Charleston Maritime Center, Charleston SC
Position: 32 47.355N, 079 55.455W
Posted by Bill
The ICW route from Beaufort to Charleston is one of the most scenic along the Atlantic ICW. It also has some really bad shoal areas, with depths below 5 feet at low tide, which is how much water we need to stay afloat. It takes some planning to figure the tides and currents into the route, and you have to make sure that you hit the shoal areas at the right time. Because of all of this, we knew we could not make it into Charleston in one day, so we planned several anchorages along the way as a staging point so we could arrive at our marina in Charleston at slack tide. The current runs very strong at all of the marinas in Charleston, and it is not much fun to try and dock in. We have seen several boats crash while trying. The other major factor in the route plan was the opening schedule of the Lady’s Island Swing Bridge next to the mooring field in Beaufort. It will open on request before 7AM and is closed from 7 to 9, and then opens on the hour and half hour until evening rush hour. We wanted to get through before 7, but that would mean that we would hit the first shoal area at low tide…not good, so we had to wait until the 9:00 opening. We hit all the shoal areas perfectly, with at least mid tide and rising. As we approached the target anchorage, the tide was with us but was going to turn against us. Fortunately, we started picking up the tide from the next inlet north, which made the tide favorable, so we kept going, and rode it all the way to Wapoo Creek, the furthest anchorage in our plan. Wapoo Creek is a short passage from the Stono River to downtown Charleston. It has a nasty tidal current and a lift bridge that we need to have opened. We anchored just outside the west entrance of the creek, in the Stono River at position: 32 46.087N, 080 00.315W. The reviews on the anchorage were all very positive and suggested the anchor holding was excellent. We did not find this to be true, and it took 3 tries before we felt like the anchor held…but it didn’t. We dragged around most of the night…not far…but just enough to keep me from sleeping. Most of the bottom is rock with a thin layer of mud, stones and shells. Fortunately, we had settled weather and only had to contend with the current changes in the river.
The next day we timed the opening of the Wapoo Creek bridge and slack tide at the marina perfectly. The winds were up so we were glad we didn’t have to also deal with the strong tidal currents while docking. We got into our marina around 10:30 AM, so we walked into town and checked out the farmers market, then grabbed a bite to eat for lunch. We really love this town. It is so vibrant and well maintained. The streets were full of people, mostly a younger crowd. There are literally hundreds of restaurants and bars within a few miles of walking. Mark and Jan had never been here before, so we tried to show them a good time, hitting King Street during the afternoon, and the market district in the evening.
Today we are doing some laundry and grocery shopping, cruising essentials, especially while we have the convenience of being tied to a dock. We have spend less than 7 days in a marina since we left Marathon FL on the 22nd of February, which we think is great! Tomorrow we plan to do some site seeing and then leave on Tuesday. It will probably take 3 days to get to Southport.
I have a couple of pictures to share, but if you want to see more about Charleston, enter charleston in the search box on the top, right of the blog home page. You can see lots of pictures and learn more about why we love this city in our previous posts.