1. They closed the locks to kayaks a year or so ago. I ran it summer of 2013 and 2014 and they let me through the locks. Santee Cooper policy has changed and locks are no longer open to kayaks and canoes. A vehicle or arranged help there is a good idea. It is a 2 mile walk otherwise.
I have thought about tilting at that windmill to get the locks back open to us. They should be open to us. It is a surprisingly smooth and calm ride going down. Going up to the lake is more turbulent, but nothing that will cause a problem for a kayak. Any volunteers to help?
2. Lots of places to camp between here and the locks. Lots of resupply on the lakes.
3. After the lakes, places to stop are hard to find. They get more scarce towards Charleston. There are two boat ramps as one gets to Daniel island and two marinas. Not much in between and no where good to camp on this section. Play the tides and get this done fast.
4. High water makes the Congaree fast, but it also means there are few places to stop. Lower water levels mean a slower river, but plenty of places to stop. I prefer the slower river. I paddled it in flood stage and had to go all the way to 601 bridge before I was able to get out of the boat.
Danger areas are the lakes and Charleston harbor. Lake Marion got really bad a few miles past santee on one trip. There was a cliff and the waves were bouncing off of it and causing a really bad confused sea. My problems on Moultrie were big waves like the ocean and a strong headwind. Took me almost 6 hours to make the 8 mile crossing on that trip. Probably 4 footers as I exited the diversion canal. Got better about 5 miles later and then the last mile was easy. The next trip I stayed at Blacks Fish Camp and left under ideal glassy water conditions at 5:30 am. I was at the locks by 7:45.
The key to the lakes is just stop if stuff is getting bad. A few hours later, things can be really easy. Don't get caught on Moultrie by an afternoon thunder storm. That place will hand you your arse.
Charleston harbor can get nasty. Currents and open water are in play here. Play the tides, don't fight them.
Highlights for me were: Santee State Park, Restaurant at Bells Marina, cabin at Blacks fish camp and a warm shower, Mac Daddy's restaurant on the diversion canal. Gilligans Restaurant on the tailrace is run down, but the food and getting out of the boat was good after a scary crossing of lake Moultrie. It was a great resupply. Can walk to grocery store, Wal-Mart or drug store from Gilligans. The usefulness of Gilligans is significantly less now that the locks are closed and someone has to drive you past all these stores and places to eat.