Recap: We finally began our Southern Migration on Dec 26. In Part 1 (click HERE to read the previous blog), we traveled from Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA to Little River, SC. In Part 2, we cruise further south, with winter nipping at our stern, and also continue the parallel saga of Dave’s knee.
Wacca Wache Marina in Murrell’s Inlet, SC
Jan 8-12, 2022
After a brief resting (i.e. laundry) day in Little River, north of Myrtle Beach SC we were ready to continue south. We woke to a very cold morning, enough to partially freeze our fresh water hose from the dock to the boat.
- Dave’s take-away: if below freezing temps predicted, disconnect the hose.
- Karen’s take-away: don’t be anywhere that gets that cold.
We delayed our start a couple hours because I would be out on deck with the lines and didn’t relish frozen fingers or sliding off a frosty deck.
Shortly after departing, we entered The Rock Pile, so named because of the rock they discovered they had to blast through when creating the ICW. It’s not very wide, and since rock and fiberglass don’t mix it can be hair-raising if you have traffic coming the other direction (such as a barge), to the point that you actually go on the VHF radio and announce you are entering. Fortunately, no one was around as we came through. The high tide at the time made it look deceptively non-threatening – deceptive because the rocks on either side were just below the surface and thus the channel looked wider than it was in reality. But as usual, Dave expertly navigated right down the middle.
After the few miles of the Rock Pile, we passed by stately luxury homes – okay, massive homes – approaching the resort area of The Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach. Both homes and all the tourist spots were eerily unpopulated, a product of the off-off-off season. I mean, there was so little sign of life that it looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie where aliens had beamed entire town populations up to the Mother Ship and the few people left were in hidden bunkers . Except I don’t think aliens would have any interest in maintaining the manicured landscapes and many golf courses, and certainly the human survivors would have better things to worry about than keeping the lawns mowed. Although it would be worth the risk to keep the waterparks maintained to convince the next generation of aliens that Earth had some redeeming qualities after all and lead the way to intergalactic détente.
It wasn’t far outside of tourist-area-post-alien-takeover Myrtle Beach that the ICW widened and the landscape reverted back to a more natural wilderness (good place for hidden bunkers…). Our wake rippled through a mirror of tree lined banks, barren of their leaves for the season. The last leg followed the glittering reflection of the sun on the water – mesmerizing. The tempereature had warmed into the 60s, giving us a taste of parts further south and why we were making this migration. Our destination was Wacca Wache Marina, in the Myrtle Beach suburb of Murrell’s Inlet, which seriously should receive an award for Best Marina Name. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, has the lowest diesel price by far in the state, and you would never know that a bustling strip mall-lined highway was just a few miles away.
Prefer something more visual? Here’s a short video of scenes along the day’s transit from Little River to Wacca Wache. It’s all described above, but this is for anyone that prefers pictures over words.
We were greeted at Wacca Wache by Erika and Holger, our German-Canadian friends we met while at AYB and how we had heard about this marina. They spend the winter here, and as soon as we got lines tied and power hooked up they took us to their favorite beach for a long walk. Dinner was at Uncle Mikey’s Brick Oven Pizza, where the owner/chef came over to tell bad jokes and the pizzas were ginormous. We will be here a few days as we travel back to Virginia Beach for Dave’s pre-op appointments.
Jan 9-10: ROAD TRIP to Virginia Beach
Once again, we rented a car and drove back to Virginia Beach — this time for Dave’s pre-op appointments. At least we weren’t driving through tornado watches and freezing rain like we did on our previous Dave’s Knee Road Trip from Morehead City. Our GPS routed us along rural backroads of the Carolinas, through itty-bitty towns and farm country, and new parts of the states for us to see. The next day was all business, with two appointments, labs and EKG, and then we immediately headed back to Wacca Wache. We didn’t get back until late, then stayed up even later watching the college football championship, so the next day was one of chilling out and relaxing.
Jan 12, 2022
Short trip of only 21 miles (about 2.5 hr), so had a leisurely departure mid-morning. It was another beautiful day to be cruising, with sunny blue skies and glassy water the whole way. Georgetown is repeat stop for us from our spring northward trip, and once again was nice to be pulling in somewhere familiar.
We arrived midday, so had plenty of time to make a stop at their famous fish market for fresh shrimp right off the boat, then wander through this old town with its homes dating back to the early 1700s. It was good to see it busier than when we were here in May, even though it was winter and a weekday, with many more shops and restaurants re-opened. Stopped for an afternoon latte and pastry at the Coffee Break Café, with dog-friendly employees apparently have a sense of humor.
Jan 13, 2022
Early departure for the 72 mile trip to Charleston. I actually love sunrise departures, though would prefer the temp to be warmer than 40 deg. This particular morning there was some low-lying fog over the calm water, lending a mystical feeling to the dawn that ended up being a precursor of the rest of the day, with a spectacular dolphin and shorebird show as we transited the length of the Estherville Minim Creek Canal. The dolphins jumped and played and surfed our wake, and I eventually gave up on trying to get photos and just enjoyed the show. The variety of shore birds along the banks, on the water, and in the air was amazing. It was one of the best days we’ve ever had of seeing wildlife. I wish I could have captured it better, but afraid all I have is this video of what little I could catch.
Last leg of the day was crossing Charleston Harbor, with historic Ft. Sumter on our port side and downtown Charleston to starboard. We’ve been to Charleston several times before and since winter was chasing us, this was to be a one- night stop. Our destination was St. John’s Yacht Harbor a bit south of the city. We were ‘escorted’ in by the pump-out boat, which the very nice dockhand happened to be operating at the time we hailed him on the radio – certainly a first for us and not sure if we should consider our escort an honor or not. There was one of the funkiest dog parks at the marina that we’ve ever seen anywhere, a large area with remnants of the multiple purposes it must have served over decades. There was a foundation of some past structure, a random very tall flag pole, ‘caged’ trees, a single frisbee golf hole, a couple old boat trailers, and some old construction materials from both past and current projects. Roxy has never been one for dog parks because they typically have other dogs in them, and even though we were the only ones this afternoon I think she was still a little suspicious that all was not as it seemed, because what it seemed was weird.
Jan 14-17, 2022
Yet another beautiful sunrise departure from St. John’s Yacht Harbor. The scenery today was a mix of marshes and homes. Only others we saw on the water was a smattering of fishing skiffs. Boating etiquette is to slow down when passing so your wake doesn’t rock and roll them. We slowed to idle for a flat-bottom skiff with three gentlemen standing up and fishing. They were very close to shore any wake would build in the shallow water and magnify the effect. Just as we were directly abeam of them, a police boat comes screaming past us, throwing off a huge wake that had the dishes in our cupboard rattling as we rocked. I looked over at the skiff, worried that they would get tossed into the water, but all three remained standing and looked quite non-plussed as they rode out the bounce. Guess they were just used to it.
A perennial trouble spot along the ICW is an area called the Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff. It is notorious for shoaling, which means depending on your draft (the distance between the bottom of the boat and the surface of the water, or the minimum depth the water needs to be to avoid running aground), it can be too shallow. We have a relatively shallow draft at 3.5’, but still need to be cautious and we happened to hit this stretch at low tide (with the shorter days, one doesn’t have the luxury of timing the passage with the tide). I was calling out depths while Dave watched the charts in the very narrow channel. We got as low as 2.7 ft of water under the hull. Quite nerve-wracking for about a mile, which at idle crawling speed is a long time not to breathe. Whew!
Approaching the marina inlet in Beaufort, I was up on the bow rigging lines/fenders and Dave pointed out some dolphins swimming toward us. I watched over the bow as they surfed and played in our bow wake for a minute or two, weaving around each other and between the two hulls. It was an awesome sight!
Small World Department: Tom, the owner and dockmaster of Lady’s Island Marina, greeted us at arrival. Chatting with him as we got situated, it turns out he graduated from a rival high school in Southern California the same year I did. He threw out some familiar names of athletes with whom he played football and baseball in high school and at USC. One ended up playing baseball for the Twins and is the only bobblehead that Dave kept during The Great Purge.
Our weekend in Beaufort included a visit from our nephew Matt and his girlfriend Katie, who drove out from Aiken SC to spend the afternoon and evening with us. It was really good to see him and meet Katie.
High winds and heavy rain extended our stay an extra day, and we just enjoyed the down time, if not all the rocking at the dock and noise from the waves slapping the hulls.
You may have noticed a pattern in our travels: we are on the go for a few days, then take a break. The pre-travel planning and actual underways take a tremendous amount of mental energy. We enjoy this challenge, but we also very much appreciate an opportunity to relax and see the local area. Our two month delay in Hampton Roads means that we have a bit of a schedule, as we are trying to avoid the cold weather but also because we need to get to a place where we can leave the boat and travel back to Virginia Beach to get Dave’s knee fixed. I’ve mentioned before that it’s good to have a plan but not a schedule when it comes to cruising, because so many factors make it a daily ‘go/no go’ decision. We have been fortunate that weather delays have worked within our plan and coincided with needed ‘stay’ days.
Stay tuned for the third and final part of our Southern Migration, as we have a few more stops until we reach our final (at least, for a little while) destination of Brunswick, GA.