With it blowing 35 knots on the outside, cruising south inside the ICW would save us from taking a beating – however with the Socastee Bridge out of commission, the plan for today was to go outside and face the music.
We spent a few minutes checking out some of the drone footage Hank the dock master had taken of Southport Marina, and then said our farewells. This leg would be where we saw the most boats playing the same route we were. Around noon we received some good news: the Socastee Bridge was back up and running! We adjusted our plans to stay on the ICW course, thus eliminating 50 miles of ass-kickings.
We'd put in our reservation request for the Harborage at Ashley Marina in Charleston using the Dockwa app (of course) at 7PM the evening before, and by 10AM had our slip confirmation in hand. No phone calls, no emails, no middleman: just tap, book, dock, like we keep telling people! Imagine that.
We’d heard about Hurricane Matthew’s damage, but seeing it first-hand is a different story. Just south of the Myrtle Beach area – around the Socastee Bridge, which makes sense – we began to see the carnage of Matthew. Homes, docks, boats, vehicles, and yards were under water.
As the Socastee Bridge had just reopened that morning, we must have been one of the first boats the residents along this portion of the ICW had seen in a while. They stood on half-submerged porches to watch us pass and make sure we weren't making wake. We shut one of the engines off completely and crawled down the ICW at 3MPH. We saw no debris and felt no impact on our hull as we idled by, but as the boat only draws 2 feet, that’s not a good indicator of how clear the passage is.
About 5 miles past the Socastee Bridge the area was still flooded but had transitioned to woods and marsh with no homes to potentially harm, so we picked the pace back up to 20MPH.
The miles of marshes surrounding the ICW are beautiful, to be sure, but even in a powerboat they can seem to be endless. This leg was a great reminder as to why we love boater recommendations on ActiveCaptain, and why we rely so much on intel from our fellow boaters: when you're making slow progress in sparse areas, anything to see, do, or learn about helps keep things interesting during the longer days.
Entering Charleston, we did a quick fly-by of the Charleston City Marina, one of the larger marina operations we saw during the trip. Situated steps from historic downtown, this property covers 40 acres of water, 19,000 feet of dock space, and is the longest free-standing floating fuel dock in the Southeast.
Another 50 yards under the James Island Bridge sits the Harborage at Ashley Marina, which we pulled up to just in time for another picturesque sunset. The dockstaff were quick on the draw to help us dock, and gave us a guide to town with recommendations. Able to accommodate vessels up to 150 feet in length, Harborage at Ashley has more than 230 wet slips and a courtesy shuttle to take guests to and from downtown Charleston.
The next morning we left the facedock and popped around the corner to Harborage at Ashley's fuel dock. The dockhand, a self-proclaimed cornbread connoisseur, recommended we visit the Hominy Grill for breakfast. Hominy looked like a solid choice judging by the long line outside, but we opted for a slightly shorter wait at Toast a few blocks away, which was fantastic. Next up: our 200 mile day to Jacksonville!
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