28/05/2008/8:23 pm, Charleston, SC
Here we are in Charleston again (Well - in the pretty picture above - we are still in Fernandina Beach!) Seems like yesterday and seems like forever ago that we had dinner at the BBQ place with Mary and Blair (Strathspey), and roamed the streets with Terry and Sue (Jim's cousin).
We departed from Fernandina Beach at 0800 hours on Tuesday when it looked like we'd have a smooth passage up the coast. Yes - it was smooth. A few rolls but nothing to complain about, and some wind but not enough to allow us to turn off the engine completely. We covered 157 nautical miles and dropped the anchor in the Ashley River about 1030 hours today. It is amazing to realize that in two jumps up the coast, we covered miles that took us two weeks on the way down. We had to skip Georgia this trip north so we'll return to visit Savannah and Cumberland Island in more depth next time.
After a rest, some lunch and some discussion, we moved over to the Charleston Harbour Resort Marina. I'm flying back to Nova Scotia on Friday for a few days and Jim decided he'd feel more comfortable on a dock for that time period. It makes it easier for him to come and go. He can do more boat jobs - washing, scrubbing, waxing! And if a big wind blows through, he'll be in a better position to manage it.
Last fall we stayed at the Charleston City Marina and were very pleased with it. We thought we'd try the Charleston Harbour Marina this time for a change; we'll see how it works out. So far, we can tell that the staff is not as well trained as those we met at the City Marina last year - in handling lines, in providing information, and it seems to me that it isn't as convenient - we can't just walk to the downtown.
I've just read a couple of good books: The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy's story of the year he spent teaching on Yamacraw Island, a tiny island a whole world and just a sliver of water away from South Carolina, - a very good read; a totally different one but entertaining and informative, (and it kept me awake on my watches last night) was Shark River by Randy Wayne White - a Florida writer. Jim is reading Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile and finds it enlightening and baffling at the same time. After we've both read it, we'll rent the movie.
That's it for now - an astoundingly short posting for me!
25/05/2008/9:56 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
Our wind generator has been whirling all day! Yeah! We are so excited to see that our batteries are maintaining a good charge - a better charge than we've seen in months - despite the engine being off and the fridge being on.
The wind picked up last evening and has been blowing ever since. Those three long blades whirled around, making very little noise - less than the flapping of our flag, the water against the hull, or the wind through the rigging. So far, we are absolutely delighted with our purchase.
I did laundry at the marina while Jim puttered about on the boat and by two o'clock we were hustling ashore to join Dick and Tina on a home tour of the "Coastal Cottage Trio". This is a group of houses built by Greg Lane in Amelia Park, and the tour was a benefit for Barnabas Center. Jodie Koford, manager of Ocean Breeze Farm where Tina and I picked up those organic veggies, owns one of the cottage type houses, and it was a treat to visit her beautiful home that was bursting with colour. Jim and I were delighted with the design of the homes and came away with lots of ideas for our next land base. We loved the long, wide porches, the screened three-season rooms tucked into corners, high ceilings and transom windows. The kitchens were gorgeous with wooden cabinets and countertops, and drawer style microwave ovens. All the floors were poured concrete, scored and washed to look like stone tiles - really attractive and easy to care for.
From there, the four of us headed back to the beach to lounge around and absorb a few rays, feeling the heat from the sand and breathing in the salt air as our conversation ranged far and wide. The surf was up and many families were playing in and out of the water all along this great long beach. We were content to sit and talk and watch it all. The day ended with a stop for fish and chips and a stroll back down Centre Street to the Marina where our trusty little dinghy awaited us. We bade fond farewells to Dick and Tina with promises to exchange reading lists and to keep in touch. Our "people time" in Fernandina Beach has been outstanding and it all started with meeting Steve and Sandi in Baddeck, NS last summer. Pretty sweet!
The town is teaming with people here for the long weekend. More marina slips are filled than we have ever seen, the moorings are all occupied, and boats of all descriptions travel back and forth along the waterfront. A whole group of power boaters had their chairs and tables lined up along one of the docks and a party was in full swing as we went by. Out on our mooring, it was a quieter evening - just the water and wind and a couple of pooped and happy visitors.
24/05/2008/9:51 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
As we sat with Tina and Dick in the Amelia Island Plantation Conference Centre Saturday night, listening to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra play an assortment of Gershwin, Berlin, Sousa medleys, I felt like I was just filled to bursting with life itself. I poked Jim to see if he was having the same feeling - and he nodded. We smiled the smile that has come to mean, "How about this!!" and sat back to continue enjoying ourselves.
The Devoes picked us up at 8:30 that sunny morning and we headed to T-Rays for one of their famous breakfasts - eggs done perfectly, sizzling bacon, creamy grits and a biscuit so tender it fell apart as I spread homemade grape jelly over it. From there we moved on to the Saturday farmers Market in downtown Fernandina Beach where we purchased cherries (all for me) and strawberries, crab cakes, muffalettas and wonderful peppery olive oil imported from Italy. Fiddle players made music, vendors sold veggies and cheeses and seafood and candy. People strolled and chatted and filled their cloth bags and baskets - just like in Farmers Markets everywhere.
Next stop was the organic farm where I bought those wonderful veggies earlier in the week. More pole beans, cucumbers, peppers and bunches of basil filled my bag. After a stop at Publix for grocery staples, we roared back to Tiger Point, cast off Madcap's lines and motored around the corner again to the main harbour. Afternoon siestas followed and then it was time for another adventure.
We loaded ourselves into Devoe's very cute new Honda CR4 and headed for the beach. Tina spread out her red, white and blue tablecloth, and from their basket and our tote bag emerged bowls and platters of gourmet picnic food: Crab cakes stacked with fried green tomatoes and topped with tartar sauce, crunchy veggies and curry dip, crisp-tender pole beans tossed in that new olive oil, chewy baguettes, strawberries, chocolate, biscotti - all washed down with some very good wines (purchased at incredibly cheap Florida prices.)
We cleaned ourselves up a bit and drove off to the Memorial Day concert I mentioned earlier. It was sponsored by ARIAS (Amelia Residents in Action for the Symphony), which assists the Symphony in presenting concerts for school children and sponsors several young people in their musical studies. One "new to us" portion of the program was the last offering. The lights in the room went up and the orchestra broke into a medley of the songs identified with each branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, beginning with the senior branch, the Army. As the music started, individuals stood up all over the room. As they sat down, others stood and it continued through each melody. We were completely puzzled by this until our friends told us that this musical tradition honours those who have served (or are serving) in any of these branches of the military. When their theme song is played, they stand. It was an interesting thing to see.
On the way home, we made one more stop - to the ice cream store. We each ordered exotic combinations of ice cream and syrup and nuts that were stirred together on a cold marble slab and scooped into cups. Rich, decadent, delicious. A perfect ending to an outstanding day.