Christmas in Charleston, SC
27 December 2010 | Charleston, SC
Sunny, windy and cold
4 December - 27 December 2010
Our one week in Charleston stretched out to almost a month. We decided that since we weren't in any hurry to get anywhere and the un-seasonally cold weather was stretching all the way to Miami, we would just stay here for a while. The marina is quite nice as is the staff. There is a free marina shuttle that runs to West Marine every day at 1100 and then does a return pickup at 1230. There is a fine grocery store in the same little center. Boat goodies and food goodies all in one stop. What more could the carless cruiser want? Well, ... Their free shuttle also leaves every hour during the day and heads to old downtown Charleston and will drop you off any where there. Then when you are ready to return to the marina you just call, tell them where you are and they come to get you. In addition they have a "honey" boat (rather than a honey wagon) that the comes to the boat and pumps the head. Now the entertaining part of this is that Bill (William J. Mueller) discovered that the two honey boats are named the William J I and the William J II. There has to be 10 minutes of stand up comedy we could do with that. And there is fuel available all along the Megadock. Now all of that really gives a cruiser a real incentive to stay a little longer and enjoy the lovely city of Charleston. And so we did.
We were initially on the outside of the Megadock but moved to the inside end after we decided to stay the month. It is a VERY long walk to the head, marina office and the laundry with additional distance to the shuttle pick up. I am sure we could have moved closer to the beginning of the Megadock but we decided to consider it good exercise. And it was and has been although with some of the cold early mornings we have had here it has been a walk with long-johns under a sweat outfit wearing gloves and a warm head band.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here but returning some time when the weather is better would be nice. It is a lovely city for walking and wandering. We saw the local boat parade, the city Christmas parade and took a horse carriage tour guide. History is, of course, quite a big deal and our guide was knowledgeable and we were dressed warmly enough to enjoy the hours we spent slowly wandering through Charleston. The tour helped orient us so we knew where we were and where we were going during our walks later on.
There were several trips to West Marine and lunch out at an Indian Restaurant - Taste of India (there must be a restaurant by that name in thousands of US cities.) We hadn't had Indian food in months and it was so good. The noon buffet allowed us to kind of make pigs of ourselves. Needless to day, supper that might was pretty minimal.
A couple of days before Christmas we rented a car and did a great deal of running around. The fellow who rented us the car recognized the area code on our phone number and asked if it wasn't from MN. It turned out he was raised Edina, MN. It was Hertz and when I asked they were gracious enough to come pick us up at the marina although they don't advertise a pick up and return service. It was just another case of asking and being lucky that they weren't real busy and were willing to accommodate us. (I had checked with Enterprise but they were "out of cars but we will find you something - $125.98/day". No way!)
We had briefly talked to a couple who had come in the day before. We asked them if they needed to run around but they were well set. We also asked them to join us later in the day for an early evening drive over to James Island just across the bridge from the marina to see the 21st Annual Holiday Festival of Lights at the County Park. The lights were spectacular and I wish we could have gotten some pictures but it was a drive through and we couldn't stop or go slowly enough to get any pictures worth saving. The display was voted one of the 10 best in the nation and I can believe it. There were over more than two million lights and over 600 light displays. For anyone who is in this area this time of year it is a must see. There is also a large park center that has events during the season as well as the gift shop and marshmallow roasting and sand sculptures and such. We didn't park and take in any of those things because we had a dinner reservation for later. But I am sure it is worth a stop. The visit to James Island for the lights must be as much a family tradition here in Charleston as the Holidazzle Parade is in Minneapolis - but certainly a lot warmer outing for the family.
We had a lovely Italian dinner at the Mercato on Market street where a local female vocalist backed up by a very good three piece combo was performing classical jazz and blues. Penny and George Miller from Star Shot and Bill and I talked sailing, of course, and enjoyed the music. We were back at the Marina by 2130. Star Shot was leaving at 0330 in the morning for an outside run to get as far south as they could before the next system came in. Their cockpit is completely enclosed so the cold is not as much a factor for them as it is for us.
We had the furler cover fixed the first week here and Bill continued to check things off the to-do list as the days went by. There are now spot lights strategically placed in the saloon for settling in and reading a good book. The general lights weren't enough but now we are all set. We, by the way, are one of the few boats here in the US - both power and sail - that we have seen that doesn't have a TV on board. We didn't watch much TV at the house and haven't actually missed it. We both love to read, are having no problem finding books to enjoy, and can get news and such from the internet. There are now three fans in the saloon as well as an additional one in the guest quarters. I Believe, I Believe, I Believe we will get some place where we will need those fans!!
Christmas day was quiet with just the two of us most of the day. It was certainly different from the normal large family gathering but we made phone calls to family and didn't miss all of the snow and such that most were getting. We had Kelly Roberts from the boat across the dock, Quasart, over for dinner that day. He is boat sitting for the owner who has returned to NYC. The boat is a wooden 108' Turkish Gullet that Jacqueline purchased 2 ½ years ago. It has been used for production shots (Ralph Lauren Polo, for example) as well as charters, private events, film bookings and such. When she showed us around the boat she kept comparing it to a 5 star hotel. It is lovely but it is a boat first and it has had mechanical and engine problems that weren't expected causing them to lose charters this winter. So it is now up for sale. It was so hard to hear someone talk about their dream and know they are now giving up that dream. It makes us once again realize how very lucky we are to be able to live our dream for however long we can.
The weather forecasts are starting to look better after the rude shock of seeing it snow late yesterday afternoon and then waking up this morning to ice all over the dock and on the boat. We plan to leave here Wednesday to arrive in Brunswick, GA the next day - a 20-25 hour passage. Then it will be settle in there for a month.