches just south of Awendaw where the depths only varied between 5 and 6 MLW! There was no deeper water but then again, there was nothing less than 5 ft MLW at least.

We were racing to catch a 2.2 ft tide at the section just north of the Ben Sawyer Bridge, a notorious part of the ICW that shoals rapidly. It was just dredged a couple of years ago but it's shoaled again. As it turned out, we missed the opening of the Ben Sawyer Bridge by 5 minutes! That resulted in an hour wait for the next opening and about 10 minutes before the opening, the bridge operator announced that it may not open due to high winds! There were gusts to 26 kts and higher then. The bridge does not open when the wind is above 25 kts. Luckily, the wind died down some (to 15 to 20 kts) and we caught the next opening on schedule. The least I saw was 4.6 MLW in several spots but with a 2.2 ft tide and a 4 ft 9 in keel, we made it through. My track was meandering as usual as I found the deepest path even though it wasn't as deep as I had wished. I've since uploaded it to my track site for downloading by anyone interested. I don't think there's a deeper path through these shallow waters.

Other than winds out of the east, here is another ready for wakes
Charleston Maritime Center is finally open! It's been two years since we've docked at the marina. We've always liked it since it's within walking distance of downtown Charleston and all the stores and restaurants. You don't have to worry about renting a car or taking a shuttle, just walk to downtown. The marina is mostly empty, perhaps 1/10 full. They've raised their rates to $1.75/ft for those with BoatUS membership but then that's practically everyone.

The marina has a reputation for being rolly, especially in an east wind and that's true but we don't mind, we like the compensation of easy access to downtown and a nearby Harris Teeter supermarket. We will be here three days before moving on the B&B Seafood for out next stop south. All the shallow spots south of here to Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff has been dredged. How good a job the dredge did is up for grabs. There are some reports that they removed only 1 or 2 ft instead of the 5 to 6 ft.  I'll find out first hand when I go through, stay tuned.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Awendaw - at anchor

First one in the anchorage gets the best spot
We waited until about 9:30 so we could catch a rising tide through Minim Creek and McClellanville. Both are very shallow areas of the ICW. We caught Minim Creek with only a 0.8 tide but did better at McClellanville with a 2.2 ft tide.

We made it through both obstacles successfully and I uploaded the track to my track website so anyone could follow my path through the shallows. I had to do a lot of moving from side to side to find the best water so for those using my track, it's not that I wasn't paying attention - it was all intentional to keep the maximum amount of water under the keel. Through these areas, it's very easy to find less water.
The calm after the storm
So we made it through successfully and are now anchored in Awendaw with four other boats. One powerboat anchored by the entrance and when I took Hoolie ashore, the boat was in the weeds. Either the rode was too long and there was a wind or current shift or the anchor gave way. There were two workboats out trying to help but I didn't see anyone aboard the stranded boat. We had a terrific storm that came through just about the time I took Hoolie ashore but I made it back in time before the rain, just barely. The wind topped out at 32 kts during the rainfall.

All is peaceful for the moment and hopefully for the rest of the night. We had planned on a later start to catch a rising tide but that would put us into the Charleston Maritime Center a little after 4:00 so we are going to try an early morning start instead and be at the Isle Of Palms by 10:00 to catch a 2 ft tide although it's a falling tide, not ideal. We like the location within walking distance to downtown Charleston and a Harris Teeter. We'll explore Charleston for the next three days before moving farther south.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Heritage Plantation Marina - at a dock

The main clubhouse of Heritage Plantation Marina
We had wanted to get a dock in Georgetown but this was the weekend they were hosting the wooden boat show which is a very big deal for the town. As a result, everything was full. We couldn't get a dock anywhere, not even at Georgetown Landing Marina which is north of Georgetown and a long walk into town.

So we motored to Heritage Plantation and took a dock. We don't like to anchor near the Waccamaw River due to alligators. We took a tour on the river one year and found the side channels full of alligators sunning themselves on the banks. We never want to tempt them with a juicy morsel like Hoolie when taking him ashore.

The water is starting to clear up. We saw very little debris in the river, even less than usual judging from past trips. I was told it was very bad for a while but it's much better now. The current does reverse now but not very strongly, but then at least it does reverse. During the flood times, it only ran one way, out to sea.

It's nice and calm, and bug-free. In fact, we've seen very few buys on the river.
We will brave the shallows of Minum Creek and McClellanville on Saturday. We will hit Minum Creek just about at low tide but it will be rising after that. We will overnight at the Awendaw anchorage and leave the next morning for Charleston. I'll keep uploading my tracks so if I don't run aground, you'll have a path to follow through the shallows.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Osprey Marina - at a dock

Osprey Marina is as good as ever
We left around 8:30 and headed to our first challenge of the day, Lockwoods Folly. In order for it to be maximum fun, we scheduled it at low tide. Fortunately, low tide was actually 1.5 ft above datum (the 0.0 level) so we had a plus 1.5 ft over a real dead low - and we needed it! I didn't use the USACE route which involved a scary pass on the wrong side of a green can. Instead, I use one provided by Hank Pomeranz that took a more natural route honoring the buoys. It resulted in a low of 4.6 MLW in one small spot, the rest was deeper. Since I had a 1.5 ft tide, I was fine with my 4 ft 9 in keel but it's still exciting to see the depth numbers drop so dramatically before rising again. My path will be reflected in my track today which I will upload tonight and in a new GPX route for Lockwoods Folly dated 10/18/2018. I would strongly recommend having a half to full, rising tide to pass through this inlet.

Look how high the water got!
Shallotte inlet was rather dull. It's well buoyed (2 reds, 2 greens), just go right down the middle so defined by the buoys to get 9.7 MLW as the lowest spot.  So we motored on and the rest of the trip was uneventful. The famous "Rock Pile" just north of Barefoot was benign. There were lots of ledges visible along the sides but as long as you stayed in the middle, no problem.

Watch out for those ledges in the "Rock Pile"
Barefoot Landing is redoing their docks so they were out of business for transients. As a result, I guess, Barefoot Marine across the way raised their rates to $2/ft from $1.50 last year so we passed both by and went to Osprey Marina for $1/ft. They survived with no damage although they had to ad 4.5 ft to the tops of their pilings. They have now welded extensions on the pilings to make the added height permanent.

Normally our next stop would be Georgetown but they are having a Wooden Boat Show so we'll stop upriver from them at Heritage Plantation Marine before moving on to the Isle of Palms the next day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

St James Plantation Marina suffered almost no damage from Hurricane Florence but they
did have a lot of trees down that blocked the roads.
We had intended taking a mooring at Carolina Beach but the weather was so good and the next day was so bad, that we decided to push on to St James Plantation Marina just south of Southport, NC. Along the way, the inlets required some moving outside of the channel to find the best water. There were a lot of 8 to 10 ft MLW stretches with some places down to 7 MLW. The track I uploaded avoids all depths less than that.

South from here is the Atlantic with the sunset
One of the reasons we came this far today is the calm winds on Cape Fear River. Although we had the current against us, it was okay with light winds. We've stayed here many times in the past. The marina is very well protected although we didn't nee that protection today. They also have fuel so we're set for our next leg. One thing they do not have is a nearby grocery store. They have a short-order store and a small restaurant if needed. 

We are not well staged for the shallows. We should hit them just about at low tide all along the Isle of Shoals. At least it will make for interesting traveling. We had wanted to stop in Georgetown, SC but once again they are having their annual wooden boat show and a dock cannot be had anywhere. We seem to hit that every year. Instead of Georgetown, we will take a dock at Heritage Plantation Marina, about seven miles north of Georgetown. I'll let you know how it is. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Topsail Island Marina at Surf City, NC - at a dock

The Surf City Pier is fully operational
We had a 52 mile day to reach Surf City so we had to leave around 7:30 am, not a favorite time for Ann. We used the "backdoor exit" from Homer Smith which resulted in a least seen of 5.4 MLW.  We had a one foot tide, so it was not a problem for our 4 ft 9 in keel.

The IGA Supermarket is up and running
Once underway we found that no one was working today on the Atlantic Beach Bridge. There was a notice to mariners that a 30 minute advance notice was required before passing through the bridge but that was only when they are actually doing work and that wasn't today.

He was very popular with the local seagulls!
The shallowest part of the trip was just after the Atlantic Beach Bridge between R6 and G11. It got really skinny, down to 5.7 MLW! I searched and found the most water possible which is reflected in the track I uploaded today. It also shows a path through Browns Inlet and New River plus a few other shallow spots.

BoatUS was roaring but the boat was not moving! Watch out for those shallows!
Surf City is still recovering from hurricane Florence but a lot of stores are open as is the marina. You'll still find the local IGA supermarket open and serving local customers. The Surf City Pier is open as are most of the local businesses. At this marina, there is no one present. You pay over the phone for your slip. We paid $1.50/ft for our dockage which includes electric and water if needed.

Our plan is to pick up a mooring at Carolina Beach and then move on to St James Plantation the next day if the weather is right which means not having wind against tide on Cape Fear river.