Hi from Charleston, South Carolina, Intracoastal Waterway mile 570! That means we’ve gone 570 miles down this ditch since Norfolk, which we left on December 11, and about 400 since we last wrote. It seems ridiculously fast for us, but we have been pushing ourselves and going 30+ miles every day, just to keep moving south.
To be perfectly honest, our Intracoastal Waterway experience since we left Oriental has been less than magical, so even though parts of it have been beautiful, we’re getting pretty bored. Mostly, it’s because you have to motor down the ICW, not sail. And sailing is… well, kind of the point of having a sailboat. We have stopped in Charleston to give ourselves a break, get a lot of boat work done, and wait for a weather window to go offshore and get our sailing legs back.
There are many reasons our experience hasn’t been as fun as it could be. The weather has been wet and the wind has been blowing from the south. It’s also been unseasonably warm, so the humidity has produced an interesting musk inside the cabin. The ICW is also difficult to navigate. We count on a combination of our GPS, 10-year old paper charts, and the Skipper Bob guide. We take turns steering every hour, but much of the time it takes both of us to figure out the markers so we don’t run aground–which we have, twice. Though not disastrously.
The other thing we’re not used to is strong currents and large tidal ranges. In the Chesapeake, there was barely any current in most places, and tidal differences did not exceed 3 feet. But the Carolinas have presented us with many challenges. Since the ICW is basically a ditch running down the coast, there are numerous inlets to the ocean. The tide forces water into these inlets in all different directions, and since you might pass three or four inlets in a single day, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether you will be going with or against the current at any given time. We have a one-cylinder Yanmar engine which drives us at average speeds of 4.5 knots, and does not compete well with 3-knot currents. However, when the current is favorable, it’s awesome–notice the picture of the GPS says 6.3 knots!
Okay, enough complaining. We have had some fun. We had a proper Christmas celebration of Star Wars and Chinese takeout in Wrightsville Beach, and that was fantastic.
Also, on New Year’s Eve we anchored in a deserted marsh, where we rowed around and explored an abandoned wreck, then witnessed all the fireworks that happened within 10 miles. We did find it difficult to stay up past midnight, though.
And we’ve witnessed lots of pretty weather too.
And some unusual stuff, too.
We’re glad to be in Charleston, and it’s been pretty nice to us so far aside from the mile-long row to the dinghy dock. We even got a free slice of pecan pie because Kasy is so charming.
We’ll see you when the weather clears.