Sorry to say this, but it's pretty much of a fool's errand to attempt to accurately predict, or discern, any particular "pattern" to the sea conditions in the area you're talking about... I consider the inshore waters between Charleston and the Georgia/Florida line to generally be about as messy and confused as anywhere along the entire East coast of the US. You have the largest tidal range of anywhere south of northern New England, a maze of inland waterways that see a massive volume of water pouring in and out with every change of the tide, very shoal water that extends further offshore than just about anywhere else between Maine and Florida, and a large bight created the the curvature of the coast between SC and Florida... It all makes for the perfect recipe for typically confused sea states in your area... Other than being in the immediate vicinity of Hatteras or Frying Pan Shoals, the last place I want to be in a strong NE blow along the Eastern seaboard, is within 15 or 20 miles of the Georgia coastline, that can be a VERY nasty bit of real estate when things start to kick up...The biggest question I had in my mind came up one day while I was trying to come back in after a 25 mile trip off shore. I had a very hard time making way over ground. I was there on the flood of the tide late in the day. I was under a full main and a 135% Gen. I was doing o.k for a while until the sound narrowed. I had 7 knots true off the port beam. The boat seamed to be sailing strong but was not making but 1.5 knots or under. I finally fired up the Yanmay 2gh20F and powered back to the river. Once I got into the river it eased up and I was able to begin sailing again without the iron sail. In the entrance it seamed all confused waves were not consistent. So to the question. Is every inlet / harbor going to be different to the point local knowledge is required? I was able to make way in the situation but what if it was just a little stronger against me? In my case it was late in the day. I would have had to stand down my entrance until the tide turned. I was not pepaired to be out after dark. I could play this out in my mind to be very dangerous in some cases.
Is This the same all over? or Will I have to know the entrance's before I attempt to inter? Will this come natural to me as has been the case in most of the other things so far?
I do not mean to sound so green. I don't want to come across well as being unable to handle this off shore thing. Its just a bit intimidating for me. The more I go off shore the more confident I feel with the boat and my skills. I have not yet found a light front or storm to head into. In the hopes to challenge my skills as suggested. I fact I have only ventured off shore 3 times so far with this boat. part of the problem is it takes 10 miles of travel just to get to the mouth of the sound. so that's like 4 hours. I really need to find my courage and do an over night or two out there.
Like killarney, I don't understand your comment that you had trouble making headway coming back into Port Royal Sound on a flood tide... The current alone thru there will often exceed the 1.5 knots over the ground that you reported, something's definitely wrong, there...
Anytime you venture out of one of the SC rivers or GA sounds, just go with the assumption that the sea state is likely to be "crappy", and the wave pattern "confused", and you'll be fine...