Minim Creek – Minimum Visibility
The fog’s ghostly presence hung over us for two hours after leaving Minim Creek to get to Charlestown. Visibility was down to around 100 metres, so we kept ears open and a close eye on the radar screen for anything that might be speeding towards us. Several boats – large and small – speed along this stretch of water, so there’s potential for an unhealthy clanging together. Fortunately, though, nothing came until the fog had started to lift, and we didn’t have to move for him anyway.
There’s a distinct change in scenery along this stretch of the water. As we got closer to Charleston, large houses started to appear near to the waterfront, each with a private jetty. And small, flat-bottomed, fishing boats make an appearance (similar to those used in the wetland areas where there’s little draft) and zoom up and down the ICW at speeds of over 20 knots. You can’t miss them, which every way you look at it.
Further down the river, and closer to the Charleston sea inlet, the Dolphins returned. And we sighted them all the way down the river until we approached the Ben Sawyer Memorial bridge.
Just before the bridge, we started making phone calls to the marinas in Charleston to check for availability. The forecasters predicted some bad (and cold) weather, so we wanted to plug in the heater. Besides, given that Travel and Leisure Magazine readers voted Charleston the Number One City in the USA, and 10th in the world in 2016, we thought it worth a look.
Charleston Is Full
Unfortunately, all of the marinas (except the one on the other side of a bridge we can’t fit under) were full. It must be something to do with the weather. So we consigned ourselves to anchoring somewhere else and maybe giving Charleston a miss. But then, we spotted another marina on our Active Captain guide.
Just on the other side of the Ben Sawyer Memorial bridge is a right turn leading to Toler’s Cove Marina. Maria called them, and they confirmed they had space. Not only that, but the only type of mooring space they have is alongside. That’s great for us; there’s no messing about with too many ropes, and no risk of damage to our solar panels. So, in we went to find Patrick running up the long pontoon to give us a helping hand. That took some determination. He was working at the fuel berth at the time, so had at least a 300-metre sprint to get to us. And, of course, another 300-metre dash to get back.
Facilities here are basic: there are no showers, and the one washroom here is a shed with a toilet inside – and it has no heating. The good thing is that nobody uses it as a quiet place to read the newspaper – they’d probably freeze to the toilet seat if they did. The great thing about this marina, though, is that it is very sheltered and the $1.50 per foot includes electricity and water. So, we got to keep warm and could have showers on the boat.
An Uber ride and $13 later we arrived in the centre of Charleston to start our self-guided tour of the city. Charleston is steeped in history, although I’m sure much if it would rather be forgotten. Fortunately, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, and the Old Slave Mart Museum continue to lay testament to the inhumanities of that era.
The wealth created from the plantations is apparent in the large houses and grand buildings throughout the city, and are undeniably impressive however they came about. Using an iPhone app as a guide, we strolled through the French Quarter, visited the Old Exchange and the Slave Mart, saw the Pineapple Fountain – looks like Carmen Miranda’s hat – and dined at the Brown Dog Deli. After a quick recharge (good food at the Brown Dog – and fast), we continued our walk around the city, spending some time at St Michael’s Church where I shared the same view as George Washington, and General Robert E. Lee – from pew number 43.
I have attempted to describe the other places we visited in the captions to the photographs below. But, one of the pictures merits a special mention: the photo of the horse and carriage outside the theatre is one of a newly-married couple, not in the first flush of youth, enjoying their special day with a tour of the city. We thought that was lovely. But how they could stand the cold, I have no idea. I guess they are from up north and not suffering from the self-inflicted wimpiness of us Caribbean-softened sailors.
We drew a close to our tour at the Harris Teeter supermarket, where we stocked up with a few food essentials, before calling for an Uber to get back to the marina. The driver turned up in his gleaming Ford F150 truck, similar to the one we hired in Virginia. And if that’s not the best form of transport in which to leave the southern states – I don’t know what is.
On Thursday 15th we did nothing much at all, apart from whinge at the cold and the high winds and check the weather forecast. And as we looked, we found that the wind is favourable for sailing offshore from Friday through to Monday. That’s enough time to get from Charleston to the Bahamas. So, to be sure, to be sure, I called Chris Parker to seek his view. He agreed and gave me some entry and exit coordinates for the Gulf Stream. So, as soon as the wind drops enough to avoid an embarrassing departure, we will be leaving on Friday 16th November towards the Abacos.