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Author Topic:   The Low Country
jimh posted 11-02-2005 12:38 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
We just returned from a week in The Low Country—the area around Beaufort, South Carolina. It was very nice boating down there. It took us a day and a half to drive the 915 miles from our home to Beaufort. We left Michigan in sunshine but as we went south the weather turned to rain. We crossed the mountains via Interstate-77 in West Virginia and Virginia. A couple of tunnels bore through the summits of the two biggest mountains at around 3,600 feet elevation. There are some good grades. We had to shift down to "2" and ascend at 35-MPH for several miles to negotiate two or three passes. Once over the hump, we stopped in Wyethville for the night.

The next morning the rain was over but it was still cloudy. Descending down the face of the mountains we ran into long downhill grades with heavy fog. It was rather tense driving. When we finally got out of the mountains and into the hills the sun came back. By the time we hit South Carolina the temperatures were climbing and we were wondering if we had brought enough short sleeve shirts.

We arrived in Beaufort around 4 p.m. Saturday. The first thing we noticed: the tide—all 7-8 feet of it! Beaufort has the highest tides south of New York City on the Atlantic coast. I believe this is caused by the very shallow coastal shelf. There is not much depth offshore along this coast. So when the water moves inland it really piles up in a hurry.

We looked at the floating dock where we were going to moor the Whaler. The tide was on the ebb and running at maximum flow. And a good fresh breeze was blowing along with it. The current on the dock looked like it was running about 5-MPH! Not being used to this sort of thing at all, it gave us a moment of hesitation about using the dock. As it turned out, it was not a problem. The current did not seem to affect the Whaler hull much at all, and it probably kept the marine growth completely off it.

Our timing was bad for the launch ramp at the nearby Beaufort marina, as we located it at close to low tide. It was really uncovered, and the appearance gave us another worry. An alternative ramp on Lady's Island looked a bit unwieldy for us—the dock was far from the ramp in what we call a "Kentucky ramp" fashion. Since we were pooped from the long drive, we decided to hold launching in abeyance.

We went scouting for better ramps on Sunday, finally found a beautiful one over on Battery Creek on Paris Island. It was just the kind of ramp we like, with a long courtesy dock right at the ramp. This is the type we are accustomed to in Michigan, and it was just the ticket for us.

However, the weather was going to pot about this time, so we decided to wait. Hurricane Wilma was passing offshore and rain was forecast for the next day. We relaxed in our rental cottage, and took in some of the local attractions on land. After some colder weather and rain, we finally got in the water on a sunny Tuesday. Poked around Port Royal Sound, then headed for the dock. I was still a bit nervous about how the boat was going to ride out the current and the wakes of passing vessels, but ultimately everything turned out fine.

Wednesday we explored northward, running up the Beaufort River and out toward the ocean. We did not quite make the open water of the sea as we didn't have the chart for that final stretch. It was a good thing—once we saw the chart for that area the coast is very shoal. Depths of only a foot were common!

We were saving our biggest trip for Thursday, as the weather forecast kept giving the best conditions for that afternoon. I have to laugh about these guys who want me to believe that a tiny increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is going to cause global warming over the next 100 years, yet they cannot get the weather right 24-hours into the future. A forecast of 10-percent cloud cover and SUNNY turned out to be 100-percent cloud cover and a dark blustery afternoon. We took off toward Hilton Head, but without any sun to warm us, we got rather chilled on the water. We cut our exploration short a few miles before getting to the southern tip of Hilton Head Island, and turned around for home.

Friday was a beautiful day, but we had to haul out. After a short boat ride up Battery Creek, we got the boat back on the trailer and spent the late afternoon fogging the engine for the winter while running it on a hose. Next project was getting all the salt off the boat. I was surprised at how much salt we had—I guess there was some spray in the high winds we had on a couple of days.

The log showed about 120 miles under the keel and about 75 gallons of fuel burned. If the weather had been a bit warmer we might have increased those numbers. But even without a boating marathon, we enjoyed the visit, and we got a good taste for the area and its waters.

The trip back to Michigan started at 8 a.m. Saturday. We demon-drove until 10:30 p.m., stopping in Delaware, Ohio for a short night. On Sunday we were back on the road again. The flat lands of Ohio and Michigan were welcome driving—what a difference from that foggy mountain descent!

Finally on Sunday we took a short detour off of Interstate-75 near Monroe, Michigan to dunk the whole rig, boat and trailer, into fresh water. We just backed in at a ramp and let the trailer and hull soak for five minutes. We got home about 2 p.m.

Ironically, the weather was beautiful in SE Michigan on Sunday, and the temperature as warm as it had been in South Carolina all week! We spent the afternoon finishing up the winterization process. Monday I took the boat to the storage shed for winter lay-up. The 2005 Boating Season is over for our Whaler.

While in Beaufort we visited the local Boston Whaler dealer, Sea Island Marine. They look like they have a very successful franchise. There were many new Whalers in their lot, and on the water we saw Whalers everywhere. I am sure that some of them must have been owned by continuousWave readers.

We enjoyed lunch and dinner in many nice restaurants, so much so that I think I put on five pounds. The southern fried cooking style is tasty, but I don't know if I could last long eating like that!

That's my quick trip report. It is always fun to see new places and try new water. People just love to boat, no matter what kind of water they've got under them, that is for sure!

daveweight posted 11-02-2005 03:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for daveweight  Send Email to daveweight     
Nice description Jim
Most of our launching and recovery this year has been in tidal rivers with 5mph flow, but it does mean that you can ferry steer your boat alongside into a gap only a couple of feet bigger than your boat. For the record a 900+ mile road trip pretty much takes you outside of Britain in any direction you care to travel.
jimh posted 11-02-2005 08:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I'd love to explore the Hebrides and Shetlands with my Boston Whaler boat, but getting it over to the U.K. would be a problem!
daveweight posted 11-02-2005 10:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for daveweight  Send Email to daveweight     
I would hesitate to take even a Whaler into those waters for large portions of the year having been very close to capsize in a Royal Navy destroyer off of the West coast of Scotland. We were in a force 12 gale and were pooped by a wave in excess of 100ft which put out the electrical power to our steering gear. It can be one scary part of the world with gales of force 8 or more continuously for weeks on end.
kingfish posted 11-02-2005 10:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Love that Low Country!

We did some of that trip in the spring of 2001, but from the other direction; we stayed on Tybee island and travelled both ways, but North just a little upriver from Beaufort. Did you explore the channel that nearly divides Hilton Head into two parts? Some very pretty homes and some amazing gazebo and floating dock structures to be seen in there, along with a couple of pretty classy marinas. I found that there are differing laws about idle speed and no wake under bridges between Georgia and South Carolina, and had the opportunity to meet a couple of very angry South Carolina Marine Law Officers (DNR types, I think) whose quiet lunch I disturbed while they were tied off under a bridge north of Hilton head.

I found a supply of the disk-like anodes like that on the back of my 1992 Outrage 22 at Sea Island Marina, and I wound up buying our "other boat" (a Parker) at the Beaufort Boathouse. Very helpful people at both establishments.

If you get back down that way, it's worth the trip at least from Beaufort to the Crab Shack on Tybee Island for their Low Country Boil!

Sorry the weather wasn't more cooperative-


John W posted 11-02-2005 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
Jim, good report on a successful trip. Since moving to Savannah GA from Tampa FL a year ago, I'm still adjusting to the 7 to 10 foot tides & swift currents around here. All docks are floating docks, given the tidal range...a far cry from West Florida's 1-3 foot tides. Also, all the sawgrass creeks look the same until you get your bearings, although your mapping GPS would eliminate that problem. Glad to hear you had a good time.

John W

runpasthefence posted 11-04-2005 02:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
I'm glad you had a nice time Jim. I've always felt blessed that I was able to grow up around such a gorgeous marine environment. Lately, on my lazy Sundays, I've been taking day trips from my house on Folly Beach (Charleston) to Beaufort and it's surrounding areas in my 15. It never gets old.
zotcha posted 11-05-2005 06:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
I am located in Bluffton, and can be in downtown Beaufort in about 30 minutes. How long does the trip down take for you?
GAwhale posted 11-06-2005 02:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for GAwhale  Send Email to GAwhale     
Hi Jim, I enjoyed reading about your adventure.

When my wife and I first got married and lived in Charleston, SC; we would take weekend getaways to Savannah. It is a fantastic drive south on highway 17.

One of these years I would like to make the run from Charleston to Beauford with my montauk, spend the night, and return the next day. It may be a bit much for a montauk. I'll have to do some more research before that day.

Captain Billy posted 11-06-2005 04:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Captain Billy  Send Email to Captain Billy     
GAwhale, It is a nice trip, If you use the ICW the Mountauk will be fine. We have done it on our 15 Dauntless. It is about a 3-4 hour trip.
zotcha posted 11-08-2005 09:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
How long does it take to get to Beaufort? I imagine there would not be too many no wake zones/populated areas of this run. Thanks, Mike.
jimh posted 11-13-2005 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Some pictures from our recent visit to the Low Country are available:

jimh posted 11-13-2005 08:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you click on a thumbnail image you can get a larger version and begin a slide show with more detailed captions.

(ASIDE for Macintosh users: I made the slide show in iPhoto using the Export... option.)

andygere posted 11-14-2005 12:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Nice article and photos jimh. I am inspired by your willingness to tow your big Whaler 900 or more miles for a vacation centered around boating and exploring. When my kids get just a bit older (and able to tollerate longer car trips), I hope to do just the same thing. Puget sound and the San Juan Islands have been on my mind for a Whaler trip ever since my wife and I took our sea kayaks up there for a tour several years ago. As I recall, that was about a day and a half of driving, about what you undertook for the Low Country Trip presented here.
jimh posted 11-14-2005 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Andy--for this type of trip where we were not planning on sleeping aboard, the big Whaler was a bit of a chore to haul down there. But on most of our adventures we are sleeping aboard, and then the boat does not seem overly large at all!

We did have some discussions on the highway about how much easier it would be to tow a MONTAUK or OUTRAGE 18 over distances like this.

On the other hand, once you get there it is really fun having the bigger boat, and you don't have to worry as much about the wind and waves. Anything much bigger than this Revenge 22 WT WD, however, would need a whole new level of trailer and truck to take on a long haul.

andygere posted 11-15-2005 11:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I only tow my Outrage 22 on one or two trips per year, for a one-way distance of 150 miles or less. When I do this, I always reflect that the biggest effort is in the preparation and packing of the boat, trailer and tow vehicle. Once I'm on the road it's just a matter of more careful and slower driving. My current tow vehicle works a little harder than I'd like on long trips, so I'll probably need to upgrade before I take on a 1,000 miler.

When I first purchased the Outrage, I thought it would be great to hang on to the Montauk for quick runs up to the Delta, the mountain lakes and nearby reservoirs. The reality is that maintaining (and enjoying) one Boston Whaler takes more time than I have, and the smaller boat would probably have languished on its trailer most of the time.

Speaking of size, the Whaler Drive makes that Revenge look like a much bigger boat than mine, and no doubt feel like one when manuevering through gas stations and busy parking lots.

jmorgan40 posted 11-23-2005 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
Great account of the trip. I grew up with tides like that in Southern NJ. 6-8 foot tides and swift curents. I was thinking about a tip to Beufort. Would love info on the place you rented. Take Care

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