06/12/2009/9:02 am, Charleston, SC
After dragging - or stretching out too close to a boat that had come in and anchored fairly near us, we rose to the beeping of the alarm at 6 am on Saturday and hustled into action once more. This time it was raining as well as windy and cold. But collision was averted yet again and we got the anchor up and ourselves into a new position. Jim got quite a surprise when he finally got the anchor pulled up - and it was a mighty struggle. It was entangled in a rusty old iron ladder. We're not sure if we anchored on top of it - which would explain the dragging - or picked it up as we moved. Generally, all that chain on the bottom holds us in place almost as well as the anchor itself, but the stronger currents combined with higher winds seem to be foiling our old techniques.
We moved over to the mega dock at Charleston City Marina around noon - and got settled right behind Oz!! We were delighted to be able to catch up on news and experiences with Connie and Ken - even though we were shaking our heads at how we left Dowry Creek a day or two ahead of them because we wanted to keep moving south. Misery does like company, and it was interesting to feel ourselves feeling a little more relaxed and part of a group when we heard their stories about the rough times they and other boats have been having.
It is not a myth that travelling this far north, this late in the season is more fraught with difficulty. As we read blogs and reports from other boats, we understand that we have experienced far less damage than others.
Now on to happy things! West Marine had a C-80 chartplotter in stock and has been helpful in getting us back into working order. The marina here has block ice - lasts longer in our icebox. We are clean and we smell good again!
We had a wonderful evening walking in Charleston along streets of balconied and piazzad houses - some of them dressed for the holidays. We watched the kayaks all decorated up in Christmas lights go by Waterfront Park, but got too cold before the parade of brightly lit ships came along (we thought it would be much earlier when they got to this side of the harbour). After mingling with folks on the waterfront (and enjoying chocolate chip cookies shared by one family) we headed for East Bay Street and the warmth of Amen Restaurant. We just stumbled across it but it was a good stumble. The fish (Mahi Mahi for Jim and Striped Bass for me) was perfectly cooked and served with asparagus and smooth, mushroomy grits (Jim took a pass on those!)
Off to more happy experiences today!
04/12/2009/2:03 pm, Charleston, SC
Never let it be said that this cruising thing is just laid back relaxing. Lately it seems to be one "incident" after another.
The sun was out; the wind was down; the Ben Sawyer Bridge was open; everything looked rosy on Thursday when we left Georgetown. We got fuel and water at Harborwalk Marina, headed into the Estherville-Minim Channel and had a perfectly lovely time for 4 or 5 hours. The marshes of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge are still beautiful even this late in the season and we watched birds all along the way. The trouble was... the tide was falling. I know you can guess the next part of this story!
We were doing well - following the "magenta line" on the chart and paying attention to the bits where the cruisers' website reported shoaling. We paid too much attention to one part that said to stay over on the red side. If we had ignored that and stayed in the centre of the channel we'd have been fine because as we sat in the mud, "Latitude Adjustment" went along beside us in 8 feet of water. After an unsuccessful attempt to tip ourselves with the headsail, we dropped the anchor, got out our books and waited for the tide to finish dropping and come back up again. Two and a half hours later we were on our way. We got to one of our favourite anchorages (Awendaw Creek) just at dusk so although we hadn't gone as far as we'd hoped, we did have a quiet starlit night in a curve of deep water in the marsh.
We were up before dawn and off at 6:30 on Friday morning in order to make best use of the tide along the rest of the route. Friday's "incident" showed up early - our chartplotter wouldn't come on. The screen would light up, go off, light up, go off. We had trouble with it back in Nova Scotia but Jim had reset it and it had been working fine since. This time, it just didn't work at all. Fortunately, the ICW is well marked, we had back-up paper charts - but it will need to be fixed or replaced.
The Ben Sawyer Bridge opened when I called so we didn't even have to wait for the 11 o'clock opening. They are working on it, but the last word we have is that it isn't expected to be closed until January. We just got across Charleston Harbour and were headed for the Ashley River when I spied a police boat coming up behind us. We slowed down and they called out, "Maintain your course and speed - we are coming aboard." The boat snuggled up to our port side and three fellows hopped aboard. It was a combined operation between US Coast Guard and Charleston Harbour Police, and when I commented that it was the most thorough check we've ever had, they laughed and said it was the short version. These men were all polite, professional, genial. They wanted to see all our documentation - boat and personal. The first 2 questions were, "Do you have a cruising permit? Have you been checking in as you have travelled?" How happy we were to be able to say, "Yes!" to both. While the coast guard officer filled out his forms, one of the others checked our PDF's, fire extinguishers, flares, and air horn. The other one just made conversation! They said they are part of an effort to combine forces in some areas and are checking out US flag vessels as well as foreign ones - any vessel that looks like it is passing through.
When I thanked them for a happy experience, they laughed and said there are enough bad ones, they don't try to create any more. Nice attitude - and very different feeling from the time we were boarded in Sodus Bay, NY.
Besides that bit of good news, we found an anchoring spot in the Ashley River off the City Marina, dinghied ashore, and taxied to the West Marine Store where Jim bought a new C-80 Raymarine chartplotter because the old one was indeed dead. We were lucky that they had a new one in stock and it was cheaper than the one he bought 3 years ago.
After a stop at the Harris Teeter Grocery store (the most wonderful fresh produce!), we arrived back at the boat just as the rain started so it is an evening aboard for us. Tomorrow we'll take in the sights and tastes of Charleston - the parade of decorated boats in the evening, and sweet, nutty pralines are on the for-sure list.
03/12/2009/7:34 am, Georgetown, South Carolina
It's a new day. The sun is shining - what a difference that makes. We'll be off down the ICW shortly, making our way to Charleston. We may make it a two day trip - anchoring somewhere in the marshes on the way. We got some great fresh seafood here yesterday so we'll have a lovely feast tonight!