Healy Report: Socastee to Isle of Palms, SC, AICW Statute Miles 410-457
This leg of Jim and Peg Healy’s sojourn through South Carolina begins in the Waccamaw River, south to Winyah Bay, then turns west into Estherville Minim Creek and ends on Isle of Palms, home to CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, Isle of Palms Marina. Again, our sincere thanks to these very experienced cruisers for sharing their experiences and expertise with all of us.
The southbound minimally marked entrance to Minim Creek from Winyah Bay requires careful lookout or you will pass it, especially on an outgoing tide. And as a sidebar on Minim Creek, see Minim Creek Ferry.
Sanctuary and crew traveled south from Socastee, SC, on the Waccamaw, to Mt. Pleasant, SC, on Tuesday, 10/17/2017. Low tide in the region was early afternoon (13h30). The entrance to the Estherville-Minim Canal at Winyah Bay is very shoal for at least the first 1/2 mile. The Esterville-Minim Creek Canal and the Fourmile Creek Canal have both continued to shoal. We saw spots at 6-1/2 ft at 1/3 tide.
We managed – poor planning – to arrive at McClellanville at dead low tide (10/17/2017, 13h51, +0.1 ft above MLLW). Our depth sounder transducer is 30” below the waterline, and it quits when it get’s to 2 to 2-1/2 ft above a soft bottom or weeds. Today, it quit. So, I don’t know how deep the water really is. What I do know is, Sanctuary draws 4-1/4 ft. What I learned for certain is, the bottom of the ICW around McClellanville is soft mud. I had slowed to just above idle, (never approach anything faster than you’d want to hit it). We never got stopped making way, but there were spots where I could feel the soft mud throwing the boat around. One of many times I really, really liked having a single engine boat with a prop and rudder protected by a beefy full keel. We never encountered anything hard; nothing that went “bump” along the hull. The stretch between G”35″ and R “48” is definitely the worst long stretch (4 miles) on the ICW at this point. Not bad when the tide is in, but 4 ft or less at low tide, and worse yet if celestial low tide. Southbound, check the tide station called “McClellanville, Jeremy Creek” before departing (or passing by) Georgetown. To stay clear of the McClellanville mud at MLLW, ditch out up above McClellanville and wait for a better tide if you’ll arrive at low and your boat draws more than 3 ft.
Those who have done this stretch of South Carolina ICW in the past know there are some very impressive, long docks extending from shore. Many show signs of very significant storm damage. Several that had nice multi-deck sun shelters top were tipped over and lying in the water (well, lying in the mud at low tide). Many of the docks and access-ways had decking missing, we assume from waves and high water lapping at them from beneath. We saw sunken floats and many pilings askew. We did not see any flotsam, but I would definitely keep a sharp lookout throughout the region. Crab pot floats are everywhere. In fast currents, floats bob underwater. Be on the lookout…
There has been generally more transient boat traffic than I expected this early in the season. Don’t know if that predicts more traffic later, or maybe they’ve all already come through, so slower later??? The big go-fast boats we’ve encountered have generally been gentlemen about passing, but it’s on you if you’re a slow boat to keep a sharp eye out astern for approaching, overtaking traffic.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary, currently at Rock Creek, Pasadena, MD
Monk 36 Hull #132
Click Here To View the South Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Isle of Palms Marina
For a complete list of Sponsoring Marinas along this route, go to SC SSECN Sponsoring Marinas