ICW Sailing (in Beaufort, SC)

As someone who takes pride in “delivering what I promise”, I struggle with changing plans.

Sailing off the South Carolina coast with 11-month old Zephyr

We set out from Charleston on a bit of a rough note — I thought it was slack but there was clearly still current running, so we very nearly, *nearly* slammed into our neighbor (I had to ask Jon if we’d hit, cuz it was sooooo close, and Michael, the owner of that very-nice-boat-I-almost-hit-at-5am shouted, “Bravo!” when I finally got us turned and facing the right way!), only to get out of the Charleston Inlet in the pitch black and into a big lumpy mess of a seastate, rolling us gunwhale to gunwhale while Zephyr protested and we wondered why we were so eager to leave the dock…

Changing baby diapers while underway - daddy duty on a little sailboat

Find a man who will change diapers by headlamp while underway, and hold onto him with everything you’ve got

We’d been so set on leaving Charleston and heading off overnight, that we’d never really looked at everything in between. But as we rocked and rolled and tried to reassure Z that his world would one day stop rolling again, the futility of continuing to choose to be out there hit us.

Sailing with a baby on a little cruising sailboat

There were all sorts of interesting options in between! And anyways, why were we trying to get to Florida??

We purposely never set a “destination” for our winter down south, other than somewhere that wouldn’t snow on us. This was intentional because I knew that if we said “Florida” or “the Bahamas” or “South Carolina”, I’d feel a huge responsibility to follow through on what we said (and after eight years of boat ownership, I should know better!).

Sunrise out the porthole on NorWest 33

But there are strange sorts of competition and stigma that exist around cruising — people breathlessly taking in our smaller boat and miniature crew-member, gasping “are you going to the islands?” with wide eyes (and I did, in fact, want to sail to the Bahamas)… But I never wanted to say we were going there in case something came up and we couldn’t end up sailing there.

Which it did, of course. And somehow the little decision to change our plans from sailing overnight to Florida to just popping back in to the ICW felt symbolic of our whole winter…

Charleston to Beaufort, SC on the outside - not quite the most efficient route

So long story short, I’m still working on accepting that not everything has to happen this year, and it’s okay to adapt plans to meet your circumstances.

Nor'West 33 Sailboat at Anchor in South Carolina

We’re cruising with an 11-month old, on a 33′ sailboat, working around a full-time corporate job schedule.

Boat baby underway in the cockpit

Flexibility is key.

Thankfully Brio doesn’t mind a change of plans, so we found a great little inlet (South Edisto Island) and jybed back towards shore, settled the motion, and had a freaking awesome downwind sleigh ride right back into our beloved ICW.

Say what you will — I know some people hate the ICW (“the ditch”) — but I love it. You can sail (if you’re up for some active sailing!), you can anchor every night, you can see every mile of this beautiful coast… and you don’t have to rock and roll and stress about night watches and baby happiness.

Dolphins at sunset while cruising on a Nor'West 33

Dolphins heralded our entry into the ICW, the golden sun set with a pod leaping around our anchored boat, and we slept peacefully with not another soul in sight.

Sailing with a baby in his Salus lifejacket in the cockpit with weathercloths upAnd then the next morning, we had one of those picture-perfect days; cruising wing-on-wing at 5-6 knots in a 10-12 knot breeze, sun sparkling, tunes cranked in the cockpit, Zephyr happily pointing out birds and boats and points of interest on land…

Nor'West 33 sailing wing-on-wing down the ICW - who says you can't sail in the ICW?

This is why I love sailing,” I whispered to Jon, “and I’m so thankful we changed our plans.”




ICW Sailing (in Beaufort, SC) — 4 Comments

  1. Love this post. Bonnie and I were stuck in Neah Bay for a week waiting for a weather window to turn left and start our adventure. Finally got sick of waiting ang headed out. Left around midnight got blasted by wind, huge swells ended up with our tail between our legs heading back to Neah bay and the safety of our anchorage. Smooth sailing. Kevin

    • Haha Mother Nature is intent on some of her lessons, isn’t she?? We’re planning to be in BC this summer so will have to try to connect and introduce you to the new crew at some point 🙂 Any “Kist II’s” in the works??

  2. Love this – so much of life is discovering what we really enjoy – even if it wasn’t what we thought! Kudos to you for having the courage to change plans (and I suppose a huge lumpy sea helps a lot!) – and have more enjoyment than than you expected to. Sending you well-being 🙂

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