SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
Some of our favorite islands, countries, marinas, and cities are the ones we discover by accident. It's those unexpected treasures that make our lifestyle so interesting. Our visit to Charleston was no exception.
We had already chosen Savannah as our "Southern city of choice," knowing we could not possible spend the time and money necessary to see every southern city. Savannah was all we had heard it was and more, but a part of me was still regretting not getting to see Charleston.
We had slept the previous night anchored in Tom Point Creek, South Carolina. We had hoped to reach Elliott Cut at slack tide, but anyone who has played those tide games along our southern coast knows that it is nearly impossible to predict when tide will be with you and when it will be against you along the waterway, since you pass so many inlets in a day. You can have a 3 knot current with you, then suddenly you pass an inlet and you spend the next several hours crawling up current. With such unpredictable speed, we could not time our arrival at Elliott Cut. All we could do was hope for the best.
We arrived at the entrance to Elliott Cut at 1:00; high tide was at 5:00. Using the 12ths rule we convinced ourselves that it was possible that it wasn't that bad. To be sure, we hung around the entrance to the cut and waited for a boat to pass us. We hailed the trawler as he entered the cut and asked if he'd give us an idea of how fast the current was running through it.
"Well, it's really not that bad. Looks like it only took 3 knots off my speed."
"Not bad" to a trawler is completely different than "not bad" in Walküre with her little 9.9 horse. So we looked for a place to anchor while we waited for the tide to slacken. While we floundered we did the math and realized that if we got through the cut at 5:00 pm there was nowhere we could comfortably anchor before dark. Looks like it was time to use our backup plan: stay at a marina. But Dave was not very impressed with the marinas in Charleston, since most of them were exposed and we were expecting some wind that night.
Our floundering led us toward St. John's Yacht Harbor, so we hailed them to get some information. Yes, they had slips available; yes, it is easy to get downtown from there. And at $1.75/foot/day transient rate we were feeling pretty good about spending two nights there and getting to be tourists in Charleston after all.
We have stayed at more marinas in the year we've been on Walküre than in the first decade we were on Eurisko, so I sort of feel like I'm becoming a connoisseur or at the very least a marina snob. There are certain things I expect from a "nice" marina. St. John's Yacht Harbor had them all. The staff was helpful, professional, and friendly. Their floating docks are sturdy and with Walküre's 13-inch draft we could get far enough away from the traffic in the channel to have a comfortable stay. There is a fuel dock, laundry room, elegant heads, a restaurant, and pool on site. But our favorite part of our stay there (which changed from overnight, to two nights, to a week) was the courtesy car.
"We're trying to find a way to get downtown tomorrow. What would you suggest?"
"We have a courtesy car you can take."
"But we'll be downtown all day. We can do that?"
"Oh sure. You're our only transients tonight and we're not expecting any tomorrow, so just have it back by the time we close at 8:00."
"Well, that's sounds great! Parking is easy downtown?"
"Absolutely. Here's a map. Let me print out directions for you. And don't worry about putting gas in the car when you bring it back. We'll cover that."
If our stay at St. John's Yacht Harbor was any indication, we were going to like Charleston.
Since we had just visited Savannah the previous week, Charleston had some big shoes to fill. We were immediately impressed by how compact much of the older part of Charleston is. Rather than having to walk 10 miles, we saw most of the older buildings by walking less than a mile in any direction from downtown. We started by walking the perimeter, down to the water along narrow street lined with homes from the 1700's. An historic city is often defined by the era in which their major fire occurred. They all had one: Savannah's was in the 1800's; Charleston's was in the 1700's. So the architecture of the oldest homes was noticeably different.
If Savannah is known for its parks, Charleston should be known for its unique entryways. In many of the older homes, the street door did not open into the house. Rather, guests entered onto a covered porch looking out over the side yard. To get into the house you had to enter yet another door from this porch. How nice, to be able to greet guests and entertain them without them necessarily entering your home. And like Savannah, the gates leading to these side yards were decorated with intricate ironwork.
While we wandered the town looking at churches, private homes and businesses, the sky altered our plans for us. When the rain began, we were not the only ones with the idea of choosing that time to explore the Market. Under cover, with hundreds of booths, the Market is a bit of a tourist trap, but always fun to walk through anyway. Women sat in many of the booths weaving baskets out of sweet grass in the traditional Gullah style.
Charleston proved to be one of those unexpected delights that keep us cruising. Had we sailed on by, we never would have known what a classy old city it is, we never would have experienced her architecture and friendly people. Sometimes even when the tide is against you, it works out for the best.
Have you ever been scraped, poked or otherwise injured by cotter pins? After one too many of these incidents, Dave found a better way. MONDAY we'll share our cotter pin alternative.
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