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Author Topic:   Best boating spots in coastal South Carolina
BobL posted 02-18-2006 10:29 PM ET (US)   Profile for BobL   Send Email to BobL  
Looking for a good boating spot in South Carolina. Will be visiting the Charleston, Beaufort area for a week in April. I’m scouting some areas in the south as an eventual winter home when I retire. Would like to continue boating on Cape Cod in the summer and would like to extend the boating season in the winter months somewhere in the south. I’ve only passed through South Carolina and don’t know anything about the state. Traveling to Charleston just because on a map it looks like it has an interesting coastline. Can anyone recommend a place for small-Whaler boating within driving distance from Charleston? Open to other coastal areas in the state too. I would appreciate any suggestions.
JayR posted 02-18-2006 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
My wife and I have an appointment with a real estate agent this coming Tuesday. We're hoping the market will allow us to sell for a good profit and move to SC or NC this summer. Both look pretty good as far as housing costs are concerned.

I too hope to return to the Cape in the summer months after moving.

Small world.

Royboy posted 02-18-2006 11:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
It's been a few years, but the ICW is someexcellent small boating. I believe the area around Pawley's Island is quite nice, but may be a bit of a haul from Charlston. There are some pretty extensive salt marshes, as I recall, and there are some pretty substancial rivers to explore, such as the Santee Cooper system. Lots of quality boating in SC, and good fishing too.


maverick posted 02-19-2006 06:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for maverick  Send Email to maverick     
Look up Mt. Pleasant which is a stone's throw from Charleston. Boat landing there is Shem Creek - very nice area with quick access to inland boating and the famous Chas harbor. Mav
billh1963 posted 02-19-2006 07:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
The times for Yankees to find "cheap" housing in the coastal South has passed. Too many of your brethren are already here.

Anything on the water will be expensive even by NE standards. Nice houses in nice neighborhoods on deep water are just under $1MM and up. You can still get reasonable prices (by NE standards)off the water. Even though I grew up in Beaufort, SC I can't imagine why anyone would live there if you don't live right on the water.

Also, you better make sure you understand the socio-economic make up of the areas you are interested in buying in...I can assure you it's not like Cape Cod!

David Jenkins posted 02-19-2006 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Bob--If you are coming to South Carolina the last week of April, why not join us for a trip on the Waccamaw River and a night in Georgetown? See

Jay--Give me the search parameters and I will put you on my real estate radar in North Carolina.

zotcha posted 02-19-2006 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
Good Morning! Originally from New Jersey with summer home on Barnegat Bay, with 1968 Boston Whaler. Awesome. Summered two weeks every year in So. Wellfleet entire life except a few years through my parents divorce. At age 19, began returning to visit an old friend.

1993 followed my younger brother to Hilton Head Island to become a career firefighter. We both live off island now, the Gateway. Very nice area. 1994 transferred to the Bluffton FD, which was a quaint little coastal town with no hustle or bustle. "Bluffton is a state of mind" was the local bumper sticker.

Holy Cow! Has that changed! 240 square miles with rivers, creeks, fishing, shellfishing, everything. Now the highway, only way on and off H.H.I., is two lane nightmare all day! In January, locals only, and just MAD! It is worse than Route 6, between Mem. and Lab. Day. I know this because I have not been to the Cape bet. those dates since 1993. Sept.15-30th every year since. Bass are still small but warm enough to boat, clam, oyster, etc..

Great area, just inundated with people, and yes, I have to say, from the north. You'll Get to feel wecome. State infrastructure is pretty bizarre. Taxes are relative. Huge break on house but property tax on everything else you own. Auto insurance is significantly lower. Cost of living is similar to Monmouth County N.J. (45 miles So. of NYC). Pace is slower and healthier. No street lights, no shoulders, limited street signs. All part of the ambiance, I guess. I work primarily medical calls, a lot of wrecks, and alarm activations of new buildings/systems. All majorly on the rise.

Come check it out for yourself. Just make sure you see it from the water. Otherwise, you'll miss everything! The entire coast is sweet, and as stated above, bring a couple cool million if you want to get near the water. Hope this helps. zot.

JayR posted 02-19-2006 12:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
I'm not looking to live on or near the water. Wife is too concerned about hurricanes....

I was thinking more like an hour or so inland. Being on a limited income, my first priority is cheap housing. I want no mortgage...... The other reason I would like to move south is the weather. I don't work and I am home 24/7. Winters in the North East are too depressing as I sit at home and wait for good weather to get outside and do something productive (this winter is an unusually warm exception).

billh1963 posted 02-19-2006 02:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
I probably came across a little strong but you don't know how many people I have met who come down to the coast thinking that their little 3BR/1.5BA ranch in the NE is going to sell for a fortune and buy them a mansion on the beach in the South. It just doesn't happen. Waterfront is valuable everywhere and it will just get worse.

Property values an hour from a beach are much more reasonable. Some towns to consider are: Florence/Conway (gateway to Myrtle Beach), Summerville/Goose Creek (outside Charleston...still a little pricey), and Ridgeland/Walterboro (outside Beaufort/HHI and still reasonable). All these are a short distance to a saltwater creek or river.

Keep in mind what I said about being realistic about your socio-economic tolerance level. It will be very differnt from RI.

billh1963 posted 02-19-2006 02:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
I should also mention that NC prices are more reasonable but are rising quickly (I have waterfront properties in both states). The rural areas of NC are beautiful and can be very affordable. You just have to accept that it may be a long drive to get to any large shopping areas or major medical facilities.
JayR posted 02-19-2006 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
How long a drive? Time wise....

What we lack here in distance, we make up for in traffic. LOL

I'm in for an awakening if I make the move huh? I think that would be true going anywhere from where I am presently. I think I live in one of the least diverse areas in the country.

BTW you did not come across harsh. BUT.... your home prices are very reasonable compared to here, waterfront included. I see similar homes there in the $400K range that would sell for well over a million here...

JayR posted 02-19-2006 03:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
How's this one as an example? Here in RI this little place has an unbelievable price tag. frm=bymap&mnbed=0&mnbath=0&mnprice=0&mxprice=99999999&js=off&fid=so& stype=&mnsqft=&mls=xmls&areaid=27064&poe=realtor&ct=South+Kingstown& st=RI&sbint=&vtsort=&sorttype=&typ=1&typ=2&typ=4&x=64&y=10& sid=062ABFDBDE8AC&pgnum=25&snumxlid=1053236280&lnksrc=00002

HAPPYJIM posted 02-19-2006 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
Ne North Carolina is still a good buy but getting more expensive month after month. Waterfront/canal front lots can still be had (not in a developement) for 100K but are going as soon as they hit the market. There is many types of boating here from canoeing in the swamps to river and creeks and sounds and salt water fishing. I live about 10 miles inland but can put a boat in the water in several state owned accesses within 15 minutes. Acreage still selling for 15 thousand per acre but creeping up.
Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Hampton roads area within 45 minutes on 4 lane highway.
I'm from Pittsburgh PA originally but have lived in Florida and I like a change in the seasons. It rarely snows here but it's in the upper 30's today. Last week it was in the 60's all week.
Taxes are not bad .62/100 dollars. Biggest complaint from people moving from up north is that service is too slow...I have adapted very well and like the slower pace.
I'm in the landscaping business and like it because the ground never freezes here and I can work year round unlike Pittsburgh where we did landscaping maybe 7 months of the year.
Here's a link to Currituck County.

billh1963 posted 02-19-2006 05:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
That house is expensive but I could show you a few similar ones in South Carolina that would be priced the's all Location, Location, Location!

The towns I mentioned are all about 1 hour from the beach and 20 minutes to 45 minutes from saltwater boating.

I bought a beautiful deepwater lot last year in Belhaven, NC for $80K. It has a seawall and is about 0.5 acre in size. That lot is now worth $125K and rising....

NC still has the best values if you want to live on the water.

JayR posted 02-19-2006 05:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
You have piqued my interest...
I'm going to take a look.


jimh posted 02-19-2006 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Atlantic Intracoast Waterway (AIWW) runs along the coast of South Carolina. It makes for great boating.

There are also many wonderful places to explore in The Low Country

BobL posted 02-19-2006 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
I appreciate all of the information. These are exactly the kind of responses I hoped for.

Maverick, Mt. Pleasant’s location on a map looks ideal. Is this area such an expensive area that real estate is out of sight? I’m not expecting to be able to afford waterfront but I would like to get close. I’m starting to get excited about checking out the ICW.

Billh1963, Cape Cod is in Red Sox nation. It’s tough being referred to as a “Yankee”. Ouch! I think you are right about waterfront property however. It is in great demand everywhere so as expected the prices are high. What did you mean about living in Beaufort and socio-economic make-up?

Zotcha, There are some very large stripers taken from the waters around Wellfleet. Your late summer-early fall visit is a great time to fish. No wonder you keep coming back. What is the fishing around Bluffton like? It sounds like a nice little town to check out.

JayR, I like the idea of a warmer place to spend the winter too. Cape Cod in summer and Carolina in the winter. Retirement is 6-7 years away for me but it is not too soon to start looking. Good luck with your real estate appointment.


HAPPYJIM posted 02-20-2006 10:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
Here's a magazine to browse through on those cold winter days.

zotcha posted 02-21-2006 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
BobL, Bluffton WAS a state of mind! It WAS small and quaint. Seems like everywhere along the coastal areas of Carolinas and Georgia are BOOMING! Beaufort Bounty, I believe, is the fastest growing in the state and Horry County, (Myrtle Beach), is either ahead or close second. Out of control growth with very little insight or infrastructure. It is quite sad.

My advice to you, get your finances in order, come visit, wherever you decide, and DO NOT leave without purchasing SOMETHING! It may not be even remotely close to what you have in mind, but it will be leverage later. If you don't, please advise how much same property has risen in just 3 or 4 months.

I spent yesterday searching for a deep water that I REALLY can not afford. I have spent a few months searching this area for something that I can retire to. Something has come up that is perfect. I am going into hock up to my eyeballs, but if I can't afford the payments, I will make money in just 6 months. The price is Ridiculous but the writing is on the wall. I have to sell a 6 acre lot in Ridgeland SC, which I have owned for 4 years, just to get close to the numbers of this property. First two years property did almost nothing except cost a lot in taxes. Now I'm looking to double my investment. Wish I could hold on to it!

Fishing is very good here. Inshore redfish, (SpotTail Bass), and spotted sea trout, (Weakfish cousin, brother, same fish, not sure), and flounder/fluke. Funny thing with last species, no one fishes for them here. I think becaus the state has always allowed Gigging.

Nearshore, inside 12 to 40 miles, King Mackeral, and some good bottom fishing. Grouper, Snapper, and black sea bass.

Offshore gets hot in summer. Problem is, look at the Gulf Stream average flow, and the curvature of eastern seaboard. Sav./H.H.I. just about furthest west. Average 70 miles. FUEL! Had an allergic reaction 90 miles out, and almost had to call for a C.G. helicopter ride in. Wonder how much that would have cost me. Thankfully, it passed before I had a Bic pen in my trachea. Returned to land to find out my grandfather had passed at exact same time. Pretty unreal, huh?

Hope this helps. Oh yeah. Last year, 4th of July, heaviest anticipated traffic per the Weather Channel: LBI/Jersey Shore, CC, OBX. HHI did not make it, BUT I worked it. Absolutely maddening. Drive average 14 hours from Tri-State area, timed to arrive for 4 o'clock check-in, get 12 miles from Island and SIT for three more hours! All for what?

Good luck. zot.

HAPPYJIM posted 02-21-2006 11:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
zotcha's got it right. Even if you don't find your dream lot, buy something. It will increase in value monthly. I wanted to buy 11 acres of woodland that was only 200 foot wide and very deep. Asking price was 33K. I wanted it and thought no one would want a lot so narrow and deep. Took me a while to get my money right and went to owner to buy almost a year later. He sold it to a developer for 100K and apartments went up shortly after. Many stories about good deals and turning over for big profit just months later.
billh1963 posted 02-21-2006 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
You're right about buying land anywhere on the water...although the upper end housing market in Beaufort,SC has cooled off a little bit overall (there are some hot spots to be found). The market is still pretty hot in NC; however, and since it is more undervalued will have the most upside potential over the next 2-3 years. I'm into real estate development in both states so I'm pretty current in my views. A house on the water in Beaufort,SC that costs $800,00+ can be had in NC for under $500,000 (depending on location, of course!)

The fishing is good in both states. If you're into offshore fishing NC has SC beat hands down. The Gulf Stream is closer and inshore fishing can't be beat.

zotcha posted 02-21-2006 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
I'd have to agree with you Bill. Unfortunately, my brother researched and traveled to HHI in search of the nearest, (to Jersey), paid firefighter position. I followed a year later and the rest is history. Fortunately, my grandfather, and father taught us well financially. Unfortunately, they have both left us, and now we are trying to advance the best we can on our own.

I have never seen the coast of North Carolina, though I imagine the southeast would be very similar to here. I have a high school buddy doing marine work in Wanchese, and will probably the first area I explore. (Hard to believe it is almost 10 hours away!) I have made routine trips to central Jersey in 10 hours and 5 minutes though it is not very advisable.

Definately have to agree about the fishing as well.

My fathers estate will be closing soon, and BOY do I need an advisor! Mom didn't make 55, and Dad didn't make 61. How do you plan for the future with those numbers? I'm 39 and the oldest. Sheeesh!

Happy and Healthy. zot.

billh1963 posted 02-21-2006 12:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
That's bad news about your parents. I'm 43 now and my Dad died at the age of 48 so I know where you're coming from!

Coming into money is a blessing and a curse. Be careful looking for an advisor. If you're comfortable managing your own money then that's a great start. If not, conservative investing is always the least stressful.

Buying land on deepwater is an obvious good move. As more people move South and as more baby boomers retire the pressure for waterfront will only increase. That still has risks as well (hurricanes and the potential for rising sea levels if the current ice cap melting rates continue in Greenland).

I have several properties on deepwater which are appreciating nicely as well as conservative to moderate mutual fund investments. Diversification is important. I learned a few years ago that I am terrible at picking individual stocks (VERY $$$ painfully). Now I just buy real estate and highly rated mutual funds with a 10 year minimum track record.

zotcha posted 02-21-2006 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for zotcha  Send Email to zotcha     
I know what you mean about playing the market. Only have to be burned once. I'm going to liquidate some safe ones for a down payment. I think the returns will pay off significantly. Very excited to try this. Figure I'll choke for awhile but there is no other time I will be able to come close to purchasing something of this nature again. In 12 remaining years of service my salary is just not going to escalate near these land values. I've got to do this now. God forbid I have to sell I'm not going to get hurt. Just a little scary. It really is BARELY within reach. Hope Dad is not turning in his urn (sp.?). Lord Knows I miss him. zot.
BobL posted 02-23-2006 12:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
I just booked the trip to South Carolina a couple of hours ago. (April 17-22) Home base will be Charleston but I will be taking day trips to check out the area. Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort, and Mt. Pleasant are some of the destinations on my list so far. I’m not sure I’ll get to Pawley’s Island this trip because most of the travel will be either south or close to Charleston. If I like an area I’ll be looking to find a piece of land. From the discussion it seems best to jump now before prices get any higher. Any other suggestions for areas with good boating access?
Captain Billy posted 02-23-2006 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for Captain Billy  Send Email to Captain Billy     
Here is a link to some pictures we took in a Power Squadron cruise we back in 2004. We started in Charleston down to Beaufort, Savannah, then back to Hilton Head, and returning to Charleston (all overnight stops)


BobL posted 02-24-2006 12:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
Captain Billy,
Thanks for posting the pictures of your 2004 cruise. It gives a good feel for the kind of boating to expect in that area.
billh1963 posted 02-24-2006 06:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for billh1963  Send Email to billh1963     
Nice pictures Captain Billy.

By the way it's Calibogue sound ...pronounced CALIfornia but with a "bogey" on the end.

Captain Billy posted 02-24-2006 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Captain Billy  Send Email to Captain Billy     
Thanks Billh1963
Spelling has always been one of my weakest skills.(of the many)
runpasthefence posted 02-25-2006 06:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
Ah, I've been away for a couple of weeks and I missed this one.
Being a native Charlestonian (James Island/Folly Beach) I am, of course, very biased. The local boating is nothing short of gorgeous.
The Charleston Harbor provides access to all kinds of great boating:
-the harbor itself! ie. Ft. Sumter, Castle Pinkney, Charleston Battery, USS Yorktown, etc etc
-Immediate access to the Intercoastal Waterway
-The Cooper, Wando, and Ashley Rivers.
-Morris Island, Kiawah Island (Sandy Point), Folly Beach, Bird Key, Capers Island, amongst other great beachy islands.
-Plus tons of smaller creeks and rivers great for cruising and fishing.
I'm in New Zealand right now (which is breathtaking btw), and typing this little boast about Charleston makes me want to go back, hop in my 15', and cruise!
If you want/need any advice about the area, boating related or not, feel free to ask!


BobL posted 02-26-2006 12:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
Thanks for posting such a complete listing. I will try to check out some of those spots during my visit in April. I also have a 15 classic but it won’t be with me on this trip. If all goes well I will bring it down the following April.
I’m curious about the boating access. Are there many public boat ramps? Are there places where people can moor their boats if they don’t own waterfront property? (I’m hoping there is an affordable alternative to renting slip space or buying waterfront property) Is there public access to beaches or is the entire coastline privately owned?
I hope you continue to enjoy New Zealand.
runpasthefence posted 02-26-2006 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     

Water and beach access are fantastic in Charleston. Here is a link to all boat landings in Charleston County
There are two landings within 2.5 miles of my house! I can't recall a single time I have been disappointed with any of the ramps' condition. They are all well built and maintained. Beaches are the same. I live a stones throw from Folly Beach, and every inch of it is public access. The amount of private beach is a very small percentage, and one would have to go out of his way to find them. Also, the amount of beaches only accessible by boat are numerous, and in my opinion are the most appealing.

As far as mooring your boat. A lot of new communities are building community docks with personal lifts or Jet Docks. Other than that, trailering or dry docking may be your answer. Most dry docks charge by the foot per month, and you have unlimited access to having your boat launched and retrieved. Slip costs are usually a small fortune I believe, and waterfront property is at a premium.

Any questions, feel free to ask. As your trip gets closer, maybe I can give you some further advice for visiting the city itself.

Kia Ora

BobL posted 02-26-2006 07:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for BobL  Send Email to BobL     
The Charleston area is sounding better and better!

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