July 10, 2011
The passage to Charleston was fabulous. Great weather, calm seas, dolphins on the bow, beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Our plan was to anchor in Charleston for a few days, enjoy the 4th of July, visit some friends, then head on to Cape Canaveral to catch the very last Space Shuttle launch. The first part of that plan worked out spectacularly well. We anchored in Charleston Harbor, just near Fort Sumter, with calm conditions and a great weather forecast. Our friends Ed and Marilynn have a house in Folly Beach, just outside Charleston, so we arranged to visit them for lunch on the 4th of July. We thought we could get there in our tender, so we launched it on the 3rdand headed out for some exploration. Folly Beach is on Folly Island, bordered by the Atlantic on one side and the Folly River on the other. We needed to get to the river, necessitating an hour long trip to the end of the island (very different being in the ocean in an 18 foot open boat than on an ocean going 72-footer), through an inlet and up the river. We stopped at a local marina for drinks and asked about the possibility of getting back to the harbor via the river rather than having to go back out and around. We were told that we could get through at Lighthouse Inlet, greatly reducing the amount of ocean time. It worked, but it was a little nerve-wracking.
The lighthouse exists as a warning of shoals and shallow water with only small gaps to get through, and then only in small boats. To top it off, it was low tide, so we had to go slow through turbulent waters, hoping we could make it. We did, and returned the next day for a wonderful lunch with Ed and Marilynn followed by a tour of their gorgeous house!
We returned to Shear Madness for a 4th of July dinner and fireworks. We knew there was a big fireworks display planned at the Yorktown, an old aircraft carrier which is now a museum and for which we had a terrific view from our anchorage. What we did not know was that from our vantage point, we would be able to see so many different fireworks displays! At one time, we counted over a dozen active at the same time along the skyline, ranging from small local displays to the huge productions at Sullivan Island and the Yorktown. It was the most amazing fireworks any of us have ever seen! If you ever have a chance to be in Charleston Harbor on the 4th, don’t pass it up!
Next on the agenda was a trip up the intracoastal waterway to visit fellow Nordhavn owners David and Debbie, who have a house there. Once again, we took to the tender and cruised about twenty miles, stopping for a light lunch at a great place along the way. David and Debbie have a spectacular house right on the water (unfortunately not deep enough for their Nordhavn), and they are also friends of Bob Senter, so we convened a meeting of the Charleston chapter of the Bob Senter Fan Club. After dinner and a light supper, we headed back to Charleston Harbor.
On the 6th, we headed by tender over to Daniel Island to visit Liz,the paddleboarder we had met last year while hanging out in Charleston to dodge hurricanes. Liz and her husband, Brown, have three great kids, who are home-schooled three days a week and attend regular school two days a week. We suggested to Liz that they should consider buying a boat and cruising with their kids for a few years. We have her convinced and she immediately went home to tell Brown they need to sell their house.
We returned to the boat after a stop at the grocery store with the intention of pulling anchor and setting off to Cape Canaveral for the shuttle launch. Unfortunatley, just as we got underway, we encountered an engine problem. To make a long story short, we had changed a fuel filter during which a fuel return valve was shut off. It was never re-opened, causing excess pressure in the engine fuel cooler and ultimately blowing a gasket. Fortunately only the port engine was affected so we were able to make it to nearby Ashley Marina where we made arrangements for repairs. We lined up a technician to come the next day (Thursday), which he did. He disassembled the fuel cooler, diagnosed the problem, and made arrangements to have parts shipped overnight to arrive on Friday. All went well, until Chad returned the next day with the parts, only to discover that the order was incorrect – we needed six gaskets in total – 2 of one kind and 4 of another – and it seems that we got 4 of the first and 2 of the second! Very frustrating. We tracked down the problem to an error in the warehouse, but the re-order meant the proper gaskets would not arrive until Monday, leaving us to enjoy the weekend in Charleston. We also realized that the whole problem was likely caused by the fact that we had bananas on board – we have had prior experience with the legend that bananas are bad luck on a boat (see http://oyster56.com/0310_bananas.htm ). Even though all bananas had been eaten before raising anchor, the peels were still on board and they were still in our stomachs!
As we knew from last year, Charleston is a marvelous place to be stuck! At Ashley Marina, another Nordhavn couple, Chris and Sarah, invited us over for drinks on their 62 foot Pandana. We had met them last year in Palm Beach so it was good to re-connect. We also said goodbye to Lugger Bob, who had to fly home from Charleston given our delay now in getting to Palm Beach. It was fabulous to have had him aboard – not only is he an expert at his work, but he’s now a fast friend! We met another couple on a sailboat, Rich and Kate, who were kind enough to loan us their car so that we could travel to Daniel Island for a dinner with Liz, Brown, and the kids. We also enjoyed a night out at Poogan’s Porch for some good ole Southern food! On Monday, the proper parts arrived, repairs were completed and a test run revealed that everything seemed to be operating properly. After a good nights sleep, we set off bright and early for Palm Beach (no longer planning to stop in Cape Canaveral as the shuttle had launched without us!). The weather forecast was favorable and we hope for a smooth and comfortable trip. Needless to say, there are no bananas on board!
Click to enlarge any photo……..