Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thunderbolt to Isle of Palms - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

Thunderbolt to Bull River

We left Thunderbolt Marina at 9 AM this morning, but not before I took another great shower at the marina!

Thunderbolt Marine is where most of the mega yachts get
serviced.  It is hard to believe that there are so many
of them.  Here are just a few in for service.

Just before we were ready to leave Thunderbolt this morning, two tugs
were involved in moving a large crane down the ICW.  I'm
glad we didn't meet them underway.

This catamaran cut the corner a little too short in transiting
the ICW as it crossed the St. John's River.  It was a 

little below mid-tide at this point and 
two people were aboard.

We had to slow down and allow this huge container ship to
pass in front of us at the St. John's River 

on its way to Savannah.

We traveled 62 miles today and anchored in the Bull River at 5 PM.  It was a long day and we are beat.  At the end of the day we were contemplating making it through the Ashpoo-Coosaw River Cutoff but we anchored just short of it instead and decided not to chance it on an falling tide (this proved to be a wise decision).

Bull River to Stono River

Because the wind and tidal current were opposing each other it was difficult to set the anchor last night.  I should have set it once the wind and tidal current were coincident but I was asleep by then.  This was a little careless on my part and I have to be sure I don't do it again.  If a storm had come up during the night, we could have drifted off and onto a mud bank or sand bar.  So, this morning I am grateful to be in the same place we anchored last night.

We are about 55 miles south of Charleston at the moment, anchored in the Bull River which is a branch off the Coosaw River.  The shores are mud banks at low tide.  At high tide, the water is bordered by marsh grass.  There is not a house or any sign of civilization in sight.

This is a photo of a page in our chart book   We anchored last night
where the orange circle is located (lower left hand side of
image) and had to motor to the Ashepoo-Coosaw
Cutoff.  It is important that we transited
the cutoff at mid-tide and rising
to avoid going aground.

It is now 8 AM and the tide is still low.  We are waiting until 9:45 AM to leave our anchorage so that we face the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff at mid-tide and rising.  As we start out today, Tuesday, May 30, on the ICW, it is overcast and cooler than the previous two days.  There is only a light breeze out of the west.

For the most part today was a boring day on the ICW--no drama
at all.  Note the yellow flyswatter on the port cockpit
coaming--we didn't need it much today though.

We anchored in the Stono River at MM 475, six miles south of Charleston, at 3:30 PM.  It was a relatively short day but we couldn't proceed any further because the Wappoo Creek Bascule Bridge is closed to marine traffic between 3:30 and 6:30 PM (rush hour auto traffic during this time).  We also need to transit Elliott Cut on a falling tide.  So, that adventure will be saved until tomorrow.

The summer we last kept our boat at Hartge's Yacht Harbor in Galesville, 2015, there was a big red steel-hulled sailboat called "Stono" in a slip near ours.  It was named for this river.  The captain's name was David.  I wonder where that boat is now?

Stono River to Isle of Palms

Our anchorage last night in the Stono River at MM 475 was very peaceful--we were only 300 feet from shore and about 300 feet off the ICW.  There were a dozen or so homes on the shore close to our anchorage.

Today, Wednesday, May 31, we only have to travel 18 miles but we have two considerations early in today's trip to take into account:
(1) The Wappoo Creek Bascule Bridge (MM 471) is only open for marine traffic between 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM and opens only on the hour and half hour.  The bridge is 4 miles from our anchorage (51 minutes at 5.5 knots). 
(2) Elliott Cut (MM 472) is an area where the tidal flow is greatly amplified--we have to transit this area at slack tide or on a falling tide (otherwise we'll be fighting against a 2 or 3-knot tidal current).  Slack tide begins at 1:38 PM at the southern entrance (MM 472).  Elliott Cut is 3 miles from our anchorage (38 minutes at 5.5 knots).  

So, we decided to depart our anchorage at 1:05 PM (allowing four extra minutes) to make the entrance to the cut at the beginning of slack tide and catch the 2 PM bridge opening.  This means we will have to travel at 5.5 knots (our hull speed is 6.75 knots) during the 4 miles between our anchorage and the bridge.  (Some of that time will still be spent against the rising tide.)

We had a late breakfast onboard (10 AM)--I made fried egg sandwiches.  I guess it was more of a brunch.

As we started out our day, the sky was overcast and it was relatively cool.  A cool 6-knot breeze was coming from the south.  Because we were close to Charleston there was more boat traffic than we've seen during the past couple days.  It is difficult waiting around a few hours to leave our anchorage.  After all that planning, we left our anchorage at 12:45 PM (15 minutes early) and made the 1:30 PM bridge opening!

Elliott Cut as we approached from the south.  It looks pretty
benign here but we faced a 2-knot current
against us early in the passage.

A view of Charleston as we passed on the ICW.

A boatload full of BMWs headed to Germany
from the plant in South Carolina.

The Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge closing after we
passed through (near Sullivan's Island).

Two dolphins spent some time playing by our boat
on the way to Isle of Palms.

We docked at Isle of Palms Marina at 3:45 PM and went out for dinner at the restaurant on the premises.  We'll be here for two nights.  More from Isle of Palms in our next blogpost...

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