Saturday, December 7, 2013

Million dollar view

We are anchored just off Fort Johnson, south of the South Channel in Charleston Harbor (map).  We get a little roll here from wakes that have crossed the harbor, but it is otherwise quiet and we have a million-dollar view, with the Battery to the north in the immediate foreground, and up the Cooper River to the Ravenel Bridge as well as up the Ashley River to the Memorial bascule bridge.

The Battery and downtown Charleston

To the east we have a nice view of Fort Sumter, which we passed close aboard on our way into the harbor Thursday.  And of course just south of us is "Fort Johnson," now a marine biology research center for the Department of Natural Resources.  Looking up the Cooper River we can see where we docked on our way north in April, at the Charleston Harbor Resort, with Patriot Point and the aircraft carrier in the background (top photo).

Fort Sumter as we approached from sea

The rest of our ocean passage was uneventful, although we did encounter a large pod of dolphins. Louise shot some video of them, but our little camera renders them as only a few dark pixels.  I was a bit concerned about how busy the harbor can be, but we lucked out and encountered no traffic for the half hour we were in the entrance channel.  We had gorgeous weather on our arrival and again yesterday.

I had briefly considered dropping the tender and going over to Fort Sumter, which is free to visit in your own boat.  However, we are in a designated commercial anchorage here, and the rules require us to maintain a bridge watch, guard channel 16, and be able to get under way in four hours, so we'd have to move Vector first if we wanted to go ashore.

As we were coming in to the anchorage, I heard a conversation on the radio with the marina we had reserved -- it sounded like one of their incoming reservations had gone to the wrong marina.  Yesterday I called them to ask, and, sure enough, our slip is already available even though tomorrow was supposedly the earliest we could arrive.  We've moved it up a day, and we'll weigh anchor here in time to arrive at the marina at slack tide -- maneuvering in Charleston marinas can be challenging when the tide is running.

We have booked a week, so that means we will now be here until next Saturday morning.  With any luck, our mail and the other items we've had sent here will all catch up with us by Friday.  If the weather cooperates, we will be on our way to Port Royal Sound by Saturday morning.  Otherwise, we will likely be right back here at the anchorage to wait on weather.

We've been surviving at anchor only by virtue of having bridged the engine start battery, which is in fairly good condition, into the house bank.  But the amount of time we can run between charges has been steadily decreasing, so I took advantage of yesterday's downtime to disconnect all the batteries and check them out.

This process really requires a load tester, and, without one, I made do by jury-rigging one of our 1100-watt space heaters to stand in for the load.  Obviously this is not going to dissipate 1100 watts when connected to a 12-volt battery, just one tenth its rated voltage, but it is a low enough resistance (about 13 ohms) to get a better test than voltage alone, or even any of the incandescent lamps we have aboard.

The load test quickly revealed that two of our remaining four house batteries have serious internal problems, and I cut them out of the bank, so we are now running on the two remaining "good" batteries (not really good, just better than the bank as a whole) plus the engine start battery.  Things have improved somewhat, and I hope this is enough to get us to Florida, where I plan to buy six shiny new 8D batteries to assemble the reconfigured 24-volt house system.

Here in Charleston I plan to replace the saloon carpet, which suffered an early demise on account of our kidney-impaired cat -- I already had to cut a chunk out of it and relegate it to the aft deck at the last anchorage.  That's probably a three-day project, and we'll need to spend our evenings sitting in the pilothouse while the saloon is torn up.  I expect we'll be out nightly for dinner, so the fact that the galley will be full of saloon furniture will not be a huge issue.

In a short while we will fire up and head across the middle ground and past Shute's Folly to the Cooper River.  Today's cruise will be less than an hour.

1 comment:

  1. If I'm not mistaken, you guys may be in for another "Serendipity" experience this evening? I believe the Charleston Holiday Flotilla takes place today. Hopefully your berth on the Cooper River will provide a great place to view it from. The timing on your trip south, so far, has been Impeccable! Goldwing Jay - New Bern


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