Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UPDATE: Moving Down to Charleston and Points Beyond

Today (Wed. Dec.16) we made it to the awesome little fishing village of McClellanville, SC. What a picturesque town. It’s like going back in time. If you find yourself between Charleston and Georgetown on US 17 it’s worth stopping, having lunch or dinner and seeing the town. The old moss laden oaks covering the streets and the restored homes nestled in the beautiful maritime forest makes this a special off the beaten path stop.

Tuesday we transited the Waccamaw River from Osprey Marina (South of Myrtle Beach) to Georgetown. When we started out the river was covered in fog and it was eeriely quiet moving slowly through the fog with Cypress trees towering on both sides of the narrow headwaters of the river. We used radar, GPS and the fog horn until the fog lifted to reveal the awesome character of the river. The pictures to the right were taken after we got out of the dense stuff. As we moved south, the river widened until we made it to Georgetown, SC which is another awesome river town everyone should visit.

Monday (Dec 14th) we left Coquina Harbor in Little River, SC (N. Myrtle Beach) and transited what some call the most dreaded part of the ICW, “The Rock Pile” to Osprey Marina on the Waccamaw River. This area of the ICW is extremely narrow and was blasted through rock by the Corps Of Engineers. The edges of the channel are lined with jagged rocks and have sunk or badly damaged many vessels wandering out of the narrow channel. This stretch of the ICW runs for about 10 to 15 miles and passing or meeting others vessels is a real problem. Glad to be through there. There was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow waiting for us though. Osprey Marina is the best kept secret on the ICW so far. The marina is tucked away off the Waccamaw River and sports good old down home southern hospitality from the staff that makes you feel right at home.

Saturday we ran from Southport Marina in Southport, NC to Coquina Harbor in Little River, SC. This stretch was laden with many headaches. To begin with the bridge construction at the new Oak Island bridge held us up for about 2 and a half hours. This happened after we were told there would be no work performed on Saturday and the ICW would be open. We had to stay an extra day in Southport after we were told on Wednesday there would be no construction on Thursday. Good for us (and them) they answered the phone Thursday before we shoved off. To boot, the construction company didn’t answer the phone number when I tried to call them before getting underway on Saturday. On our approach to the bridge, the tugboat captain told us we could get through and then moved his tug and barge in the way to block the waterway for approximately 10 vessels trying to get through the area. We were told he would open the waterway in 30 minutes. An hour and half later, he told another vessel (VHF Radio Channel 16) that it would be another 2 hours before he could open. We decided to go back to a marina a half mile north of the site and stay there for the evening. The extra two hour delay would prevent us from crossing the shallow inlets at high tide. No sooner did we get docked (30 minutes after his 2 hour announcement ) and the Tug captain announced he was opening the waterway. We ran to the boat and shoved off and got through the construction area and on to our original destination.

As a North Carolina tax payer and professional who worked on many, many construction sites, I’m ashamed of how this project is being handled. The ICW is well know as a vital route for vessels (both commercial and pleasure) using the ICW as the only north/south inshore route. The commerce that occurs along this vital waterway brings many tax dollars to the state and revenue to local businesses providing services for commercial and pleasure vessels. Someone needs to be held accountable for the poor planning and havoc this project is creating. It can be different and must be different. 

On the bright side the new bridge being built at Sunset Beach (another new NC ICW bridge) will put one more bridge tender on a new career path. 

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