At the end of 24 very long hours!
I am actually starting this posting early while still at the dock in Wrightsville Beach drinking my morning coffee. Allow me to wax philosophical.
For cruise planners heading south at some time in the future, make sure that you have a functioning holding tank. But not only that, make sure of two other things: 1. that you can switch to holding tank from overboard discharge and lock it in place (that latter part is particularly important as the Poop Police will fine you severely if they can show that it would be easy for you to circumvent the holding tank), and 2. You need to have these stupid plaques on the bulkhead of your boat, prominently displayed, that spout the discharge laws for the US. Incredible, eh? Only in the US would the lawmakers even presume to insist that a foreign flagged boat put up permanently mounted plaques voicing their laws.
Ahh, Jeeze! I just watched Alan put is multimillion dollar boat under the bridge and take off all his super structure. What a disaster! I hope they're OK. They seemed to get caught in the current and Alan was using a new toy the remote steerage and engine control and I guess he zigged when he should have zagged. All of his electronics got sheared off his superstructure. Major ouchie! Poor guy! He got caught sideways in the approach to the bridge and whammo! Game over! With a boat the size of Andele there was nothing he could do once he was in that position. I had a brief look at the damage and it appeared to be non structural - mostly antennas and pretty crap. They're OK and the rest can be fixed. As a witness I wound up giving testimony to the USCG folks that came to investigate and they are having the boat fixed at a boat yard nearby.
Our motor down the waterway to Southport was uneventful - plenty of water, as long as you stayed in the canal, and beautiful scenery. We had our first hitchhiker that we know of when a little bird decided to land and visit in our furled mainsail for a short time. We snapped a couple of pictures as evidence and to remind us of his visit.
Then we ventured out into the Atlantic for the first time since Cape May. It was great to get the salt on your skin and in your hair, but of course, with the Turney luck, the initial sailable winds were right on the nose, and later that evening when they veered around to let us use them while on course, they freshened to 30+ knots! If you combine that with the very confused seas that you have down here, I fully understand why so many people prefer to take the ICW. I don't believe that I have ever seen two whitecaps progressing towards each other in exactly the opposite direction. I did last night, with Nelleke as the point of intersection! What fun! We wound up motor-sailing under bare poles at 6.5 - 7 knots throughout most of the night with poor old Nelleke taking a fair amount of spray over her bows and Barb and I both feeling really queasy for the first time this trip. In fact during the night at midnight I made the call to divert to Georgetown to anchor and wait it out but as we got closer to shore the winds died out and I reverted to the original plan for Charleston. For the next hour it was low winds and uneventful but then it picked up again, just not to the same degree as before and we managed to squeak into Charleston just before it opened up to 40 knots. We were followed into the harbour by Tall Ship Caledonia, the first Canadian boat that we have met in our travels from Halifax. It turns out that a young fellow that I had taken some of my commercial mariner courses with, Nick Manual, is aboard. We'll have to try to get together. There are quite a few Tall Ships here in Charleston, it seems to be some sort of gathering.
We are tied up at an outside dock at the Charleston Harbour Marina at Patriot's Point. Rank extravagance, but with how exhausted we are and with as much laundry and need of the security of knowing that the anchor won't drag, we felt it was worth it. Tonight we are going out for dinner. I don't care where. Even a McDonald's will do. Just somewhere that someone else cooks it and washes the dishes.