12 Feb – 3 March
Folks in South Carolina were warm, friendly and mighty charming. Life in the Palmetto State is all about Southern Comfort; kicking back sipping sweet iced tea (or beer), —tucking into Shrimp and Grits whilst evil tiny spec like flies bite and irritate the hell out of you. No wonder all the houses have fly screens on the doors and windows and many gardens along the waterway protect their patios and swimming pools with netted enclosures. Its still winter so I dread to think what it is like during the hotter months.
If you are wondering, grits are grainy bits of corn cooked into a buttery creamy consistency a bit like risotto. There is a serious love of seafood here maybe because this is the Lowcountry, a geographic and cultural region along South Carolinas coast. Restaurants serve peel n’ eat shrimp and Lowcountry Boil; shrimp, sausage, potatoes n’ corn on the cobb all cooked in one pot and crawfish festivals are popular during the summer season.
Our first stop was an overnight stay at Hilton Head Island, a popular US holiday destination divided into wealthy gated communities and famous for its Championship golf greens. Despite only being 12 miles long and 5 miles wide it has over 40 courses. An island too posh for public transport so Uber was the only option to get around.
We did the ‘touristy’ thing and headed to see the Lighthouse at Harbour Town grabbing an ice-cream while there, but to me this place had a bit of a fake gimmicky feel about it, in a Disney Land kind of way. Everything had been built recently but deliberately designed to look and feel historic however it lacked the authenticity and character that comes with the genuine article. It was a pleasant enough place with a nice kids park for Daisy, but taking our little girl to Lawson Stables petting zoo had to be the highlight of our visit. As parents you can’t beat doing fun things with your little ones, seeing the excitement and fascination on Daisy’s face when she feed goats and watched funny looking chickens with feathers like bell bottom trousers strut around made my heart melt and best of all it was free.
Beaufort, pronounced Biewfoot and not be confused with Beaufort, pronounced how its spelt in North Carolina was a lovely little old town with stone buildings and relaxing waterfront park. Swinging chairs overlooked the river where the boat was anchored and there was a friendly low-key marina close by.
Luckily we were here on the right day of the week to make Story Time at the local library so Bean Bag (as we like to call her) got to interact with some other children. Simon and I also got some ‘adult’ time in the form of Jill and on Sailing Yacht Nomad who we met in the marina laundry, a very common place for cruising friendships to cultivate. It is impossible to avoid conversation when spending hours waiting for endless piles of washing. They were just starting their sailing adventure towards the Caribbean, so came on board Tudor Rose to share stories and beers while Daisy slept. It was good fun to be socialising again after a long stint of isolation but Mummy did not appreciate the 6am start the morning after with a severe white wine headache. There was no avoiding it though as we’d sneaked a free night on the dock after filling up with water so had to leave before the marina staff turned up.
Charleston ICW Mile 470
After a long two-day passage we reached Charleston a significant milestone in our US trip and the halfway point of our journey up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The largest city in South Carolina and a renowned cultural hotspot it was brimming with things to do so we stayed for 10 days adding in a bit of extra budget for treats. Obviously first on the agenda was a Chinese buffet…lol!
Always anchoring out saves a significant amount of money on mooring fees, but here we did have to pay the City Marina 5 bucks a day to use their dinghy dock in order to get ashore at a convenient location. However that also included use of their extremely nice showers and a free mini bus that dropped off and collected guests to the centre of the historic district, which was ideal for us having a dog and small child to drag around all day.
Antebellum mansions stood tall and proud with compulsory stars and stripes flag, wooden verandas and swinging porch chairs. Horse drawn carriage tours and high quality cuisine filled the cobblestone streets and the old market was bustling with visitors and traders selling jewellery, artwork and hand woven baskets.
“That would look lovely as a fruit bowl on board the boat” I say to Simon “how much it is?” He asks the man who is weaving a sweetgrass basket as we speak. “$500”. Holy Shit, I know it’s hand made and a good piece of workmanship but seriously did it take a week to make or something. Turns out it took him 1 day and I assume that’s a working day not the full 24 hours. Wow I’d want it to grow legs and go out and buy my fruit for me for that kind of cash. Perhaps the Thrift Shop is better suited to our finances.
Brittlebank Park was mile up river with a beautiful dock and wooded area for Scrumpy to run free. Every morning we would dinghy past dolphins playing under the Savannah highway Bridge, tie up and wander down the long boardwalk to meet whoever was in the kids playground that day. Here Daisy fell over and got her first ever grazed knee, the start of many.
I could go on and on about the second hand Cowboy Boots we got for Daisy, the fun she had at the Children’s Museum, the birds of prey at the Southern eastern wildlife exposition, huge seafood platter at the Darling Oyster Bar and the many Black Cherry Ciders I drank at the Tattooed Moose with our old fellow Caribbean cruiser Nick (on Ruby Rose)… but I really must get on and up date this blog since I’m almost 3 months behind!