February 14, 2022. The southern end of Sullivan’s Island is where the Atlantic ICW connects to the Charleston Harbor. Across the ICW is the Pitt Street Bridge with a history of its own. It was once the trolley causeway and bridge from Mount Pleasant, SC to Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms.
The original bridge, known as the “bridge of boats” was used in the Battle of 1776. It was built prior to the Revolutionary War and used in the Battle of 1776. The bridge had to be rebuilt and was finished on June 7, 1777, almost a year after the Battle of Fort Sullivan. That bridge was rebuilt by the time of the Civil War.
In 1897 the causeway and bridge were sold to a group of investors that included Dr. Joseph S. Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence vision was to bring visitors from Charleston to Mount Pleasant via ferry, where they would catch the trolley that would take them across Sullivan’s Island to a new resort on the Isle of Palms The beautiful new mahogany, electric trolleys with leather seats ran down Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island. Today as you drive down Middle Street, every crossing street is still numbered as a trolley station. When we lived on the island in the 1980s, our home sat at the corner of Station 22 1/2 and Ion Avenue. The trolleys may be long gone, but the island is as incredible as ever.
Today, the Pitt Street Bridge Park is favorite place for residents and visitors to walk, cycle, socialize, enjoy bird watching, capture beautiful sunrises and sunsets, or simply to watch the boat traffic on the ICW and Charleston Harbor. I especially enjoy going to the Old Bridge on fall and spring mornings. In the fall the “snowbird” yachts are traveling from the Northeast to Florida for the winter. In the spring those same yachts are traveling back north for the summer. From an economic impact perspective, the ICW is like an interstate highway to many coastal small towns. Many large cities also enjoy economic benefits from the ICW, but sadly, don’t seem to share the small towns appreciation for transient and leisure boaters.
Valentines Day brings back memories of the many engagement and wedding pictures I’ve witnessed taken at the Old Bridge Park. When you visit the park throughout the year, you have to wonder how many of the couples you see snuggling to watch a sunset, or sitting on a quilt having dinner and quietly talking, will become one of the couples later having engagement and wedding pictures taken at the park.
There’s a lot of history at Mount Pleasant, SC’s Pitt Street Park, and a lot of memories are still being made there. And yes, a LOT of photographs are still being made there!
Last year, due to COVID-19 we did no long distance cruising. For this year’s journey, we spent our final night at home on the boat, so we could get an early start . On July 12, 2021 at 7:01 AM we cast off from the dock, idled under the Ben Sawyer, and began CruisingTheICW north!
First stop, Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown, SC. “Slow Dance” seems happy to be cruising again! Since returning from our 2019 summer on the Chesapeake, she’s gotten a new stateroom air conditioning unit, windless, the head serviced, new generator water pump, the hull waxed and new bottom paint, beautiful new Eisenglass for the upper helm, and last but not least, the annual service of the main engine, generator, and transmission. Since 2006, the main engine and generator’s oil has been changed every 100 hours, not counting the annual service done prior to departure for our multi-week cruises. Though we didn’t put 100 hours on her during COVID-2020, we adopted the rule of service annually or every 100 hours, which ever comes first.
While it’s rare for us to spend less than two nights in Georgetown, for a variety of reasons we had to keep pushing back our departure, so Georgetown was just an overnight stop on this journey. As always, Harbormaster Chris and his crew provided excellent service and a beautifully clean facility. And added bonus, it’s hard to remember when we’ve gone into Harborwalk and not seen at least one large and beautiful yacht docked there. If you’re CruisingTheICW through South Carolina, and have never visited Georgetown, put it on your itinerary. It’s a quaint little historic town with a harbor, Southern hospitality, good restaurants, SC Maritime Museum, and shopping,
Second stop, Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, Little River, SC. Since 2017 when we began our summer CruisingTheICW north, the yacht club has been our second night’s destination. Why? Reasonable dock fees, traditionally great fuel prices, great and reasonably priced food at The Officer’s Club private dining for transients and members, and as always, an accommodating and professional crew to help with docking and most anything else we might need. Unfortunately, the The Officer’s Club is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so for the Admiral and me, there’s always next time!
Third stop, Seapath Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach, NC. When we began CruisingTheICW north in 2017, we made it a point to spend at least a couple of nights in Wrightsville Beach to visit with old friends. Sadly, an old best friend, Bruce Allcorn, the friend that always met us at the dock no matter where we stayed in Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach, passed away unexpectedly last October. This year’s visit without Bruce was tough. To know the guy was to love him. Our friendship went back over 50-years to our high school days and love of Austin Healey 3000s. At his celebration of life last May, the only person in attendance to have known him longer than me, was his older brother. Memories, so many memories.
Seapath Yacht Club is only a couple of hundred yards “off the ICW,” with limited transient slips, but a quiet, sheltered place to overnight. Their new shower facility has to be one the newest and nicest on the ICW. Another plus is their proximity to some of the finest dining in Wrightsville Beach. For many reasons, Wrightsville Beach will forever be on our northbound cruise itinerary.
Next stop, the new Town Docks at Swansboro, NC. In years past, we visited Swansboro by car, and a couple of years we stopped by the town docks for Kate the Mate’s “nature call.” When I recently read that reservations could now be made for overnights at the docks, we decided to overnight there instead of having such a long day getting to Beaufort. While walking around Swansboro that afternoon, we stopped by the visitors center and learned the town is in the process of putting in shower baths and a washer and dryer for transients’ use, in the Swansboro Visitors Center. While the visitors center is not adjacent to the docks, the new facilities will be no further away than those of some other marinas we’ve visited. It’s great to see small towns like Swansboro welcoming ICW transient boaters. To many, the ICW is their “intrastate highway.”
On to Beaufort, our first multi-night stop this summer. In 2018, our departure from home was scheduled around getting us to Beaufort in time for the Admiral to celebrate her July 4th birthday there. This year it was scheduled around getting her to Beaufort in time to enjoy Saturday’s Farmer’s Market! I’m happy to say we made it.
Like Georgetown, Beaufort is a favorite stopping point for large yachts, and this year was no exception. As we entered the Beaufort harbor, the 142′ superyacht, “MISSING LINK” could not be missed. Owned by Jack Link, of America’s #1 Jerky Brand, “MISSING LINK” was designed and built by US builder, Christensen Shipyards at their Vancouver shipyard. The yacht’s interior was designed by Carol Williamson and Associates.
On the right of the photograph is “MISSING LINK,” and on the left is “Slow Dance.” “MISSING LINK” travels with an Invincible center console launch that is the approximate length of “Slow Dance.” It can be seen perpendicular on the other side of the dock between “MISSING LINK” and “Slow Dance.”
We first “discovered”Beaufort when my parents bought a little place on Harker’s Island, a short distance from Beaufort. When visiting the island, Beaufort was where we went for dinner and shopping. Today, we enjoy Beaufort Town Docks, but it’s not the only marina in Beaufort. When staying there, we can walk or cycle most anywhere around town. But, others we’ve met while cruising swear by Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina, the full service Town Creek Marina, and the new Beaufort Yacht Basin.
What to do in Beaufort. Having spent my career in the travel industry, I’m about the worst tourist you will ever meet. We love to travel, but when we visit a destination, we enjoy getting local input on things to do. While rarely do we visit every attraction and museum in the local visitors’ guide! But, in Beaufort, there are some things I’d encourage doing.
Water tours ~ there is a myriad of water tours offered in Beaufort. Though I’ve never taken one, but I would encourage a visitor to Beaufort or Morehead City to take two specific water tours, (1) a tour that takes you to Cape Lookout Lighthouse, (2) a tour that takes you to the 5,400 acre Rachel Carson Coastal Equestrian Preserve or the Shackleford Banks to see the beautiful wild horses in their natural habit.
For detailed information about the many reasons to visit Beaufort, Morehead City, and all the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, visit the Crystal Coast of NC.