Low Country – Georgetown, SC

We are now in “Low Country”, northern Lowcountry to be specific. South Carolina is considered deep South and is very different from North Carolina.

Floating water hyacinths

Floating water hyacinths – do they like the fresh water here, just a little away from the salty ICW?

During our approach to Georgetown on the Winyah River and then the Sampit River, there were floating clusters of this plant. We hadn’t seen that before and were quite curious about what it was, especially after hearing about the duckweed problem in Dismal Swamp. We knew it couldn’t be duckweed, but pondered whether it was kudzu or not. Google to the rescue once again. I think it is  a water hyacinth plant.

We anchored in Georgetown’s tiny waterway. It is very narrow because there are derelict boats abandoned between the docks on one side and the island on the other.  But we found some space and let the Rocna anchor do its thing.   There was enough time to dinghy to shore and walk around Georgetown – scout it out. It was a very quiet Monday, and most things were closed already (It was 5:30 -6:00).

View of Georgetown from our anchor

View of Georgetown from our anchor

Our view of the shrimp boats

Our view of the shrimp boats

Georgetown is South Carolina’s third oldest city (1729) and became a hub for transferring market goods/produce from plantations and supplies back to the plantations, mostly by the waterways of the rivers that meet there – Waccamaw, Black, and Pee Dee Rivers. By the 1840s this area produced half of the rice consumed in the United States. Here’s another film tidbit – The Patriot (with Mel Gibson) was filmed in Georgetown. His character, Benjamin Martin, was a mash- up of several Revolutionary War figures, Francis Marion (“Swamp Fox”), Daniel Morgan, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens; and of course, the film embellished and exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend.

Georgetown has a small town feeling to it, with tree-lined streets. It was obvious that Georgetown welcomes transient boaters through its services, tours, and information. The most obvious welcome was the nice big sign for their dinghy dock. Some ports try to challenge you to find their dinghy dock if they even have one! The people were so friendly that we spent time just chatting with them at each place we stopped whether it was a bookstore, museum, gallery, bakery  or just a street corner. I really like that South Carolina accent.

Although it says "no overnight docking", the docks clearly for dinghies with lots of space.

Although it says “no overnight docking”, these docks were for dinghies and had plenty of space.

Back on September 25th we had heard through the cruisers’ net that there was a fire on Georgetown docks.  It had destroyed 7 buildings dating back to the mid-1800’s in the shopping and dining district, including a restaurant, bookstore, and florist among others.

Georgetown waterfront fire scene, two months later

Georgetown waterfront fire scene, two months later

Georgetown fire scene

Georgetown fire scene

The town is already planning to rebuild and restore the historic buildings. The old bricks with all of their charm are being stacked on pallets to be reused.

Georgetown is a great little city for walking around.

Georgetown is a great little city for walking around.

The county and city landmark is the Clock Tower (1842), visible from anywhere in the city. There is a clock face on all four sides.

Georgetown Clock Tower

Georgetown Clock Tower

A view from below

A view from below

We took a guided tour of the Rice Museum (in the same building as the Clock Tower), and learned quite a bit about the rice plantations-  very labor intensive, but evidently quite profitable in their time, hence the name “Carolina gold.”

The Rice Museum door. At one time this building also served as a jail.

The Rice Museum door. At one time this building also served as a jail.

Herb garden along the side of the Rice Museum. I bought parsley plants in the Museum's gift shop.

Herb garden along the side of the Rice Museum. I bought parsley plants in the Museum’s gift shop.

The shelves of old plantation and market ledgers

The shelves of old plantation and market ledgers

I was quite surprised that they allowed us to handle the old ledgers from the plantations and market.  It’s actually a thrill to be able to touch something old and not view it behind glass.

A ledger from 1896

A ledger from 1896

The third floor of the museum houses the skeleton of America’s oldest known vessel, the Brown’s ferry vessel, a 50-foot, 18th century all-purpose freighter. It was a sailing vessel but could also be rowed or pushed when necessary. They removed the roof of the museum to get the skeleton inside. that’s commitment.

"Skeleton" of the Browns Ferry Vessel

“Skeleton” of the Browns Ferry Vessel

Reconstructed model of the vessel

Reconstructed model of the vessel

The Rice Museum’s gift shop was more like a gallery with locally made crafts and art, as well as rice and preserves. I carefully considered what might be a memento of this region and chose a small sweetgrass basket and a clothes pin “Gullah angel” doll representing hope. She comes with a poem about the four sisters (Joy, Love, Peace, Hope) in English and in Gullah. I think she will make a lovely tree ornament.

Low Country treasures - Small sweetgrass basket and a Gullah angel doll

Low Country treasures – Small sweetgrass basket and a Gullah angel doll

Georgetown has many restaurants. Unfortunately, the one we really wanted to try was closed when we got there, 🙁 so we tried the River House instead.  Our goal was to have some local foods – my first shrimp and grits! Tasty, but pretty heavy in the tummy.

The River Room along the waterfront boardwalk

The River Room along the waterfront boardwalk

Shrimp and grits in the front and Barbecue in the back

Shrimp and grits in the front and Barbecue in the back

Keeping with food thread here, we were told to try the Kudzu Bakery’s rum cake by our friends, Tom and Joyce (in Oriental). The emphasis is definitely on the rum!

~Kudzu Bakery front door ~ Kudzu Bakery outdoor terrace ~ and the rum cake!

~Kudzu Bakery front door
~ Kudzu Bakery outdoor terrace
~ and the rum cake!

Georgetown is worth a visit. We never even had time to take any of the tours which also sounded interesting. Downside of the day – I dropped my camera. Just a little drop, but evidently enough to kill it without even a blemish on the outside. So now we face the cruiser’s dilemma again – no car to go shopping, no electronic stores in the harbors or anchorages, and no way I can be without a camera, amateur though I am. Don’t expect much of a blog for the next few days—the iPhone camera just isn’t as good as my little Canon was.

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