By Lee Scott
This is the perfect time of year in Beaufort to go bird watching. I’m not talking about normal birds. I’m referring to snowbirds, the travelers in boats coming south down the Intracoastal Waterway.
My husband and I like to drive our boat out to Mile Marker 520 on the Coosaw River and watch the boats coming out of the Ashapoo-Coosaw Cut. The best time for snowbird watching is around 2 in the afternoon because all the boats want to dock in Beaufort before the sun sets. And now, with Daylight Savings Time ending on Nov. 5, it is even more important.
There is another issue for boats this time of year. It’s the timing of the Lady’s Island Bridge openings. If they don’t get to Beaufort by 4, then they have to wait until 6.
It is interesting to watch the boats come out of the cut in formation. There’s not much water in there, especially at low tide, and the power boats have to line up behind the sailboats, which are powering around 5-6 knots. This is pretty slow compared to the 15-25 knot speed that most of the power boats are normally running.
As they slowly pop out of the cut, the power boats start to throttle up and pass the sailboats one by one.
We like to determine the make and model of the boats; how big they are in length, but also where they originated. Many boats have their country flag and a lot of them also have their yacht club flag.
It’s fun to look at all the toys attached to these boats too. Most of them have their dingy, which they can use if they are anchoring out in the river, but want to get to shore for provisions. You also might see kayaks, canoes and bicycles; however, these items are not visible on the very large boats because they are all stored inside.
There are many sailboats with solar panels and large power boats with satellite TV antennas. Both kinds of boats doing any distance traveling will have their marine radar equipment. And the sailboats tend to have jerry cans on the bow filled with fuel.
We have seen some snowbirds make their way south in flocks, or Cruising Clubs as they are called. They stick together in order to make their way down along the Florida coast and always in formation.
You don’t have to have a boat to go see the annual snowbird migration.
Just go down to the Beaufort waterfront and swing on the swings.
It is a beautiful site to watch “birds” this time of year.