Before we left Brunswick I had my first close up encounter with a manatee. It was just by the office, literally inches away and I hadn’t realised how huge they are! Wish I’d had the camera though. Our overnight passage went smoothly, with just enough wind on the beam to sail most of it. We encountered a couple of yachts and shrimping trawlers, the latter covered in well fed birds. The entrance into Charleston is a deep well marked inlet which we joined half way along as there was no need to add extra miles. We were waiting for a huge container ship to exit although there was room for both of us in the wide channel.
Our 145 mile trip came to an end anchored a couple of miles south east of the City Marina and we had a good night dug into the mud with 3 metres underneath the keel. We were the only boat but had 2 live groups to entertain us from the nearby yacht club. The next morning we chilled out before hailing the Marina for our reserved berth. Check in is after noon, hence the wait but as they had tons of space I’m not sure why we needed to. They have a megadock, a very long dock, for transient boats but ask for the inside if possible as it gets choppy from the wake of passing boats, especially at weekends. One night we had a big thunderstorm which also made it uncomfortable for our fenders, as we were pinned onto the dock.
The Marina isn’t cheap. We paid 101 dollars a night and stayed 5 in the end. Their washrooms are the other end of the dock, so quite a walk but they will pick you up in a golf cart if necessary. The best thing on offer was the free shuttle bus running you around. It became our personal transport as the Marina was so quiet and we used it every day to downtown and the out of town West Marine chandlery and Harris Teeter supermarket. You just phone again for a pick up.
I’ve always wanted to visit Charleston and it was a lovely experience. We started at the Visitor’s Centre to get maps and ideas, then planned our days from there. The city runs a free, air conditioned bus known as DASH around town, so we hopped on that several times. We visited the Charleston Museum and their 2 historic houses with tours of the houses being every half hour and very interesting. The museum was founded in 1773 and provides a good history of the city. The Heyward-Washington and Joseph Manigault houses contain beautiful furniture and you get a great feel for how the rich plantation owners lived in their summer homes. One cupboard was for a block of sugar, locked due to it’s value. They had dishes to rinse their wine glasses as even the rich could rarely afford more than one per person. There was also Wedgwood china on display in a rare purple-pink colour, totally different to the blue we usually associate with Wedgwood.
One great idea, as they moved from one house to another depending on the climate, was a chest of drawers split into 3, with 2 drawers having handles on each side. They could then be easily transported between homes. Unfortunately many got lost, so there are only a few rare examples left. We also learned how a few phrases originated, such as ‘hitting the sack’ due to the beds being sacks filled with hay or materials. Also the dining tables were originally just boards and only one person had a chair, the others being benches or stools. Hence the ‘Chairman of the Board’.
Outside the Charleston Museum is the first submarine to sink an enemy ship!
We also visited the Slave Mart Museum and stood in the courtyard where so many lives were sold. It’s a small but very poignant place. The homes along the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter were stunning and so well preserved. The Customs House, Market and parks are also beautiful. I could have walked around for days! You can also hire bikes from many locations, including the Marina, if you want to start early when it’s cool.
On Saturdays Marion Square hosts the farmer’s market from 0800, another brilliant place to wander around. The crafts are a really high standard as are the foods tempting Rob. Fresh local produce, jams, sauces and breads can be bought. Entertainers keep you there whilst you can sit at tables for breakfast or lunch.
There are endless shops, cafes and restaurants, antique shops and galleries, just not enough time to do even a tenth of it but we loved Charleston and would return anytime.
So we slipped off the dock at noon after a final wander to see the ‘pineapple fountain’, using the incoming tide to push the stern out and slip the bow. We are now anchored in the same place as last Thursday so we can head out at 0615 tomorrow for the 65 miles to Georgetown, followed by another, longer, day sail to Cape Fear. We will be leaving in the dark on Friday as we need to be underway by 0300. At least we only have 8 hours of darkness this far north, rather than the 12 we are used to. It gets light by 0530 and isn’t dark until gone 2100.
I have far too many photos of the buildings, gardens and graveyards around Charleston to publish, so here are just a few!