Monday, May 20, 2013

Short time in Charleston

Center St. , Fernandina Beach, Florida
     When making the passage offshore from Fernandina Beach, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina the excitement of arrival at the inlet was tempered by its length. The entrance even short of the sea buoy can take a sailing vessel more than a couple of hours to reach the heart of Charleston Harbor depending on tides and currents.

     Our overnight passage was as good as could be expected. We sailed for awhile, motor sailed for awhile and decided to lower sails before nightfall rather than listen to a slamming boom and flapping sails. It would have been too dangerous to venture on deck to secure the main with the rolling sea state as the wind died down after dark. During a previous overnight passage one of our battens had poked through the sail and crashed onto the deck with a thunderous crack and we didn't want a repeat performance. The wayward batten was discovered on deck the following morning as we completed our passage through the St. Mary's inlet in Georgia..."Oh, that must have been that loud crash we heard during the night!"

     Overnight passages are exhausting when there are only two people on board. I find it difficult to get any quality rest when Joe is on watch and vise versa. For some reason after nightfall, creaks and groans in the boat are magnified. Imaginations are dilated as well! It becomes easier to understand the origin of the belief in creatures from the deep. Even though Joe is harnessed in the cockpit, I have imagined him falling over the side and being dragged to his death by the boat on autopilot until he's drowned. I'm afraid I won't hear his call for help. Therefore, I don't sleep or at best I sleep with one eye opened. When I'm on watch he at least tries to rest, but also checks my status every half hour or so. So much for trust. It was a long arduous night.

     Upon arrival in the harbor, the Charleston Harbor Marina assigned us to "The Megadock," we were the undersized boat among megayachts. One nice feature of this assignment was the convenience of fueling. There were several fueling stations along the dock making it easy to tie up for the night and refuel in one easy step. The City Marina also provided a shuttle to town and to the heart of the historic district every hour. Of course there also happened to be a daily run to West Marine at 11:00 AM. I always take advantage of opportunities for provisioning. After a nap we took the shuttle to Harris Teeter for groceries. This grocery store has an excellent meat selection. I had over an hour to shop before the shuttle picked us up. Upon arrival back at the marina, the staff actually delivered us and our groceries to Simple Life on a golf cart. Knowing this in advance was helpful. I stocked up on bulk items such as a case of water, beer and of course "Chateau Carton"
(a couple of boxes of wine) that would otherwise be too heavy to carry on foot.

     After all of the groceries were stored I marveled at my sense of peace and contentment. We're in Charleston, it's springtime! We should be checking out the sights, but I think our natural instincts kick in when living aboard. I always feel content when I have a full refrigerator, pantry and clean laundry. It makes me feel safe. Perhaps living aboard brings us closer to the understanding of exactly what our true human needs are. Food, shelter and of course clean sheets!

     Later that afternoon Joe and I took advantage of the shuttle to dine at Blossom's courtyard one of Charleston's premier nuveau cuisine restaurants. This was our reward for enduring the overnight passage. While in the low country I've been experimenting with recipes for shrimp and grits and I wanted to sample Blossom's specialty, creek shrimp with tasso over grits. It was delightful and the service was top notch.

     The following day with freshening breezes we momentarily considered heading offshore once again north to the Cape Fear inlet. Hmm...I wonder where the origin of the name Cape Fear came from? That would require a 20 hour offshore trip. After discussing it we made the decision to travel more leisurely up the ICW route to Winyah Bay and enjoy the sights along the Waccamaw River in springtime.

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