Charleston - Anchored on the Ashley River Wednesday 20th May - Tuesday 26th May
We arrived in Charleston in the early hours of the morning. Iain negotiated our way down the channel into the Ashley River to a safe anchorage. It began to rain quite heavily, which was a blessing. The rain saved a topsides wash down and gave us another opportunity to investigate a new leak which had sprung during our trip.
The leak made me smile. It brought back fond memories of growing up, rushing with the saucepans to the top of the stairs where the rain came in the skylight of our family home. Strangely, our leak is from a cabin roof hatch, not dissimilar to a skylight. Once the bowls were in place, Iain investigated the hatch throughly, adding the impending job to The List. We spent the day resting.
As with all our trips, the next day was boat maintenance and catching up on paperwork for home.
The river was a joy to watch. The busiest river we had been on to date. The local residents were enjoying the water in fast motor boats, all out to bask in the sunshine and freedom of the water.
Iain was enjoying watching the array of different boats of all shapes and sizes some clearly supporters of The President. They were all very American, ranging from modest 25 foot day boats with two, three or four 350 hp outboards to 55 foot Sport Fishers travelling past the
‘No Wake - 5 knots’ sign at full throttle. The wake created by the plethora of boats was quite fierce and by the evening we were a little tired of the constant assault. By dusk, the day trippers left the river and the water turned to a mill pond, which was a welcome relief. However the anchorage had little protection and within a short time a moderate breeze filled in against the ebb tide, turning the river back into a ragging torrent of breaking waves.
We concluded we could not safely launch our very small, but perfectly formed dinghy in these waters, so were unable to leave the yacht. This seemed a great shame, given the lengths we had travelled to get to Charleston. On the positive side, another tick in the 'For' column of the new tender campaign.
We decided to motor around the harbour on a fact finding mission to find a quieter anchorage with the option of going ashore. It was a very pleasant motor, in amongst the hubbub of the other boats.
We passed The York Town, a Second World War Aircraft Carrier, now a national historic landmark. We trundled under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge but could not find another suitable anchorage, forcing us to return to our original spot, only this time much closer to the marina/dinghy dock. Great but slightly obstructing the main channel.
The following day was equally as busy. We could still not leave the boat. We made a plan to go ashore on Sunday. We would go to the supermarket and explore the beautiful town we could see from the decks of our floating home. It was concluded we would get up early before the speed boat day trippers arrived.
We left the boat at 08:00am. The river was indeed calm and the journey to the dinghy dock was effortless. We walked to the supermarket which was a joy. Even though we were walking under a major junction on a motorway, just being on dry land was a thrill. We seem to spend an awful lot of time afloat.
The supermarket was an American brand, Publix. It was very well laid out and full of the familiar brands and types of food we are used to in England. We followed our usual procedure when shopping. “Divide and Conquer Jacqueline”.
I have the trolly, I gather all things fresh. Vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, dairy. Iain is in charge of drinks, biscuits, crisps and nuts. The system works very well. Iain’s list is executed efficiently and with precision, while I amble from each fresh aisle feasting on the colours and displays. Imagining the wonderful recipes I could create with such ingredients. Inhaling the aromas of the local produce. Happy to be surround by nature in another form.
While in my own world, Iain progresses to luxury items, such as chocolate, gadgets and interesting looking packaging, which can go one of two ways, but always a treat to see what delights await us when we return to the boat.
This weeks luxury item was English tea bags. An absolute luxury as we were down to our last 40 tea bags from that memorable shop in Ipswich all those months ago. It is a wonder how the simple morning cup of tea has become an important ritual. Something we took for granted at home. Now we make time to drink it. Usually before we get ready for the day. At home it was something which was rushed as we hurried out of the door. When my mother lived with us, she was always pleading with me to sit and drink the tea. But I would be multi tasking and invariably leave the tea to go cold. Something else, my mother was right about.
The weeks gadget was a Kitchen Aid hand lime squeezer for the 5 O’Clock sundowners! We are going to be well hydrated for the next phase of our trip.
Iain volunteered to take the shopping back to the boat alone, as the morning was passing, the river was bound to be very choppy with the speed boats zooming up and down. I would wait ashore and on his return we were going to take a walk around Charleston Village as suggested by our friend Ann Kearney from home. Ann had very kindly sent the route map so nothing could be simpler.
We loaded the dinghy with our spoils and off Iain motored with all the power of the engine, trying to get her to plane. I watched and listened as he left. I could hear the change in the revolutions from the pontoon. Obviously the weight distribution was not correct. It was not going to rise onto the plane. I was glad I wasn’t in it.
I returned to the restaurant somewhat relieved to be dry and asked for a coffee. The kind young girl gave it to me without charge. I was a little embarrassed but accepted her true Southern hospitality. I sat at an outside table overlooking the car park to await my hero’s return.
Iain was some time. There was a lot of shopping to unload and store. It was a long way from the dock back to the boat in all the chop. I was enjoying my coffee and people watching in the car park. It suddenly dawned on me I was alone for the first time in months drinking coffee in a car park. Something else I would never have considered in different times. Perhaps it was the freedom to have my own thoughts.
Eventually Iain returned all grins and freshly showered. It had been a hot job which he performed as quickly as he could to return to me he said. I felt a warm glow thinking of his thoughtfulness towards me that morning. I had enjoyed my indulgent alone time while he took care of us.
Iain remarked there was something going on afloat. All sorts of boats bearing Trump banners were congregating around our boat in the anchorage. We thought about returning to the boat, but decided we had been cooped up too long and could watch from the shore for a change.
We ventured to a vantage point along the battery, stopping opposite our boat. There was indeed something going on. A long parade of hundreds of boats all parading very slowly around the battery in support of Donald Trump. The sight was remarkable. But also, somewhat ironic. The only day we came ashore, the sea was the place to be.
We watched for a short time when an added surprise. Iain’s niece, Justina, FaceTimed from Suffolk and we were introduced to the newest member of the Basey-Fisher family, little Felix Alexander. After much cooing and a general catch up we proceeded on our walk.
It was a wonderful tour around the Charleston Heritage site. We had stepped back in time to the 1700's when the town evolved. Every view was a perfect picture of history. Most of the homes had plaques on the wall which told their story. It was not difficult to visualise life during those times, complete with horse drawn carts, now used for the official guided tours.
We found a sandwich bar which was open, serving take away sandwiches. We were quite excited. Only our second American food experience since lockdown. A takeaway pizza in the Virgin Islands and now a sandwich in Charleston. We sat outside the shop eating and people watching. It was a hot afternoon, we were relaxing in the shade of an old town full of history and charm. I felt sure at any moment, a door across the street would open and there would be Rhett Butler leaving with his immortal line delivered with such eloquence.
I mentioned this to Iain, but frankly, he didn’t give a damn.