Oystercatcher, Shakedown Cruise, May 2016, Day 5 and Day 6: Toogoodoo Creek to the Stono River to Charleston

Approaching the narrow Elliott Cut from the Stono River
The final two days of our six-day shakedown cruise would take my daughter and me from Toogoodoo Creek to the Stono River to Charleston. Both of these days would be relatively short compared to the long one we'd had in our 40 mile passage from Beaufort to Toogoodoo. Nevertheless, they were filled with fun and with new lessons from start to finish.
The first lesson actually occurred the previous night. Around sunset, the anchorage at Toogoodoo had became quite buggy. First there were no-seeums; then there were mosquitoes. At our earlier anchorages at Church Creek and the Ashepoo River we had not had any problems. We'd slept with the hatches open and the fans blowing. For that reason it had not been necessary to run the generator to power the air conditioner. On this night at Toogoodoo we decided it was time to crank it up.
Sunday morning, May 22, 2016, Toogoodoo Creek anchorage
About two hours after doing so, I went outside to check on the generator. I was troubled to discover that the fiberglass transom was hot to the touch. Before we had ever starting planning this trip, I had experimented with this set-up. I had thought that it was perfectly fine, because the small exhaust pipe for the generator was higher than the transom. In the short test-runs that I had made, there were never any issues. At issue now was the fact that the heat from the square-shaped muffler (which was beneath the exhaust) was building up over time, and over time this was overheating the transom.
To remedy this problem, I tore off several sheets of aluminum foil from the roll in the galley. I then shaped it around the transom and weighted it down with a wrench. Within a few minutes this foil was doing its job. The temperature of the transom behind the foil was the same as it was elsewhere. The only problem was that now the wrench was blazing hot. It was obvious that this set-up was a problem without an immediate solution, so I decided that the most prudent course of action was to turn off the generator and be happy with what we had.
We ended up sleeping throughout the night with the hatches closed. The air conditioner had already cooled the boat down to 65 degrees, and since the air and water temperatures were still relatively cool, the boat did not heat up to an uncomfortable level in the night.
In my upcoming series on my four-week journey aboard Oystercatcher in June and July 2016, I will discuss my solutions to this and other generator issues, one of which involved the flow of gas from the extended-run gas tank. I'll also discuss my experiences with the charging of the battery banks with this generator. I had expected to need to run the generator on this shakedown cruise to charge the banks. As it turned out, the single charge that I put on the banks at the marina in Beaufort via the shore power connection was the only one necessary for the entire trip. That says a lot for the efficiency of the fridge, the LED lights, and the fans - and the amp hours available from the Trojan T-125 house bank..
We had plenty of time on our hands this morning, so a big breakfast made sense.
Again the single counter extension adjacent to the stove was sufficient. The other two sat idle.
From Toogoodoo Creek we would go up the Wadmalaw River. This would become the Stono River. Somewhere along the Stono River, near Elliott Cut we would anchor. That was the plan.
Our neighbor from Niantic, Connecticut departed the anchorage while we were still eating. My guess was that we was bound for Charleston.
Our journey up the Wadmalaw River was a slow one. We were working against the ebb tide the entire way.
The only reason why I didn't start earlier in order to ride the flood tide up the river was because we didn't have a long distance to travel on this day, and because we had plenty of fuel available from all the good tide-timing we had done the day before.
The commercial boatyard at Stevens Towing on Wadmalaw Sound again caught my attention as we passed.
It was a Sunday morning. Nevertheless, there was activity in the yard. In the picture below, a man on a bucket lift speaks to a man on the bridge of the tug, Island Trader.
This gray-colored vessel belonged to the U.S. Army. At least that's what was painted on her hull.
Eventually the Limehouse Bridge came into sight. The river had been busy with recreational boating activity as we made our way up it. Things became even more busy, though, at this point. It was now around 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon. The weather was nice, and every boat-owning male, aged 21-71, in this area of the Lowcountry seemed to have the same idea - "Let's go out on the powerboat . . . and . . . see how fast we go up and down the Stono River!"
One thing that slowed lots of people down was the party at the sandbar near the oxbow at the Limehouse Bridge. I remembered reading on the Active Captain website that people would hangout in this area on the weekends. Whoever it was who'd written that review of the Oxbow anchorage on Active Captain was on the mark. There was indeed a party.
I was too busy making my way through this area to get a good picture of the waterborne festivities. The most memorable thing about them was that there was floating hot dog stand of sorts that seemed to be the center of attention. It looked like a pontoon boat that someone had converted into a vending hut. People would wade up to it and place their orders. My daughter wanted us to stop, but it was too crazy there even to think about trying to anchor in that mess of boats and people.
A lot of the powerboat traffic was originating at the boat landing at the Limehouse Bridge.
As we made our way down the busy Stono River we encountered only one other sailboat. These cruisers were biding their time and appeared to be waiting for the right tide to enter Elliott Cut.
There are several known anchorages on the Stono, just upstream from Elliott Cut. I had planned to drop the hook at one of these, but this part of the river was just too hectic on this Sunday afternoon.
While I'm at it, I should say that in advance of this six-day shakedown cruise I had marked my charts with all the known anchorages. In my planning I had used Claiborne Young's Cruising Guide to Coastal South Carolina and Georgia. I had also, as I just indicated, used the Active Captain website. Both were very helpful. It would not be until I was in the midst of my four-week cruise in June and July that I would figure out how to access Active Captain via my iPhone. It took some reading and some work. Not just as easy as downloading an app. More on this in my upcoming postings.
As we neared Elliott Cut we could see lots of powerboats zooming through the narrow pass, some going towards Charleston, some away.
Here we see a center-console boat entering the cut. We have turned south and begun heading down the Stono, away from the cut.
Yes, my plan now was to head south and anchor somewhere below the Stono River Bridge, which you can see in the distance.
There were no marked anchorages south of the bridge, but the area seemed good to me. The only reason why there were three anchorages in the bend above Elliott Cut was because this was the most convenient spot relative to the ICW.
I had considered getting a transient slip at the marina near the Stono River Bridge, but I really wasn't feeling it. We both enjoyed being on the hook. So much more peaceful . . . and they don't cost a dime.
Even though most fixed-span bridges on navigable waters are around 65 feet, they never seem to be that high when you approach them and pass under them.
The spot we selected south of the bridge was beautiful, but there was still a lot of recreational traffic that was unnerving at times. This is a highway of sorts for everyone who wants to zip back and forth between the Folly Beach - Kiawah Island area and Charleston.
My daughter eventually decided that she wanted to go swimming, so I followed the procedures I had devised in the past when she and my wife wanted to swim while daysailing. I removed the gas tank from the swim platform and then tied a safety line to the stern rail. With this line in hand, I tied a bowline around my daughter and then got her to put on a life jacket. Without this safety line she would have quickly drifted away from the boat. The currents are swift. Notice how the line is taut.
For supper we broke out the Zatarain's and fixed up some fast and easy Jambalaya.
Throughout this six-day shakedown cruise we used lots of paper plates. We also used lots of paper towels. We weren't wasteful. That was just the reality of the situation. This was good to know prior to departing for my four-week adventure in June and July.
As the sun began to set, the air began to cool, and we decided to break out some light jackets.
It had been a warm day, but it was still spring, and the nights were still comfortable.
The four seine-twine wraps on the anchor line indicate that I've deployed 200 feet of rode. We were in 18 feet of water, and it was quite windy. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure we didn't drag anchor.
Once the recreational traffic came to an end we were really loving this spot.
With all the wind and the cool temperatures, it wasn't even worth trying to fool with the generator again. Here you see it with its protective cover.
This was a good way to end the day.
The next morning I awoke early. The moon was just about to set.
While I drank my coffee I took the time to write down the many lessons I had learned from this six-day shakedown cruise. These formed the basis of a helpful to-do list that I created soon afterwards.
My musings came to an end when a commercial crabber came up alongside the boat and asked if we could move from our current position before he started to make his way down his string of pots. In the night we had swung to within about 10 feet of one of his floats. This was going to make it hard for him to retrieve his pot. He was cool about it.
This occurred around 8:30 in the morning. By around 9:00 we were headed back toward the Stono River Bridge. It had been my plan all along to hit Elliott Cut by 9:30 AM.
You'll recall in my first posting on this six-day shakedown cruise, that the prudent mariner must time his passage through this narrow, shift-moving body of water to correspond either with high tide or with low.
As we passed under the Stono River Bridge I was amused by the birds who were drying their feathers on the pilings.

High tide at the Wappoo Creek Bridge would be at 10:00. By entering Elliott Cut at 9:30 we'd be motoring against the tide as it flooded up from Charleston Harbor. Yes, the tide would be against us, but it would be relatively weak, and the current would want to push us gently away from the bridge rather than into it while we idled and waited for the bridge to open. That was a good thing.
This house sits at the mouth of Elliott Cut. I love it.
We had no problems with Elliott Cut and the Wappoo Creek Bridge.
As we moved from Wappoo Creek to the Ashley River, the Coast Guard Station near downtown Charleston came into view.
Soon we were in Charleston Harbor.
What a gorgeous day for a homecoming. In six days we had journeyed some 160 nautical miles to Beaufort, South Carolina and back, and we had learned much along the way.
Now came the not-so-fun part - cleaning up the boat.
This ends this series of postings on the six-day shakedown cruise that my daughter and I made aboard Oystercatcher in May 2016.