“Where do you think they will come back up again, Dad?”
The question came from my 7-year-old son as he leaned over the edge of our kayak to peer into the slate-dark waters of Lucy Creek near Beaufort.
We were on a pre-dawn paddle from the creek out into the Coosaw River and St. Helena Sound, and a small pod of dolphins had broken the surface of the water as the yellow light of a rising sun began to peek through the tall pines on Coosaw Island. A swirl of water and a sudden rush of spray-filled air revealed the sleek, efficient presence of the dolphins once more, and, as pointed dorsal fins again disappeared below the surface, I knew that the effort of crawling out of a warm bed and braving the chill air of a Lowcountry winter morning on the water was well worth it. A spark of fascination had been lit in the mind of a young adventurer and, with it, the hopes of a lifetime of love for this region in his heart.
Lucy Creek is in many ways one of the most typical of Lowcountry waterways near Bluffton. It is fed by the tide and affected by its pull as the monthly cycles command the water’s daily ebb and flow. Lucy Creek forms a passage between Lady’s Island and Coosaw Islands near Beaufort and connects the wide Coosaw River and St. Helena Sound to the nearby Morgan River and the open Atlantic beyond.
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It is bordered by green, shell-touched islands that are each a kingdom of life and settlement in and of themselves. Busy, developed Lady’s Island is divided from rustic, quiet Coosaw Island by Lucy Creek and joined to it by a narrow highway bridge that provides a breathtaking view of the small harbor area and the wide river beyond as Sam’s Point Road crosses over. The pavement turns into sandy, sea island track in a short time and the residents of Coosaw like it this way. Lucy Creek, in many ways, divides two ages of history as the new crosses and is reminded of the old.
Lucy Creek Landing is one of many county-maintained boat ramps, and it sees a lot of traffic throughout the year. Fishermen, crabbers, pleasure boaters and even kayaks use its concrete ramp to explore and enjoy the watery world of the islands beyond. There are several small buildings and docks that mark the marina and harbor, and while all show some marks of the recent destructive touch of Hurricane Matthew, the ramp and landing are fully open.
Lucy Creek makes an excellent paddling or boating destination. When you go, you will enjoy uninhibited Lowcountry views and will have access to all that exploring Lowcountry waterways offers. Dolphins, fish and shrimp roil the waters, and blue crabs are so prized that a nearby company specializing in their harvest still operates. You can explore the wide Coosaw River for an open-water experience or paddle inland through a green lace of marsh and tidal creek that will take you into the wilds of nature and the domain of egret, heron and elusive otter or marsh hen.
Recently, I paddled Lucy Creek with several friends and my young son. My children often accompany me on kayak trips and will soon paddle kayaks of their own.
Normally, our exploration consists of quiet daytime creeks or sunny sandbar fun, but this day a chilly, pre-dawn winter paddle to see the sunrise and enjoy a toast to the year to come was in order, and my son wanted to come along.
A new year brings new promise.
Hopes and dreams may be dashed or fulfilled, but always the promise of the Lowcountry is constant: the wild world of the dolphin and the rising sun of a new day to begin again. It’s up to each of us to take the time to get out and explore this beautiful world, and I urge you to take a moment in the new year to do just that.
We truly do live in a paradise. Get out there and enjoy it.
Bluffton resident Matt Richardson enjoys taking day trips with his family and exploring the Lowcountry. To see more pictures from his adventures, go to www.Flickr.com and search on the username “greenkayak73.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lucy Creek boat landing is on Sam’s Point Road on Lady’s Island in Beaufort and is 37 miles from Bluffton. It takes about an hour to reach the landing, but it is easy to find and parking is ample. A two-lane concrete ramp makes launching of kayaks or small boats easy, and access to extraordinary views and wildlife is almost immediate. The ramp is free and is open year-round from dawn to dusk. There are no facilities, so when you go, please make sure to pack accordingly. Because of the nature of the creek and the exposure to open water, tide and weather can be huge factors. The pull of the tide can be strong in the creek, and you will need to plan your paddling direction accordingly. A strong current and dramatic swing can be either a boost or a disaster for a causal outing. Please consult a tide chart or other guide when making your plans.