North of Charleston

3/21 Thursday, Toler’s Cove Marina (just west of Ben Sawyer Bridge), 1221.3, 66/46, partly cloudy, NE5-10>SW10-15 - We got underway at 7am, the full moon sinking into the marsh astern as the sun rose over our port bow.

Today’s first tricky (shoaled) stretch of water was the bend where the Dawho River meets the North Edisto. It’s dredged regularly, but shoals back in quickly. We caught it at high tide and had no issues. Dobbs and I took turns navigating - he, unfortunately, gets all the challenging areas. In exchange, I provide three good meals a day, so hey - that seems fair. After crossing the North Edisto River, we entered the Wadmalaw River. It’s always interesting transiting the bends and sweeps, and scoping the tug and barge facility on Yonges Island.

Next up was the Stono River, which is among the prettiest ICW rivers. We missed it heading south in November because it was shrouded in pea soup fog.

The current was with us the whole way, pushing us along at 6.5-7.3 knots. This would be cause for celebration except for what lay ahead - Elliot Cut, where we would arrive at a super full moon max ebb, with up to 4 knots of current behind us! This is “out of control” in a sailboat. We throttled back and made our approach slowly. Dobbs made the suggestion to go through backwards, which is brilliant and allows complete control of Grace, but is also JUST NOT NORMAL. I couldn’t watch, even though I knew his logic was sound (so sorry, no videos of this impressive feat, but know that Dobbs is the captain you want when things get challenging). To start, he made some trials to be sure he could get back out before he went in, turning and facing us into the current to make sure we had enough power to shove against it. Then, he needed to determine how to get us sucked into Elliot Cut and not out the Stono River (the first try, the Stono was winning). It took a little teasing, presenting Grace’s stern to the cut at various angles and locations, in order to find the sweet spot where the current would pull us in. Once in, it was just a matter of idling in neutral, letting the current suck us through up to the point where our hull speed matched the current and the bow would start to fall off; then, goosing the engine in forward to shove the bow back into mid-stream. A surprised south-bound powerboater didn’t quite know what to make of us, passing us going the opposite direction, but with both boats pointing the same direction.. It worked perfectly and we made the 2:30pm opening of the Wappoo Creek Bridge.

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We set sail on the Ashley River, running east with the current behind us. Charleston Harbor was its usual bustling self, with tour boats crossing to Fort Sumter, ship traffic, and recreational boaters like us.

Dobbs wanted to sail over to Fort Moltrie, which we did, at the cost of the afternoon breeze filling in to 20 knots and me reefing sails.

Then, as the tide began to turn, the inlet quickly grew choppy. We turned and headed for Sullivans Island Narrows, our destination being Toler’s Cove Marina, just west of Ben Sawyer Bridge. By 4pm, the water was skiiinnny - we saw 4.2’ in the 8’ MLLW channel. On the Chesapeake, I love full moons; in the south, not so much. The wind direction, blowing from the dock, made bringing Grace alongside challenging. We did fine, but the dock hands fidgeted with little patience or understanding. Toler’s Cove is primarily a charter fishing marina - we chose it because it was as far as we could go today (the Ben Sawyer’s closed from 4-6pm) and it sets us up well for tomorrow.

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For dinner, I made salmon cake-stuffed mushrooms, corn on the cob, and macaroni and cheese. Thank you to Red Point neighbors Tim & Candy for the mushrooms and Bev & Brad for the corn.

Tastycakes from Pete made a fine dessert. Later, Dobbs washed the dishes. Now, it’s 8:45pm and I hear my jammies calling.