Charleston, SC

It’s been a busy week of travel for us!  My apologies for not updating the blog but I’m happy to report that we have covered about 270 miles since my last post!  We are now in Charleston, SC at the Harborage at Ashley Marina for our second night.  We leave in the morning to continue South.

When I last posted we were in Morehead City, NC with plans to wait out some weather that was approaching.  We went to bed in Morehead fully expecting to sleep in and hang around for a few days but woke up the next morning and decided to go for it.  It was Cindy’s idea to press on and I wasn’t particularly impressed with Morehead City so off we went.

We have been very cautious with the weather but in reality, it would take some pretty serious weather to get us into any trouble while on the protected waters of the ICW.  Speaking of serious weather…  The tropical system we were keeping an eye on out in the Atlantic has fizzled out so it looks like hurricane season is behind us! 

So we left Morehead City and motored on to Swansboro, NC where we tied up at Dudley’s Marina — again expecting to stay a few nights until the winds and rain passed.  But again, the next morning we decided to push on and made it to Hampstead, NC where we took a slip at the very cozy and protected Harbour Village Marina for three nights while we actually did wait for some bad weather to move through.  But the highlight of our stay at Harbour Village was making some cool new friends, Penny and Ken.  While out walking Willow we met Penny who was also out walking her dogs.  Penny’s beautiful home is right on the marina and after chatting for a bit she invited us over for cocktails.  It was great to get off the boat and the more we got to know Penny, the more we liked her.  On our last night in Hampstead, we met Ken, Penny’s husband and went out to dinner with them.  Ken was as cool as Penny was and we really enjoyed their company.  We vowed to stay in touch as we left Hampstead and continued on South.  We are meeting such awesome people on this trip!

After another full day of cruising, we pulled in to the friendly seaside town of Holden Beach, NC.  This little beach town reminded me a bit of Fire Island with its long sandy beaches and homes on the dunes.  We took a walk on the beach with Willow and I was surprised when I came to the realization that despite all the time we have spent on the coast on this trip, the last time we were on an actual ocean beach was way back in Cape May, NJ on September 30!  We grabbed a bite at a local restaurant and tied Willow up on the back deck.  She stared through the glass doors at us while we ate.  We spent the night on the Holden Beach town dock with one other vessel.  When I checked in at town hall, I was given a little goody bag that included two pair of “Holden Beach” branded sunglasses, two water bottles, some literature about the town, and a few post cards.  It was nice to be in a town that appreciates having visiting cruisers.

Holden Beach, NC – Note the evidence of Hurricane Florence on the left side.

The next day we motored on, excited to finally cross the border into South Carolina.  As we slid across the border, we did our traditional border-crossing happy dance but this one was extra special because for a while there it didn’t look like we would ever leave Oriental!  But as Mavis’ new engine purred along though Myrtle Beach,  we admired the beautiful homes that line the ICW.  Finally we made it to the Waccamaw River where we tucked into a little creek near Enterprise Landing to anchor for the night.  We had passed a public boat ramp with a dock about a quarter mile before turning up into the creek and my plan was to dinghy Willow over to that ramp to use the bathroom before eating dinner and getting to sleep.   Due to the tidal currents running in and out of the creek, our boat swung about on our anchor rode and set off the anchor alarm a few times overnight.  I had set a tight radius on the alarm because the creek was lined with trees and if we dragged our anchor we would end up in the forest.   So not the most relaxing night but I suppose we need to up our anchoring game.  We are spending way too much money on marinas.

Beautiful homes line the waterway in Myrtle Beach, SC

The next morning I was up before dawn to get Willow into the dinghy and back over to the boat ramp.  With miles and miles of nature preserve surrounding us you would think there would be someplace sandy to land the dinghy on a beach but the jungle-dense forest grows right to the water’s edge.  I also hear the waters where we were anchored are home to some rather large alligators…  I can’t imagine returning to the boat to explain to Cindy that Willow had been eaten.  The boat ramp dock would do just fine.

It only took about 10 minutes each way to ride back and forth to the ramp and 10 minutes for Willow to pick her spot and get down to business.  Shortly after sunrise we were on our way again.

Early mornings are still a bit chilly in the Carolinas.

We motored all day and arrived in McLellanville, SC where we took a slip at the Leyland Oil Company dock.  This was a no-frills marina pretty much in the middle of nowhere but I was in no mood to deal with anchoring the boat being rather tired from the anchor alarm disturbing my sleep and a long day of driving the boat down the ICW.

Before dawn on the next morning we were motoring in light patchy fog and mist.  Visibility in some places got down to about a half a mile or so which wasn’t a problem but my concern was that if it got worse we might have to drop the anchor and wait it out.  Fortunately after few hours the fog lifted.  We motored through the South Carolina lowlands and saw only a handful of boats the whole day.  Most of the boats were local fishing skiffs.

We saw a few dolphin as we passed various inlets.  One came right up to our stern quarter and popped his head out and checked me out.  I keep trying to get photos of these guys but they are gone in a flash.  I’m waiting for a few of them to stay with us playing in our bow wake as they are known to do.

Bald Eagle in the South Carolina Low Country

When she’s not down below working, Cindy spends lots of time on the bow running around taking pictures of the various birds we are passing.  We are seeing lots of cormorants, herons and pelicans end even a few hawks and eagles!  She tells me she’s always dreamed of being a wildlife photographer.  We need to invest in a really good telephoto lens so that she can really do her Mutual of Omaha thing properly!

Cindy in Mutual of Omaha mode!

We arrived in Charleston on Sunday afternoon and after getting settled in here at the marina we took a long walk around town to do some exploring.  Charleston is a really interesting city with a cosmopolitan downtown area with great restaurants and shopping.  After a few hours of exploration, I was getting hungry.  We wanted to enjoy an early dinner out but with Willow with us our options were limited.  We had read about an amazing place called the Low Country Bistro and when we passed it, Cindy went in to inquire about any outdoor seating.  They told us that we could sit with the dog outside on the veranda but in order to get up there we would have to carry Willow through the restaurant and up the stairs because according to local health department law, her feet couldn’t touch the floor.  

So I scooped up Willow like a little lamb and Cindy opened the door for me.  As I entered the restaurant holding the dog, a few of the diners looked up from their meals to see what must have looked rather strange to them…  “You ordered some meat?” I asked the hostess as we made our way up the stairs and out onto the veranda where we enjoyed some great cocktails and a delicious meal under the palmettos and the stars.

At the Low Country Bistro in Charleston, SC

Today I Ubered around getting propane refilled and a trip to the supermarket.  Cindy took advantage of the marina’s laundry room and we have clean bedding and clothing again!  It’s amazing the things you appreciate when cruising.   The things you take for granted at home feel like luxuries out here.  Even though we have all the basic things we need, it still feels a bit like camping sometimes.  We have a small fridge, a small oven and two burner stove, a small double kitchen sink, and small countertops…  The operative word here, in case you missed it… Is small.  But we are making do just fine aboard our cozy boat.

Mavis and crew at the Harborage at Ashley Marina in Charleston

This evening we took another long walk around town with the dog.  We did about 6 or 7 miles taking in all of the interesting local architecture and stately southern homes. 

Tomorrow we don’t have to leave at the crack of dawn for a change!  There’s a bridge that has to open for us just two miles from here and the first opening is at 9:30.  So I’ll get up, top off our water tanks, warm up the engine and prepare for the day and leave here around 8:45 to be sure we are at the Wapoo Creek Bascule Bridge with plenty of time to spare.  From there we will motor as far as we can comfortably get and anchor somewhere on the North or South Edisto River for the evening.  I’ll be sure to find a spot with plenty of room to swing around on our anchor rode and I’ll set a wide radius on the anchor alarm! 

We hope to arrive in Beaufort, SC on Thanksgiving.  Today I did a little provisioning run and got a whole turkey breast that I think we will be able to cram into our “Holly Hobby oven.”  We miss our friends and family but are enjoying this trip and are thankful that we have been able to pull this off!

That’s all for now.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Capt. Frank