That was the goal - make it to Charleston, SC by Wednesday before Thanksgiving. However, unlike with conventional methods of travel, we have some minor details that could get in our way and cause delays if we’re not careful.
Tides seem to be more of a consideration in SC as we need to time our movements based on the tides (draft on the boat is 5.5 ft and we like to have a little bit more than that under our keel).
Bridges, we have learned the hard way to time our travel based on bridge openings. Yes, many do open “on demand” but only during non-commuter hours and when the guides read closed from 6:30 AM to 9:00 AM it does not mean that the last opening is at 6:30 AM but rather - 6:00 AM. This time of year there is no daybreak until at least 6:30 AM so we’ve been left to cool our jets as we wait for the bridge opening.
Coming into Charleston off the ICW there is the Ben Sawyer Memorial bascule bridge we had to get under before 3:30 PM on Wednesday before Thanksgiving or we would not make the last opening - plus the Charleston City Marina would be closed by 5:00 PM and they were not open on Thanksgiving day - we would have to anchor out until Friday. Which would not be a big deal but we were hoping to enjoy a marina for a few days.
Let me back up - We pulled up the anchor at 0615 from an obscure anchorage in the middle of nowhere - marsh land - that got very shallow quickly and was peppered with crab pots. This was Minim Creek (STM 415.5) - anchoring just past 5:00 PM as the sun was starting to set - we like to be all set by 4:30 PM but we were pushing it to get a few more miles under our belt and that would help with our timing on Wednesday into Charleston which would be about 56 miles - the bridge our last obstacle. Minim Creek was beautiful at sunset but the bugs come out at night for sure and the idea of becoming a bug meal as we’re trying to enjoy OUR meal was not appetizing so we took our Italian dinner indoors. The Nats and No-See’ums are crazy here as they have not had a hard freeze yet - and even with insect repellent - you can’t get away from these suckers.
By the way, I’ve gotten much more organized and better at cooking on board. Cooking in a little galley has it’s challenges for sure but for those of you who know me - Red wine, Sweet Basil meat sauce, penne pasta and an antipasto salad are not hard to whip up - now try to do that with only 2 burners and in a tiny space. Well…it can be done and done well. We enjoy our evenings with music, cooking and planning our next day. Clean up, showers and a movie are always in order. Movies you say - oh yes, our Verizon Jetpack provides great internet coverage even in the middle of nowhere! We’ve been watching Wake of the Red Witch, Captain Blood, The Black Swan (1942 with Tyron Powers and Maureen O’Hara) and Son of Fury. Old pirate, swashbuckling movies are on the menu lately.
But I digress, as we pulled up anchor from Minim Creek Jeff has to dodge all the crab pots in water that is less than 5 ft. and with only one cup of coffee in us - we make our way back on the ICW and we are still not seeing deep water. The first 20 miles were a bit stressful as the tide was coming in - once we got a few hours in we noticed the depth getting better and could relax, We made the bridge a 3:00 PM and got into Charleston Harbor - where we raised the jib and flew the Marine Corps colors so our friends who were at the dock waiting would be able to recognize us. We got into the Downtown Marina and sure enough - Bob and Andrea Warder (USMC ret) were waiting at the dock to greet us! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day meal with them and their family. It was so nice to made to feel at home and like family. Can’t thank them enough for the hospitality!
Originally we had only planned on staying 3 days - heading back out on Saturday but we stayed through Sunday as it’s hard to break away from people you love and again had to time the tides and bridges. We left Charleston around 11:30 AM to continue our trip south to Beaufort SC (Bew-fort - not to be confused with Boe-fort NC - you will be corrected by the locals). Bob and Andrea at the dock waving goodby and with promises to catch up in the next few months in the islands “somewhere in the sun.”
We anchored out Sunday night next to a Natural Reserve and for the first time, had a great night of sleep while at anchor. Jeff only checked the anchor twice that night and I never got up. That is a good night! We decided to stop in Beaufort SC for a few nights to clean up the boat and so we could catch up with Jim and Rhonda Troutman- another Marine Corps retired buddy of Jeff’s. Beaufort is such a great, quaint town. Easy to walk around and a vibrant downtown scene. Southern hospitality at it’s finest. We are continuing our way south - can’t wait to make Georgia and then Florida but this time we don’t have specific dates.
This week has been a lot less stressful and with no real set agenda. I think we have finally found our stride, a pace we are comfortable with. We get where we get and then we stop. I’ve gotten my sea legs and I’m much more comfortable walking about the boat and even making coffee, warm soup, while underway. Would have never done that a month ago. Officially, we have been living on the boat for a little over a month and Jeff has been retired 2 months ago today. It brings a smile to my face when I think of how much we’ve done, seen and experience in the past two months. Oh, and did I mention we’ve seen dolphins every day on our trip! Sometimes multiple times a day. We are not freezing cold during the day anymore either, we have peeled off the layers - today it’s only t-shirts and jeans. Have to say, all the pain and hard work have been worth it as I’m enjoying this journey.