November 5, 2010 9AM
We are in Charleston SC, a city I had planned to wave at as we passed by. With our normal speed down the ICW I expected we would need to anchor before the city and then would continue on past the next day.
Well we had a record day on Wednesday as we motored down the ICW. We went 60 statute miles in 8 hours so we averaged 7.5 mph. I know I need to put this in perspective. When I plan a trip down the ICW I use 5.7 mph as a guide (For you nautical types that’s 5 knots.) I didn’t expect to make it from Georgetown to Charleston in one day as there is a draw bridge just before Charleston that we had to get through before 4pm. When we left at 7:30 I figured no way to make it so I set the engine to our normal cruise setting (Our most efficient setting that gives us the max speed for the least amount of fuel.) Well the tide gods were with us.
Along the ICW the tide flows in and out though inlets that connect to it. This makes for some interesting motoring. If the tide is coming in and you are approaching an inlet then the boat speed over the bottom slows down. Once past the inlet boat speed increases. Normally these slows/speed ups average out, but not yesterday. There seemed to be only one opening to the Atlantic and as we approached we caught a falling tide and as we passed the inlet caught a rising tide. We rarely and only briefly saw less boat speeds of 5 knots or less.
So through the bridge and now what – I hadn’t expected to make it this far so into the anchorage in Charleston. Some good things about the anchorage – it is big and the holding is good. The bad I’ll cover later.
Thursday we spent some time in town walking around. It’s Charleston, what more can I say. In 4 hours we managed to walk through some charming parts of town - more tomorrow. We won’t leave before Saturday, as that’s when we’ll get the parts to fix our roller furler. Once that’s fixed, and the offshore weather looks good, we’ll head south to Florida. Right now it looks like a Monday departure from here, but plans do change.
There is a boat anchored near us that was trying to raise its anchor, but it was caught on something. The guy was motoring forward and then backward over the anchor trying to break it free. As his frustration at not being able to free the anchor grew so did the amount of power he was using. We were watching as he motored hard forward and his bow sprit broke. Not a pretty sight. I’ll try to get a picture, but I don’t want to be too obvious taking it.
The Charleston Marina also has a web cam that users can control. Boaters in the marina need to be aware of this. We watched one lady pluck her eyebrows while she sat in her cockpit.
Now something for the couple of sailors who are following us. I apologize too all those dedicated non-sailors who read this as it may not make much sense.
Anchoring in Charleston is not a simple thing. There are 7 ft tides, not the largest in the world, but it still makes things interesting. The tidal flow is strong enough to spin our prop – so it’s better than 2 knots. I’ve found in currents this strong the boats heads into the current not the wind – unless the wind is really blowing to the point I don’t want to be there.
Here is what I’ve seen. The wind was blowing almost directly against the current. We watched one sailboat with a very large cockpit enclosure that was open in the back. Normally this boat was headed into to the current until the wind picked up. Then the cockpit enclosure caused the boat to sail forward until the anchor stopped it at which point it turned sideways and fell back in the current until the anchor stopped it again. A true test for an anchor. (And this also gives credit to those who say a downwind boat dragged forward into them.)
As the tide changes boats drift differently – some to the wind others to the current, so what would normally be a safe distance between boats is not.
Many boats, us included, have a riding sail – a sail that is used at anchor to keep the boat headed into the wind. I must say it does not work in a wind–vs-current situation. Without really thinking about all the forces I gave it a try a couple of days ago. We were heading into the current, the winds apposing. With the riding sail, all we did was turn 90 degrees to both forces. It was one of those things that took 20 minutes to set up and 10 seconds to realize it was a mistake.