Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hartwell Lake Adventures

Lake Hartwell Links and Info for Georgia and South Carolina

Back in the 80's before I left to go sailing/working in the Caribbean, I spent many weekends sailing Hartwell Lake on a 23' sailboat that was outfitted for weekend use with a galley and a head (that's a kitchen and a toilet for you landlubbers). 
Matter of fact, my dog Ivory, a white German Shepherd, saved my life the first night I went sailing. The boat has a shoal keel which made it suitable for shallow water, but hard as heck to sail to weather (upwind). The first  night we (me, my date and my dog) were anchored off an island in the lake. My large dog was ashore sleeping, keeping a watch on the little sailboat. I woke up, hearing my dog scratching on the side of the boat and barking. I got up to pull her aboard the boat. That is when I noticed we had just drifted past the danger signs alerting us to the fact we were approaching the dam! 

We fought with the outboard trying to get it to start, (very cantankerous machine!) we were frantic, that we might be jumping overboard if it didn't start, so we could swim for our life. In the dark of the night, it was hard to tell whether we would sail right over the top of the dam or simply be sucked down 100 feet to where the sluices were open to make hydropower. (The dam is 204 feet tall.)

Neither choice seemed particularly appealing at 3am.

I was scrambling for the life jackets as my friend cursed and yanked on the outboard one final time before we had to seriously consider plan B. It roared to life as we drifted past yet another DANGER sign. We motored back to the island we had been anchored near. We anchored again but this time we waded ashore with lines, to securely tie the boat to the trees. We stayed up for awhile trying to get the color back in our pale white faces.

I'm sure that wild dam adventure  knocked a few damn years off my life.

Lake Hartwell Links and Info for Georgia and South Carolina by http://dearmissmermaid.com

I found this webcam of Hartwell Lake near where I am workamping. June is here, it's summer, and it's time to get outside and get wet!

The WebCam is located near Buoy # T-69 facing NorthWest. The left shoreline is Georgia just north of the Poplar Springs Boat Ramp (near where I volunteer as a workamper). The right shoreline is South Carolina at Chickasaw Point. On most days a mountain (Rabun Bald near Clayton Georgia) can be seen in the far background 33 miles away.

The webcam is courtesy of Mountain Lakes Vacation Rentals.   

Hartwell Lake is 50 years old this year!  Amazing.  Here I am!  Just goes to show you never know where life will take you. I more or less came full circle years later, only now I am not on a sailboat in the lake, but in my wheel estate (RV) by the lake. 

The Anderson Independent recently wrote an excellent article "50 Years Later, Hartwell Dam Stands Out For Engineering Feats". 

Hartwell Lake offers a variety of recreation such as boating, fishing, swimming, sailing, camping (788 campsites), hiking, tracking, biking, and hunting. You can visit or vacation in lake houses and cabins as well as RV's, motor boats and  sailboats. 

More info is at Hartwell Dam and Lake by US Army Corps of Engineers  

Did you know that our lake level is measured by feet above sea level?  For instance the lake is currently at about 652 feet. Some folks thought this was the depth of the lake!  But it's the feet above sea level. Full pond is at 660 feet above sea level. So the lake is down about 8 feet. But there is still plenty of swimming areas including where I am workamping. 

Lake Hartwell Links and Info for Georgia and South Carolina by http://dearmissmermaid.com

Hartwell Lake (middle), Lake Keowee (top), and Lake Richard Russell (bottom) Georgia (left of the water) and South Carolina (right of the water) map satellite poster print

Lake Hartwell Links and Info for Georgia and South Carolina by http://dearmissmermaid.com
Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide: Includes Information On Anderson, Athens, Clemson, Greenville, Hartwell, Pendleton & Toccoa

Index of Links about Hartwell Lake

Quick Facts about Hartwell Lake

Lake Hartwell Association

     Boat Rentals
Big Water Marina
Hartwell Light Marina

Big Oaks (GA)
Broyles (SC)
Coneross Park (SC)
Crescent (SC)
Elrod Ferry (GA)
Fair Play (SC)
Lake Hartwell Camping & Cabins
Long Point (GA)
Milltown (GA)
Oconee Point (SC)
Paynes Creek(Hartwell Lake) (GA)
River Forks (SC)
Singing Pines (SC)
Springfield (SC)
Twelve Mile (SC)
Twin Lakes (SC)
Twin Lakes Day Use Area (SC)
Watsadler (GA)
Weldon Island (SC)

     Fishing Charters
Lake Hartwell Fishing Charters

     Fishing Reports
Fishing Reports and Forecasts

Big Water Marina
Hartwell Light Marina
Portman Marina

Current News
Lake Hartwell Recreation and Fishing Guide
GPS Coordinates for Underwater Structures

Lake Sailing School
Scenic Drive

     Recreation Areas
Coneross Park (SC)
Crescent (SC)
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Hartwell Lake
Milltown (GA) Oconee Point (SC)
Paynes Creek(Hartwell Lake) (GA)
Singing Pines (SC)
Springfield (SC)
Twelve Mile (SC)
Twin Lakes (SC)
Twin Lakes Day Use Area (SC)
Watsadler (GA)


  1. Do you have to worry about alligators at Lake Hartwell?

  2. Alligators are not supposed to thrive this far north. That being said, rumors spread far and wide about an alligator named Old George that used to live in the Seneca branch of Hartwell Lake. Supposedly he was removed at some point. Here is an old news report " Old news report, "His name was George. He was a huge alligator and he
    lived – in all places – in Lake Hartwell. Randy Geddings told me about
    George. Randy was one of the DNR agents who was instructed to go do
    something about Big George. As Randy put it, “All the books say that
    alligators don’t live this far north. But George never read any of those
    books – he didn’t know any better, so he just lived in Lake Hartwell and
    grew huge.” The problem was that people didn’t like seeing a ten or twelve
    foot long alligator cruising just offshore from their boat docks on the
    Seneca River. And so when enough complaints came in, it was up to the DNR
    to go and dispose of this magnificent animal."


Life is goof!