For a few years now Larry & Bev on Chandelle have been telling us that even with our deep keel (7’ 6”) and high mast (65’) we could run the tides and do the Intra Coastal Waterway through the swamps and marshes of South Carolina and Georgia. So when Chandelle joined us in Charleston and said they were happy to act as tour guides we decided to be brave and give it a go.
The first leg was back on the outside though as we motored in a flat calm from Charleston to Port Royal at the north end of Hilton Head Island. It should have been stress free, but for the second year in a row the day started with a snagged anchor in Charleston, although we managed to free it without scuba gear this time much to my relief.
The motor was easy and then just before the shoals at Port Royal the engine slowly died. It was obvious straight away that it was fuel rather than mechanical with the new baby installed but I could see no reason how we would have a fuel problem either. It turned out that for some reason the new engine was pulling fuel from only the port tank, despite both being turned on so we had sucked the tank dry, a quick change of the manifold, 4 pumps of the fuel primer and we were back on our way.
We were lucky to get this important lesson in the middle of the sea rather than in a tight cut on the ICW, as while it was a quick fix it wasn’t quick enough to avoid running aground in a tighter space, so in a funny way we were grateful for the interruption.
The trip down the ICW so far has been great, we are basically following a combination of rivers, sounds and man made canals joining them travelling 5-10 miles in from the coast past a series of barrier islands.
The travel is slow as we have to have high tide for the shallow sections and low tide for the two fixed bridges we have negotiate. So far no groundings and we haven’t touched either bridge even with our VHF antenna.
The highlight without doubt though has been seeing the amazing spectacle of the local dolphins “strand feeding”. They work in a team and herd the fish into the beach where they can’t escape and then all four dolphins surge out of the water onto the beach, grabbing a few fish to fee on and then wriggling their way back into the water to do it again. Sadly we didn’t have the camera the first day, but the second time we did and while they were more keen on mating and playing we still got some amazing shots!