Congenial Charleston

Charleston, SC – Tuesday, 4/20

Before leaving Lady’s Island Marina Denise went for an out-and-back run down Sea Island Parkway; the road that runs by the street entrance to the marina. Along the way she passed the Publix, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, several banks, a strip center and the future site of “Harris Teeter”. Eventually she found the Walmart that Mark had visited yesterday and used it as a turn-around point, knowing she could get end up with approximately 4 miles.  Along the way she saw a beautiful sky at sunrise, and a few quirky ornaments in front of the strip center and garden center.

Once back from the run and with our breakfasts done, we shoved off from Lady’s Island Marina and headed back on to the ICW. We immediately saw a Sabre (“Stella”) ahead of us and once out of the no wake area picked up speed to follow this sister ship. Before long we caught up to the Back Cove “Cathy Ann” whom we had seen yesterday near Daufuskie Island.   Together all 3 of us passed by the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort (Merritt Field) to our west; the base that was flying jets all day yesterday, buzzing our marina at Lady’s Island.

Before long we were headed out of the protected waters of the marshes and made our way into the St. Helena’s Sound. Here Denise snapped a picture of the other two boats over the bow of our boat:

Cathy Ann & Stella – St. Helena’s Sound

St. Helena’s Sound is one of the largest of all the inlets, and was going to take a while for us to cross. It is shallow in parts, but really wide so there was plenty of cruising ground to go around the handful of slower boats making their way north. The wind started to pick up a bit and the waters developed a light chop by the time we got to the other side of the Sound and re-entered the protective marshes of the ICW.  We were glad we had left when we did and that our boats cruising at 20 knots made it a non-event.  “Cathy Ann” had decided to take a slower path and did not keep up with us and “Stella”.

We entered the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff winding our way to first through the Ashepoo River, then the South Edisto River, and then the Edisto River.  Although our intended direction is north, periodically we actually were heading southeast. This is what it is like in the ICW in South Carolina and this is why Mark hates to take this “inside” route north. If we were offshore we could have cut our time in half, but today’s weather did not warrant it.  So while Mark drove the boat through these winding rivers, Denise made the best of the time and polished the stainless steel refrigerator and the sink in the head.  By the time we got to the wider North Edisto River the entire galley had been cleaned and everything looked great.  But once again we were in areas where many houses line the shores and they all have docks, some with boats in the water causing us to have to slow down.

SC homes – Stella following

Finally we came to the Elliot Cut; a house-lined canal that signifies we are getting close to Charleston.  Our voyage was almost done for the day.  We continued along until finally the ICW met with the Ashley River, just near the Charleston City marina. 

We made a left turn and negotiated around several boats all attempting to go into that marina at the same time.  But we headed up the Ashley River, went under the dual Ashley Memorial Bridges (US 17), and prepared to dock at the Safe Harbor Bristol marina; original home of our wonderful Island Office.  But as we were preparing to dock the boat with the wicked current running through this area, the paddle on the helm deck for our bow thruster broke.  Mark had no control of the thruster and limited control of the boat. So he backed us out of the marina fairway back into the river until we could figure out what to do.  In the meantime, two other boats were coming into the marina and didn’t understand why we were backing out, so they tried to move around us. It made for a harrowing few moments but we all managed to keep from colliding.

Once back out in the river, Denise drove while Mark tried to fix the plastic handle that had broken completely off.  He managed to get it to a point that it was usable, so we once again attempted to dock. This time we were more successful, thanks to the helping dockhands at Bristol, and Maria (pronounced Mariah) our favorite contact at Coastal Carolina Yacht Sales. Once the boat was settled we were able to explain to them what happened and thank them for their assistance. 

After spending some time trying to fix the broken paddle unsuccessfully, Mark began the process of locating a new one.  Unfortunately, once he talked to the manufacturer he learned the whole unit had to be replaced, and it wasn’t going to be cheap. (BOAT – bring on another thousand)! Mark was able to talk to find the unit at Defender (online marine supply store), but Maria was also able to get a favorable dealer pricing and (hopefully) get it shipped here in the next two days. We intended to spend 2 nights here anyway, so this should not delay our plans too much.

Broken bow thruster paddle (top)

Once all of this was investigated and the part was ordered, we got down to other issues that needed to be addressed.  Denise had been advised that the memorial service for her friend Leslie (who unexpectedly died last year) would finally be held on Friday, April 30th.  The pandemic had kept the family from traveling and it was now scheduled.  Having been informed of this and contemplating Denise going home for the service, Mark contacted his NC client and sold them on a few consulting days while we would be in the area.  With this secured, we altered our plans slightly and secured a marina slip in New Bern, NC for a week.  Denise then made travel arrangements to fly out of New Bern on Thursday, and return to the boat on Saturday 5/1.  She will be home less than 48 hours, but it will also afford her the opportunity to bring things home that we don’t need on the boat, and pick up a few things we have decided we should have brought with us this trip.

It was late when we finished up all that we had to do and we really didn’t feel like going downtown for a dining out option. One of the best things about this marina is that it is located directly across the street from a new Publix.  It could not be more convenient!  So, we walked across the street, picked up a few grocery items, a rotisserie chicken (Denise), and fried chicken (Mark) and came back to the boat for dinner and a quiet evening.

Charleston, SC – Wednesday, 4/21

Today was going to be a windy day and we were so glad that we were not going anywhere.  Although it was sunny and the temperature was perfect, the wind started early and we were thankful to be tied to a dock.

In the morning we waited to hear word about bow thruster paddle, and its arrival. Unfortunately, we learned that it was not going to arrive today, but it was guaranteed for 10:30 am tomorrow.

We did not want to be captive to the boat all day, but we were not really up for going into the downtown area; we’ve been here many times and unless you are going out to dinner, it’s a bit touristy. We were up for a different adventure.  Mark suggested going out to lunch and located a spot about a mile away near the city marina.  There is sidewalk and crosswalks the entire way, so it makes it easy to walk in this area.

The restaurant “Marina Variety Store Restaurant” overlooks part of the city marina, as well as the marshes and the Ashley River. It was beautiful day and we arrived just before the lunch crowd, but it got busy fast.  It is definitely a locals place filled with marina contractors and construction crews from the nearby site as well as a few boaters from the nearby marinas.  And there is a reason: the food was very good.  Between the smoked fish dip appetizer, the she-crab soup, and the crab cake salad, we really enjoyed our meal and thought we made a good choice.

Marina Variety Store Restaurant

Once back at the boat, we spent some time talking with a few other boaters, as well as Craig, the owner of Coastal Carolina Yacht Sales and the broker who sold us our boat. He had taken a customer out on a boat (a previously owned Grand Banks Eastbay 46’) for a sea trial and survey.  It was a good day for this as the owner got to see how she handled in the now very choppy and windy waters around Charleston.  The new owner was gracious enough to let us tour the boat as it had a similar layout to what we like. However, after looking at the features and design, we decided we still like the 45’ Sabre better…not that we are shopping for a new boat!

Mark also was able to talk to Jeff, the electronics contractor who was outfitting a new 48’ Sabre in the slip next to ours. Mark wants to eventually replace our chart plotter and discussed options for placement and rearrangement of the electronics on the helm, as well as other such related items.

In the late afternoon, Kim Russo (executive director of the AGLCA – the Looper organization which is based in Charleston) came by the boat for a short visit.  We discussed our trip plans and her efforts to fight all the pending restrictive anchoring laws in the SC and FL legislatures; something our organization has been fighting against.  Due to the number of derelict boats that are a nuisance to others, as well as an increasing number of houses being built along the waterways, these states are trying to make it more difficult for boaters to anchor in the rivers, tributaries and finger creeks off the ICW. This forces boaters into marinas which can be expensive and there are few of these in number than the number of transient cruisers during the seasonal migrations.  The waters should be free for all to enjoy.

Kim Russo – AGLCA Exec Director

After Kim left, the local owner of a 32’ Back Cove in the slip on the other side of us came by to check on the boat.  We had a chance to talk with him about doing the Great Loop. He wants to do it, but his wife is reluctant, so we told him to bring her down tomorrow morning and Denise can help change her mind.

Finally after 6 pm everyone had left and the docks got quiet, but the wind was stronger than ever.  We opted for a light dinner of flatbread pizzas and some TV watching; we actually put on the news for the first time in almost a full week.  Mark spoke to his mom and sister while Denise worked on and published the last blog. We did get to see this great sunset over the Ashley River before we turned in for the evening. 

Sunset over Ashley River

Here are some other pictures from the area around the marina:

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