Sunday, June 4, 2017

Isle of Palms to Southport - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

A Day at Isle of Palms Marina

We slept great last night (Wednesday, May 31) in our air conditioned boat, not feeling the slightest bit of movement nor experiencing the slightest distraction.  I'm glad we were able to book two nights here at Isle of Palms Marina.  Most of the other marinas around Charleston were full and this marina is full on Friday night and the remainder of the weekend.

It is noticeably cooler here in Isle of Palms than it was in Florida, Georgia and the southern part of South Carolina.  We have a lot of chores to do today (Thursday, June 1): laundry, grocery shopping, toilet recharging, and engine maintenance.  This is a nice stop to get things done and not have many distractions like there would be in Charleston.

We finished all our chores except I realized that I didn't have a new oil filter after we had already turned in our rental car.  So, I had to keep the old oil filter in place--I'll change it in Baltimore and possibly make an early oil change at the same time.  We also cleaned all the raw water strainers--the strainer for the fridge's supplemental water cooling was particularly obstructed.

S/v Rainy Days gets a day of rest at Isle of Palms Marina.

As most ICW travelers (and fishermen) know, the tide schedule moves later by approximately one hour each day.  In looking at our travel plan for tomorrow (Friday), the daytime low tide will be at 8:59 AM and the daytime high tide is at 3:32 PM.  (Today, the corresponding tides are at 8:03 AM and 2:35 PM.). So, we want to make sure that we travel through shoaled areas of the ICW tomorrow between 11 AM (two hours after low tide) and 6:30 PM (3 hours after high tide) tomorrow and avoid them outside this time frame.  I made a detailed travel plan for the next three days, getting us to Southport, NC.  This type of planning has kept us from going aground so far, going north.

Today was a very busy day for us!  However, we are ready to resume our journey north on the ICW.

Isle of Palms to Butler Island

Today, Friday, June 2, we face two shoaled ICW areas: between MM 430 and MM 426 (Jeremy Creek, 27 miles away, 4-1/4 hours) and between MM 420 and MM 416 (Four Mile Creek, 37 miles away, 5-3/4 hours).  Our plan is to leave the marina at 9:45 AM, get to Jeremy Creek by 2 PM, and Four Mile Creek by 3:30 PM, and arrive at our evening anchorage by 5:45 PM.  All of these calculations were made assuming a boat speed of 5.5 knots, some of the time we'll be faster and some of the time we'll be slower--so, our average speed is somewhat of a guess at this point.

Jeremy Creek looks pretty benign in this photograph
but it is shoaled pretty badly.

A floating pontoon bridge that crosses the ICW.

Storms clouds gather ahead of us and we experienced
a downpour shortly after this photograph was taken.

Sunset at Butler Island on June 2

Most of the day we moved much faster than 5.5 knots since we had a favorable tidal current.  We arrived at Butler Island at about 5 PM.

Butler Island to Barefoot Landing

We left our anchorage at 7 AM this morning, Saturday, June 3.  The morning was pleasantly cool.  We started out the day with an opposing tidal current of about 0.5 knots--this lasted a couple of hours.  Then we came under the influence of an outgoing current that was favorable and we reached a (over the ground) boat speed as high as 7.5 knots.

Most of the ICW runs between barrier islands and the mainland--this area is occupied by bodies of tidal water and marsh.  Seawater enters and exits the marsh at thousands of different points along the coast.  Tidal current will flow along the ICW and tend to equalize water levels between the various points of seawater ingress/egress.  Consequently, like our trip this morning on the ICW, we were under the influence of favorable and unfavorable tidal flows in the same estuary without going through a change in the state of tide on the ocean.  Our entire trip today was during an ebbing tide on the nearby ocean.  Consequently, predicting our boat speed along the ICW is nearly impossible.

This photograph was pretty typical of today's travels.  This
was on the windy and deep Waccamaw River in SC.

Near Myrtle Beach, our chart plotter went a little crazy--actually it is the cartography that is a little crazy.  It did this on the way down the ICW too.  The ICW channel is in reality about 250 feet from where it is shown on the chart.  Then, suddenly the ICW channel makes an abrupt shift to the left at another point.  Fortunately, we didn't have these kind of cartography errors in the Bahamas.

The ICW channel goes over land (yellow area) here near Myrtle Beach!
The funny thing, I was still reading about 12 feet of
water depth as it went over land.

Suddenly, the ICW channel (wide gray line) on the chart 
plotter shifts to the left about 150 feet going north!

Near the end of our day's journey we were coming through an area near Myrtle Beach where there were new (large) homes along the ICW.  There was a floating red buoy in the center of the waterway and north of it I could see ripples on the surface of the water.  Where these ripples appeared the water depth went from 12 feet to 6 feet momentarily.  Our depth alarm sounded but we didn't touch bottom.

At about 1 PM we docked at Barefoot Marina, just north of Myrtle Beach on the west side of the ICW.  We stopped in Barefoot Landing on on way down the ICW in the fall too but stayed at the Barefoot Landing Marina (on the east side of the ICW) by mistake.  Barefoot Marina (on the west side of the ICW) is much nicer with great showers, a pool and hot tub--Barefoot Landing Marina has none of this and both marinas are the same price per foot.

S/v Rainy Days docked at Barefoot Marina
prior to an afternoon thunderstorm.

Barefoot Landing to Southport

We intentionally started out late this morning (11 AM on Sunday, June 4) to catch two ICW trouble spots (Shallotte Inlet and Lockwood Folly) on a mid-tide and rising condition.  Since high tide is at 5:58 PM today (mid-tide is 3 PM), the bulk of our 44-mile trip today will be in the afternoon.  Of course, early on in today's trip we will face the "rock pile" which is an area where the ICW (from here to MM 347, about 6 miles) was cut through bedrock--the danger is at the edges, not a depth issue.

I'm not sure what you are supposed to do differently
when you see this sign "Danger - Rocks."

The rock ledge at the edges of the "rock pile."  It
looks worse than it really was.

This was a colorful area near Little River Inlet.

We docked at Southport Marina at 4:30 PM, much
sooner than we expected--about 3 hours sooner.

We had favorable tidal currents most of the day today, sometimes moving at over 8 knots.  Of course, there were times when we were only doing 5.5 knots over the ground.  The two ICW trouble spots that concerned us were recently dredged and were no problem at all.

Our next blogpost will be from Coinjock Marina, about 50 miles south of Norfolk.  We really haven't had any serious groundings yet!  I hope that statement didn't jinx us!

Thanks for following our blog!

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