A Remote and Peaceful Thanksgiving

Edisto Beach has been a favorite destination for us ever since we first camped at Edisto Beach State Park in our Airstream. It was a perfect spot for a quiet, lovely Thanksgiving.

November 26 – 28, 2020
The Marina at Edisto Island
Days 44 – 46
Charleston to Edisto Beach

After eight fun and productive days in Charleston at the MegaDock, we were ready to go. The boat was well-stocked for our private Thanksgiving feast for four (two humans, two dogs). The weather was gorgeous: a crisp, clear and flat calm fall day. We were ready for a change of scenery.

Once you turn away from Charleston and get across the broad Ashley River and through the congested Elliott Cut, the stretch of South Carolina between Charleston and Edisto is remote and lovely. Beginning with the Stono River that wraps around John’s Island, you suddenly feel the expanse and beauty of the Carolina lowlands.

The flood tide made the sprawling creeks and marshes especially lovely, with fall colors in full display. It was a spectacular ride. We were all alone on the water. Nothing but miles of marshland and creeks, punctuated by periodic clusters of homes and long docks sticking out into the waterway. The prominent Stevens Towing Company was the sole exception, with huge tugs hauled out on the rails and large barges secured alongside.

The Stono River becomes the Wadmalaw River, where we enjoyed up to two knots of favorable current as we absorbed the views. I took a break from my normal station at the helm and worked in the galley for a bit, prepping bread and veggies for our turkey stuffing. The views as I worked were perfect. It was a very Thanksgiving sort of ride.

Things get a little tricky at Dawhoo Creek, where shallows and sifting shoals can be a challenge. It was especially so when Bruce decided to re-boot our electronics at a particularly confusing spot. I was reminded of how much we rely on our navigation systems, and how different the world was before we had the technology at or fingertips.

The infamous Watts Cut was tricky too, more shallow than we expected. With the tide at two feet and dropping, we were on alert. There was less water than we anticipated.

From Watts Cut we had the final stretch of the day’s trip, down the South Edisto River on a falling tide. It was relaxing and beautiful. The ICW southbound cuts off the South Edisto River at Fenwick Cut, across to the Ashepoo River, but we continued south towards the ocean, and turned in to Big Bay Creek just as the broad Atlantic opened up before us at the mouth of the river.

As we pulled alongside at The Marina at Edisto, there were no other boats at the facility. This was what we expected, and we were happy. While in season this is a bustling fishing mecca, we would enjoy a quiet, remote Thanksgiving. We asked for and were granted the outside slip, where we could lie alongside and have unobstructed views of the creek and the marshes that sprawled as far as the eye could see.

Once the boat was settled in, we had a pleasant walk with the pups along the quiet roads and the walking trail. This was topped off by a spectacular flybridge evening watching the river flow, the birds dive, and the porpoises feed alongside the boat. Pretty.Darn.Nice.

We had a simple supper at the marina restaurant, Pressley’s, looking right out over Esmeralde. The food wasn’t great, but the bartender was very sweet and we had a nice time. There were only two other people in the place.

The night was spectacular.
The Day Before Thanksgiving

We woke up to another crisp, clear fall morning and a beautiful sunrise. The scene could not have been more of a contrast to Charleston the day before. We thrive on the variety.

More folks were out and about as the holiday approached. There is a boat ramp at the marina, and it was quite a show watching fishing and hunting boats being launched and hauled in the fiesty current that raced perpendicular to the ramp. We measured the current flow at over two knots on our instruments, and even worried about it siphoning back through the exhaust into our engine. Fortunately that ended up not being a problem.

I made our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, with a pecan crust that has become Bruce’s favorite, then went for a beautiful run around the island which I enjoyed tremendously, and which will help with the whole Thanksgiving dinner situation.

After I got cleaned up we walked across the island to Whaley’s Restaurant, which is an essential destination for us when we are at Edisto.

Whaley’s is an icon. Housed in a former gas station and entirely nondescript inside, it has been named by Coastal Living as “one of South Carolina’s best seafood dives.” The food is actually quite good in spite of the, uh — casual — interior. But the real reason for us to visit was to say Hi to George, the oldest bartender in South Carolina.

George is a legend. He remembers us each time we visit, and we are very fond of him. He was there when we arrived, but because of a car accident a few months earlier, he is no longer tending bar. We had a lovely chat, and enjoyed a drink and some tuna nachos at the bar before wandering back to the boat.

Whaley’s, where we always go to say Hi to George.
Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving morning broke with another beautiful sunrise. I got the turkey stuffed and in the oven before we took the dogs for a pretty walk, occasionally passing other families who were out enjoying the beautiful holiday morning. Back at the boat I prepped the veggies, then we enjoyed a pleasant flybridge Thanksgiving cocktail while listening to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant – a tradition for us over the years. The turkey was smelling marvelous.

The meal was excellent and we both ate much too much for our own good. But it was a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday aboard Esmeralde.

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