A new addition to our “Could we live here?” list: Beaufort, SC

Our next planned multi-day stop after leaving Georgetown, SC was Beaufort (pronounced “Byoo-fert”, unlike the one in North Carolina which is pronounced “Bo-fert”).  We hopped down the South Carolina coast, stopping in anchorages each night and sometimes for more than one night for – what else? – weather delays.

The anchorages don’t offer much in the way of wind protection in South Carolina, but they sure are pretty.

By now we were seeing dolphins every day which is so much fun!  I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of it.  We also saw our first alligator!  I saw what appeared to be a log in the water and pointed it out to Jeff, and then we realized that it was swimming.  Wow!  Unfortunately it happened too quickly to get a picture but maybe I’ll get another chance in Florida.

As we get farther south we are seeing more sandy areas.
One of the things we are enjoying about the ICW is you never know what you’re going to find around the bend.

This section of the ICW has a lot of shallow areas, and even with a draft of only 4’4” we were going to need to play the tides at times.  We managed to run aground two days in a row (once each day) but with a sandy bottom it was no big deal.  Running aground is much less stressful once you get to the Chesapeake and all points south!  The bottom is so forgiving, unlike rocky New England.  Fortunately we were able to free Pegu Club both times without needing to call TowBoat.  I was at the helm the first time, but Jeff was steering the second time and I had a good time teasing him about how now we were even – well, if you don’t count my running us into the damn dike in Delaware!  

You know it’s going to be shallow when there is an advertisement for SeaTow!

We were only a few hours away from Beaufort when we anchored for the night in Wimbee Creek, accompanied by a dolphin.  We use Active Captain, the Waterway Guide, and our Skipper Bob’s handbook to locate anchorages, and we always read the reviews for helpful hints.  Active Captain reviews for Wimbee Creek stated that near the online “anchor” icon there were rocks on the bottom, but beyond that the ground was clear. 

We went well beyond the symbol and dropped the anchor.  We both heard a strange scraping sound and simultaneously said, “That sounded like rocks.”  That was a first for us, but now we know what it sounds like.  Guess the review wasn’t that accurate.  No worries.  We went to a different section of the creek, lowered the anchor, and held well for the next two nights.  Yes, we had yet another delay.

Finally, a week after leaving Georgetown, we had traveled the 97 statute miles to Beaufort.  We could have walked faster (although it wouldn’t have been as much fun).  These weather delays are getting out of hand.  We’re starting to joke that we’ll have to forget the Bahamas – by the time we get to Florida it will be time to turn around and head north for hurricane season!

We really enjoyed our stop in Beaufort and it has made our “Could we live here?” list.  It’s a small city with approximately 12,000 people, but it has a lively downtown filled with local shops and restaurants.  With a number of cultural and arts festivals and events, Beaufort has at various times been named a “Top 25 Small City Arts Destination” and “Best Small Southern Town.”  

The downtown area has a nice mix of architecture.

We were there for the Beaufort Holiday weekend which included “A Night on the Town” on Friday evening, and the streets were closed to pedestrian traffic while a large turnout of people enjoyed the festivities.  We were excited to finally be in the same place as our friends from S/V Minx, and we had a great time catching up that evening and checking out some of the festivities together.

Puppets singing at “A Night on the Town.”

Unfortunately the weather kept us boat-bound on Saturday and Sunday so we didn’t get to see much, but we enjoyed browsing in the shops and walking the streets while we could, looking at the beautiful architecture, and eating fantastic barbecue for lunch at Smokin’ Oaks and delicious chocolate from the The Chocolate Tree. 

Our first tomato pie – delicious!; Smokin’ Oaks Barbecue.

Trees dripping with Spanish Moss; a visit to the Beaufort National Cemetery.

One thing we won’t do again, however, is get a mooring in the harbor when strong winds are in the forecast.  We had originally planned to anchor but couldn’t find enough space in Ladies Creek to accommodate the scope we thought we would need, given the depths and the forecast.  Jay from S/V Minx later taught us that with greater depths, we can use less scope but still have equal holding.  Lesson learned.  

In the meantime, however, we had picked up a mooring.  All was well for the first two nights, but with 8 1/2’ tides the current rips through the water.  Picking up the mooring ball when we arrived was entertaining.  It was one of the rare times we’ve had to make a second pass at it.  

When it’s low tide, it’s REALLY low tide.

I ended up taking a video of this boat near us that had clearly been there for awhile.  The mooring chain was wrapped around his keel so it’s easy to see how the current rips through the area:

When the bad weather came, we ended up with a period of time with the wind against the current so that Pegu Club kept sliding over the mooring ball.  It made quite a racket and we were concerned that the mooring chain would wrap around the keel, so we had to keep going out into the cockpit in the pouring rain, starting the engine, and moving the boat away from the ball.  The only saving grace was that for once it wasn’t the middle of the night.  Usually this kind of thing happens at 3:00 in the morning!

Mooring ball issues aside, we truly enjoyed our stay in Beaufort.  We would have stayed longer if the cold weather wasn’t catching up to us (the high was in the 40’s on the day of the storm), and will absolutely be stopping here again.  Now off to Georgia!

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