Tidal changes in Georgia and South Carolina can be huge, especially during new and full moons that can add another foot of water at either extreme. As we planned our next destination on Day 173, just after a new moon, we were careful to work the 8+ foot tides to help ease our concerns about running aground. It always amazes me to see land at low tide in these areas. Floating docks are a necessity, and it can be quite the steep climb up the marina ramps when tides are at their lowest points in these two southern states. And just think about the rush of water that comes in and out every six hours, hence strong current! We don’t experience anything like this in the Chesapeake. Not even close! I learned about these tides before we departed last fall, and then lived them, and now am returning through them, and they still amaze me.
We left Isle of Hope just after sunrise on Day 173 to catch high tide at Fields Cut, a narrow ICW passage, which abuts the Savannah River. You may recall our fall crossing, dodging large cargo ships as we crossed the narrow river (http://sailingbelle.com/2015/12/01/everything-looks-different-from-the-water-day-42/). Coming north, we were on high alert as we approached this busy shipping channel, and could see larger ships on AIS but still needed to be on the lookout for smaller vessels like ours. Our river crossing luckily occurred during a spacious gap between a few cargo ships. Meanwhile, the VHF buzzed with other boats announcing securité warnings about entering Fields Cut, so we had an idea with whom we’d be sharing the narrow cut. Again, like so much of the ICW, patience and prudence pays off, and we experienced no issues during our journey northward.
Beaufort SC (pronounced Bew-furt) was next on our destination list. We had enjoyed our fall visit immensely (http://sailingbelle.com/2015/11/24/can-beaufort-get-any-better-day-36/) and decided to stay at the Downtown Marina this time so that we could easily walk to the restaurants and shops on the riverfront.
Dreamtime was already docked at the same marina, so we visited with Christina and Bob before venturing into town for a delicious dinner on Plum’s outside terrace which overlooks the riverfront park. As the sun set, the park still projected a gentle vibrancy as kids played, friends strolled, street musicians struck up melodies, and couples swung to and fro on the swings at the water’s edge.
Again, I felt as though I had stepped inside a French impressionist painting.
The next morning, Christina met me for an early walk through town. I brought along the guidebook I had received as a gift last fall, on the eve of our departure, when we met George and Barbara at Tabby Manse. Without the opportunity then to use the Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea Guidebook, I was intent on making good use of it during this visit.
While Christina and I walked past the historic private homes, I read aloud descriptions from the text, including tidbits from the chapter entitled “Hollywood Comes to Beaufort.” Once again, tinseltown was making its mark on our charts. We thought it would be fun to find Tidalholm, the mansion where The Big Chill (1983) was filmed. As we approached the side of the house, noting signs that clearly said “Private Residence,” Christina remarked that she could certainly envision the football game being played in the side yard.
I have a poor memory when it comes to movies, but as soon as she mentioned the football game, I had a quick flashback of William Hurt and others throwing the ball. I really need to watch that movie again, especially after seeing the house on “The Point.” Christina and I finished our 10,000 steps with breakfast at Common Ground, my second favorite coffee shop of the sailbatical.
Once back at the boat, Dudley and I consulted the weather forecasts again. It seems that nothing is predictable more than 24 hours out. It’s crazy. We had hoped to stay in Beaufort for three nights, but alas, the weather window required that we shorten our visit to just two nights. I had intended to revisit the Baptist Church of Beaufort on Sunday morning, and had even sent emails to the people I met there last fall to alert them. But alas, we need to depart early on Sunday morning, so no church this time. We had also planned to rendezvous in Beaufort with our Savannah and Bluffton friends on Sunday afternoon, so that was another disappointment. I’ve certainly learned to stay flexible during this sailbatical!
Thankfully, there was one appointment that we could keep. I had emailed George, editor of the guidebook and owner of Tabby Manse, that we would be in Beaufort for a brief weekend. Although Barbara was out of town, we were able to rendezvous with George early on Saturday evening.
He hosted us on his front porch, and we offered to bring wine, cheese, and crackers, the staple of cruising pantries. The three of us enjoyed catching up, and covered subjects from Pat Conroy to DNA testing for ancestries to sailbatical highlights. The weather was simply perfect, and the view from his historic home was captivating. From his porch, George can watch the boats go up and down the ICW, skirting marshes and navigating through the changing weather systems. What a view!
George is also quite the photographer, and I especially appreciate these photos he took during our visit.
We are so glad that our mutual friend John orchestrated our paths crossing last fall, and we look forward to keeping in touch.
Once again, Beaufort by the sea was a beautiful experience, in every way. We only wish that we could have stayed longer. But we have no doubt that we’ll return again.