Saturday, April 13, 2019

Beaufort to Charleston

Our path is now more east than north
What a crazy past 24 hours!

Our tale starts the night before. Despite the calm winds, the current at the marina, which is right on the ICW, is crazy. Crazy! When the tides shift between high and low, the currents run very fast. So fast they batted our boat around while on the moor. From midnight to 2 am we jerked and jostled while the water noisily splashed on the hull. As a result we didn't get a solid sleep. And we had plans for an early rise and long day on the water.

We got up 5:15 am to dinghy the dogs to shore. We came back, made coffees, and scrammed. We were underway before 7:30. 

Russ at the helm
Right off the day was perfect. Calm wind, placid waters. On this trip we had a number of cuts to get through. Built by the Army Core of Engineers they "cut" passages over land to create the ICW. These are not very wide, and (after years of shoaling) not very deep. We were going through a few of them at low tide. They were at times a bit of a nail-biter.

During a slack period we traded off piloting while the other did their jumpy-things. We feel pretty virtuous about that.

The first half of the day was lonesome. We knew it wouldn't last, being a weekend with nice weather. As we neared Charleston, traffic picked up. 

The last cut we needed to go through is Elliott Cut. By that time many boats zipped around us, to and fro. While tracking them I realized that someone is calling out Cat-n-Dogs over the radio. Which shocked me, since usually we are the ones who hail. 

"This is Cat-n-Dogs," I answered.
The American Star exiting Elliott Cut

"This is the cruise ship, American Star. We're about to enter Elliott Cut, southbound and see you're heading northbound. We can pass in the cut, if you want to."

"Nope, no sir! We'll cut our engines and wait out here."

Which we did. Since the American Star used AIS (as do we, which is how she knew who we were and where we were going) we watched her progress as she made her way through. Amusingly, GMaps for some reason thinks we spent that time shopping at The Sound Factory.

She hailed us again when she was about through. "We'll be out in about five minutes. You can start your approach."

We slowly made our way to the opening and watched her emerge from behind the island. The captain was on the deck, waving at us, and she gave us a "thank you" honk. That made our day.

After she cleared, all sorts of boats zipped with us into the cut. While narrow there didn't seem to be any speed limits. Boats flew by, waking everyone -- so we did too. That was all just preparation for the Charleston Harbor. 

Boats, boats, everywhere!
Our destination was the Charleston Maritime Marina, which was on the other side of the peninsula. As we entered the open water we could see sailboats -- hundreds of them -- between us and our marina. Apparently, the was a race going on. Add to that hundreds of boats just out for the day, a fair number of them filled with young men and women enjoying the immortality of youth. Between them all, and the wind, the seas were bouncy and choppy, one of the worst we've ever had to deal with. Minding my direction and the traffic around me we made our way to our port and hailed them. They gave us directions in, but told us to hold our position (tricky staying in one place, surrounded by speed boats and sailing vessels, while bobbing in 2-3 foot seas). Once they got in place and could help us dock, they gave us the green light.

That did buy Russ some time, who set up the fenders for our slip. Stern in. Port side.

Tucked in for a few days.
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in the distance.
I hoped that once we got into the port a bit the waters would calm for docking. No such luck. Moreover, the space I needed to turn around in was not abundant. I turned her carefully, so as not to hit the pier across from us, and backed into the slip at an angle, pivoting into the slip. It went well, although Russ had to push us a bit to keep us from nicking the finger pier. But it was bumpy. Even after we were tied in, the boat surged and tilted.

Now we're exhausted. The activity has slowed down a bit, so I'm hoping we'll both have a good night sleep, even though we continue to do a bit of bobbing.

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