A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Upwind on Lazaretto Creek

November 4, 2016
Emilie Phillips

Five days after we arrived, the tides had lagged enough we could ride the current up into the marshes and sweep back out in the afternoon. It should have been a good day to cover distance.

Loading in the morning
Loading in the morning

This time we put in at the large boat launch on old Hwy 80, west of where highway 80 crosses Lazaretto Creek. I’m told it is a fun trip to ride the current up Lazaretto Creek and back down Tybee Creek, but that requires two cars. Our plan was to paddle up Lazaretto Creek to Oyster Creek and back.

Down stream and up wind
Down stream and up wind

We saw one dolphin swimming in Lazaretto Creek, but mostly we saw grasses blowing in the wind. The wind was so strong it kicked up white caps on the creek. Despite the wind, we made good time. The first two meanders were clear. At the third meander, Lazaretto Creek broke into many confusing bays and islands. One of these crossed over to Oyster Creek. Lazaretto Creek continued on as a smaller channel. We also entered an area signed as an oyster protection area.

Packing up after lunch
Packing up after lunch

We reached the intersection of Tybee Creek and Oyster Creek an hour before high tide. This gave us the option of either paddling the smaller loop around Oyster Creek, or the longer loop up Bull River. We decided to continue up Lazaretto Creek toward Bull River and stop at a small strip of solid land for lunch. This northern section of Lazaretto Creek floods south from Bull River. We now faced oposing current. It also had significantly more power boat traffic. At the island, we found the Miss Marisa grounded and broken. There was other trash that had washed ashore and a smear of iron rust covering the beach. It wasn’t the most appealing lunch spot, but it was the only place to climb out of the boats. We found some sitting logs around the corner.

We took long enough to eat lunch that it seemed imprudent to continue on to Bull River. So we turned around and headed back to Oyster Creek, full into the wind. Tyson paddling the sit on top could only make headway tucked tight in the lee of the grasses. At the junction of Lazaretto Creek and Tybee Creek, we turned almost 180 left onto Oyster Creek. Now the wind was quartering from behind, so we again made good progress. A whole flock of small white birds flew overhead. My camera wasn’t fast enough to catch them.

Fighting against the wind
Fighting against the wind

At the next bend in Oyster Creek, we turned straight upwind. Tyson could find no shelter along the near shore. I paddled across to the far shore and found it no better. My parents cruised along redily in their low volume Greenland style kayaks. I faced a little more resistance in the borrowed Impex. Tyson, though, was struggling in the sit on top. Isaac helped by falling asleep. Eventually, the grass to the right thinned. I thought I could see open passages. We regrouped in the grass and stared at charts and GPSs. Each of us had a different representation and different age data. If we turned too far right, we would end up back at the junction of Lazaretto and Tybee. We decided to wind our way through the back channels, trying to parallel Oyster Creek. It worked. The frequent clumps of grass blocked the wind. After several loops and meanders, the back channels turned away from Oyster Creek. We stopped again to discuss our route. To hold position, we all paddled into a thick band of grass flooded with water. I could see my own chart and glympses of Tyson to my right. Otherwise I might as well have been on a phone conference with the rest of the group for all I could see them. We opted to vear right. Soon enough, my mother spotted power boat traffic on the cut between Lazaretto Creek and Oyster Creek.

John presenting a low profile to the wind.
John presenting a low profile to the wind.

Our short cut was successful. From there back to the put in, we faced either a cross wind or quartering head wind. In both cases, Tyson found shelter alongside the grasses.

Back at the boat ramp, Tyson was ready to pay money to give the sit on top tandem back. It did have its merits. It allowed us to go kayaking without having to drive our tandem all the way from NH. And Isaac found it a solid platform for playing.

For more information on planning your own trip to Tybee, Guide to sea kayaking Tybee Island.

All Photos

GPS Track