Oystercatcher, Shakedown Cruise, May 2016, Day 3: Ashepoo River to Beaufort

A dolphin swims beside Oystercatcher as she makes her way through the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff
On the third day of our six-day shakedown cruise from Charleston to Beaufort, South Carolina and back, my daughter and I traveled the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from our anchorage on the Ashepoo River to the town of Beaufort, a distance of some 24 nautical miles.
As I've indicated in my first two postings on the first two days of this trip, I continually took into account the ebbing and the flooding of the tides. This worked to my advantage in that it helped to reduce the time necessary for our passages and thus the amount of gas we used.
The Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff, circled in yellow
Prior to our departure from Charleston, when I had met with Captain Sterling, I had learned of an app that he used in his sailing classes along the ICW and the coast. It was TideTrac. He showed me how easy it was to use, and how helpful it was to have detailed information about specific tide stations. I downloaded this app and used it throughout our six-day shakedown cruise. For informational purposes, I've included a screenshot from the TideTrac website and a link to that website in the event that others would like to download it. http://www.tidetrac.com/
I knew from TideTrac that high tide in the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff would be at 8:07 AM on Friday, May 20. Therefore, on Thursday evening at our Ashepoo River anchorage I made plans to wake early (around 5:30 AM) and be underway early (around 6:30 AM) so as to pass through the cutoff while the tide was still rising.
This would then allow me to ride the last of the flood tide up the mighty Coosaw River, whose high tide was later in the morning. Likewise, it would allow me to ride the beginning of the ebb tide down Brickyard Creek and the Beaufort River. By my calculations this would take us into Beaufort by around 11:00 AM. This early arrival would hopefully allow us to beat the bad weather that was due to begin in the early afternoon. It would also allow us time to enjoy the marina where I'd made reservations several days earlier. These were my plans.
My daughter had experienced some insomnia in the night, so I decided to let her sleep while I made myself some coffee and a light breakfast. I also decided to haul up the anchor by myself and get us underway. This went off without any problems, and by 6:45 AM I was headed down the Ashepoo for the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff.
The entrance to the Cutoff looked almost like the mouth of a funnel.
The entrance was nice and deep, unlike certain other portions of the Cutoff.
The highlight of the morning was the escort I received from a pod of dolphins that joined me as I made my way through the Cutoff.
I must have taken thirty pictures to get these few good ones. The dolphin below is in the process of exhaling through his blowhole. Night and day you can tell when these marine mammals are in the vicinity by the telltale sound of the air and water that blasts from that hole.
On the tall ships on which I'd sailed, I had many times seen dolphins swimming at the bow.
I found it remarkable that these opted to swim along the side of the boat, precisely in the spot where I was sitting. This lasted for some ten minutes before they broke off the chase and went along with whatever they were doing.
The speed on the GPS chartplotter indicated to me that the tide was flooding from the Ashepoo through the Cutoff toward the Coosaw River. Otherwise, we would not be going 6.7 knots.
Soon we were nearing the entrance to the Coosaw.
To the east, down river, was St Helena Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. These expansive waters were clearly visible.
We, though, were heading up river.
These waters likewise appeared to be expansive, especially in this broad, lower area of the river.
Our speed increased to 7 knots, indicating that we were indeed riding the flood upstream.
Eventually, we turned south into Brickyard Creek. This body of water gradually becomes the Beaufort River. As I said in the first two postings on this six-day shakedown cruise, it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between one body of water and another. They often just flow together as one.
In our passage down Brickyard Creek and the Beaufort River we passed the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station. Fighter jets were taking off from the station and roaring over us, not too far above the water. In the picture below, you can see one of them accelerating over the trees.
Here's one that's climbing higher, just after take-off.
Our destination was Ladys Island Marina, an establishment just upstream from the swing bridge over the Beaufort River. I had heard good things about this marina from Captain Sterling. I could have opted for Downtown Marina in Beaufort, but this would have required us to deal with bridge openings, both on this day and on the next day when we departed.
The marina is located near the bridge. In fact, we had approach the bridge, almost as if we were going to pass under it, before we could make the turn up the creek to the marina. In this it was necessary to be mindful of the current, which, with the ebbing tide, was wanting to push us into the closed bridge.
Steve, the dockmaster, was a good guy. He'd had some transients decide to stay longer than they had originally planned because of the approaching bad weather. This meant that the transient dock was full. He made some calls and discovered that someone with a large powerboat in a private slip would not be returning to the slip on this day. He thus made arrangements to put us there, so that's where we docked when we came in.
The skies were looking ominous. We were glad we'd made it here before noon.
After we got situated, we walked along the docks and headed to the marina office. I took this picture from the office looking back toward where we'd docked.
Nearby was a local deli. We were famished. Our sandwiches were just what we needed to celebrate our arrival.
It was now time to take care of some business, so we walked back to the marina office.
I don't know why they call Ladys Island Ladys Island, but this marina certainly made the most of it. Kudos to the marina for using an apostrophe in the name. I know not why it's commonplace to leave off the apostrophe on place names - Johns Island, Bennetts Point, and so on. I've not been using apostrophes in any of these postings on this six-day shakedown cruise. Yes, I like grammar, and yes this annoys me, but I've decided to adhere to these unusual conventions regarding these place names that I've seen spelled over and over again on signs, charts, and elsewhere without apostrophes.
One thing that we had to do on this afternoon was to get more gasoline. I had mistakenly assumed that this marina sold fuel. Fortunately, they had a loaner car available. With it, my daughter and I were able to travel to a gas station several miles away. Using my iPhone, I had discovered a place that sold ethanol-free gasoline. I did not want to break my streak of using only ethanol-free gas in my Yamaha motor.
The price, as always, was higher than the ethanol-blend Regular, but it was certainly worth it. While I'm at it, I should say that despite the fact that there are only two gas cans in the picture above, we took all three to the station. The third can was not empty, but we did need to top it off.
Back at the marina the weather was still cooperating, so we decided to take a walk into town.
The walk along the busy highway was longer than we had expected, but at least there was a sidewalk available the entire way.
Our final task on this walk was to cross the bridge.
On the downstream side there was a nice, protected walkway.
The palmetto moon is the symbol of the State of South Carolina. Not sure why they here added the arrows at the base of the tree. Is this supposed to tell us which direction the walkway goes in case we get confused?
As we passed over the bridge we could see downtown Beaufort along the waterfront.
The town of Beaufort had constructed the waterfront area to be pedestrian friendly. We strolled the waterfront and the main street, and eventually decided to get something to eat at one of the waterfront restaurants, specifically, Luther's Rare and Well Done.
I was struck with a craving for a hamburger, and for the price and the setting I was expecting something sort of bulky and delectable in appearance. What I received didn't look much different from something you'd see in a school lunch room.
It wasn't that important though. I was spending time with my daughter, and we were enjoying our time in Beaufort.
We didn't linger long. Oystercatcher was calling us, and to her we returned in preparation for our departure the next morning.
At the midpoint of our journey, we were enjoying ourselves, our company, and the comforts of our well-fitted boat.

No comments:

Post a Comment