Shoals = dirty word

May 12, Friday, Day 32, MM 420, So. Santee River , SC

We didn’t sleep as well as normal and it was going to be warm again in Charleston, so we decided to give the submarine a miss and be on our way. Since we had shore power I made pancakes, Dirk cleaned the dishes,  we got the boat ready for departure and we were on our way again. Note the aircraft carriers behind the marina as we exited the Charleston Harbor.

It was sunny most of the day and the rivers and “cuts” were varied. (Cuts are man-made canals between the rivers that make the ICW continuous.) We saw fancy condos with huge boats in front, then more modest homes with docks and gazebos and even summer cottages now and then. And also more peaceful marshes and birds everywhere.

And then we came upon area of shoals on both sides of the river. Shoals are unmarked shallower areas that encroach on the ICW path, reducing the normal 12 foot depth down to 6 feet or  even less within a few hours of low tide. We were warned by previous cruisers of the hazards of this one section (in the Active Captain app) but this was a very anxious 4 miles for us and a sailboat just in front of us and another cruiser behind us. We almost went aground at a 3.3′ spot, the sailboat did go aground a bit later and the cruiser behind us decided to drop anchor and wait for the rising tide before they followed suit. And this is all while in the marked channel going about 2 mph. The guidance in the app plus Dirk’s caution got us through with a deep sigh, but we know we’ll encounter a bunch more of these nail-biters before we are done. Oh well – it’s part of the adventure, but it also points to the fact that funds are not being made available for the upkeep of our waterways.

We continued on for another 10 miles after that “fun” and are again in a fabulous anchorage just off the ICW, with no town lights anywhere to be seen. We have a neighbor sailboat 1/2 mile or so away but can only see their anchor light. I still think it is amazing to be out here like this.

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