We said goodbye this morning to Tom and Marj. They left about 7:00 AM for their return drive to Chattanooga. Sebastian and Daisy were both sad to see them leave. After doing our routine engine room check, we also left the Charleston City Marina aboard IT.
After arriving at the marina, we pack up our belongings for the trip home. Jeff goes and picks up the rental car. The dogs and birds are the last off the boat before they start to haul her our. We had some strange looks at the marina as we unloaded two birds and two dogs.
While at Ross Marine, we look out the window and see Bonas IV making her way to Charleston. Fellow loopers, Bob and Nan, are aboard. Jeff radios Bob and chats with him for a few moments. We are sad to have missed them in Charleston by just one day. Our paths may cross again on the Chesapeake.
Luckily, we are still at the marina when they pull Idyll Time out of the water. It is a little scary as we watch the huge travel lift inch the boat out of the water.
The lift belts creak and groan under the strain of IT’s hefty weight.
The lift operator spends about 30 minutes adjusting the sling to make sure it is just right. Finally she is lifted out of the water.
Jeff gets to inspect the prop and underside for any damages. The bottom is amazingly free of marine growth.
Our small rental car is full. Nate, Homer, and Daisy are in the back seat. Sebastian gets to sit on my lap in the front seat. He is very content and glad not to be put in the back with the birds. We say goodbye to IT and are on our way to Chattanooga. We will return to Charleston in two weeks and continue with our journey and logs at that time.
The winds have finally calmed down and we are able to once again enjoy the waterfront. We spend several hours cleaning the boat again from all of the salt which was pelted on to us during the storms.
It will take several washings to get it all off. The docks are full with boats of other loopers.
Monday started the spring rendezvous of the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association which is held at the Charleston Yacht Club next door to the marina. There are 175 loopers here for the spring rendezvous. Some are currently doing the loop, some have finished the loop, and some are planning to do the loop in the next few years. It is nice to reconnect with loopers who we have met at previous rendezvous and also to meet many new loopers. We enjoy four days of seminars and dinners with the fellow loopers. The seminars cover a variety of topics such as emergency situations, marine insurance, diesel engine maintenance, and cruising with pets. There are also seminars on various cruising areas such as the Potomac River, Chesapeake, and Down East Circle Route.
These are very informative for us as we plan on cruising all of these areas in the next two years.
Our good friends, Tom and Marj, arrived on Thursday. They will stay with us for several days. We enjoy spending some time with them and seeing the sights of Charleston together. Sebastian is especially happy as he now has someone else to give him lap time.
Tom and Marj also delivered a wonderful Beef Burgundy dinner along with many other goodies such as chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pound cake, and black bean salsa. If that wasn’t enough, she also brought a homemade marinara sauce for pasta.
On Friday, we visited Ft. Sumter in the morning.
Tour boats run from downtown on a regular basis. The first battle of the Civil War was fought here in 1861. Most of the outer walls are original. The inner fortifications have been carefully restored.
Amazingly enough, not a single man died during this battle.
We enjoy walking thru some of the neighborhoods in the afternoon. You can find such unique architecture on every corner.
We had such a wonderful meal at Garibaldi’s several days ago that we decided to take Tom and Marj there for dinner. Tom tried the crispy flounder that Jeff had enjoyed so much on our last visit. Marj and I had the special of mahi mahi with stuffed crab cooked in a white wine sauce. Everyone’s meal was outstanding.
On Saturday, we attended the Saturday market in Marion Square. The dogs enjoyed the walk into town with us. We found some homemade pasta which we will cook for dinner along with the homemade marinara sauce which Marj had delivered from Chattanooga. On Saturday afternoon, the four of us headed to the steps of St. Michaels Episcopal Church. Each day the Gullah ladies from Mt. Pleasant are selling their sweetgrass baskets on the steps. These baskets are handmade from sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto leaves. This type of basket making has been practiced in Mt. Pleasant by the slave descendents from West Africa for over 300 years. These baskets have become collector items for people around the world. The baskets are even found in the Smithsonian Institute. There are all types and shapes of baskets to choose from. Marj and I both purchased one of these baskets for a Charleston memento.
We were invited to a church service at St. Michaels Episcopal Church by fellow loopers Dr. Jerry and Jenny Reeves. The church, which was built in 1751, is a beautiful white building which boasts a tall stately spire. Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped in the church. The stained glass windows were hand made by Tiffany. I had developed a bad head cold and was not able to attend. Tom, Marj, and Jeff attended the 10:30 AM service. They sat in the same pew as Washington and Lee.
We spent Sunday afternoon relaxing on the boat. It was quite entertaining watching all the boats parade up and down the Ashley River. We felt like it was Friday rush hour on I-75 with all the boat traffic. There was a local fishing tournament on Sunday. Several of the fishing boats were docked at the City Marina. Several of them had very large Wahoo aboard. The largest caught in the tournament was 54 pounds. Several boats also caught dolphin and tuna.
Things have really been rocking on the docks. Sunday morning the winds picked up to 30 mph with gust up to 50 mph. We are on the outside face pier and the waves are really fierce. IT has been able to ride out the storm very well as her 70,000 lb. mass keeps her pretty steady. Some of the smaller boats are really rocking. One boat is getting chewed up against the docks. They made an emergency trip to West Marine to purchase additional fenders. Those on the inside of the face pier are fairing much better. We now wish that we had moved to the inside. Next time we will know better. Everyone on the docks was up early this morning tightening lines and adding more fenders. One of the trawlers at anchor just to our port was starting to drag their anchor earlier this morning. Luckily they were on top of it and repositioned their boat.
It will be interesting to see if the other loopers make it in today. I think most of them are probably hunkered down somewhere waiting out the storm. I don’t think there will be many brave soles traveling today. We opted not to go exercise at the gym this morning. We don’t want to leave the boat alone in this high of winds.
At noon the winds shift to the west as the cold front passes. In the afternoon the winds again pick up to a sustained 20-30 mph with gusts of 60 mph. The Coast Guard closes the Port of Charleston to all traffic (including huge container ships) until further notice. No vessels may enter or leave the port. Another sailboat is dragging anchor and is drifting for the bridge. Someone in another boat takes their dinghy over and rescues the drifting boat. There is no one on the sailboat. The rescue boats fights against the wind and is eventually able to maneuver the stray vessel to a mooring ball. I am much relieved as the sailboat was headed right in our path. We diligently watch the other anchored boats to make sure they are not moving. This is by far the strongest winds we have encountered during our voyage. I am glad we are securely tied to the dock. Only two boats came in to the marina today. They were both very glad once they were tied to the docks.
We have enjoyed the last several days here in Charleston. The Charleston City Marina is located on the Ashley River.
It has been fun watching all of the different boats coming and going each day. Each morning there are several rowing teams practicing on the river.
There are several tour boats which come up the Ashley each evening. We have seen the Coast Guard, Navy, and Sheriffs departments patrolling the waters. We also have our dolphins fishing right outside our door. The marinas mega dock is huge. It is a walk to just reach the other end. We have seen boats from 20 feet to over 100 feet docking here overnight. Several cruise ships also make this a regular stop.
Each day we have walked into the city to explore its sights. Charleston’s center of activity is King Street which is about a mile walk from our boat. Here you can find all sorts of shops and restaurants. It is an enjoyable walk from the marina. The neighborhoods are very beautiful with the old southern homes found on each corner.
Some have quite elaborate iron gates which open to the gardens.
The homes are quite impressive also.
We have settled into a nice routine while here in Charleston We located a gym in town which we frequent each morning. It is about a mile run to the gym for our workout and then a mile run back to the boat. We also located a gelateria, Modico, in one of the local neighborhoods. This has made for a pleasant walk with the dogs each evening after dinner. The dogs enjoy the walk and we enjoy the gelato. It is just like being back in Italy.
On Saturdays, Charleston has a farmers market located in Marion Square.
Here we found all sorts of arts and crafts along with fresh produce. Daisy and Sebastian found a local dog vendor where they both purchased new scarves. They also got a chance to taste the homemade dog treats. There is even a water fountain in the park just for the dogs.
Saturday afternoon we were able to get in a 20 mile bike ride. We rode over the connector bridge to Johnsons Island and Folly Beach. There was much more traffic than we would have liked. However, they do have a very nice bike path.
Charleston has many fine restaurants. We have had a hard time choosing where to dine. Hank’s was recommended to us, and we had a fantastic seafood meal there. On Saturday we celebrated our 18th anniversary at an Italian restaurant, Garibaldi’s. The food and service there were very good also. Jeff had their specialty, the crispy flounder. This has been their signature dish for over 30 years. He enjoyed it very much. The only thing left on his plate was a few bones.
I had the fettuccini bolognese which was also outstanding. The cheesecake was tops.
We have about 20 looper boats at the marina. We have enjoyed meeting many new faces. More loopers should arrive tomorrow. Tonight there is a strong low pressure storm system moving into the area. It will make for a miserable day of boating for those arriving on Sunday. Those that are not here already will wish that they were. I am sure the docks will be full by Monday for the start of the rendezvous. The rendezvous will run from Monday thru Thursday with seminars each day. The seminars will be held in the Charleston Yacht Club which is next door to the marina. There will also be dinners and speakers each evening. We are looking forward to gaining much information for our cruise north.