There’s always something going on with an old boat, we’ve found out.
As it was pouring with rain the day after we’d toured Savannah, we decided to stay another night, do the shopping and the laundry, and get someone to fix the alternator.
Alex, the electrician, examined the alternator and pronounced it to be in terminal decline. The most cost effective remedy would be a new one. He delivered it the following lunch-time, slightly later than anticipated, inducing a fair bit of pointless impatience in the Captain, who wanted to be on our way while the tides were favourable.
But the sun shone, and at last we left Savannah behind, cruising through the Lowcountry marshes along the Wilmington River, across the Savannah River, past Daufuksie Island and finally anchoring at Bull Creek.
The next day we covered 50 miles, to the Ashepoo River. Apart from the city of Beaufort, the country was largely wilderness, varying between small creeks and rivers and the wide expanses of Port Royal and St Helena Sounds.
Within the narrower waterways, the water was very calm, giving some beautiful reflections.
On Thursday we moved on to within two miles of Charleston, via the South Edisto River, Watts Cut, a man-made canal linking the North and South Edisto Rivers, the Wadmalaw River to the Stono River where we anchored again.
On Friday we covered the short distance to Charleston Harbor Marina, on the east side of Charleston Harbour.
We had a great view of the Antebellum houses of the Battery.
After days of seeing hardly any other boats, suddenly we were up against the big boys.
After docking at the marina we took the water taxi across the Cooper River and had lunch at the Fleet Landing, a former US Navy establishment overlooking the river, which is now a bar-restaurant with quite a buzz.
Having had an unfortunate experience with collard greens last time we were in Charleston, I hadn’t been very adventurous about trying the Lowcountry cuisine, sticking to safe-sounding things like blackened salmon and chocolate pecan pie. It was time to move on and put the collard greens behind me, so I ordered the Shrimp Gumbo. This turned out to be a thick, brown, spicy soup with shrimps, Andalucian sausage, okra, celery and onions, with a dollop of boiled rice on the top. It was delicious.
We wandered through the lovely French Quarter.
On Chalmers St we came upon the Old Slave Mart museum. After the international slave trade was abolished, the domestic trade continued away from the waterfront in these new premises. The museum contained few exhibits, mainly photographs and text, but told a chilling story of oppression.
For some light relief, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up King Street, the main area for shops and restaurants, and returned to the waterfront on the free trolley to get the watertaxi back to the marina. Ian was a bit envious at the sight of some yachts racing in the harbour.
Saturday was frighteningly windy – a steady 30 knots – so it was a good thing we had booked another night at the marina.
One downside of living on the boat is that mundane household tasks, which at home get fitted into the day around other, more enjoyable ways of spending one’s time, take on a life of their own, and have to have time specially allocated to them.
So on Saturday morning, while Ian set to and repaired one of the loos, I carted two large bags of washing down to the marina laundry. It’s surprising just how long washing machines and tumble dryers take when you have to sit there and supervise them, even with a good book to pass the time.
Food shopping is elevated from simply nipping into the Co-op or Waitrose for something on the way home, to devising a carefully estimated food plan for the next few days, and requiring a taxi ride in both directions.
Near to the marina was Patriot Point, the home of USS Yorktown and a renowned Maritime Museum, which Ian wanted to visit. I thought we should go to the museum first, and shop afterwards. Ian wanted to get the shopping out of the way.
By the time we’d got a taxi to West Marine for various boat essentials, looked at everything else in the shop, crossed the six-lane highway to Publix, bought the groceries, got the taxi back to the marina, transferred the groceries to a handcart, wheeled the stuff back to the boat, unloaded everything onto the boat and finally put everything away, lethargy had overtaken us.
So I’m slightly ashamed to say we gave USS Yorktown a miss, and had dinner on the boat and opened a bottle of champagne instead.
On Sunday, the winds had calmed down and we set off north to McClennanville, but Charleston was awesome.