Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prince of Tides

We've just spent a lovely five days in Charleston, South Carolina. Five days is a significant amount of time to spend in one place when you're driving south but in this case it was well worth it because we got to visit visited with our friends the Grumbauchers! Alex, Liz, Ayla and Jake (and Cody) welcomed us into their home. Dinners, shopping, partying. Ayla is 9 going on sixteen and Jakie is almost two with a dimpled smile that melts hearts. These kids re so cute!

One of the highlights of the visit was Shabatt dinner and services at Congregation Beth Elohim Synagogue. Unbeknownst to us Charleston has a Jewish legacy. The community was very welcoming and we really enjoyed services in this historic sanctuary.

Charleston's architecture was remarkable; colourful buildings, wrap-around balconies on every floor, rocking chairs on every porch. Charleston's streets are still lit by flame lanterns, so charming. Less charming but equally interesting is the city's slavery history. Charleston had the biggest slave Market in the country. Unfortunately we did not get to go to the historical Slave Mart (put it on the list for the return trip). Slavery and the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression as southerners refer to it, awesome!) are consistent undertones in these southern states, a living history of you will.

Charleston is also renowned for, coinciding with our visit, Halloween! Everything is decorated, everyone dresses up and everyone has a party. This is fitting because Cassandra is also Halloween crazy! Her Mini Mouse costume was planned far in advance and transported with us since our departure from Montreal. I was less prepared (where are my priorities?!) so we walked Charleston up & down searching out bits & pieces of a Mickey costume. Sigh.

The tides in Charleston are about eight feet, significant and by far the largest we've seen yet. Anchoring options were actually quite limited, the primary anchorage is infamous in reviews for having a fouled bottom, full of junk; cables, chains, cement blocks, other lost anchors, etc. Many reported lost anchors or hiring of divers ($250) to free anchors. The alternate anchorage was tighter; smaller and full of smaller live aboard boats. It was also relatively shallow. For fear of losing our anchor we opted to try the tight & shallow one first. Upon our arrival it was exactly low tide but we were thrilled to be able to squeeze in with still about a foot under the keel. Thank you shallow draft! Pretty pleased with myself for making that a top criteria in yacht selection! But of course it's when you're quite pleased with yourself that nature takes you down a peg because you see dear reader low tide is not always the same low and we soon discovered the next day low tide was about half a foot lower. Not only were we touching bottom but the wind and currents had swung us so that our rudder was in the shallowest part. The keel is somewhat deeper than the rudder so would theoretically touch a flat bottom first and I'm not too concerned if that were to occur. The rudder though is a moving part, a critical part and not meant to bear any significant loads. I was very distressed that the rudder was touching bottom. While the steering wheel turning by itself, as if some unseen spirit at the helm, was very Halloweenesque, all I could do was worry about damage occurring underwater. The next low tides were even lower, and lower after that. There was not much we could do while aground and I did not sleep well that night, kicking myself for not having checked future tide levels before dropping the hook.

The next morning Cassandra “graciously” transferred her anchoring jobs to Alex. Alex and I returned to Topanga and repositioned her, me at the helm and Alex (poor guy) at the anchor (we have no windlass). The anchorage was tight with other boats and it took three times to position ourselves exactly; no groundings, no hitting other boats. At a solid 6'3” tall Alex is a big strong guy but after the second raising & lowering of eighty feet of anchor & chain by hand he was like “dude you gotta get it right this time, I can't do this again”. Third time was a charm and Alex was the hero of the day (thanks man!)

Of course as in any anchorage, when there is anchoring drama going on, heads pop out of adjacent boats to see it, both for the entertainment value and to determine if they are at risk. Most of the head pops were scowls of disapproval but one offered some local knowledge; Dabny, originally from Colchester Vermont both lives and works on his small sailboat. He is an artiste and his boat doubles as his studio! He has unique style he's dubbed Dabism. As an artist herself, with many supplies onboard Cassandra & I hoped to visit his boat/studio but unfortunately time did not allow. Again, something for the way back up.

To top off a great visit we had the Grumbies aboard for drinks and snacks. The dolphins were out frolicking in the anchorage much to the delight of kids and parents and of course Cassandra.

At high tide, unfortunately no pic at low tide but you could see bottom up to 50ft from the boat

Thank you Dr. Lining! A pioneer in weather forecasting

True dat

Oh hello David Geffen's MEGA-yacht, 10th largest in the world with five floors and 89 rooms. But we have the same million dollar view don't we David ;-)

Everybody gets dressed up!

That means EVERYBODY!

Cause cops in Charleston are bad-ass!

I was dressed like a lumber jack for our fancy shmancy dinner

Charleston's most stylish family!

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1 comment:

  1. Wow....bringing back some memories! I was stationed in Charleston for four years when I was in the military [1995-1999]. Such a great place, filled with history and entertainment.

    I wasn't a sailor then, so didn't know about the tide and bottom situation. That's pretty bad.

    Looking forward to more adventures..keep em coming. Oh, by the way...love the "pet mooring!" :-)