Who says the AICW is just for passing through?
by Graham Jones - August 5, 2016
I was fortunate to spend 7 days in Myrtle Beach this past week on a family vacation, and guess what? I brought my boat. And one that I can get around quick in! Never transiting this stretch of the ICW (MM 346 to 354), I did my research but wasn’t sure what I was getting into.
I kept the boat at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club and was overwhelmed with southern hospitality. It's no wonder the reviews from transients are outstanding. I kept my 23’ center console in their beautiful marina, where every slip has water, power, and pump-out. I had easy access to the inlet (I like to fish) and cruising the waterway and exploring beaches, restaurants, and scenery.
This 23-foot Pro-Line center console allows me to have some fun on the water that big boats would not be able to easily do in the narrow dredged channel. Plus, I get the dual purpose fishing vessel AND the enjoyable cruising with outdoor seating for 6-8 people.
My plan was to set out exploring the Little River Inlet, and get a feel for the tides and fishing opportunities along the jetties. And then use the boat as an opportunity to take the family southbound to Barefoot Landing and water-side restaurants to add an extra special touch to the vacation (that only a boat can offer). Also, it got us away from some of the large beach crowds
While I didn’t have much luck fishing (tough in the summer heat) other than one small redfish, and a skate (caught from the shore), my eyes were opened to a new area on the water. North Myrtle is as busy as gets from about mile marker 342 to 349. Jet ski rentals are like little gnats in the summer. These vessels are spinning everywhere in the channel, making navigation pretty difficult. Along with no-wake zones every 150 feet, the commotion can be a bit much. But that only lasted on the weekend and for a small stretch. Once you got past mile 349 heading south, the ICW is as calm, smooth and quiet as expected.
This stretch of the ICW offers plenty of scenery, facilities and activities. Myrtle Beach Yacht Club has a number of full-time cruisers who have stopped in for the night and stayed for years. That says something! Their pool is spectacular for those hot South Carolina summers, and the dockage rate and fuel prices are extremely reasonable!
I chose to take the boat down to Barefoot Marina for one evening so we could experience Barefoot Landing. Barefoot Landing is a large shopping / restaurant area, not made for transient over-nights but for $10 you can tie-up there for as long as you’d like. Barefoot Marina was great… easy access and was directed in even with an after-hours arrival. Oh, and I forgot to mention they had a courtesy golf cart to take us to dinner:
All-in-all, time flies when you’re having fun but being able to get out on the water makes it even better. Most of the long range cruisers out there look at this section of the ICW as a transit-only area... and while it offers some great facilities for a few nights, my suggestion: stay a few days longer, there’s a lot going on!