Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Charleston to Beaufort SC

We weighed anchor in Dewees Creek on Sunday morning after waiting for the tide to recede. I had received a weather alert on my phone for coastal flooding the night before and was concerned that an above average high tide combined with flooding might prevent us from getting under the Isle of Palms fixed bridge on our way to Charleston. We ended up passing under the bridge with plenty of clearance but then had to wait for 40 minutes for the Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge to open on the hour. We had tried to delay our arrival by going slowly, but the strong current pushing us along foiled our plans.

Once in Charleston Harbor we headed to Charleston Harbor Marina where we squeezed into a tight pace along a dock between a huge sailing catamaran and sport fishing boat. The marina is across the river from the city but the marina advertised a free shuttle to and from town. We subsequently learned that the shuttle wasn't running due to COVID which left us in a relatively isolated location and having to pay for an Uber or water taxi to the city. 

Monday morning Lisa was on the phone with Charleston City Marina, where Intermezzo had spent time on the "Mega Dock last June through July. They told her that they had a space for us, so we slipped our dock lines and motored over to the other side of the city, within walking distance of historic Charleston. 

We walked around all day Monday and enjoyed a dinner on Poogan's Porch, sharing fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits, which I followed up on with a slice of pecan pie and an Old Fashioned. The day was warm and sunny, the night walking back to the boat quite chilly as a cold front approached.

Yesterday we started making our way to Beaufort a route that wound through a series of canals, cuts and rivers which I'll write about separately. The day was clear, sunny and chilly with a strong breeze from the northwest. It was a long ride, almost 50 nm and I was pretty weary as we dropped anchor in Wimbee Creek, two miles northwest off the Coosaw River. It was a pretty sunset and we had a peaceful night at anchor.

This morning we continued on to Beaufort and I was happy to be able to sail almost all the way here, the strong northwesterly breeze fill the jib and a fair current providing a nice boost to our speed. It was another bright, clear, sunny day, but cold.

Much of our route was adjacent to a Marine Corps Air Station with fighter planes were taking off, landing and wheeling about overhead.  "Restricted Area - No Entry" signs lined the riverbank at frequent, regular intervals. I saw two perfectly matched bald eagles on top of the posts for one of these signs facing each other, perfectly symmetric, mirror images of each other. So perfect I took themto be patriotic ornaments adorning the sign and thought, "Wow, the Marine Corps did a good job at making those eagles look real." Then they both took off flying. They certainly are handsome birds.

We pulled into Lady's Island Marina just across the Beaufort River from town early this afternoon and spent the rest of the day and into the evening walking around this beautiful historic small Southern city. It is like a smaller version of Charleston with grand old homes, but with many more trees, draped with Spanish moss. 

In case you didn't know, there are two Beauforts, one in North Caroline, the other in South Carolina .The northern one is pronounced "bow-fort", the southern one "bew-fort". Both are nice, but the South Carolina Beaufort is now my favorite by far. More history, well-preserved architecture, majestic shade trees, delicious food and a lot of craft beers, all surrounded by low-country waterways and marshland.

We'll spend tomorrow here and then we're off to Hilton Head, the end point of this journey from Montauk NY where Lisa ends her tour of duty on Intermezzo and I head back to California for the holidays.

As we were heading to our anchorage yesterday afternoon, a call came over the VHF radio reporting an overturned shrimp fishing boat. The boat had been overdue returning to port and a friend had gone out looking for them. The two fishermen from the boat were nowhere to be found and the Coast Guard launched a major search and rescue effort. It was late in the afternoon, cold and windy and we feared the worst, hoped for the best. This morning the search was still on and I didn't think there was much hope left after such a cold, windy night. However later in the day, one of the fishermen was found clinging to a liferaft and was rescued in stable condition. The search continues for his partner. I hope they find him. After spending so much time on the water, it is too easy for me to imagine the horror of being lost at sea, wet, cold and alone.

Sunset on Wimbee Creek