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HHPYC Cruise to St Catherine's - Not!

The Hilton Head Plantation Yacht Club planned a cruise at the end of March to St. Catherine’s Island, GA, with side trips to Sunbury Crab Co. and other ports of call. We should have known better; things started to go awry.

At the outset, there was a possibility we would have 7-8 boats with perhaps 20 crew members aboard, but, for a variety of reasons, a couple of the boats dropped out early (other commitments, equipment problems, and the like). The trip began to gel with 5 boats and 16 people, reservations were made, and provision lists were prepared. Then, a Notice to Mariners popped up to the effect that the Caulston Bluff Bridge in Savannah was inoperable (and still is as of this writing). The bridge is a double bascule design and has been problematic for several years. (A replacement fixed 65’ bridge is scheduled to be operable in 2023.) When closed, the current bridge height is reported to be 21’, with a little extra in the middle of the span. Some boats can get under when the bridge is closed, but not sailboats. So, to get to St. Catherine’s, the weather has to be good to go “outside” on the ocean. The forecast was not good, so cruise plans were altered to go the other direction and head to Beaufort, SC. While not as far or as exiting an adventure, Beaufort still is a nice cruising destination. At that point, one of the other boats pulled out, so we were down to 4 boats and 12 people.

Unfortunately, one crew member fell off a ladder and was hospitalized, so we lost another boat and 4 crew. At the last minute, another two crew members dropped out because of cold symptoms, which turned into COVID likely picked up from international travel. Oh, well, 3 boats and 6 people still make a cruise, right? The plan at that point was to go to Mackay Creek to anchor a couple of nights, and then sail to Beaufort for a day and night on the town. The weather had other ideas, with winds forecast to be gusting to 40 knots and heavy rain. Rather than get beat up on the docks, the trip was shortened to just the Mackay Creek leg. Then, after the first night, one of the three boats headed back to port because of the cold. That left two boats, four people, a rambunctious dog, an elderly cat, and a bunch of “boat projects” discovered in the course of the little cruise that wasn’t.

We had fun and can’t wait to do it again, perhaps able to resort to the original plan, but who knows? Boating can be like that and we like to say “our plans are written in the sand”.

Article Courtesy of Van Schwiebert Vice Commodore HHPYC

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