Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Charleston SC to Beaufort SC - A Surprisingly Wild Ride

Beaufort SC
2010 10 27

Life's journey is not to arrive safely  at the grave in a well preserved body but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting "Holy Cow.  What a ride!"

 Charleston SC is a destination for many boaters.  We are not among them finding this burg pretty much charmless.  Our preference, as we have expressed before, is Beaufort SC.  Only a day out of Charleston, Beaufort offers secure anchorages, a lovely Belle Epoche section of housing, much better grocery, liquor and hardware shopping.

Charleston does however offer up one of the most inviting college areas we have encountered anywhere.  Not the University of South Carolina, whose massive monoliths of large scale education line the main road from the marina to the downtown but the much smaller and inaptly named College of Charleston area.

The College of Charleston is in fact a university - each area of study has its own devoted building and resources.  It is old.  It is tree lined and canopied.  The streets are lined with students all of them first years and so happy and, yet untouched by first exams, carefree.  (All the upperclassmen are in their dorms studying).  The school and its surrounding student housing is a marvellous area to just wander about, carefree and untroubled.

Our only disappointment this year was to discover our favourite restaurant in Charleston, Vickeries, was closed.

The Budget Committee treated her depression at loss of lunch with a lengthy tour of the Williams Sonoma store and the nearby La Creuset.  When it was over she was not depressed any longer.  Good for her.

After a lovely afternoon walking we dinghied 20 minutes back to Meredith and prepared to move out at first light.  

Traveling from Charleston to Beaufort is done inside.  It is the only bit of ICW we tolerate any longer.  Our anchorage at Wappoos River is a couple of hours away from Charleston Harbour Inlet and the distance is all backtracking if you headed for Beaufort.  So off we went - inside.

This stretch of the ICW is the worst for sailors.  It is full of powerboats and thus interference.   Here is how this day panned out for us:


Shortly after leaving we were approached by a line of large white plastic pieces of power driven consumerism.  Being power vessels they were closing the gap between us handily but they were well back.

Seemingly moments later the radio crackled:  "You know Meredith, it is a lot more convenient if you slow down when we pass you".  This anonymous call came over Channel 16 and apparently was a complaint from one of the power boats, most likely we figured the lead one.

Since the call was on 16 and was clearly intended to embarrass I picked up the mike.  "To the cowardly guy on the radio this is Meredith.  Let me tell you something buster.  I normally travel at 6.5 knots and I am backed off to 5.5.  What do I have to do, back off to 2 knots so you won't be "inconvenienced".  If you had called me during your approach I would have told you to keep your speed up and give me a close pass.  You did not call and what falls on you is only what you deserve."

Nothing more was said.  (and I admit my grammar was likely a bit lacking but the report is almost totally accurate).


The radio crackled fairly frequently over the day with the usual resort of the stupid drivers of fuel guzzling monstrosities: "White Sailboat Moving Southbound, this is FSDFSDS approaching on your stern".  Apparently I am not the only sailor who finds this bit of stupidity infuriating.

All at once the radio chatter tightened up.  A sailboat was calling a guy out for passing with massive wake.  The sailor was calling the coastguard to report the boat.  Seems quite a bit of damage had been done and a couple of other sailboats reported in to support the claim.

Realizing he was facing some problems the driver of the powerboat started to bleat.  "Sailboat @#$@# I called you 6 or 8 times before I passed you.  You refused to answer my call."

"Listen Charly" came the sailors voice "You were calling the 'White Sailboat moving Southbound'.  My boat has a name.  This name is painted on my stern in 18 inch letters.  Since you did not name me I assumed you were calling one of the sailboats behind me."

"Have a nice day @@#$@#" came from the powerboat.  I hope the powerboat had anything but.


Coming up on marker 118 we noticed the daymarker was hanging down.  As we were just abeam of the post the daymarker fell into the water.  We retrieved it and called the Coast Guard offering to deposit the marker at a marina when we got to Beaufort.  It took 5 phone calls from the Coast Guard before it was determined that we should just throw the daymarker overboard.  The Coast Guard phone operator was aghast at this waste of public money.

All said and done we got into Beaufort, anchor down in that deep securing Factory Creek mud by 6:15 p.m.  Sundowners in hand we watched as the dark clouds that had tracked us all the way down the ICW opened up.  For the next 8 hours we enjoyed the pyrotechnics of the biggest storm in Beaufort area so far this year.  

We go offshore after Beaufort making for St. Augustine.  Not until the south winds and 5 foot waves on our nose die down.  Looks like we are here until Friday.

We like it here.

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