Daufuskie Island

From Beaufort, we made the 30nm run to an anchorage off Daufuskie Island. We generally bypass this section of the ICW in favor of an outside run to avoid “problem areas” along the ICW. “Problem area” generally indicates skinny water. If I may digress a bit, perhaps I can shed some light on what skinny water means for cruisers.

Some Cruising Strategy

There are sections of the ICW that are notorious for shallow areas, and due to federal and state budgetary choices that have more focus on social programs than infrastructure, these problem areas  continue to expand, some to the extent that the AICW is impassable in all but high tide at many spots. Transiting those areas must be done at high tide to minimize the potential for grounding. Because Maerin is constructed with a full keel, our running gear is protected, so we can ride up on an unanticipated sand bar with little or no consequence. That said, there’s no time that a grounding is desired except in dire situations, so we never intend to ground, and, knock wood, we’ve never “hard grounded” where we had to wait for an incoming tide or be towed to deeper water. Still, transiting skinny water is nerve wracking for any cruiser, no exception here! We’re currently in the SC/GA area, where tides are in the 5-6 ft. range at the NC-SC border, and closer to 9 ft. in GA, so the skinny water issue becomes very significant since we can transit areas at high tide that would be bare at low! The online cruising guides we frequent have up-to-date postings of all the problem areas, ActiveCaptain has user-posted notes that range from accurate-useful (generally posted by experienced cruisers) to superfluous-annoying (generally posted by first-timers- ex: “SHOALING!! – Depths reported of 2’MLW (mean low water) outside channel.” Uhm, 1) why are you outside the channel?- and 2) why do you feel compelled to report that it’s shallow there?? OF COURSE IT IS!! STAY IN THE CHANNEL!! That information is not useful, just clutter. End rant. Yes, we were first-timers too at one time, but ActiveCaptain was in its infancy then. Still, all valuable information, one just needs to filter the clutter!


Our afternoon arrival at Daufuskie Island was planned to allow us to make the short run to Savannah the following day. Positioning ourselves here allowed us to depart at the best time to take advantage of a rising tide, giving us plenty of water to comfortably transit the shallow areas through Fields Cut as well as riding the flood tide up the Savannah River. The currents in the river reverse every 6 hours, and they ebb at almost 5 kts, so traveling against the current can give us a speed over ground (SOG) of our cruise speed of 6.8 kts. less whatever the current is flowing- a net SOG of around 2 kts. Much better to time our transit to a flood current for a net SOG of around 9 kts. No point in burning fuel to counter all that current! The planned layover gave us an opportunity to do a bit of exploring of Daufuskie Island.

Daufuskie Island

We anchored about 3/4 nm. up New River, deep and protected, and a short dinghy ride to Daufuskie Landing where there is a public ramp and dock. Daufuskie Island is about 5 miles at its longest and about 2.5 miles at its widest. It is a residential sea island, home to private communities, scores of vacation rentals, a resort open to the public, and four golf courses as well as public and undeveloped lands. There are about 250 full time residents. Travel around the island is primarily via golf cart with some vehicles. It’s a beautiful spot steeped in history, home of many Gullah residents over the years, and a regular vacation destination for South Carolina and beyond. Since the general store was closed during our visit, we weren’t able to rent a cart to do any long range touring, so we walked the area close to the landing, noting it in our log as a good spot to revisit and spend some time.

We departed Wednesday mid-morning on a rising tide, destination Savannah. We arrived shortly after noon, a short cruise helped by a flooding current that gave us a nice boost in our speed to about 8.5 kts. Free propulsion!

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