Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Holy City

We are under way southbound on the ICW, which right here where I am starting the post means upriver on the Stono. We had a lovely week in Charleston, celebrating the holiday with good friends. The weather has been perfect, and we really like Charleston, and it's tempting to stay, but more cold is coming, and we are continuing south.

Vector in her usual spot at the Charleston Maritime Center, with the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in the background.

Last Monday we decided to ride the ebb on the Waccama all the way past Georgetown to the turn for the Estherville Minim Creek Canal, which had us anchoring after sunset in the last of the twilight. We dropped the hook in a new spot for us, just past the turn for the canal in the Western Channel of Winyah Bay (map). It was comfortable, but there was a little chop when the current opposed the wind.

The extra long day meant we could easily have made Charleston harbor by the end of the day Tuesday, if not for the fact that we arrived at Isle of Palms at low tide, and there is a section between there and the harbor where the depth is just five feet all the way across the channel. We turned off at Dewees Creek and dropped the hook in a quiet spot (map) for a comfortable night.

Vector's little Christmas corner. We also have some holiday lights and a wreath on the aft deck, and a few in the pilothouse.

Wednesday morning we got an early start for the two hour run to the marina to time our arrival at slack water. At high tide we whizzed right over the shallow spots, arriving in the harbor just in time to catch the last of the flood upriver to the marina. I did have to alter course for the enormous dredge Baltimore that was maintaining the 52' deep ship channel.

We were tied alongside in our usual spot (map) by 10:30. At check-in we asked about parking the scooters, since the construction of the International African American Museum, soon to open, has completely consumed the lot where we used to park, just off the ramp to the dock. They informed us they no longer have any guest parking at all, with what was left of their lot farmed out to staff of the IAAM and the Fort Sumter National Monument. We found an empty spot of concrete between the building and an electrical transformer and they agreed we would be out of the way there.

What used to be our parking, now the ground level of IAAM, as seen from the Maritime Center balcony. The life-size images embedded in the pavers are from this famous graphic of how to load a slave ship.

It being just the two of us on our first night in town, we rode out to an old favorite of ours, D'Allesandro's Pizza, for dinner. That actually ended up bookending our stay, since we returned last night for our final meal ashore. We spent most of Thursday getting things done around the house until our friends arrived in the evening, whereupon we rode a whopping three minutes down to the Harbourview Inn where they were staying. This is a very nice four-diamond property, and they very generously allowed us to participate in the wine and cheese cocktail hour each evening with our friends -- very classy.

The Pineapple Fountain on the waterfront.

Regular readers will know that we have spent a lot of time in Charleston, including a four month stay over the summer of 2017 wherein we experienced a total solar eclipse, a hurricane that flooded the city, the theft of a scooter, the complete rework of the soft top and mast, and, for me, a three-week deployment to the USVI for hurricane relief. In four months we more or less ate at every restaurant in town, and saw all the sights, and so a whirlwind "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" tour of the city is never on our agenda.

Our walking tour guide had us photograph this map. The blue line was the tour and the pink the suggested return route.

Not so for our friends, of course, who were here on holiday and determined to pack as much into their four days in town as possible. And thus it was that I went on a number of tourist activities including a walking tour of the city, the tour ferry out to Fort Sumter, and Louise even joined in for the stuff that involved less walking. such as the tour of Magnolia Plantation, a drive out to Folly Beach and Sullivan's Island, and the Holiday Festival of Lights out at the James Island County Park, where once upon a time a decade ago we had stayed in Odyssey.

A very, very small piece of the Festival of Lights, which was quite good.

Right after they had booked their flights and hotel, the task fell to me to make all the dinner reservations during their stay from among our favorites. Mindful that parking is difficult and expensive anywhere in town, I booked three places a short walk from their hotel -- Fleet Landing, Rudy Royale, and 5 Church -- and one favorite of ours on the outskirts of town, Rutledge Cab Company, that has its own parking. Of these only Rudy Royale was new to us; we never eat at southern cuisine places on our own, but they wanted the experience.

Carolers in the hotel lobby during cocktail hour.

Christmas dinner was buffet-style at 5 Church (which is changing its name to Church and Union next month), one of the few places in town open and serving the traditional flavors for the holiday. Had we known that omicron would rear its ugly head, I never would have booked a buffet dinner, but there was really no way to change it at this point. The restaurant itself felt pretty safe, and we masked up for the buffet trips and chose our timing carefully.

View toward the city from atop Battery Huger, Fort Sumter.

The weather got progressively warmer throughout the week, and by the final night we were able to sit up on the hotel's rooftop patio around one of the gas fire pits, enjoying the hotel's homemade cookies. It was a wonderful visit, and they left Monday morning after the Fort Sumter excursion, driving to Savannah. It turns out they are staying right on the same waterfront where we have docked in the past. The two of us rode to King Street for dinner at Mario's Italian Ristorante.

Sunset over Charleston from the Harbourview roof. St. Philip’s (Anglican) Church steeple at center.

We knew we would need a full day to recuperate before getting back under way, and so I had booked the full week at the marina. That cost nearly as much as a full month in Little River, but still the best deal in town at just $70 per day. Yesterday I used the downtime to make a whirlwind shopping expedition to Mount Pleasant, hitting Lowes to exchange the drawer slide, Walmart for provisions, and Staples to exchange two expended SodaStream cylinders.

Immediately after Colors at Fort Sumter, 161 years to the day after Major Anderson first hoisted the US flag over the fort.

This morning we decked the scooters for a slack tide departure. That will put us at some of the skinniest sections ahead of us at high tide at the end of the day; pushing through them will again have us anchoring at sunset, on one end or the other of the Ashepoo Coosaw cutoff (preferably the far end, in the Coosaw). At this rate, we might be in Hilton Head for New Year's, although we have no reservations for anything.

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