The ICW through Georgia is a series of shallow creeks and wide open inlets. They have to be carefully planned with respect to the 7 foot tides and the strong current, and navigated with the help of ranges and navigational aids, which sometimes make liars of the chartplotter. Some people choose to avoid all of Georgia by taking an outside run to Hilton Head, South Carolina. But the weather was stormy and the winds strong and very unfavourable for our northerly direction of travel. Also, we were keen to see Cumberland Island and Savannah. For these we were prepared to endure the three days winding our way up serpentine marshy creeks through muddy brown waters. As it turned out, we enjoyed it!
We are ahead of the general northern migration of boats who travel yearly south for the winter. It is a quiet time of the year. We are alone on the ICW most of the time, except for dolphins and birds, which we saw aplenty. Ospreys and bald eagles, egrets and herons, gulls and terns, either perched or fishing in the creeks beside us, marked each mile. When we are not bird watching, we gawk at the beautiful homes and mansions along the way.
We were favoured by both time and tide in Georgia. Many creeks are shoaled up in the channel so you need a high or at least rising tide to pass through them. As luck had it, while we traversed Georgia high tide occurred mid-day so we had the best part of the day to get though all the tricky sections. As a result we put in a couple of 10 hour travel days so, after Cumberland, we only spent one night anchored up New Teakettle Creek in the marshes.
The night was calm, the surroundings pleasant, the sunset spectacular. As was the sunrise. I was hoping to see an alligator but no such luck! I did see a family of raccoons skitter up the low-tide mud bank just before dawn, and an otter swim across the creek next to us and hop out on the bank. It reminded us of “Wind in the Willows” and Ratty’s emphatic declaration to Mole:
“Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
We were also helped out by favourable currents most of the time in Georgia, so made a respectable average speed. Of course the reverse was true when we got to South Carolina – the high tides were early morning or late evening, requiring careful planning and broken days through shallow sections, and we had current against us most of the way.
The creek anchorages are pleasant though the current rips through so you need plenty of swing room as it will swing you around. We anchored near a dolphin hole up pretty Bull Creek after Beaufort in South Carolina. The evening was serene….until a couple of tour boats from Hilton Head came through, with running commentary over loudspeakers – they were taking tourists to see the “quiet” marshes and dolphins!
You can’t win them all. After a couple of near-prefect weather days while travelling through Georgia, we ran into strong wind (20-25 knots), rain and storms in South Carolina. It was even cold enough for us to bring out an extra blanket and wear our woollies and foul-weather jackets. We were not the only ones feeling the weather. Even the birds looked bedraggled!
Despite that we have enjoyed meandering through these creeks and inlets in the south. We enjoy the daily sightings of dolphins and eagles, and watching pelicans and terns dip and dive.
View our photo journal for Creeks and Inlets in Georgia and South Carolina.
View Tai Chi: Journey 2012 in a larger map