We are currently heading north in South Carolina after returning to Florida by way of the Abacos in the northern Bahamas with the iconic lighthouse at Hopetown and the little Bahama Bank. This year’s crossing of the Gulf Stream from Great Sale Cay to Ft Pierce inlet was uneventful. Anxious to be back in New Jersey, we are making fewer than usual stops along the way but still enjoying all the ICW has to offer.
The AICW or commonly referred to as just the ICW which runs from Norfolk Virginia in the North to Miami Florida in the South was an idea first discussed in the early 19th century. The benefits of a protected waterway for commerce back when most goods moved by water could be huge. As with many large government projects, the time from idea to completion can span many years until the final section, the land cut behind Myrtle Beach SC opened in 1936. The route consists of a series of canals or land cuts connecting natural rivers and sounds. With the change from manmade canal to river creates a great variety of scenery for the boater traveling the length of the waterway. With Florida’s highly populated coast you pass by huge waterfront homes and pass under many bridges, more than the entire rest of the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. North bound out of Florida there is a major change as Georgia and the southern portion of South Carolina is made up of many miles of salt marsh traversed by the deep rivers connected by shallow cuts with names like Little Mud River and Hell Gate. The many creeks winding through this area are home to some of the best anchorages and that is good since marinas are far apart. Due to the shape of the coastline in this area the tides are concentrated and increase from a mere 3 feet in Florida up to an amazing 9 feet in Georgia. At high tide you can see over the miles of marsh land while at low the river banks are covered with piles of oyster shells along the mud banks. As the tidal currents flow in and out they carry large amounts of nutrient rich sediment turning the water at times to a chocolate brown, quite a change from crystal clear waters of the Bahamas. Wild life abounds in this section of the waterway as dolphins swim alongside us, as eagles perch atop the tallest trees and wading birds search for food in muddy shallows. We have even seen deer and bobcats swimming across the channel. Since the original plan was for a commerce route, the waterway passes through many historic waterfront towns such as Beaufort SC and the larger cities of Charleston and Savannah. As you travel north and east of Charleston the route parallels the coast behind the beachfront homes again and the air smells like you are at the beach. The Wacamaw River of South Carolina is yet another variation as you pass through the fresh waters of this river where the banks are lined with Bald Cypress trees covered in Spanish moss and the waters are the color of root beer. The North Carolina section has great diversity of scenery, as well, with the southern portion, again a land cut paralleling the beach, as many small inlets lead to and from the Atlantic Ocean and then north of Beaufort NC the vast waters of the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds provide for wonderful sails punctuated with peaceful anchorages. Leaving North Carolina via one of two canals will get you to Mile Zero in Portsmouth VA across from Norfolk, home to the largest US Naval base.
I uploaded the rest of the pictures from the Bahamas to the 2017 Photos page check them out!