Cruising World - - Special Report -

For those who would pre­fer to move quickly along the coast but with­out mul­ti­day pas­sages, I can rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing route (see above map). You’ll be an­chor­ing out, but avoid­ing the twists and turns on the ICW that con­sume so much mileage and time. This route is in­tended for a south-to-north tran­sit be­cause fall days are typ­i­cally too short for most sail­boats to make th­ese dis­tances in day­light. Most of th­ese pas­sages can be done dur­ing day­time hours, as­sum­ing an early start and a 5-knot av­er­age speed. Mileage is ap­prox­i­mate and cal­cu­lated from in­side the in­let to the pro­posed anchorage.

Note that an ad­verse tide in the big­ger in­lets such as Winyah Bay, Charleston and St. Si­mons will add many hours to your day. You should time your en­try for an in­com­ing tide for this rea­son. Also, with the pre­vail­ing on­shore winds in the spring and sum­mer, you’ll avoid wind-against-tide con­di­tions, which can get very rough in the big in­lets.

With the ex­cep­tion of St. Cather­ines Sound, th­ese in­lets are all used by big ships or are at least rea­son­ably well-marked. If you an­tic­i­pate a night­time land­fall, choose only a big-ship in­let — St. Marys, St. Si­mons, Charleston, Ge­orge­town, South­port and Beau­fort — and then only if you have con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence with night sail­ing. AIS is strongly rec­om­mended be­cause you will en­counter com­mer­cial ship­ping in th­ese in­lets. You should also carry a pow­er­ful spot­light and binoc­u­lars.

If you choose to an­chor in Beau­fort, North Carolina, and ar­rive af­ter dark, it is im­por­tant to re­al­ize that Ra­dio Is­land Chan­nel is not lit and is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to ne­go­ti­ate af­ter sun­set. As well, the anchorage will have un­lit boats, mak­ing it chal­leng­ing to an­chor safely. Al­ter­na­tively, Beau­fort’s pub­lic docks are open 24 hours.

Vis­i­bil­ity is typ­i­cally ad­e­quate as much as an hour be­fore sun­rise, giv­ing you ex­tra time to make your daily land­fall. You can fol­low your en­try’s “bread crumb” trail on your chart plot­ter back to the ocean to main­tain a safe course, with proper con­sid­er­a­tion given to the state of the tide.

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