Monday, October 14, 2013

Destination Charleston

Cypress Swamp (ICW)
The only lock on the ICW at Great Bridge
While it hasn’t been long since our last post, a great deal has happened.  We ended our time in the Inter-coastal Waterway (ICW) or “the ditch” with a good two-day stay in Beaufort (pronounced bo-fort), NC.  We took a slip at the Beaufort Docks right off the main street of a lovely downtown.  Kay had shops to visit and I enjoyed some very fine food.  The flash-fried flounder at Beaufort Grocery Company was absolutely the best fish I’ve ever eaten!
Downtown Beaufort, NC
The ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort was tedious; shallow, narrow, and a fairly tight channel.  Four days @ 50 miles a day was as much cypress swamp and marsh as we needed to see.  The good news is that since the weather was poor and the trip around Hatteras would have been uncomfortable/dangerous, we are glad we navigated the ICW. 

Richard looking good in his loaner Buick
Roadmaster....when America knew
how to make a car!
Sunday we left Beaufort and began the 40-hour sail to Charleston.  Winds were out of the WNW so we only had one tack in two days.  We sailed 95% of the way, using ole Perkins only to go in and out of harbors and for a short windless period in the middle of our first night.  We passed Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear at midnight on Sunday (an area known for challenging weather)           uneventfully.

Monday afternoon provided us with a treat. At about 3:00 PM we were visited by a pod of at least 20 dolphins for about an hour.  They were playful, surfing in our wake, and trying to splash us.  Murray didn’t know what to make of our visitors and barked loudly at them.  While I am sure that our experience is common to others, it was thrilling for us.  What grace and beauty these animals have. 
As night began to fall, we continued to Charleston ahead of schedule.  Yes, Dennis and Sue – ahead of schedule! Averaging 7 knots much of the way is not what we planned for so we faced a night arrival in Charleston Harbor.  The approach to the harbor is 5 miles long, well marked, and heavily travelled by 900’+ container ships. Good radio communication, GPS, and AIS make these encounters far safer and better coordinated than you might think.  Once in Charleston Harbor, we went up the Ashley Channel, passed Fort Sumter and into our berth at Charleston City Marina.  At 12:45 PM, celebrated with a toast and crashed. 
We are looking forward to a full month here in Charleston, visiting family and enjoying this historic city.  We’ve never been a slip in one place for so long and are looking forward to the experience.  

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