Winyah Bay to Charleston, where sometimes timing is everything

Sunrise at Winyah Bay this morning

Sunrise at Winyah Bay this morning

A glorious and beautiful morning waking up in Winyah Bay after a quiet and restful night. This is a desolate anchorage without many signs of human existence. So dark at night I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

Left anchorage at 8:30 a.m. and headed out to sea. It’s a long way to get out before making the cut to the south. But it was a beautiful, warm and sunny morning, so who cares?

The ocean was flat with little wind, so a perfect day to motor-sail the 45 miles or so to Charleston. I set a course and estimated arrival for 3 p.m., plenty of time to get into a marina before dark.

About an hour out of Charleston, I checked the route up into the chosen marina, and found that there’s a drawbridge that closes from 4 to 6:30 p.m. It would be tight, but I thought I could still make it. Peddle to the metal time.

I entered Charleston inlet and my speed dropped by a couple of knots. Damned current!

Sun was intense just before it set in Charleston.

Sun was intense just before it set in Charleston.

No way was I going to make the 4 p.m. bridge, so I floated around Charleston harbor for a couple of hours, enjoyed the sunset and then headed up into the Wappoo River. By 6 p.m. it was pretty dark. Made my way through the drawbridge at 6:30 p.m. only to realize that between me and the marina in the Stono River was one of the most feared stretches of the ICW — Elliot Cut.

It’s not long, but a very narrow passage that has current that can run 6 – 7 knots. Tough in the light of day. Not fun at night. But I did it, and partly because the timing was perfect — exactly at slack tide. Water was smooth as glass.

Elliot Cut — a lot of water pushing through such a small inset.

Elliot Cut — a lot of water pushing through such a small inset.

Made my way up the Stono River and tied up on a T-dock and fixed myself a strong drink. Exhausted after 13 hours at the helm.

Delta Blues will be parked here for a few days while I fly back to Maryland tomorrow.

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