Making Tracks

A long, narrow and shallow week on the ICW

From southern North Carolina into South Carolina the ICW is extremely narrow with many areas of severe shoaling. Driving this stretch required a lot of concentration to keep Andante in the center of the channel and out of the mud. And we’re definitely driving and not sailing. There have been a few rare occasions to hoist a sail and gain an extra knot of boatspeed (and a smile) but the engine is on all day long.

From Camp Lejeune we pushed south with brief overnight stops in Wrightsville Beach and then Southport where we loaded up on fuel, water and some fantastic shrimp and grits. The next day we weathered a gale in the marshes of Little River Inlet, SC before continuing on past Myrtle Beach and into the amazingly beautiful Waccamaw River. The owls were frighteningly loud but it was too cold to see any alligators. This was definitely one of my favorite overnight stops so far. Probably buggy in warmer seasons so perhaps lucky to enjoy it now.

We arrived in Charleston, SC on January 12 and plan to stay here for a day or two until a weather window allows a coastal passage to Georgia. South of Charleston and all through Georgia the ICW is essentially impassable due to shoaling except at mid/high tide. It will be much more efficient (and fun) to sail outside. This short break gives me a chance to top up fuel and water tanks and stretch my legs with walks through the city.

Southport, NC is a cute little town and Southport Marina was a great stopover for fuel and a hot shower.
I recommend the shrimp and grits at Fishy Fishy Cafe in Southport. The local shrimp have lots of flavor. The Bud Light does not. But I enjoyed it anyway.
Sunset in Little River Inlet on the NC/SC border. I didn’t realize South Carolina had offshore gambling until the “Big M Casino” steamed past. Glad to have good lighting and AIS.
Between Beaufort, NC and Charleston, SC we cleared 30 bridges. Most of those are a standard fixed vertical clearance (65 ft +/-) but quite a few (including 3 in one day this week) require swinging, raising, or floating the span out of the channel before proceeding. We’ve run into a few delays due to bridge maintenance but generally all works smoothly and the bridge operators are very accommodating.
Spanish moss on the banks of the Waccamaw River. Miles of narrow winding channels surrounded by nothing but swamps and trees.
Quiet spot on the Waccamaw River.
Coast Guard doing two-boat drills in Charleston Harbor.
Andante on the “Mega Dock” at Charleston City Marina. We were probably the least “mega” boat in the place — but it was very nice.
The Ubers in Charleston may be a little slower than elsewhere. This is a very pretty city to walk around with lots of history. College of Charleston is a beautiful campus. And everyone seems to be extremely good about mask-wearing.

One thought on “Making Tracks”

  1. Loved the photos of Charleston and the shrimp n grits. Did not realize the ICW got so narrow and shallow. Might need some attention.


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