Back on 12/24/13, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net (along with many other nautical publications) made the sad announcement that the USCG would be removing all aids to navigation on the upper portion of the Waccamaw River, abandoned by the AICW (see /?p=130563). As SSECN Senior Editor, Captain Larry Dorminy, commented at that time, “While depths in the Upper Waccamaw are reported to be good, the removal of these daybeacons and buoys will certainly make this side trip upstream to Conway, SC more difficult.”
Then, HAPPILY, we received the note below from veteran cruisers, Captains Jim and Peg Healy:
When Sanctuary and crew made the side trip to Conway, SC, in October, 2013, the lateral daymarks in the river were in good condition. With the USCG announcing plans to permanently discontinue the daymarks on the upper Waccamaw, there are very few reliable sources of navigation guidance for cruisers, and particularly first-time/less-experienced cruisers. There are some large tributaries and embayments that intersect the river. Some are large enough to be confusing to those not familiar with the area.
As you know, there are no NOAA charts of the upper Waccamaw that cover the upper river. So, I superimposed Sanctuary’s GPS track on a road map of the area. I hope this will be useful in portraying the through-route northbound into Conway.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
Jim and Peg are quite correct. Even though I’ve made this side-trip at least a dozen times over the years, without the various markers, I can easily see my tiny mind becoming confused at some of the forks along the way. Jim and Peg have done the cruising community a tremendous favor by providing the cartographical aids, linked below.
A word of WARNING – these “maps” are NOT nautical charts, and cannot be relied upon to always keep you to good depths. Sidewaters off the main, upper Waccamaw River chanel are almost uniformly shallow, so all cruisers should undertake this sidetrip with the full knowledge that they are embarking on a somewhat chancy sojourn. In other words, cruise the upper Waccamaw at your own risk.
With that being said, what we have done is blow up Jim and Peg’s maps to a level that cruisers will hopefully find useful, and divided these graphics into four parts. Part 1 depicts the southernmost section of the upper Waccamaw, with the subsequent parts moving farther north with Part 4 leading all the way to Conway, SC, and their friendly city marina.
Like Jim and Peg, we hope everyone finds these maps useful!
Agree, these maps are better than nothing but what a shame the CG is removing the markers. This is a great little side trip off the waterway that we have done a couple of times in the last 25 years. And’¦there are a couple of places where you can go wrong if not for a day marker. Caution is the word and I think fewer boaters without local knowledge will be going to Conway going forward.