Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back in Charleston, the Grande Belle of the South

The great weather gods in the sky wanted us to feel right at home as we left Georgetown, SC Monday morning so they blanketed the harbor in dense fog - hello, we left home for a reason! But nothing was going to keep us from getting to Charleston so we headed out the channel barely able to see a few feet in front of us with Tide Hiker's fog horn sounding every two minutes (as is proper seamanship although I do have to admit the first time I heard it I jumped about 10 feet!!) The sun was just rising and cast an almost ethereal glow upon the fog ridden waterway - it truly was a beautiful sight (but then again the sight of the sun always makes my heart beat a little faster!)

As the fog started to lift, we could barely make out some of the homes along the shore making for quite a sight.

Soon enough the fog was gone, the sun was shining brightly, the waters were calmer than we've seen them in quite some time, we were on our way to Charleston - all was right with the world!! Doug and I were so busy snapping pictures for the blog and chatting about what a marvelous morning it was that we almost missed our turn off for the ICW - thanks Norm - it's good to have friends to keep you on the straight and narrow (or at least the right waterway)!

We proceeded to have one of those days on the water you dream about when you contemplate this cruising life - it was warm with the sun reflecting off the still waters, birds of all varieties dotted the shore and the sky calling out to us while the dolphins played in our bow wake and the river otters poked their noses up in greeting.

We saw so many majestic white egrets in the tops of trees, among the marshes on the shore and flying overhead that it almost became old hat.....almost!!

The swooping pelicans still make me laugh as I see them diving for fish

and congregated on an old dock or a shallow sand bar - they remind me of DeFever owners - where two or more meet, there always follows a party!!

And not to be left out were the blue herons who stand so stately amongst the marshes on the shoreline

- it's only when they open their mouth and you hear that god-awful yacking noise that you wonder how such a beautiful creature could have such a grating voice (and then you think of Fran Drescher and you understand....) The cormorants too were out in force to keep us company usually occupying the tops of navigation markers or pilings on the dock - often waving their wings to dry themselves although they think they are being fierce and intimidating!!

It was also a day of incredibly high tide so we didn't have to worry much about the water depths even in some of the shallower spots on the ICW - in fact we saw several swamped boats (one too many beers we think!)

and flooded boat ramps along the way.

We are also getting closer to the land of shrimp boats so we had plenty of them to entertain us as the birds flock to them like, well, us to cold beer!

As we glided through the last stretch before reaching Charleston harbor, the sun lit up the waters ahead of us as if someone had sprinkled hundreds of diamonds along the water's surface. Gone were the cypress trees of the Waccamaw replaced with miles of marsh and palmetto trees often forming their own little islands!!

Right before the Ben Sawyer Bridge (which is scheduled to close soon for repairs - whew made it under in time!), we were greeted by a big smiley face at one of the homes lining the waterway - that about summed up how we all felt!

Suffice it to say Gypsies and Tide Hiker had a gorgeous day on the water!!
Tide Hiker Follows Gypsies as We Approach Charleston

Can someone please tell me why the wind always starts whipping when we reach Charleston Harbor - it never fails us!! I think the wind gods know we have to go dock and therefore think it's funny we have to dock in Charleston's strong current abetted by a gusty wind - not funny dudes! Our first sight of the harbor was of big container ships inbound and outbound - Charleston is a very busy, active commercial harbor! But we also saw the gorgeous bridge that spans the Cooper River

with the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier built in WW II and now a museum, in the foreground, and knew we were almost home! We have come to love Charleston and never dream of passing it by on our trips north or south!

Shortly after tying Gypsies and Tide Hiker to our dock at the Charleston Maritime Center, it was time for church!!! Yes you heard right - that's what I said - although my kind of church is the Mad River Bar and Grill, an old converted Episcopalian church complete with stained glass windows and hard backed wooden pews (also home to the $4 martini at happy hour!) For Vicki and Norm, this was a new religious experience!!

Notice how in the picture the light is shining down on us - like the star of Bethlehem, the sun directed us to this bar - we had no choice!! The musicians playing at happy hour were ones we had heard before the last time through with Bob and Stephanie and like the last time, they soon drove us out...although VIcki was fascinated by his instrument which was called a harp guitar (not too original I think!)

But no worries, we were off to TBonz for some home made potato chips smothered in melted blue cheese - have I mentioned I love Charleston??? Finally while Vicki headed back to the boat for her Dancing with the Stars fix, Norm, Doug and I shouldered on and hit Wings for you guessed it, some wings! Since this was dinner we got the platter of 25 so you can get 5 different flavors - YUM! Well for any of you going to a Wings, beware of the Red Dragon Thai teryaki wings - they are deadly hot (and it's not the first one that gets you - it sneaks up on you and the heat compounds so about mid-way through the second wing, you think your mouth is going to fall off - or at least you hope it does!! Yes I am speaking from experience - bartender, keep the beers coming!!)

The next day we got to meet up with Bart and Ellie Franey (of Dewlap) who live in Charleston - another reason we would never pass by without stopping (although Bart did finally cut his hair - Doug was so disappointed!!) They had some friends with them, Dorcas and Chris Sommerhoff, who have a 43 foot DeFever currently being worked on in Myrtle Beach so after the requisite boat tours (we DeFever owners love to show off our boats), we had quite the gang for a late lunch at the Noisy Oyster!

The afternoon was largely taken up by provisioning at the local Harris Teeter which is not too far from our marina - but too far to carry large quantities of provisions, especially when much of it consists of beer and wine!! So not to be thwarted, Doug and Vicki just pushed our grocery carts along the streets of Charleston down the docks and to our boats where we off-loaded groceries - you really should have seen some of the stares we got - too funny.

Of course we returned the carts so really what was the problem??? Thanks to Stephanie and Bob for inventing this brilliant approach to boat re-provisioning sans car!

Today it's fairly overcast (again!) but we plan to make the best of it - we are taking the water ferry across the harbor to Bart's marina where Norm and Vicki want to scope things out (for a possible future extended stay maybe??) and get to have lunch with Bart again! It really is so much fun meeting up with old friends as you travel from port to port! Doug and I believe that a trip to church later on this afternoon will be called for - we've been bad, very bad and thus must do penance!

We plan to head out tomorrow for Beaufort, SC (pronounced Bew'-fort and not to be confused with Boe'-fort, NC) and push hard south - we are meeting up with September Song at least in St Augustine for Thanksgiving (if not sooner in Fernandina Beach, FL) so we have a deadline!! Unfortunately that means we will probably have to split up with Tide Hiker who is on a somewhat more relaxed timetable (but not before one more rip roaring afternoon!) We can't wait to see the September Song crew since we haven't seen them in almost two months - wow how time flies!!

Click here to see our location at the Charleston Maritime Center.
Click here to see all the places we have stopped in the ICW this Fall.

1 comment:

  1. Sure wish we were there! What's not to love about Charleston? Besides, I have been a vary bad boy too. Just ask Stephanie. I need to go to church and get a couple of those saving 16 oz. cold ones. See you soon you bad children.