Savannah to Charleston


A Rally for Classic Boats


April 28 – May 3, 2006

If you are interested, contact Woody at or call 404-352-9536


This is the second annual Savannah to Charleston Rally for Classic Boats. Our fleet will range in size from a 22 foot Marshall Cat to a 15 foot Melonseed Skiff and will include Herreshoff 12.5s (16 feet LOA), a Cape Dory Typhoon (19 feet LOA, and a Marshall Cat 18. By “classic” for purposes of this event we mean boats that were designed before 1970 and were intended to be cruising, training, or working boats rather than around-the-buoys racing craft. Most of the participating boats are of modern production and may use modern materials, such as fiberglass, but they have the hull lines, full-length shallow keels and rigs of boats popular in a by-gone era. This is not intended to be a hard and fast exclusionary definition; rather, this is an attempt to define the general spirit of the fleet. On the ICW, as a practical matter, boats drawing more than three feet in depth can have problems in certain places at low tide due to silting. This limitation alone suggests that this would not be a practical journey for larger craft with deep, high aspect ratio, keels.


In this adventure, which is on the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW), tidal currents play an important role. Most of the way, tidal currents run 2 to 4 kts in speed. The adventure schedule is timed to take maximum advantage of tides running favorable directions. On a typical day we will be heading, essentially, inland, or up a river, with the morning incoming tide, and then use the out flowing afternoon tide as we turn in the direction of our destination in the afternoon.


We will be dependent on the kind and generous hospitality of the Savannah Yacht Club for launching and Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston for hauling out. There may be charges for using these facilities that will need to sent, by the clubs, to the participant’s home yacht club. Participants not having billing support from their home yacht club may use another participant’s facility with an agreement to reimburse. There will also be charges at the marinas for nightly tie-ups ranging from $20 to $50. Each participant will plan and provide for daily provisions of water, lunch, and snacks.


At the center of the rally is the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club (BYSC). Many of the participants will sail down to the southern tip of Parris Island to rendezvous with the participants starting in Savannah at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon, April 29, and the fleet will sail back to Beaufort together, docking at BYSC for the night. Participants will be shuttled across the Beaufort River to the Carriage Court dock (895 Ribaut Road) where they will be given a cocktail reception starting at 6 PM and going until about 8 PM. Shuttle service will be provided by Joe Bennett in his Hinckley 29R runabout.


The following day, Sunday, is Classic Boat Day at BYSC, and our fleet is the focus of attention. This is a day for R&R (repairs and recuperation) but is also a day when participants can expand the appreciation of classic boats to the rest of the BYSC membership. In addition, BYSC will be having its usual Spring Series races in club fleets, but they will also give us, as participants, our own start for a race around the buoys. I think you’ll find this fun and rewarding.


Weather can alter our plans. Although the end of April and early May are typically wonderful times to be sailing in this territory, there can be occasional thunderstorms and frontal-related high winds. Each participant will make his own decision each day whether to sail, and the organizers do not take responsibility for these individual decisions. Those not sailing on a particular day (and this might mean the entire fleet) may have to reach the day’s destination by hauling out and trailering to it. Boats too big to trailer may use their engines to reach the destination. To get a feel for the likely weather conditions, go to and click on the zip code 29902 for Beaufort. Use the 10-day (outlook) option.


Each morning will start with a Participants’ Meeting during which the weather and the course and the plans for the day will be discussed. Following this meeting, we will rig up and prepare to start. The exact timing of the start will be determined by the wind and tidal conditions. If the wind is strong we can start a bit later than shown on the schedule. The key will be timing the start to hit the daily tidal changes at the proper time. The smaller boats may depart ahead of the larger or faster ones so that all will reach the tide breaks at about the same time.


Contact among the participants will be by VHF radio. Navigation will be by chart or GPS or both, and compass, and each participant is expected to have appropriate navigational aids and the skills to use them. In addition, the following safety equipment should be on board:

  • A working engine
  • A paddle, oar, or other means to propel the boat other than sail or engine
  • Life jacket for each person on board
  • A throwable floatation cushion or ring kept in the cockpit for use in the event of a Man Overboard (MOB) incident
  • A functional water pump
  • A suitable anchor with chain and rode totaling at least 100 feet
  • A noise maker or fog horn that can be heard from a long distance


Each participant must know the height of the rig on his boat. There are two low bridges (one near Savannah and one near Charleston) that could be require the bridge to open for boats having rigs over 21 feet high. Participants need to be knowledgeable about bridge opening protocol.


At the end of this adventure (Wednesday, May 3, we will have a “Victory Celebration” in Charleston as a “Dutch treat” event. Time and location to be announced. But if you are a participant for only part of the way, please plan to come to Charleston for this celebration. Plan to spend the night there so you can relax and enjoy the party without having to worry about a long drive home. Most of us will haul out Thursday, May 4.


Following is the day-by-day detail.

Thursday, April 27: Meet at Savannah Yacht Club to rig up and launch and check out equipment and systems.


Friday, April 28: Participants’ Meeting at SYC at 8:30. Depart docks at 9 AM. About 2 nautical miles (nm) to Thunderbolt Bridge on the Wilmington River. High tide at Thunderbolt Bridge is at 9:45 AM. After Thunderbolt Bridge, pass Bonaventure Cemetery (on port side) made famous by the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. After Thunderbolt Bridge, another 2 nm gets us to Vornado Bridge with a 21 foot vertical clearance at high tide. Another 4 nm get us to the Savannah River. In the approach, stay right and look for new Coast Guard red buoys indicating silting on the left. Cross the Savannah River and enter Fields Cut, going another 3 NM to Walls Cut which will take us, with an adverse tide, to New River. Go up the Ramshorn Creek. Another 3 MN gets us to the Cooper River, with Daufuskie Island on the right. On Cooper River, go 3.5 miles to Calibogue Sound. Cross the Sound 1 nm to Harbour Town. We will announce our arrival by VHF, and Harbour Town will send out a tender to guide us to our overnight tie-up. Total distance about 18.5 NM.


Saturday, April 29: Participants’ Meeting at Harbour Town docks at 7:30 AM. Depart dock at 8 AM to take advantage of the last if the incoming tide. High tide is at 9:13. We will sail along Hilton Head’s west coast 8 NM to Skull Creek Marina. We will await there until the proper time to cross the Port Royal Sound. Port Royal Sound is open to the Atlantic Ocean and can particularly choppy in a southeast wind with an outgoing tide. Our objective is to rendezvous with the Beaufort boats at 3:30 PM at the south end of Parris Island. It is 2 NM from Skull Creek Marina to Port Royal Sound and 3.3 NM across the Sound to the tip end of Parris Island. We will give wide berth to the south tip of Parris Island as it is deceptively shallow near the tip. From the tip end of Parris Island it is 7.4 NM to BYSC (total for the day 20.7 NM). De-rig and come across the river, dressed as you are, to the Carriage Court dock (895 Ribaut Road), in Joe’s Hinckley. The Carriage Court residents will be dressed in their classic yachting attire. Party until about 8 PM. Your ground crew can meet you there and are fully invited to be part of the fun times.


Sunday, April 30: This is a lay day in the adventure. At BSYC it is Classic Boat Day. Some of us may have to use the morning to retrieve our trailers from Savannah.  There is a West Marine in town on Ribaut Road for equipment and repair materials if needed. Around noon we’ll all plan to meet at the club. Members there may be interested in your boat, You are invited to take an active interest in expanding the appreciation of classic boats if you wish, but this is not required. Our “fleet” will be given a start in the around-the-buoys race in the afternoon. This is not a serious race for us but could be a good opportunity to sharpen your skills at starting, boat handling, and competing in a pack. Sunday night the boats may be kept at the BYSC dock.


Monday, May 1: Participants’ Meeting at 9:30 AM at BYSC. Departure from the dock at 10 AM. We will sail with the incoming tide about 9 NM to the Brickyards, where the Beaufort River meets the Coosaw River. High tide at the Brickyards is 12:33 PM. With the ebbing tide we will sail down the Coosaw 9.5 NM to the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff. Taking the A-C cutoff, we will sail 1.4 NM to Rock Creek and then another 1 NM on Rock Creek when it again becomes the A-C cutoff for another 1.5 NM to reach the Ashepoo River. We sail 1.5 miles on the Ashepoo River to Fenwick Cut, and we take the 0.3 NM Fenwick Cut to the South Edisto River. On the Edisto we go right, with the outflowing tide 4.5 NM to Big Bay Creek. Giving plenty of room to the shoals on the left, we come around and go about 0.5 NM up Big Boy Creek to the Edisto Marina. Low tide at Edisto Marina is 5:28 PM. Total distance for the day is about 32 NM.


Tuesday, May 2: Participant’s Meeting at Edisto Marina dock, 8:30 AM. Depart dock at 9 AM. Low tide here has happened at 6:15 AM, so we may need to motor down to the 0.5 NM to the South Edisto River. We will sail back to Fenwick Cut (about 4.5 NM) but stay on the South Edisto another 6 NM to Watt Cut. Watt Cutt is about 4 NM, leading to the Dawho River. This will be a total 15 NM to this point, and high tide here is at 1:40 PM. On the Dawho we will sail 2.3 NM to the North Edisto, turn right, and sail with the ebbing tide 4.5 NM to Bohicket Creek. As with the Edisto Marina, we need to swing wide to the right before turning up to the left into the creek. It is about 3.5 NM up Bohicket Creek to the Marina. As low tide is 6:24 PM we will be sailing against the tide on this last leg to the Marina. Use motors if needed. Total distance for the day is 25.3 NM.


Wednesday, May 3: Participants’ Meeting 8:30 AM. Depart the dock at about 9 AM. Low tide was at 7:22 AM, so we will do the first 3.5 NM down Bohicket Creek in an adverse tide. It is likely we will use our motors for this initial stretch. When we reach the North Edisto we will hoist sail with the incoming tide and sail the 4.5 NM back to the Dawho, but we will stay on the North Edisto until it feeds into the Stono River. From where we pass the Dawho, we sail 13 NM, passing Church flats where there is a tide break, to the John Limehouse Bridge. This is a low bridge. Last year our H-12 passed under it with no problem. Boats with rigs taller than 16 feet might have to get the bridge to open. The bridge operator might open it on request, or he might make you wait until his required times which are every twenty minutes starting on the top of the hour. High tide here is at 2:59 PM. From the bridge, another 7 NM gets us to the famous Elliott Cut (known locally as “Wapoo Cut” because it feeds into the Wapoo River). This is probably the narrowest place we will encounter on this trip, and the tide rips along at about 4 kts. Fortunately the tide will be with us and will take us rapidly the 2.8 NM to the Ashley River and the entrance to Charleston Harbor. We will sail 3 NM around the south end of Charleston, off the “Battery”, and up the Cooper River along East Bay Street to Carolina Yacht Club. ETA is about 4 PM. Total distance 34 NM. We will de-rig, but unless you have persuaded your ground crew to bring your trailer up from Beaufort, you’ll leave your boat in the water overnight and haul out the next day. We will have a celebratory dinner in Charleston Wednesday evening at a place to be announced, Dutch treat.