Thursday, October 30, 2014

Remember That Summer We Lived In Charleston...

Cruising life is what you make of it.  So many people (myself included) want to apply labels to things, and then apply preconceived notions to them.  Cruising is not like that.  It can't be done.  You get out here and life takes over... it bends you to it's will and you never know what will happen next... Once I let go of my preconceived notions and learned to go with the flow... a whole new world seemed to open up.

Some day I will look back on these times and the memories we've made, and I won't even remember the fact that our Cruising life was nothing like what I had imagined before setting out.  I'll look back on the great things we've done and the unique places we've been, both exotic and mundane... and maybe I'll say  "Remember that summer we lived in Charleston?".

Two months!  Seems like a long time, right?  But it wasn't.  It was gone in a flash and we left without doing all of the things we wanted to do.

Our stay at St. John's Yacht Harbor was everything we had hoped it would be.  The staff were friendly and more than accommodating.  We got to know the young folks working there and they really made us feel welcome.

The marina is on John's Island in the Stono River just south of Charleston.  When we first arrived, we took a rental car to Texas to visit our daughter and to get our car.

Having a car to zip around Charleston in made all the difference and by the time we left, this place was beginning to feel like home.

Our slip #19C,  was on a very nice floating dock.

We met several of our dock mate neighbors and had some happy hours and some dinners aboard.  Hanging out with new friends, here in this quiet marina, was such fun.

Neighborhood Pirate Cat

We've had the chance to visit a number of marinas in our travels so far, and I have to tell you... the shower and laundry facilities here at SJYH are second to none.

They are immaculately clean.  They have enough stalls so that we never had to wait.  The fixtures are all top-shelf and gleaming.  The water comes out in  never-ending warm showers of Cruiser heaven!

Oh, and the POOL!  Before the weather turned cool, we spend lazy afternoons soaking in the saltwater pool... easing the stresses of our Cruiser life...

So... back to what we did to fill the days... Two weeks were spent on a road trip to Texas.  That was some adventure, renting a car, packing up two cats and setting out on a two day, six state road trip.

Staying in hotels with the cats was fun.  I wonder what went through their little cat minds when we found ourselves in a condo that was about eight times the size of our sailboat home...

Our time in Texas is a blur.  We saw friends from our old Yacht Club... we had dinners with family, we fixed things around the house and we sold a bunch of stuff that had been stored in our garage, on Craigslist.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our daughter and head back to the boat.  It was very difficult to leave her... I wanted to stuff her into a bag and take her with us!

But... children are meant to live their own lives, so we returned to ours... on the boat.

We had a whole long list of repairs and upgrades that we wanted to get done while we were on the dock.  None of them were particularly difficult, just things that we really needed to do while we had access to parts and electricity...

On his way up!
When we bought our boat, the entire rig had been replaced by the previous owner.  There wasn't any standing rigging that was older than 2008.  But... it's a boat.  And things break.  Our masthead light had been out since Marathon (April?) and Bruce didn't want to ascend to the 62 1/2 ft height to fix it, nor did I.  We found a great rigger to come and do this for us.

While he was up there, we asked him to inspect the rigging and see if there was anything else that needed attention.

And of course, there was...  Before leaving Charleston, we replaced the track on our sail slide system, and installed a new upper swivel for our roller furler.  Neither of these things was critical, but they would be giving us trouble in the near future... so we chalked it up to preventative maintenance and considered ourselves lucky that we found the need for these repairs the easy way, instead of the hard way...

We did some sewing repairs on our bimini.  The sunshade and the boom have made some spots that needed patches to keep the sunbrella from being worn away...  and there are some seams that are beginning to let go. Sewing is always an adventure for us.  Neither of us really has a clue, but somehow, it always manages to turn out like we wanted it to.

We quit kicking one particular "can" down the road...  I have been in denial since we bought the boat... about an ever-increasing "aroma"...  I finally admitted it.  We need to replace some waste hoses.  So, we took some measurements and headed for West Marine.

We bought new hoses and diverter valves (the valve that lets you discharge waste either into the holding tank or overboard).  Our valves were frozen in tank position and there won't be any pump out stations when we get to the Bahamas...

Old diverter... ICK!

The entire project took us three days, beginning to end.  We have two heads (marine toilets) and the hoses all run beneath the floors, inside the furniture and up into the walls.  The hoses are very stiff and difficult to work with, requiring a heat gun, some lubricant and a lot of manhandling, both to remove the old (read stinky) hoses and to install the new ones in their place.  Our bodies were sore from exertion of effort in unusual ways... to say the least.

The big surprise was how, after about five minutes, the smell of open sewer hoses inside my house ceased to be unpleasant.  I must be losing my mind...

We had some easy projects to do... Installation of our new KISS ground for our SSB radio was a snap!  Bruce just hooked it up to our tuner (easily accessed behind our bed) and we ran it down along the hull.

I highly recommend this if you're in the market for a new ground for your SSB.  The original grounding system (copper ribbon affixed along the inside of the hull with 5200) was in tatters.  It was doing us no good and we could barely use the SSB.

Now we get MUCH better reception and we're completely thrilled that it was so easy and so inexpensive.

Another small luxury... the LED lighting in our bedroom was marginal.  It flickered and gave out a weak light... until we replaced it with two new strips from  Now we have enough light to perform surgery (read plucking my eyebrows) and I don't have to feel like I'm going blind!

We provisioned, we cleaned, we rearranged things... but it wasn't all work.

Old Bike
We enjoyed many of the fine things that Charleston has to offer... some of which we reached riding our new bikes!  West Marine had a recall on the Port Runner Bikes, which we got free with our boat.  We took our old ratty bikes to the local store and they gave us new bikes!  SCORE!

We rode around everywhere we could reach from the marina...

View from the top of the bridge

Marsh Periwinkle 

The Marina at High Tide

Turtle cruising through the marsh at high tide

And we took the bikes in the car to a nearby County Park, where we rode the trails and saw an alligator!

We took several day trips into the surrounding countryside to visit the local tourist attractions.  I've posted about these in depth... Like this post about our trip to Fort Moultrie.

We visited the Greek Orthodox Church and sampled their decadent treats!

These are the Four Corners of Law 

We took a Ghost Tour!  That was such fun.  We never would have ventured out and strolled the dark streets of Charleston had we not taken the tour.  And we would have missed one of the highlights of our stay!

We visited yet another Fort.  It came with a nice harbor tour by boat and we made a day of it with a lunch out in town.

We met up with several friends from Facebook... Some are fellow Cruisers and others were Cruisers-in-waiting.  We made a day of it with one couple and visited the outlying beautiful countryside.

We could have walked the streets of Charleston for days, but we had only so much time...   And suddenly it was over!

Sun setting on Florida's West Coast
Time to move again.  The weather is beginning to get cooler... cold.  We packed up our cats again and headed out on another road trip.  This time, to Florida where we left our car with family.  Another whirl-wind trip, a quick visit and back to Charleston...

We had to get our minds back into Cruiser Mode, and we were surprised at how sluggish we had become.  But we dusted ourselves off and blew out the cobwebs that had taken up residence in our minds and flipped the switch.

Summer was gone.  We have the Bahamas to look forward to.  We are READY and with nothing more than topping off our water tanks and slipping away from the dock on a quiet Thursday morning... our time in Charleston was done.  What beautiful memories we have made here.  Charleston had truly begun to feel like "home"... and essentially, we HAD lived here.  Remember that summer?

We celebrated our birthday on October 17th.  Our second as Cruisers!

Bruce had some help putting the sail back on after the sail slide project

Jezabelle (our bad cat) took a stroll on the neighbor's boat.  BAD BAD!

Fascinating "Single Houses"

We sampled canned meats - part of a three day provisioning frenzy.

Driving over the Ravenel Bridge

Beautiful quiet cemetery at Drayton Hall

We strolled along the Ashley River

We grew to love the dripping Spanish Moss

Very soon the magnolias will bloom... we will miss it.

We visited the local Farmer's Market

Charming mossy walls along the streets of Charleston

Tiny crabs came up through our sink and floor drains. 
Lunar Eclipse

Blood Moon

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun two months in Charleston ... looks like a great place!