12/24/2010, Charleston City Marina
Hello everyone. Earendil is back at the Charleston City Marina. The good folks here are letting us use the 8 days left on our reservation and since it's very cold and we are waiting for some important mail we have decided to stay here until the end of the reservation.
This is the coldest December on record for the Charleston area, and I imagine for a lot of the Southeast. We are lucky to be back in the water with the heat pump and two space heaters running. We're snug and warm and waiting for Santa Claus.
We made the 13 mile run down with the tide. We had no problems once we left the dock in Wando. That was a bit tricky as the tide was already ripping and with the direction it was flowing it was pushing the boat away from the dock. It took a bit of maneuvering with dock lines and engine until we managed to get us in a place where we could cast off and get me aboard. Happily, we did manage it. The engine ran fine and the vibration seems to be gone.
The dolphins were out as we approached Charleston. We saw about a dozen, the closest were only about 20 feet from the boat. I also got to see the old city of Charleston that Amy and I walked through, this time from the water. It was a pretty trip, but cold.
But now we are here and tied and warm. Merry Christmas everyone! Merry Christmas Adler, we love you.
12/22/2010, Charleston City Boatyard
The motor mounts came this morning. They were installed by about 2:30. The guys tried to launch us then, but unfortunately it was close to low tide. The water in the slip was too low. So there the boat hung and waited for the tide. Finally, at about 5 PM they were able to put us in. George, who installed both the prop and the motor mounts came on board. Bud started the engine and put it in gear and George checked the alignment of the prop and engine. All seems well; the repairs are done and we are officially back on our way!
We went to Amy's tonight for dinner because her parents, our old neighbors, got there. So we had a nice dinner and a nice visit with Joanne and Bill (and Amy and Brandon), and we brought Brandon's car back to the marina for the night.
It was nice to get on the boat without climbing a ladder! Tomorrow I'm going to call and see if the City Marina will let us stay there a few days, since we already paid for a month. We'll see, we're still not sure where we'll be on Christmas.
12/21/2010, Still on the hard in Charleston
So often something long anticipated does not live up to the expectation. I was worried that might be the case with Charleston. Driving to the Charleston City Boatyard from the airport and running errands on Monday had shown me a region that I liked for the water, the rivers and tidal flats, but that looked like so much of suburban America, a pretty interchangeable grouping of chain stores and fast food restaurants arrayed along a network of four lane highways between the interstates. We'd even gone into the city some, and aside from the amount of waterfront (and I always love waterfront) I saw nothing to really captivate me.
That changed as soon as Amy and I began our tour on foot. We started with the Charleston market at the foot of Market Street. The market is a series of about three block-long narrow buildings that form a median for Market Street. It is old; it started as a slave market! Now it's filled with small booths with displays of great local crafts and trinkets. I bought some gifts there, some local and some imported crafts. I got a sweetgrass basket, which is a local craft, and every craftsperson I saw displaying and working on the baskets was black. They are made from a combination of local flora, pine needles, bull rushes, palm leaves and sweetgrass.
After the market we ate at a local restaurant and I had to try a cup of she-crab soup. As you might guess from the name, it's a soup made from crabmeat and crab roe, and it is good.
At this point I was starting to appreciate the city, but that was nothing compared to the old town along the Battery and south of Broad. There Charleston was everything I had thought it would be. Beautiful, tall, narrow houses fronting small streets with glimpses of lush courtyards in between. We walked along the Battery, a raised seawall that goes along the Cooper and Ashley Rivers and protects the old town from storms. The first things I saw when we got up to the Cooper River were dolphins out in the water!
Battery park, along the Ashley River right at Oyster Point (where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers come together) is a long narrow park completely shaded by live oaks with the river on one side and a row of mansions on the other. We wandered back a few side streets and you could tell the streets and houses had been there since well before the civil war. The picture above is one of the streets leading off the Battery along the Cooper River. I've put a few other photos in the gallery.
We ended our tour at Charles Towne Landing, a state historic site across the Ashley River at the site of the first English settlement. Ten years after the founding in 1670, the town moved across to the current downtown area.
The one bad note in the day is that Bud called to tell me that the parts guy tracked our engine mounts and they'd been mistakenly sent to Louisiana. So another pair was ordered and sent overnight for tomorrow. That's our last chance to get in the water before Christmas!
12/21/2010, Charleston City Boatyard
Things have somewhat settled back into a routine for me. The routine is a bit off because the boat is still on the hard and it's still very cold, but at least it's the boat routine.
The first day back aboard I caught up on all our paperwork and put up our Christmas decorations. Bud will never decorate, but despite his feigned indifference, he always reminds me to do it. So the stockings are hung by the portlight with care.
Sunday we worked on the anchor and chain. We had bought a shackle to attach the anchor to the chain that was rated at the same strength as the anchor chain. Unfortunately, it won't fit over the anchor roller so to deploy or weigh the anchor you actually have to lift it up and over the roller. That seems like a recipe for crushed fingers, so Bud thought we should replace that shackle with the fitting we had, and only use the shackle if we are in a storm situation where we think we'll need the full strength of the anchor chain. While we were doing that we decided to replace the markings we had on the anchor chain for length. We had used zip ties every 50 feet, but they are too hard to see. So taking a tip from an article in "Cruising World" I sewed strips of nylon webbing to the chain links. We'll see how well my stitching holds up. We also fed the first 50 feet of the 200 feet of chain into the lower locker, so the rest of the chain would go into the chain locker without getting hung up. Unfortunately, the last 25 feet still would not go in. The problem is that the chain piles up below the hawse pipe and doesn't fall back and down into the space available. For now I think we're going to put more of it into the lower locker. We may try to find pipe to extend the hawse pipe so the chain piles back further where the chain locker is deeper.
Yesterday Amy took us to run some errands and then loaned us her car for the afternoon and evening. Thanks Amy! Bud used it to go grocery shopping. Today I am going to pick Amy up and she and I are going sightseeing in Charleston. Bud is going to stay on board with Fuzzy. He says he's seen the city, it's just a city and he doesn't need to see it again. I'm not at all sure that driving through in the marina van is seeing the city, but I'm happy Fuzzy will have company.
The best news is that the prop is back on the boat. As you can see from the picture, it looks pretty new. One of the yardmen was giving it a final cleaning after the install when I went out and took this photo. It also feathers easily and now has grease fittings, so we can keep it moving nicely.
The bad news (isn't there always bad news from us) is that when they came aboard on Friday to check the engine alignment they found a cracked engine mount (as Bud had expected). They took out the bad one and found the only replacement comes from the state of Washington (teach us to buy a West Coast boat). So a replacement was ordered yesterday to be shipped overnight (the shipping charges are going to kill us). Hopefully with these heroic efforts the boat will be in the water, if not today, then tomorrow.
My mom asked me yesterday where we'd be for Christmas, and I told her then what I know now, on the boat. As to where the boat will be... I think that level of uncertainty is part of the charm of cruising life. It's a good thing I find that charming, isn't it?
12/18/2010, We're all now in Charleston
It's early Saturday morning and I'm back sitting at our navigation station writing for the blog and it feels great! It's cool and rainy here, you have to climb a ladder to get on or off the boat, the boatyard is in the middle of nowhere and it still feels great! I can't believe I was off the boat for 39 days.
I flew back as Amtrak doesn't go anywhere near Charleston. My flight took off at 11:55; we had to leave the house at a little before 9. I woke up at 4 AM with terrible diarrhea. Oh no! I had coffee and nothing else. By 9 I was pretty much empty, which was good, as my first flight was late so I had to run from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other (at least it wasn't Chicago or Atlanta) to make my connecting flight. No time to use the restroom there. I made it all the way to Charleston with no bathroom breaks!
I was determined to make that flight, as I had no cell phone. I was being met at the airport by Amy Wollaber Curran, the daughter of our former neighbors and one of Jamie's best friends. We found out on Tuesday that she lives in a suburb of Charleston, only a few miles from the airport and the boatyard! She and Jamie talk at least once a week, but Jamie didn't realize she was that close, and I had always pictured her living in the middle of the state.
As soon as she found out, Amy called Bud and offered to have him and Fuzzy stay at their house, but the worst of the cold was over, and Bud being Bud, he would rather stay on the boat.
Anyway it was wonderful to see her and to have someone to meet me. We stopped at her house and picked up her two kids, Layton, 2-and-a-half , and Addison, 1. Cute kids, but what a handful (they are 22 months apart). Amy works as a second grade teacher and tutors. Her husband, Brandon, is just starting as a fireman and works 24 hours on and 48 hours off, so they have a pretty hectic life.
When we got to the boatyard, which was only about 3 minutes away from the first place Amy and Brandon had lived in Charleston, Bud and Fuzzy were there to meet us at the gate (the yard is fenced). I called to Fuzzy but he is so deaf he didn't hear me. Bud tried to point me out, but as I was coming up to him he didn't recognize me because he is so blind. When he finally registered someone was there he barked at me! Even when I got right up to him, he didn't seem to know me. All of a sudden, when I picked him up and started petting him he started to whimper because he realized I was back. He wouldn't let me put him down until we all got back on the boat (including the kids).
Amy and the kids and I then climbed back down the ladder and went to a little restaurant just down the road with no shoulders, and got Chinese. I ordered vegetable rice noodles; I figured that was about the only safe Chinese dish. We had a nice time and had only one bump on the head for Layton, who wanted to climb all over everything! Amy is such a good mom, she very patiently explained to him that he got the bump on the head because he wouldn't sit on his bum like Mommy told him.
We talked to Jamie twice, once on the way out of the airport and again after supper. It was so hard to leave her. She's now waiting for the results of the test. She took the test on Tuesday but won't get the results for about 3 weeks. She has no idea how she did. She studied like mad, but how do you prepare for a nine-hour test that covers four years of medical school?
Jamie said Adler was upset when they drove away from the airport without me. He kept calling "Gramma, Gramma". When they got home he went through the house looking for me and kept asking for me through the day. We are going to have to start using Skype, so we can see each other. I don't want him to forget me! It was especially hard to leave just before Christmas, but I didn't want Bud to be alone on Christmas either.
Bud heard on Friday that the prop is on its way back. So hopefully by Tuesday we'll be back in the water. I don't know when we'll leave. I think we'll stay in the area at least until the 23rd, because Amy's parents, our former neighbors, are coming down that day to spend Christmas with Amy and her family. We'd love to be able to see them.
I'm going to post this, and I'll add a photo as soon as it's light and we're dressed and I can take one.
12/10/2010, Still at the Charleston City Boatyard
They finally came back with an estimate on our prop and a time-line. They said 10 to 12 more days. That might put the prop back Christmas week, and Tuesday of that week is the last day of work for the crew at the boatyard. So I called the folks in Washington and explained the situation and asked for a better estimate. He told me that there was another live-aboard whose job was being rushed, but he would move us up to the next slot and see what he could do. I told him the forecast in Charleston is for temperatures in the 20's (it is!) and he sounded like they would surely get it done in time for Christmas.
So I went and bought my plane ticket back to the boat. I'm returning on Friday, December 17. I will hate to leave Jamie and Adler, but I can't wait to get back.
As bleak as things have been, we are still amazed at the kindness of other boaters. Bud tried to bike out to a store on Sunday but was met by someone who advised him to not even try. The roads are too narrow, the bridge traffic too crazy even on a Sunday, to permit biking. Bud told him he was heading out to get a second heater because he was not able to keep the boat warm enough with just one. The man first offered to take Bud, but didn't have room in his car with all the car seats for his grandchildren. Then he said he had a space heater at home Bud could use and he'd bring it back. Several hours later he came back with a brand new space heater and the Sunday Charleston paper, gave them both to Bud and said "Merry Christmas".
Now that we know my time-line, Bud is going to rent a car for a week. He's running out of groceries, he needs to do the wash, and he has parts waiting at West Marine to do some small jobs while he's waiting, and he can't get to anything from where he is. So Saturday he will rent a car for a week. Then he'll be able to pick me up from the airport on Friday. I told him to get the car for when he needed it, not to worry about my return as I could get a shuttle or a cab, but I will be very glad to have Bud waiting when I finally get there.