Greetings from Charleston, South Carolina! What a city! I know I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, but after rounding out of the ICW proper to head t our marina in Charleston yesterday, it felt like going from a narrow country road to a 10 lane highway! Suddenly we were in a huge shipping channel with a ton of tankers around. We haven’t seen that type of water area in quite some time, so it was a big change. Just before we reached our marina, and I’ll talk about the crazy current and our entry below, we passed by the USS Yorkton Aircraft Carrier. Huge! And just this morning a cruise ship passed by our marina and pulled into its port. Such activity not seen in quite some time!
After leaving the Marina of Grande Dunes near Myrtle Beach on Friday, Nov. 2, we headed for Osprey Marina, which was only a 15.5 mile trip. Even though we were technically still in the Myrtle Beach area, this marina was definitely one of the most remote marinas we have been too. It was a great one, and pretty inexpensive, but it was not near anything. And it was dark, dark, dark at night! This was particularly so as we were way out on a dock without electricity, so walking back from the bathroom – which was a 0.3 mile hike – it was good to have flashlights. They even provided golf carts for people to take to the bathroom and back!
We were at Osprey Marina two nights, and it really ended up being a delightful place to stay. The weather warmed up nicely to the low 70’s and was very comfortable despite getting into the low 40’s at night. Sharon spent a lot of time during the day on Saturday helping a fellow Rally member repair and sew their plastic in their dodger. I spent the day installing a new water purifier system (no more having to use water jugs!) and wiring our new MPPT controller for our solar panels. And then in the evening we all gathered together for pizza for dinner and had a great time sharing stories and hearing about what brought others on this trip.
Sunday morning, Nov. 4, greeted us with a bright sunshine and the promise of a great day. And it really did end up being a good day, but the first little bit of the day almost appeared as though it would end early. We were all set to take off from the dock with the engine warming up and life was good! I turned the instruments on, which includes our much-needed depth sounder, wind speed/direction and knot meter to tell how fast we are going and how far we have gone, but they absolutely did not turn on! At all! Those of you who know me, and know that in my past bike riding days that I would have a very hard time even going on a bike ride if my bike computer didn’t work to tell me how fast I was going or how far I went, know that my eyes starting to shake a bit at this point. In my defense, it not only is nice to know our boat speed; it is critical to have your depth sounder working in the ICW. Our chartplotter’s GPS actually would show our SOG, Speed Over Ground, so I could get our speed there, but we really needed to know our depth.
I really did well at not panicking, and shut the engine off to think about this situation. It then suddenly dawned on me that I spent a lot of time the day before reaching in and out of a very small opening into the very, very back part of our boat where I installed the MPPT controller for the solar panels. It is accessed through a small panel in the way-back end of the aft berth, and in that area is our GPS flux compass, our inverter, lots of cables and wires, and also the main computer module for all the instruments. So I calmly grabbed my headlamp and went back there to take a look. And sure enough, I saw where I had inadvertently disconnected the negative terminal for the instruments during one of my reaches in and out. Often I had half of my body stretching in there and I probably hit it with a shoulder or something. It took me just a few seconds to reconnect it and they worked! Whew!
Once we left it was a very nice trip to Georgetown, SC. The ICW wound around more remote areas again and we didn’t see many houses or cottages until we reached Georgetown. Occasionally a boat would pass us, but there wasn’t otherwise much traffic on this stretch.
We stayed in Georgetown for two nights and it proved to be a great stay. Most places we have been staying at lately are very rich in history and Georgetown proved to be no different. Numerous walks around the small town revealed many homes that were built in the late 1700’s. It was also so cool to walk along the sidewalks that had huge towering trees with limbs thick with Spanish moss and ferns. It was quite beautiful. We had dinner that evening with fellow Rally members, Dawn and Allen, and were then able to see the harbor front all light up at night.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, we headed toward Charleston. As it was too far to reach in one day, especially with a shoaling area that needed to be crossed at high tide, we anchored for the night just off the ICW in Awendaw Creek. All 18 boats! It was a great spot to anchor despite once again having the wind coming from one direction and the current coming from the opposite direction – you anchor into the current! As this was sort of an ocean inlet area the current was not as tidal based so it kept up all night. So strange to see an almost 2 knot current whipping by your hull while you’re not moving.
After a great night of sleep we pulled up anchor Wednesday morning and finished the last 30.2 nm to Charleston, SC. The closer to the city we got the more homes we saw along the ICW and the more boat traffic we had to maneuver. There was one swing bridge we had to wait for before rounding up into Charleston Harbor and there we were in the huge shipping channel I mentioned above. What a change!
The current in Charleston Harbor was very strong as we approached the Charleston Maritime Center Marina and it was quite touch and go as entered the marina. We sort of slipped into it sideways but made it without hitting the outer piling – a good thing! We got tied up and celebrated with a beer – at 12:00 noon. As it was supposed to be rainy the next day, which didn’t turn out to be, we ended up being productive by changing the oil and oil filter, and both fuel filters. What a team we are! It ended up being messier than we wanted to as we spilled some diesel in changing the Racor filter, but it ended up all good. It took more times to successfully bleed the fuel line, for some reason, but the engine finally fired up and ran with no problem. The Racor filter was quite black this time, so it was good we changed it. Hard to imagine it’s been just over 200 hours since we changed the fuel filters in Waterford, NY already! We change the oil every 100 engine hours and the fuel filters every 200 hours.
Today, Thursday, Nov. 8, we decided to not tour the city yet as we really wanted to finally get our solar panels installed. It took some time, with a couple of short rain delays, but we finally got both panels installed on top of our bimini. Very cool to get them up there, and we have to say they are quite stable on the support system we installed way back in Hampton, VA. We may have to move the starboard panel more toward the middle of the boat as the radar dome may block the sun too much, but we’ll figure that out later – especially when we finally get some sun. As it has been such a big job to get the solar panels up there and all wired, we decided to not actually hook it all up yet. Actually, I don’t quite dare hook it up as I don’t know what will happen… Nothing really can, but we will wait until tomorrow to make the final connections. I did make the connections to the engine and got both in-line fuses wired in, but didn’t put the final fuse in yet nor connect the panels. You can only do so much in one day!
Tomorrow we will spend the day touring the city and learning about the history surrounding the waterway. Should be fun! We hear the French Quarter is very cool to see, as well as the historical buildings throughout the city. We will leave on Saturday, taking two days to get to Beaufort, SC – not to be confused with Beaufort, NC where we stayed a while back.
Oh, for those of you in colder climates, the temperature here is mostly in the mid-70’s during the day and mid-50’s at night. Not bad! I should also add that the problem we had with our onboard furnace heater ended up not being an issue at all. I cleaned the strainer, which had a lot of stuff in there, and then called the guy who installed it and was able to adjust the fan and it works! We don’t really need it a lot now, but it’s nice to take the chill out of the cabin in the morning.