Monday, May 10, 2010

Charleston Revisited

Thursday, May 6 - Monday, May 10, 2010
We're back in Beautiful Charleston, SC. We left Fernandina Beach early Thursday morning for the 150nm, 29-hour trip to Charleston. Wouldn't you know, the two massive submarine "chaperon" boats were hot on our tail out of the channel. We missed the sub - AGAIN! - but there was no missing those boat wakes. Rene managed to steer into them to keep us from getting too uncomfortable, but we sure wouldn't want to be near those things if they picked up their speed!

The trip to Charleston was calm and uneventful. We had enough wind to raise at least one sail for much of the trip, and the waves were only 1-2' high. It made for an easy overnight cruise, and even the kitties managed to stay fairly comfortable. We arrived at the Charleston jetties near 11:30am, and made our way past historic Ft. Sumter to the anchorage near the City Marina's "Mega Dock". What a spectacle! Like our last trip through here, the 3000' Mega Dock was once again home to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of mega-yachts. Unlike our last trip, though, a handful of these were sailing yachts. There was a 170' ketch, Meteor, and a 122' ketch, Islandia; there were also a few others in the 100' range, including our favorite, Belle Adventure, that we first saw on the dock in Ft. Lauderdale. These beauties are lovingly maintained (granted, most likely by a crew member), and in our "humble" opinion, they put the motor yachts to shame. Not that we're biased or anything... :-)

After our first surprise discovery of Dave & Camilla in Fernandina, we were even more shocked to find another friend, Art (from our sister boat, Destiny), docked at the City Marina. We had been trying to hail a boat that we'd met in Fernandina, and Art hailed us back when they didn't answer. He had arrived in Charleston a few days earlier, having made the crossing from the Bahamas nonstop to here. So here we were, in Charleston to meet up with John & Ginger, only to be joined by the person responsible for introducing us in the first place!

John & Ginger arrived in Charleston Friday evening and took us all on a culinary tour of some of their favorite Charleston spots. Having lived in and around Charleston for a number of years, they knew some terrific places. The four of us began with a bevvie at the Blind Tiger Pub, and later picked Art up to begin the foodie part of the evening. We went to Gullah Cuisine for she-crab soup, and then the Charleston Crab House for a low-country boil (shrimp, crab, mussels, potatoes, and corn boiled in seasoning - similar to the crayfish boils we used to have in Houston). We topped off the evening with an incredible dessert at the ever-so-posh Charleston Grill in Charleston Place. Each spot was different and special in its own way, and we really appreciated John & Ginger sharing them with us.

Saturday John & Ginger picked us up for a quick trip to West Marine, followed by a tour of Middleton Place Plantation. We missed this plantation when we were here last summer, and were excited to walk the grounds and tour the home. Middleton Place was used as a family home for four generations, each of whom left its mark on history. The original owner, Henry Middleton, was a President of the First Continental Congress. His son, Arthur, signed the Declaration of Independence; Arthur's son, Henry, was a Governor of South Carolina and a Minister to Russia. Williams, a 4th-generation Middleton, would sign the Ordinance of Secession which led to the Civil War and ultimately the destruction of the family home in 1865. While only a staircase remains of the home that was first torched by Union troops and later demolished by an earthquake in 1886, a separate "flanker" (used as a business office and guest house) still exists next door. The structure was restored in 1869-1870, and was inhabited by the Middleton family until it was opened to the public in 1975. Middleton Place House is fully furnished and contains family portraits and heirlooms (jewelry, china, silver, historic documents, etc.). The home is surrounded by 200 acres of gardens, predominantly live oaks, magnolia trees, and azalea bushes. We missed the peak of the azaleas by about two weeks, but the magnolias were in full bloom and smelled gorgeous.

After spending a few hours at Middleton Place, we had a late lunch at Manny's nearby. We said goodbye to John & Ginger soon afterward, so they could get some things done on their boat before heading home the following morning. We're sorry they aren't joining us in the Chesapeake this summer, but we'll see them again when we pass through Charleston on our southbound trip. We spent one more evening with Art on Monday at one of our Charleston favorites, the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse. We had terrific food here the last time we passed through, and were impressed yet again.

We're heading out tomorrow (Tuesday) morning for the 115nm trip to Southport, NC, near the Cape Fear inlet. It's supposed to be a bit bouncier than our last jump, but we should be able to make the trip in 24 hours or less. Till next time...

More pictures to go with this Blog chapter:

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