Charleston, SC to Wrightsville Beach, NC – July 15 through July 24

(Photos at bottom of page)


Financial dealings in Charleston delayed our departure until about 2 pm on Friday, July 15.   The terrain changed almost immediately from the meandering tidal creeks that we’ve learned to love so much in Georgia, being replaced by straighter man-made channels.   That feature has persisted all the way up to Southport, NC.  What has evolved, however, is the flora and the population density.   We spent the first night out of Charleston at anchor, intending on getting a relatively early start and cruising all day.  But we have a number of guidebooks to assist us in our planning, and the description of a little town just off the ICW caught my attention:  Georgetown, SC.   Third oldest city in South Carolina, and featuring an anchorage directly across the river from the small downtown district.   So we changed our plans and hung a hard left and found a place to settle in, across from the town clock, just as the guidebook suggested.  The pleasant little downtown area is now largely devoted to touristy shops – the “main” shopping having apparently migrated to a nearby mall.   We were surprised by the large number of tour boats with home dockage here.  Never would have guessed that families get in their cars and decide to drive to Georgetown, SC in order to vacation.  I ran down the live oak canopied streets two mornings – the total shade was a welcome relief from the oppressive heat we had been experiencing.  Had a fine dinner aboard one night – shrimp that we had purchased on the dock directly across from our anchorage point.  I stuck the nose of the dinghy between two shrimp boats and Barb scampered up onto the dock to effect the transaction at one of two local seafood shops.  Fresh shrimp!   You gotta love it!  After dinner we dinghied back across the river to see if an advertised local blues band was any good.   They were!  More than good.  They were great.   Apparently they play every Saturday night.  We recommend them. 

North of Georgetown the ICW begins to angle off inland, and so the water gets less and less salty and more and more tannin-stained.   Cypress trees and knees line the shores.   The water and the terrain are very reminiscent of the stretch of the Ogeechee River a few miles upriver from our former home.   But instead of being a local digression, this is the ICW!

 Eventually the ICW angles back toward the sea.  Approaching Myrtle Beach the ICW morphs again.  Still tannin-stained, but now narrower straight channels that have been cut down to bedrock by the original creators of the ICW.   Kinda scary, because the narrow passage with hard shoulders makes passing or meeting large vessels very problematical.   Is there really room for two side-by-side?  If not, that granite rock isn’t going to be very forgiving.

 The guidebooks said there was free dockage next to a shopping area in North Myrtle Beach at an area called Barefoot Landing.   The narrow passages meant there were few if any suitable anchorages along that stretch, so we decided to tie up there.  Fantastic!   Fireworks at Barefoot Landing on Monday nights, which we enjoyed from our upper deck.  Huge huge shopping area filled to the brim with tourists.   All reasonably upscale, unlike most of the sleaze along the highway running beside Barefoot Landing, which features tattoo parlors, adult “novelty” shops, thousands of quick food eateries, small amusement parks, miniature golf courses, several million “beach” stores, etc.  

 We stayed in the free anchorage until Wednesday (7/20).  North of Myrtle Beach the water looses its tea color, but the channels remain narrow and shallow.  We cooled our heels for about an hour just into North Carolina, waiting for the tide to come in enough for it to be safe for the bridge master to open his pontoon bridge.  Yes, a pontoon bridge across the ICW!   Full moon today meant the tides were exceptionally high and low, and the pipes running across the channel at the point of the bridge were not sufficiently deep to permit vessels to pass over.

As we approached a set of possible anchorage spots at about 7 pm, we decided the descriptions were just a little too “iffy”, and so we pulled into a very nice new marina:  South Harbour Village Marina in Southport, NC.  Folks are very friendly here, and on the dockmaster’s recommendation we partook of supper at the adjoining Italian restaurant.  Holy mackerel!   Reasonable prices and fantastic food!   Cruisers, don’t miss this one:  Joseph’s Italian Bistro.   Surprisingly upscale décor inside – don’t repeat my mistake of attending dinner dressed in a gaudy T-shirt.

Another feature that bears mentioning about the stretch around Southport and points north is the extreme density of homes right along the sea. A straight line of homes on stilts marching along the seashore.  No trees.  No dunes.  Just upscale homes on stilts, for mile after developed mile.  What a contrast to the gorgeous undeveloped barrier islands possessed by Georgia.

We gave the boat a good bath Thursday morning (7/21), Barb washing the decks, etc., while I used strong medicine on the brown stains on our transom – and then rewaxing the area.   It was well past noon when we finally departed, arriving late afternoon at a well-documented anchorage just off the ICW behind the dunes (and double row of homes and beach businesses) at Wrightsville Beach.   Wrightsville Beach is to Wilmington as Tybee is to Savannah, if distances are fudged a bit.  Well, maybe more than a bit.  Cross the bridge that spans the ICW and one has moved from Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington.   We have been occupying ourselves with various boat chores since our arrival.   Stainless steel window ports to be polished, varnish to be applied, latches to be installed, impellors to be replaced.  And newspapers to be read, beaches to be walked, streets to be run – these things should also be mentioned, just to reassure the gentle readers that living on a boat is not all work and no play.   But you know what?  Even the “work” is a lot like play, when one isn’t on a schedule!   Life is good!


After returning to the boat on Saturday (7/24) from our morning run (Chuck) and walk on beach (Barb), Chuck discovered the generator had overheated and done an automatic shutdown.  He found an impellor that was chewed up so he replaced it and cleaned out the pieces.  All seemed fine when we ran the generator Saturday night to charge up the batteries, but the temperature started climbing when we ran it this (Sunday) morning.   Since we needed to charge the batteries and will need to get parts, we pulled up anchor and moved to the Bridge Tender Marina.  Not a bad place.  It’s right on the ICW (the Wilmington, NC side) with a great band playing at a restaurant across the river.  We may have to go over later to dance as they occasionally play some shag music and Chuck was even dancing to it when they started playing.  The other nice thing about the marina is that we have a wireless connection.  We can get our email and I can update our web site.  Unfortunately, our Verizon phone data connection will not work in this area because Verizon is using some other company’s tower.  Hopefully, once we get north of here we won’t continue to have that problem.

Chuck is currently in the engine room doing some more investigating of the generator problem so he’ll know for sure what parts to get when the stores open tomorrow morning.  I captured some pictures of him down in the engine room.  Also took a number of photos of the area and of our boat at the marina dock.  This part of the ICW is so busy it’s like being on an interstate highway with lots of boats constantly cruising by.  Fortunately, they respect the no wake zone, so we are not being rocked by them as we were out in the anchorage.   There was a sailing school near our anchorage so we had lots of little sailboats whizzing by us.  It was mostly fun to watch them but occasionally a little nerve wracking wondering if they were going to make their turn before ramming us. 

The Brinckerhoff’s should be here tomorrow.  If all goes well with the generator repair, Chuck and Jack will dive some of the wrecks offshore on Tuesday.  I’m not planning to go as wrecks don’t excite me – especially having to go 24 miles out in a fast boat pounding through the waves.  The good thing is the dive boat leaves from our marina, so it will be convenient for Chuck. 

We went for a stroll on the beach yesterday afternoon / evening and were amazed at number and quality of the surfers.  We enjoyed watching them for a while.  This morning I read in the paper that there were 232 surfers in town competing over the week-end in the Pro-Am Reef Tour surfing competition on the beach.  The top prize is $10K.    It was great to see part of it even though we didn’t realize what it was.  I had hoped to go back today to watch more, but we got sidetracked with the generator and moving the boat.  I may get my bike down later and pedal over to the beach or just walk.  Our dinghy is back on the boat, so we won’t bother taking it down to cruise over.  Everything is pretty close and convenient here.  Nice place.

Click on photo for larger view..

Georgetown harbor

Georgetown harbor with industry in background

Industry in Georgetown

Georgetown harbor

Dock where we bought shrimp in Georgetown,

Relaxing at anchorage in Georgetown

Swing bridge near Myrtle Beach

South Carolina cypress swamp - part of the ICW

Pontoon bridge - soon to be replaced

Wrightsville Beach

TT II at Bridge Tender Marina - restaurant w/ band in background

Busy ICW at our marina - TT II on right

Hatch to engine room where Chuck spends a lot of his time

Chuck diagnosing generator problem

Chuck working on generator