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South Carolina Anchorages

September 3, 2013

For over a month our little AS-29 with her 13 inches of draft allowed us to gunkhole our way along South Carolina's coast. Walküre was in her element, helping us sneak into protected coves where we never would have ventured in Eurisko. We were never brave enough to even sail Eurisko through much of South Carolina, always opting to take the safer route and go off-shore instead. Now we see what a treasure we were missing.


Off Factory Creek

FACTORY CREEK

North-bound, simultaneously approaching both Beaufort and sunset, we scoured the charts, trying to decide where we were going to drop anchor. Around the bend and under the bridge and Factory Creek opened up to Starboard. My first reaction was "I don't want to anchor right there with all those boats," but of course, I was forgetting which boat we were in. We chatted with a trawler as they circled the anchorage at the mouth of the creek, looking for a comfortable spot. We were admiring their Benford; they were admiring our Bolger. Past the anchorage, past the boat ramp, past the marina, a small trinkle of water hardly worthy of calling a creek invited us in. We nosed our way in with one bilge board lowered about half-way to use as a depth sounder. Far enough in to get out of the traffic of Factory Creek, yet still floating, we dropped one anchor. The mouth of the creek was wide enough to give us swinging room, and there was no wind in the forecast, so we knew Walkure would not yaw even with just one anchor, so we saved ourselves the extra half-hour's work.


Sailing

TOM POINT CREEK

In the morning we continued our northward trek and again played the "where are we going to sleep tonight" game as tide altered our speed by 3 knots, up and down all day, making predicting where we'd be in the late afternoon nearly impossible.

We finally decided that our last reasonable choice for the evening was Tom Point Creek. We generally try not to &qtuot;waste" too many miles by going too far off the ICW to anchor, but we were far up in the grass before we felt comfortable. Close banks and lots of tide meant that even with two anchors out we still did the middle of the night anchor shuffle. As it was, we were lucky. The wrong wind from the wrong direction and our boomkin would have been in the grass.


Clubhouse Creek

CLUBHOUSE CREEK

After a week in the Charleston area, we were back in traveling mode and on a hunt for fresh seafood. We had heard that McClellanville was a shrimp boat haven, so we figured it was a good place to investigate. Unfortunately, the town itself was not very easily accessible for us, but we did find a cozy anchorage. We took McClellanville's Town Creek to Five Fathoms Creek. From there we sailed past a boat of fishermen whose expressions could be interpreted as "What the heck do they think they're doing, taking a sail boat in there?" We lifted the board to about half-way again and coasted around the corner into Clubhouse Creek. While we didn't necessarily have to go so far off the ICW to anchor, we were trying to get out of the possible path of shrimp boats passing us in the night. Nothing is scarier than hearing a big motor headed your way and hoping your anchor light is still lit and that someone onboard the shrimp boat is paying attention.

That evening we saw a deer along the grassy shoreline. I had assumed that with the huge tides that part of the shore would be too mucky to stand on, but he proved me wrong. A few short trees but still mostly grass surrounded us. Luckily we did not need a lee that night; two anchors and short scope were sufficient to keep us off the shore that became cliffs at low tide.


Thoroughfare Creek

THOROUGHFARE CREEK

Finally, north of Georgetown, we were in big pine and cypress trees. This also meant that we became religious users of a trip line on our anchors. We followed the creek past the cliffs, past other anchored (full draft) sailboats, around the bend and into a few feet of water. Off to the side (in order to get out of the way of the small boat traffic) we anchored among lily pads along the grassy shore. Across the creek from us were large trees of a hundred different varieties which mesmerized us after so long in scrub brush and sweet grass.

We had crossed Eurisko's path that day. Many years ago we had followed the ICW as far south as Georgetown in order to visit with a good friend, and then headed out the inlet. We crossed our path at the channel to Winyah Bay: we were back in pre-tread waters.

In the morning, as I raised the primary from the anchor well, I pulled Walküre closer to shore. From the cockpit Dave said, "Do you want a water lily?" With my love of all things French, our house used to be a mini-Monet museum, so the question was well-greeted. After the anchor was up he drove the bow closer to shore and, from the well, I reached over and plucked a water lily from the surface. Dave said, "And THAT is what that hole in the front is good for!" (People unfamiliar with Phil Bolger's designs are often bothered by Walküre's open bow. No, it doesn't fill up with water. No, we don't have a piece that fits over it--that would just be silly. And no, we're not going to sail her in 9-foot seas. But yes, indeed, it helps make her the unique sailing, mast-lowering, easy-anchoring machine that she is. Besides, it makes picking water lilies easier.)

In the morning the Wacamaw River thrilled us with eagles, turtles sitting on logs, and an alligator near Bucksport. We had one more stop to make in South Carolina and we were hoping to finally get some fresh seafood.


Wacamaw River

CALABASH CREEK

Calabash is the self-proclaimed "seafood capital of the world," so we were determined to stop there. We had read that the only transient marina was condemned, but with our little draft we thought we might be able to anchor near town. We even called the Chamber of Commerce to see if they had any suggestions.
"Do you have any transient slips in town?"
"No, not since the marina closed down."
"What about waterside restaurants that will let us use their dock if we eat there?"
"No, nothing like that."


Leaving Calabash

We were not deterred, however, and sailed right into town. The watermen on the docks were the first to not return our waves and greetings. We were nearly close enough to shake hands, yet no one could offer us any ideas of how to get to town for our long awaited seafood dinner. After touching bottom at the end of town (with the boards up, even) we turned around and left Calabash behind, deciding to just anchor and get our seafood in North Carolina later.

Back out of town the creek offered two options. Another sailboat was anchored just off the channel, but as we considered this location a sportfish went by, creating a death roll for the sailboat. Not an option. The only other choice was off the port. A small opening led to a pond of questionable depth but complete protection from wakes. We slowly motored through the opening, board half-way down until it hit, then we raised it the rest of the way and (possibly unwisely) kept going. In the middle of the "pond" we found 2 feet of water, dropped an anchor and declared ourselves "home." Within minutes a TowBoat US boat crept toward us.
"Are you guys OK?"
"We're fine. But if you're not careful you may run that thing aground getting in here!"
"What do you draw? Two feet?"
"About half that."
"Then you're fine. I never saw less than two feet on the way in."
We now knew that as long as we kept the boards up, getting out in the morning would not be a problem.

In the morning we entered the line of boats leaving Calabash. Along the shore we saw a bobcat, looking for breakfast. South Carolina has offered us a southern city to tour and many cozy anchorages to call home. But North Carolina was ahead: with a son to visit and a new adventure to start.

MONDAY we'll share a quick, easy, cheap way to keep control of sheets and halyards.

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