Charleston to South Edisto River

Trip Start Oct 19, 2008
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Friday, November 14, 2008

Skipper woke up early but saw it was thick fog.  After leaving the marina at about 0900 when the fog had cleared a little and passing under the worrisome 56 foot bridge we timed our speed for a 1000 opening of the Wappoo Creek bascule bridge. The ebb tide was already against us at Elliott cut and was running at 3 knots.  It can run up to 6.  (our top speed is about 7 knots)  Out on to the Stono River which wends around in big loops and the tide was mostly against us. This was the first day with warm humid weather and interesting clouds.   The air mass was obviously from the south.

We were were having an easy time following a Catalina 42 in front when we came to the place where the ICW goes into the Dawho River. We had heard something on the VHF radio about a sailboat aground.  Much alarm at seeing a Beneteau 423 hard aground and listing badly.  The Catalina headed in and edged slowly past the grounded Beneteau. 

We headed back into deep water in the Wadmalaw River while circling around to re-check charts etc.  The radar showed the Beneteau aground where the charts showed only deep water.  (The Beneteau appeared to be aground SSW of Red No. 110 approximately at a point on the chart where there is shown a sounding of 17 feet).  We watched the Catalina make her way slowly in past the grounded Beneteau.   We noted it was now close to low water and followed the Catalina in past the grounded Beneteau which was busy launching her dinghy - presumably to lay out out a kedge.  They had probably gone aground about 2/3 after high water so there was at least some prospect of getting her off before the spring tides diminish.  Heard no calls for Tow Boat US so presumably crew were hopeful of kedging off although it did look rather dire.  We passed through a lot of thin water at slow speed and eventually made it through the Dawho and the Watts Cut behind our guiding Catalina.  We noted a few times he slowed down and we got the sense he would be happy for us to pass him - we did not bite. The tricky entrance to the Dawho river is described in two of our guides but neither of us on board Rafiki had really registered this. The US Coastal Pilot mostly talks in generalties and is of little help for the ICW.

Essentially our experience so far can be summarized as that in the guides: that charts for the ICW in South Carolina, both paper and electronic are not reliable and this is not an area to be traversed, particularly at high water springs, without the utmost care.  The Army Corp of Engineers are not granted the funds to maintain the project depth of 12 feet and in some locations 6 feet is optimistic which is not much fun when the boat is drawing 5 feet and a rudder with no skeg.

Eventually we anchored about an hour before sunset in the South Edisto River near a place called Alligator Creek.  A big easy anchorage but not much shelter in a blow.  There was a thunderstorm off to the south with the first lightning seen since we sailed.  We have had a good meal of bangers and mash together with an ok S. African Cab.  (for the Yanks - sausage and mashed potatoes)  TV stations come in better the further we are from anywhere civilized and crew are happy to be able to watch ER (Emergency Room for those of you in the UK).

Skipper will continue to read the Gigantic Book of Sea Stories in which the multiple accounts of shipwreck, mutiny and plague will give some sense of proportion to the worries of traversing the Georgia section of the ICW where the tides are bigger and the water even thinner.

We can hear the current flowing past us so will need to set the anchor alarm again.
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