Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA

As I mentioned in the previous post, we intended to leave the Charleston Maritime Center Sunday afternoon, October 12th, but the weather was just too nasty so we finally decided to stay another night. That evening we walked to La Hacienda on King Street for dinner and had some great margaritas and good, inexpensive Mexican food. The rain finally ended that evening but it was still quite windy.

Our new friend Rusty, the goodwill ambassador of Hyman's Seafood restaurant in Charleston, where we had a most excellent meal Saturday evening.

We pulled away from the Maritime Center dock about 1:30 p.m. Monday and arrived at Tom Point Creek four hours later. The tide was slack to rising but the current was against us most of the way so we only covered 30 miles. But we were finally out of the wind and it was a beautiful, calm evening at anchor.

Tuesday we travelled about 35 miles to Brickyard Creek. Along the way Todd struck up a conversation on the VHF radio with Alan & Mary aboard "Nomad." They were also planning to anchor at Brickyard Creek that evening, so we made plans to get together for happy hour aboard "Life's2Short." Alan & Mary have been boating for 28 years and have decided it's time to sell the boat and become "dirt dwellers" again.

While we were visiting with Alan & Mary, Todd spotted "HuckleBerry" coming down the waterway about 6:00 p.m. They also anchored at Brickyard Creek but after a couple of back-to-back 70-mile days, they were ready to just chill for the evening. We originally met Tim & Sue in Thoroughfare Creek on the Waccamaw River and, more recently, on the Waccamaw as we were leaving Conway and they were on their way to Conway.

We went another 35 miles on Wednesday and anchored in Bull Creek, the place where the electrical meltdown of September 11th occurred. It was a warm, sunny day with almost no breeze. Our travelling companions, "Nomad" and "HuckleBerry," went on to the Savannah/Thunderbolt area so we spent a quiet couple of days alone in the anchorage.

This is one of the local tour boats that brings passengers through Bull Creek.

Colorful sunrise photos at Bull Creek, courtesy of the Captain.

Friday was another beautiful day with temperatures in the 80's and we were tied up at Hinckley Yacht Services by noon. Then light rain moved in early Saturday morning and the weather turned chilly. We hibernated on the boat until 6:00 p.m. when Howard & Sue Berriman came to pick us up for dinner to celebrate the Admiral's birthday.  After stuffing ourselves with Chinese food, we stopped by the Neighborhood Market where Howard & Sue bought each of us a decadent dessert from the bakery counter before returning us to "Life's2Short." Thanks for everything, Howard & Sue!

The weather continued to be cold and windy on Sunday so we didn't stray far from the boat. Monday was sunny and warmer, at least during the day, so Todd lightly sanded the teak on the bow and we applied a coat of Cetol to it. He also made arrangements to have the outboard for the dinghy repaired and to have a zipper replaced on our sundeck canvas. All-in-all, a productive day!

There is always lots of wildlife scouting for food along the shore opposite the dock at Hinckley.

That evening, another couple on the dock invited us over to their 50-foot Ocean Alexander named "Shangri-La" for happy hour. Dave & Laurie have a house (for sale) in Naples, FL but have been living aboard for a number of years. They plan to winter in the St. John's river near Jacksonville. We talked boats and boating, as boaters do, and then invited Dave & Laurie join us on "Life's2Short" for happy hour on Tuesday.

Laurie, Dave and their dog Shadow aboard "Shangri-La."

Tuesday's weather was much like Monday's, so Todd put another coat of Cetol on the bow while I prepared a dip for our happy hour guests. Dave & Laurie came over about 5:30 and we sat on the sundeck chatting and enjoying the warmth of the setting sun.

Today is Wednesday, October 22nd, and we plan to pull away from the dock this afternoon at high tide, when the current is slack. We are on the inside of the dock with three other boats behind us and will have to back out of here in a fairly narrow channel, so we're hoping for no current, no wind and a little bit of luck as the Captain puts his maneuvering skills to the test! As we prepare to leave, we want to say thanks to Mike, Nancy and the Hinckley crew. We've enjoyed our time here and appreciate all they've done for us this summer. Thanks for everything, guys!

Tim (left) and Mark (right) hard at work.

Michel pauses to smile for the camera!

A group shot of Tim, Michel and Mark. Tim and Michel are the electricians who so adeptly repaired our wiring after the electrical meltdown in September.

Our buddy Bob, the first guy we got to know at Hinckley. Thanks for the pecans and fresh venison, Bob!

The Hinckley crew at their morning break enjoying the Admiral's fresh-baked treats.

Tonight we will anchor about 20 miles south and then go on to Bob & Stephanie's house in Midway, GA Thursday afternoon. We met Bob & Stephanie aboard "September Song" in Beaufort, SC where they invited us to spend a few days at their dock on our way south. They also told us about a great anchorage near where they live and have agreed to join us there for a few days. If it's as beautiful as it sounds, we should have some great photos for our next blog update!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Conway to Charleston, SC

Todd got up early Saturday morning, October 4th, to meet his new friend Joe for the local bass fishing tournament. However, unbeknownst to Joe they had canceled the tournament so he and Todd spent the morning fishing just for the fun of it. They returned about 1:30 and the Captain was ready for a nap! But first we walked to Berni's for a late lunch and sampled the bacon and Gouda spinach cakes, which were very good, and then returned to the boat for Todd's nap.

Joe poses with two the three fish he caught. Unfortunately, the Captain came home empty-handed.

"Life's2Short" at the public dock in Conway.

Saturday evening we went to Copper's again and had a few drinks before returning to the boat to finish our lunch leftovers from Berni's. Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to explore more of the town and ended up walking 17 blocks to the local IGA before returning to the boat. Along the way, we saw many of the town's oldest residents - massive live oaks draped with Spanish moss, the largest of which has a circumference of over 21 feet!

Todd got up early again Monday morning and walked across the bridge to get some photos of the river and "Life's2Short" from a distance. We left the dock about 10:00 a.m. and arrived at our anchorage in Thoroughfare Creek four hours later. Along the way we passed Tim & Sue aboard "HuckleBerry" and did a mid-river book exchange! They were headed to Conway to spend about a week so we told them to be sure and try the spinach cakes at Berni's.

Shortly after we dropped anchor in Thoroughfare Creek, a small pleasure boat pulled up to the sand bank. The man was totally naked and the woman was topless! They didn't seem at all concerned that we were there and proceeded to set up chairs on the beach where they enjoyed communing with Mother Nature for several hours. The Captain couldn't put down the binoculars long enough to pick up the camera, so no naked photos - sorry!

We had planned to go to John's house for dinner Monday evening but the dinghy motor didn't want to start. John stopped by with some ether and Todd was able to get it started but it always died within seconds. John picked us up at noon on Tuesday and towed the dinghy to his house. We still didn't have any luck getting it to run and decided it was probably a bad fuel pump. So we just kicked back on John's front porch and enjoyed the scenery.

John with his lap dog Hap.

John prepared his "Sandy Island Special" late that afternoon, which was most excellent, and towed the dinghy back to "Life's2Short." He then took us on a tour of some of the smaller creeks branching off from Thoroughfare before returning us to "Life's2Short" about dark. We had a great time and very much appreciated John's hospitality!

We left Thoroughfare Creek Wednesday morning and made it to the Boat Shed Marina ($1.40 per foot, per night) in Georgetown a couple of hours later. Georgetown is a quaint little town with several historic homes and a nicely developed harborwalk. We stopped in at Buzz's Roost for a drink where we met a sailboater named Bill. Todd started talking about how wonderful the Exumas were and got Bill all psyched about going! Bill even got out his laptop and pulled up our blog to check out our photos and read about some of our experiences.

Georgetown is the home of many local shrimpers.

A view of Georgetown's harborwalk.

On the way back to the boat we stopped at the local seafood market to buy some fresh shrimp and crab meat. A little later we walked back in to town for dinner at the Goat Island Grill, one of half a dozen or so restaurants along Front Street. Todd ordered the shrimp and grits (his new favorite dish!) and I had the lobster ravioli. Both were quite good!

We took off before 8:00 a.m. on Thursday to take advantage of the falling tide and travelled nearly 50 miles to Whiteside Creek. We had good current almost the entire way and were anchored by 1:30 that afternoon. It was a cloudy day with some showers, but all-in-all, a good day to travel. It was a breezy afternoon and there were thunderstorm warnings and watches in the area, but most of it stayed to our north and west. We did get some fairly heavy rain between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. but, thankfully, no storms. After the rain ended the sun tried to peek out and Todd took some beautiful early evening photos.

We arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center before noon on Friday and about 2:30 the rain moved in again. By 4:00 p.m. it was just drizzling, so we ventured out and spent a few hours walking around town in intermittent rain, stopping in at LaHacienda and the Noisy Oyster for drinks, before wandering in to the Mad River Bar & Grille where we grabbed a bite to eat and watched the Phillies beat the Dodgers with Joe, a Phillies fan from Philadelphia who was in town on business.

Saturday started out gloomy and stayed that way with rain off and on throughout the day. I did a couple of loads of laundry at the Maritime Center (one washer, one dryer - no cost) while the Captain changed the oil in the generator. Then we made a trip to Harris Teeter to restock a few items before walking back in to town about 6:30 for dinner.

Afternoon traffic in Charleston harbor.

Tractor tugs turn the container ships around so they can head out to sea.

Our dinner destination was Hyman's Seafood restaurant located at 215 Meeting Street. Hyman's was voted the #1 seafood restaurant in the southeast nine years in a row by a Southern Living magazine survey so we figured we needed to check it out. We had planned to go there a few weeks ago when we were here but always found a reason not to. In the backs of our minds, we were both thinking it was just too touristy and couldn't possibly be as good as it was touted to be, so even though we had finally decided to go, we were lukewarm about it.

Well, we discovered that the hype is warranted! The Captain had some magnificent oysters on-the-half-shell as an appetizer and then ordered the sauteed mussels, scampi style, for dinner. I had a fried combination of flounder, scallops and shrimp and it was all most excellent. Todd loved their hush puppies and said they were almost like eating dessert! And for those who typically do not order their food fried, you should make an exception at Hyman's. The breading was light and tasty, complementing the seafood rather than overpowering it, and everything was cooked perfectly.

A short while after we were seated, we were approached by a very nice gentleman named Rusty who turned out to be Hyman's good will ambassador and public relations representative. Rusty basically works the crowd, meeting and greeting the customers and making sure they are happy with their meals. We had a very nice chat with Rusty and even had our picture taken with him (using his camera), but Rusty hasn't e-mailed it to us yet so we'll have to include it as part of our next blog update.  As for Hyman's, having been there we are now compelled to agree that: "Going to Charleston and not eating at Hyman's is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower." If you're ever in Charleston, put it on you list of things to do and tell Rusty we said hello!

Today is Sunday, October 12th, and the weather is not improving. It is still very windy and gloomy with rain in the area. And naturally, the wind is out of the northeast so the boat is see-sawing in the rough water. With both the current and the wind pushing us against the dock, we will have to wait until early this afternoon when the tide changes to pull off.  Hopefully the tidal current will overpower the wind!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Charleston to Conway, SC

On Wednesday afternoon, September 24th, we walked about four blocks to downtown Charleston and tried the she-crab soup at Tommy Condon's Irish Pub. She-crab soup is basically a crab bisque - rich and full of crab meat - and was quite good! We then strolled through The Market which consists of several long buildings full of all kinds of touristy merchandise.

Todd was especially impressed by these labor-intensive handmade baskets.

The vendors started packing up between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. so we moseyed over to the Noisy Oyster for a happy hour drink before continuing our stroll around the downtown area. We later returned to the Noisy Oyster and shared happy hour appetizers for dinner. On the way back to the boat we stopped by Harris Teeter's to pick up a few groceries. We weren't familiar with Harris Teeter grocery stores but we had been told about this one by Bob & Stephanie on "September Song" and I guess they are fairly common on the east coast.

It was pretty rough on the boat Wednesday night and all day Thursday with strong, gusty northeast winds causing the boat to constantly bounce and buck in the rough water. Even though it was rather unpleasant on the boat, it was too nasty to go anywhere else, so we stayed on the boat all day. Rain moved in Thursday evening and, thankfully, the water finally settled down. The rain continued Friday morning but it cleared off nicely by early afternoon.

While Todd was on the computer Friday morning we received an e-mail blog comment from Sarah, a young lady we met in the Exumas in early May. Sarah was crewing on a sailboat charter called "Bahama Star" and we spent some time together with the owners, Bruce & Sheila, and crew one afternoon on a nice sandbar in the south mooring field at Warderick Wells. And the next morning Captain Bruce came over to "Life's2Short" to have a Bloody Mary and discuss anchorages with Todd.

Anyway, Todd sent an e-mail to Bruce & Sheila to say hello and to get Sarah's e-mail address (FYI - blog comments are sent through the blogger website and do not reveal the sender's e-mail address).  After bouncing a few e-mails back and forth, we learned that we were parked right behind "Bahama Star" at the Charleston Maritime Center! We didn't realize it was the "Bahama Star" because the transom had been whitewashed and the name was gone. What a strange coincidence!

We walked in to town again Friday afternoon and shared a sandwich at the Mellow Mushroom before following King Street all the way to the waterfront park at the south end of the Charleston peninsula. We then followed E. Bay Street around to the Noisy Oyster and stopped in for a drink before taking off again in search of a place to have dinner. Along the way we happened upon the MOJA Arts Festival parade, which didn't amount to much, and eventually ended up at Sticky Fingers for some great fall-off-the-bone tender ribs!

Looking down King Street, which has lots of upscale shopping.

This old cemetery was just off King Street. I wouldn't want to wander into here after dark!

A few of the many beautiful homes in the residential portion of King Street.

A waterfront monument to the Confederate Defenders of Charleston.

Walking along the waterfront on E. Bay Street.

The MOJA Arts Festival parade on King Street.

After dinner we walked back down to E. Bay Street to check out the MOJA block party. There were lots of people, live music and vendor booths with crafts and food. MOJA is a Swahili word meaning "one" and the festival is a celebration of harmony among people in the community and it also highlights the many African-American and Caribbean contributions to western and world cultures. 2008 marks Charleston's 25th annual MOJA Arts Festival: A Celebration of African-American and Caribbean Arts.

We left the Charleston Maritime Center dock early Saturday afternoon and covered about 15 miles to Whiteside Creek. The temperatures were back up into the mid-80's with lots of sunshine. Sunday it took us 5 hours to go another 36 miles to Minim Creek, fighting the current most of the way on a falling tide. We have noted for the return trip to make sure we go through this stretch on a falling tide to take advantage of the current as it makes a tremendous difference on our speed (6 mph vs. 9 mph)!

The U.S.S. Yorktown was directly across the harbor from the Charleston Maritime Center. We will probably tour it on the return trip.

The "Spirit of Charleston" was heading in to the harbor as we were leaving.

Sunset at Whiteside Creek.

This guy has a long day ahead of him towing a big boat against the current!

On Monday we travelled 26 miles to Thoroughfare Creek with a stop at Georgetown Landing Marina for lunch at the on-site Land's End restaurant. Unfortunately, by the time we pulled away from the marina the tide was falling and we had to fight the current the remaining 14 miles to Thoroughfare Creek where we anchored in front of a 30-foot high sand bank.

Tuesday morning was cool, cloudy and foggy and Todd took the dinghy out to do a little exploring. The afternoon turned beautiful and we both went out to explore a nearby canal system that we are told was a 1960's project that didn't quite make it. Nonetheless, there are several homes on the canal system and a very nice, deep lake at the end of the northernmost canal. The entire system is on an island, though, and can only be accessed by boat.

Photos from the Captain's morning dinghy ride.

While exploring we met an interesting individual named John who lives on the canal system with his dog Hap and who also built several of the other canal system homes. He told us to give him a call on our way back south and he would have us over for his "Sandy Island Special" for dinner.

John's home on Sandy Island.

After leaving the canal system we took the dinghy over to the sandy beach below the sand bank and enjoyed our first happy hour on the sand since we left the Exumas! The sand bank is apparently a product of the dredging of the canal system lake which is just a short distance away, on the opposite side of the sand bank.

What a beautiful, pristine evening in a spectacular setting!

The canal system lake on the back side of the sand bank from the beach.

Every evening while we were at Thoroughfare Creek, some of the locals came out to ski. They were quite skilled and pretty amazing to watch!

On Wednesday we took the dinghy to the Reserve Harbor Yacht Club, just off the ICW about a mile from our anchorage, to get ice and dinghy fuel. It was a pretty nice day until the afternoon turned windy so we decided not to go to the beach. Todd tried his hand at fishing but didn't have any luck. We were surprised to learn that Thoroughfare Creek is fresh water, as is the Waccamaw River. The water is the color of iced tea (I would say raspberry iced tea) as a result of tanic acid from the cypress trees and other plant life along the shore.

We left Thoroughfare Creek late Thursday morning, took a detour through Prince Creek and stopped briefly at the Bucksport Plantation Marina to buy some of their famous homemade sausage. The on-site restaurant is closed for the season so we'll have to fix our own, but everyone who has had it says it's the best sausage they've ever eaten!

Our detour through Prince Creek.

Purchasing sausage at Bucksport Plantation Marina.

The transient dock at Bucksport - easy in, easy out.

We covered a few more miles and anchored in an oxbow near the mouth of the Waccamaw where it splits off from the ICW and goes north to Conway, SC. Tim & Sue aboard "HuckleBerry" were in the anchorage and we joined them for happy hour later that evening. Todd had met Tim & Sue the first day we anchored in Thoroughfare Creek. They had already been anchored there several days and left the day after we arrived. They are also heading up the Waccamaw to Conway but probably not until Monday.

An interesting place to live!

This sunken boat was across from where we anchored. Looks like it's been here for a while!

Catching a few rays while reading on the bow.

The "Jungle Princess" takes people on cruises up and down the Waccamaw River. What a funky boat!

We left the oxbow a little after 10:00 a.m. Friday and arrived in Conway around 12:30. It's probably not more than 15 miles (maybe less), but there are a number of housing developments and docks along the way so it was pretty slow going. We had been told that Conway had two free 40-foot floating docks along their Riverwalk so we chose one of them and got situated. What we were pleasantly surprised to discover is that they have added free 30- and 50-amp power to the docks!

Winding our way up the Waccamaw River to Conway.

Later that afternoon we visited the Chamber of Commerce and spent some time checking out the downtown area. We came back to the boat early evening to put on some warmer clothes for dinner and Todd started chatting with a local who was bass fishing in the river near us. As it turned out, Joe was pre-fishing for a bass tournament on Saturday and didn't have a partner, so naturally Todd volunteered! As some of you know, Todd used to bass fish extensively and did quite well in a number of professional and semi-professional tournaments. It is probably the single thing he misses most about not being a "dirt dweller," so he was all excited to be able to fish in a tournament again!  After Todd got his fishing gear put together, we had a nice dinner at Copper's and called it an evening since Todd had to get up bright and early to meet Joe.

Today is Saturday, October 4th, and it looks to be another beautiful, sunny day. The bass tournament will be over at noon so we will hit town again this afternoon and check out the Art Walk that Conway has the first Saturday of every month. We also have to stop in at a great little restaurant we ran across yesterday called Berni's and have a couple of their spinach cakes. The owner gave us a sample yesterday and they were really good!

We plan to leave Conway Monday and start heading south again. Even though the weather is still quite nice, fall is in the air and we have decided not to go any further north. Our goal is to be in Jacksonville by the middle of November, so we are going to take our time and check out some new and different things on the return trip. Check in with us once in a while and we'll let you know what we find!