Many Moons has extended her stay in the small town of Darien, Ga. in the salt-marsh tide-creek ecosystem, as this coastal region is called. The other Looping boat near us has done the same. We’ve entered days of projected rain and winds, with conditions worse north of us. Weather delays are expected on The Loop. So, we explore as the skies permit and otherwise hunker down and study — that is, study the tides (and related strong currents) of the region, especially given our eventful arrival. It’s an 8-foot tide here, and at times that translates to an 8mph current – same speed as our boat. This aspect of Georgia and South Carolina is known to challenge unwary boaters. The effect on a boat’s movement is even stronger than the strong currents of the Ohio River. A boat that came in recently during similar conditions as us ran into the yacht parked behind us, breaking their windows as they collided with the yacht’s anchor. (Maybe its skipper didn’t have Jeff’s boat-handling skills. The 1st mate probably didn’t jump to the dock either!)
There’s a kind of ongoing debate regarding The Great Loop: How much should you try to learn in advance, and how much “on-the-go?” Ideally, you find a good balance. The new Looper near us stops by regularly to discuss weather apps, which I also did early in our trip. Right now, the bigger concern is those swirling currents that we watch change from hour to hour (sometimes minute-to-minute) alongside our boat. I feel the need to consult the on-line experts about what lies ahead, while Jeff prefers to consult local experts in person. Both wise, but you can’t ask locals until you’ve already arrived. (He also learns best by doing, but that often involves a “yikes” the first time, at least for me!) I’m remembering the variety of learning styles that I studied, post-retirement, while becoming a Licensed Unity Teacher. It helps me give room for both his style and mine.
So I’m considering what other app or website or Facebook Page I need to watch that focuses on the waterways ahead of us — because this tidal challenge will continue north, as boaters are warned. I’m also listening to a “Looper Radio” podcast about how to navigate it successfully. For example, we should always try to dock during slack tide (we learned that one coming in here), and avoid travel during a falling tide (pretty sure we blew that, but our shallow draft helps), and the slack after low tide lasts longer than after a high tide (as we learned yesterday when we moved the boat). I enjoy learning – about almost anything new – but it can be daunting when both comfort and safety are at stake.
It helps to break things up. Before the rain commenced and all the learning re-commenced, we had time for some leisurely exploring in and around town and time for Jeff to undertake the small but necessary maintenance projects. Photos and captions below. (Next, I look forward to finishing a book I brought along, which is unrelated to boating and currents!)