Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014 - Wrightsville to Charleston

October 12, 2014 – Wrightsville Beach to Charleston

Barefoot Landing
10/06/2014 Wrightsville Beach to Barefoot Landing (Myrtle Beach, SC) 66 nm
10/07/2014 Barefoot Landing to Enterprise Ck, SC (Waccamaw River) 19 nm
10/08/2014 Enterprise Ck to Prince Creek, SC 7 nm
10/09/2014 Prince Ck to Throughfare Ck, SC 9 nm
10/10/2014 Throughfare Ck to South Santee River, SC 27 nm
10/11/2014 South Santee River to Dewees Ck / Long Ck, SC 31 nm

Total Miles To Date: 234 nm

This is one of the few sports whose technique never quite match the demands. Throughout a sailing career, we never stop finding new skills to master and new problems to solve.”

John Sousmaniere

The Waccamaw River:

We left Wrightsville on a mission to check off a long cherished item from our “bucket list.” In years past we had sped thru the Waccamaw River spending no more than a brief night at anchor on our way South. Always we had looked wistfully at the myriad of cypress lined creeks and always we had said, “next time.” “Next time” was upon us and we planed to spend the next few days relaxing, enjoying and exploring the Waccamaw.
moon rise
To me the Waccamaw has always meant peace and a respite from tensions of daily life and the shallow water navigation the rest of the ICW brings. The Waccamaw is an old river meandering its way South in snake like fashion leaving oxbows and cutoffs in it's wake. It's peaceful, quiet, deep, tea colored, fast flowing water is, lined with cypress, cattails, waterlilies, wildflowers, and is inhabited with all types of wildlife. Here live feisty little King Fisher, Red Wings singing the morning away in the marsh, owls of all kind herald the late night hours, heron fish for their supper and (of course) alligator quietly doing what alligators do. The Waccamaw to me seems a magic place – a place out of time. A place to collect one's self. A place of peace.
The River was named for the Waccamaw Indians who called this area home. They were river dwellers similar in lifestyle to Lumbee Nation who lived on the banks of the Lumber River in NC. The Waccamaw Indians hold the dubious distinction of being the some of first American Indians enslaved by the Spanish explorers ( the Spanish and Portuguese were a tough bunch). The Waccamaw river basin runs from up above Winston-Salem, NC to where it empties into Winyah Bay near Georgetown, SC and is navigable by Salty Turtle as far as Conway, SC. The ICW joins the Waccamaw about 20 miles South of Myrtle Beach near Enterprise Creek. We were to spend our first night there anchored in the swift current of the river with River marker No. 2 in sight leading the way to Conway 15 river miles North.
Exploring in Mule
Every creek and anchorage has it's own distinct personality Enterprise was no exception..I call it Enterprise but, I guess, technically it was the Waccamaw its self. Where we anchored was fairly shallow for this river – only 13 feet. We dropped Mule in the water and headed North poking our collective noses into little tributaries as we went. Spanish moss hung from the popular and oak lending a cool protective feeling to the exploration with flowering waterlilies and water hyacinth gently being pushed aside by the bow of Mule. We explored about 5 miles North and returned to the Turtle for sundowners accompanied by a little good music. As we sat on the aft deck enjoying our drinks we watched rafts of water hyacinth sail past headed down river with the current and wind. They looked like little green schooners with all sail set headed for ports unknown. Gigi wanted me to photoshop some little green men on board the rafts but I just couldn't do it (not that I wouldn't I just don't know how).
Water Hyacinth
The next morning the Turtle upped anchor and headed for Prince Ck about 7 miles down the Waccamaw. Prince is narrow deep and lined with cypress and occasionally a small tributary choked with cattails. It is really a cutoff that begins and ends in the Waccamaw. We anchored around a bend in a secluded spot about half way down Prince. We need Mule fodder (read gas) so we dropped her in the water and headed for Wacca Wache Marina about 3 miles from our anchorage on the Waccamaw...and got lucky. Not only did they have gas they had a nice little restaurant - K-Rayes Bar and Grill..and they were right in the middle of “Octoberfest.” I had knockwurst & sauerkraut with course German mustard, potato pancakes with homemade spicy applesauce...and beer of course - so good we did it again the next day before we moved to Throughfare Creek. On the way back to the Turtle we explored Bull Ck., another great anchorage complete with a rare sand beach, sand bank and rope “swinging” tree.

Mornings in Prince Creek are my idea of how “mornings” should be. Picture, we are floating in a mirror of tea colored water at a slight bend in the creek with water and bank indistinguishable in the reflected water, the coffee is hot and the sky is just starting to show signs of pink and ever lighting blue. I am sitting on the aft deck when a concert slowly starts to build – warblers, carolina chickadees, red wings, great blue heron all playing their parts in morning song. Prince Creek is the kind of place that leaves you speechless and cleanses the soul. Prince has earned a place in my heart and I will anchor here again.
After lunch at K-Rays (told you we'd do it again) we headed down river for Throughfare Creek and again a different experience. Much of Throughfare is part of a park owned by the Nature Conservancy complete with a nice walking trail. It is a unique habitat with high sand dunes apparently left over from when the shore was here eons ago. Behind the dunes is a small lake and what is left of a development most only accessible by water. Gigi and I ran the Mule into the lake and most of the canals. It looks like many of the homes are abandoned and some of the sites have been re-claimed by nature with only hints of the humans that once lived there. We found one spot with brilliant red lilies growing along the bank with the sign nailed to the tree all that was left of the homesite.
The next morning we headed South for Dewees / Long Creek just North of Charleston one of my all time favorite anchorages on the ICW. The Waccamaw and the Pee Dee join to become Winyah Bay at Georgetown, SC and flow East to the sea. About half way down the Bay the ICW takes a hard right and enters the SC Low Country. The stark difference between the cypress lined deep running Waccamaw and the shallow marshes, creeks, and rivers of the low country offer quite a contrast – 15 miles and everything is different...very different. The Low country is just as beautiful as the Waccamaw just different. Here we saw our first eagle this trip riding the morning thermals just North of McCellansville. We anchored in Long Creek after a night in the S Santee just North of Charleston and settled in for a pleasant 2 days on the hook with it's salt marsh and ever changing light palate of reds, greens, and fall orange painting the marsh for our private entertainment.
Monday we head South toward Beaufort and another adventure.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic C

PS – Bucket Lists have a way of expanding. Next year I want to go all the way up the Waccamaw to Conway, SC

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