After the passing of Hurricane Matthew, we were excited to head back to the boat and get on our way down the coast for a stopover in Beaufort. However, mother nature had different plans for us.
After arriving to St. James Marina, we took one day to unload and relax and then set off for Little River, SC. This leg of our trip was also when we would pass the Shallotte Inlet (where we ran aground) and brings up a lot of bad memories. The day we passed over the inlet, a good Samaritan in a motor boat was actually out helping boats pass the inlets due to the unknown depths since Hurricane Matthew. Thankfully there were no issues and we had at least 10 feet of depth. So, happily we cruised onto Little River thinking the effects of Hurricane Matthew were behind us and we would reach Beaufort in a couple days.
As we moved along on Thursday, we noticed that the height of the water seemed to be rather high, despite being low tide. As we passed under the Little River Bridge, the tide chart read 61 feet. The mast on our boat is 59 ft and the antenna adds another foot or so. As the day progressed we passed under two more bridges that did not have tide charts and it was SCARY. We creeped under each of them with our antenna springing off the bottom of the bridge. As we approached the Waccamaw River it was evident the flooding from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was getting out of hand. The devastation of the houses on either side the ICW leading up to the Socostee Swing Bridge was incredible. Tons of debris was floating in the water and people were kayaking around their houses which were flooded.
The tide board on the next bridge read 59.5 feet and we knew we would not be able to make it under, so we turned back. As we headed back, the water only continued to rise and we could no longer make it under the previous bridges we just passed under. The closest marina was flooded and most of the docks within this 5 mile stretch between bridges were are also flooded. So, essentially we were stuck. There were a few private docks still intact and we docked the boat and went around asking the neighbors about who owned them.
We came across Pete (ironically the name of the other man who was very generous and helpful in the Chesapeake) who allowed us to stay at his dock on the end. Once again, the pure goodness and kindness of people was shown and we again feel grateful and indebted to these sweet people we continue to meet. Jim and Debbie, two other neighbors, invited the girls to swim in their pool and us over for dinner and movies. Pete continued to check in on us and offered us a power hook up. We keep crossing paths with some of the most sincere and kind people we have ever meet. My faith in the goodness of people is constantly reinforced. I often wonder if it is luck or fate? But I will save that for another post!
For the next couple days, the flooding has only increased and actually broken the Waccamaw River record set in 1928 of 17 ft. The Socostee Swing bridge is now closed due to the flooding. It now appears it will be a week before the water recedes enough for us to make it under the bridges on the ICW, so we sit and wait like we have done so much on our cruising journey thus far.
Waiting on the boat to get fixed or waiting on mother nature to allow us safe passage is our “thing”. While at first I was frustrated and irritated at this constant stop and start motion of our cruising, it is not bad and it is teaching us the lesson of patience. At least that is my spin on our current circumstances!!