Crossing South Carolina

After filling up the fuel tanks, we pushed away from the fuel dock at slack tide, around 9:30 on Wednesday morning. After being in Charleston for a month, it felt great to be underway again. The first hour would be the most stressful of the day, as there were numerous areas of shoaling once entering the ICW from Charleston Harbor. We left an hour after low tide, so as not to be crossing the area at dead low tide. The reason we didn’t wait until later is that there was a fixed 65’ bridge right after the shoals and I didn’t want to make my way beneath at high tide. All went well. We saw as little as 5 1/2’ in the shoaled part of the ICW and made it through just fine.

Filling the water tanks, as seen through our dirty salon window (the grimace is from anticipation of being splashed)

Filling the water tanks, as seen through our dirty salon window (the grimace is from anticipation of being splashed)

Leaving our slip at the Charleston Harbor Marina

Leaving our slip at the Charleston Harbor Marina

Shrimp boat as we leave Charleston Harbor

Shrimp boat as we leave Charleston Harbor

The Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge (the first of three bridges on Wednesday)

The Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge (the first of three bridges on Wednesday)

A dolphin  plays in the water near Beatitude

A dolphin plays in the water near Beatitude

The day was gorgeous, if not a little on the hot side. We are definitely in summer. When we pulled into Charleston a month ago, the early morning air still required sweatshirts or jackets. No more! Now, it’s minimal clothing (which means bathing suits). The scenery was spectacular as we motored northeastward for most of the day. About the only event of significance was the dreaded return of the horseflies. We continued our epic battle all day long. We deployed a new weapon in the fight, however: Fly Strips. Four horse flies met their demise by way of fly strips. I only sustained one significant wound — a large welt on my abdomen inflicted by one of the enemy.

When a shrimp boat comes in, hundreds of birds accompany her, hoping for a meal

When a shrimp boat comes in, hundreds of birds accompany her, hoping for a meal

Cindy at the helm, South Carolina marshes in background

Cindy at the helm, South Carolina marshes in background

Cindy relieves me at the helm when I need a break.

Cindy relieves me at the helm when I need a break.

At 6:40, we dropped anchor just north of Georgetown at an anchorage known as Butler Island. We let out 120’ of scope in 15’ of water and held firmly. In nine hours, we traversed sixty-two miles, which is a fairly substantial number. It seemed the current was with us for most of the day. We averaged almost seven knots over the course of the day. We grilled some burgers for dinner and played a card game of golf before bed. Thursday morning would be an early start to make the most of the tides.

Our quiet anchorage off Butler Island (that is until the storm struck)

Our quiet anchorage off Butler Island (that is until the storm struck)

We were surprised by a most impressive storm right around midnight. For a little over an hour, the tempest roared. Gusting winds whipped through Beatitude’s rigging, rain pelted her decks, and lightning illuminated the early visible shore line obscured by the heavy rain. We sat in the salon for an hour as spectators since we could in no way sleep through it. I monitored the course of the squalls on my iPad, while also using the Garmin chart plotter app to make sure our anchor was not dragging. Despite the excitement, all ended well. The storm subsided, we got a few hours sleep, and Beatitude’s anchor held.

Beauty the morning after the storm

Beauty the morning after the storm

At 6:05 a.m. on Thursday, we weighed anchor and progressed northeastward up the Waccamaw River toward Myrtle Beach. This stretch must be among the most beautiful segments of the ICW, perhaps the most beautiful. On a gorgeous, cool morning we meandered through cypress swamps and abandoned old rice fields. Large fish leaped over two feet out of the water as we passed by. A soupy fog layered over the warm, green waters of the river. Alligators swam out of the path of our vessel. Ospreys watched nervously from their nests atop virtually every ICW marker. For three hours, we saw no other human. This brief episode in our travels will persist in our memories like a Michelangelo or Rafael masterpiece, or a great European Gothic cathedral. It was a religious experience.

Spectacular sunrise on Thursday morning.

Spectacular sunrise on Thursday morning.

Smoke on the water

Smoke on the water

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Schooner on the Waccamaw

Schooner on the Waccamaw

Osprey's residence. Address: Green marker 53.

Osprey’s residence. Address: Green marker 53.

Along the Waccamaw

Along the Waccamaw

This abandoned boat has become a flower pot for nature.

This abandoned boat has become a flower pot for nature.

Another Osprey home, this time on the red marker.

Another Osprey home, this time on the red marker.

Fishing on the Waccamaw (or sleeping?)

Fishing on the Waccamaw (or sleeping?)

Occasionally one can find Osprey in places other than ICW day marks.

Occasionally one can find Osprey in places other than ICW day marks.

Cruising through South Carolina

Cruising through South Carolina

This is why you can't always trust your chart plotter.  We were in the center of the canal, but our chart plotter says we're plowing up dirt.

This is why you can’t always trust your chart plotter. We were in the center of the canal, but our chart plotter says we’re plowing up dirt.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

Blue Heron at the water's edge.

Blue Heron at the water’s edge.

Cedar Swamp

Cedar Swamp

This is a section of the ICW called "The Rock Pile," aptly named due to submerged rocks and rocky shores on a very narrow channel.  This is unique along the ICW.  Unlike most of the waterway, one could do some damage to his vessel by running aground here.

This is a section of the ICW called “The Rock Pile,” aptly named due to submerged rocks and rocky shores on a very narrow channel. This is unique along the ICW. Unlike most of the waterway, one could do some damage to his vessel by running aground here.

Soon such unspoiled nature gave way to Myrtle Beach. It’s not that the stretch of the ICW through Myrtle Beach was especially horrible. It’s just that it followed immediately upon such indescribable beauty. The weather was perfect throughout the day. It warmed up in the afternoon, but the heat was ameliorated somewhat by a cool ocean breeze. We passed beneath a dozen or so bridges, but the tides were such that most lacked intimidation. The Holden Beach Bridge, just inside North Carolina was the only antenna scraper of the bunch. It was high tide when we went through, and our 64.5’ mast just squeaked beneath the 65’ bridge.

One of the dozen or so bridges traversed on Thursday.

One of the dozen or so bridges traversed on Thursday.

A lighthouse in front of marinas near the SC/NC border.

A lighthouse in front of marinas near the SC/NC border.

This wake-boarder passed by several times, each time yelling, "Go Dawgs!"

This wake-boarder passed by several times, each time yelling, “Go Dawgs!”

A look out through one of the several ocean passes in North Carolina

A look out through one of the several ocean passes in North Carolina

We covered a lot of ground on Thursday, a total of 72 nautical miles over eleven hours. We could not have asked for a better day to cover so much ground. At 5:20, we tied up to the dock at St. James Plantation Marina in St. James, NC, a picture-perfect type place. We cleaned up, put a load of clothes in the marina washer, and enjoyed a lovely dinner at the marina grill. We hope to make it to Oriental by Saturday evening. That means we’ll need to cover approximately 55 miles/day over the next two days. If there are no surprises, that certainly seems doable.

We're in North Carolina!

We’re in North Carolina!

Entering St. James Plantation marina, happy to be done with an eleven hour day.

Entering St. James Plantation marina, happy to be done with an eleven hour day.

From our slip in the marina

From our slip in the marina

Ready to walk down D-dock for dinner.

Ready to walk down D-dock for dinner.

Beatitude can be seen in her slip.

Beatitude can be seen in her slip.

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One More Day in Charleston

Well, we thought we would head northward today. But, we were wrong. The guys from North Sail Charleston did not make it yesterday, but finally showed up around noon today to install the repaired sail and the new “quick-cover.” They did not finish until around 3 p.m., so our departure from the Holy City was delayed for another day.

Caution: Men at Work

Caution: Men at Work

Beatitude with her new "quick-cover"

Beatitude with her new “quick-cover”

Quick-cover with repaired mainsail inside

Quick-cover with repaired mainsail inside

However, we do now have a mainsail once again, and a nice new stack-pack to protect and hold it when not in use. Our old one had rips and tears with considerable UV damage and dry rot. As mentioned in the last post, we also have a couple of other “improvements” of which Cindy was unaware. First of all, I sent all the covers for our cushions in the cockpit and on the front deck out to a canvas shop for repair. Many of the snaps had broken off. They are now repaired and in place. I also bought a portable air-conditioner for the salon. You may recall we have three built-in marine AC units on Beatitude: One for each hull and one for the salon. The unit for the salon hasn’t worked in about a year. A compressor needs replacing at the cost of about two to three thousand dollars. I’ve balked at that price for months, but the heat has been so oppressive that I bought a portable unit for about $300.00. It works better than the built-in marine unit. Now, of course, we can only use this went hooked up to shore power in a marina (as we are now) or if we run the generator. So, it will be of limited assistance for the next week or two.

New 10,000 BTU portable air-conditioner

New 10,000 BTU portable air-conditioner

New electric head

New electric head

Wifi extender mounted on stern pole to right (actually just another excuse to display the Georgia flag)

Wifi extender mounted on stern pole to right (actually just another excuse to display the Georgia flag)

The upside to our one-day departure delay is that we were able to do a few more errands (with the use of Megan Argabright’s car) and were able to meet up with Justin and Shera for dinner one more time before we go. We’ll probably pass through Charleston again in the fall on our way to the Caribbean. That means we’ll have something to look forward to as we move southward through the Carolinas again.

Blue Heron in flight (squawking unhappily because I disturbed his solitude)

Blue Heron in flight (squawking unhappily because I disturbed his solitude)

Overcoming Evil with Good

It’s been over a week since I returned to Charleston from the Outer Banks. I’ve missed my crew, but she returns from Ohio today. In the meantime, I’ve primarily tried to stay cool in the sweltering, pre-summer, South Carolina, coastal sauna. Actually, it’s been warm, but it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve taken a dip in the resort pool on a couple of occasions attempting to beat the heat.

Sunset at Charleston Harbor Marina

Sunset at Charleston Harbor Marina

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It’s been a productive week of boat work. The wifi extender/booster has been permanently installed on a pole at the stern. It markedly improves my wifi service (although there has been none for the past two days). The electric toilet on the guest side of Beatitude has been completely installed and is functioning well. I had previously repaired the generator and water-maker, as well as the stern winch switch. I’ve replaced the reefing lines. I was outside at 6:40 a.m. two days ago, giving Beatitude a well-needed bath. This morning, a gentleman gave our vessel a bottom-cleaning. Unfortunately, we are still waiting on our repaired mainsail and new “quick-cover” to be installed. Communicating with the sail loft which is doing the work has been challenging, to be charitable. It is the evening before we plan to leave Charleston, and we still don’t have it! [There were also other improvements Cindy doesn’t know about yet, so we’ll wait to reveal those. Shhh!]

The newest improvement on Beatitude!

The newest improvement on Beatitude!

Another Sunset

Another Sunset

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I can’t say enough about our friends, the Argabrights, with whom I’ve shared a meal four times this week. Each of our get-togethers also came with wonderful chats and hanging out. They’ve been so gracious to pick me up and drop me off at the marina when needed. A couple of days ago, we ate at perhaps the best barbecue place I’ve eaten (there was one in Key West that was right up there.) Recently, on the Food Network program, Chopped, four Charleston BBQ Chefs competed. The winning chef was from Home Team BBQ. So, we decided we should try it. It was wonderful! The smokey brisket was mouth-watering delicious and oh-so tender. Yesterday, we had another excellent lunch at California Dreamin’. Very good!

Great BBQ Joint

Great BBQ Joint

No Brunswick Stew in Brunswick, GA.  No problem!  I found it in Charleston at Home Team BBQ.

No Brunswick Stew in Brunswick, GA. No problem! I found it in Charleston at Home Team BBQ.

Unassuming exterior of Home Team

Unassuming exterior of Home Team

Yesterday, was a very emotional day for me. Perhaps, my emotions were well-primed, seeing it was Father’s Day. I was blessed by calls from all my children by the early afternoon. My day started when I caught the 9 a.m. water taxi across the river to downtown Charleston. From the drop-off point at Charleston Maritime Center, I walked a few blocks up Calhoun Street to Mother Emanuel Church, so called because it is the oldest AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church in the south. It has one of the largest and oldest black congregations south of Baltimore. I’ve had the privilege of preaching in an AME church in my former life. As you know, it was at this church, earlier this week, that nine black worshippers were murdered this week while at Bible study, just because they were black, by a young white man.

Park Sculpture on the way to Mother Emanuel

Park Sculpture on the way to Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel

I walked up to the church just in time to hear the powerful opening prayer booming from the loud speakers which were set up on the sidewalk because the church was packed. Hundreds stood out in the 90+ degree hot sun to share in the sorrow which has befallen these good people and to show their solidarity with the victims and their families. In his prayer, the speaker explained that the victims had gathered together in Church to do something good and praise-worthy, but evil also decided to show up. And, we should not at all be surprised, since evil also stalked Christ himself, indeed, killing the Son of God. But, the evil one is deceived and his efforts are ultimately powerless against the power of God. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated this truth. It was an unforgettable morning, being a part of this special service.

Part of the crowd in front of  Emanuel AME Church

Part of the crowd in front of Emanuel AME Church

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I participated in the first half-hour of the service, before walking several blocks southward through the city to yet another historic church, St. Phillips Episcopal Church. This congregation was founded in 1680, and the present building was built in 1836. The exterior of the edifice has an imposing tower and three monumental Tuscan pedimented porticoes. The interior is lovely as well. The interior columns have elaborate and ornate Corinthian capitals which decorate their uppermost parts. The service was lovely and moving. From the opening introit sung a Capella by the choir (“Teach me, O Lord, the way of they statues; And I shall keep it unto the end.”) to the Organ Postlude, the service was charged with emotion and power. Of course, much of the focus of the sermon and the hymnody regarded this week’s horrendous events at Mother Emanuel. The hymn before the sermon was switched to one which was arranged from an old Negro spiritual, two of the verses which go as follows: “In Christ there is no East or West, In Him no South or North; But one great fellowship of love Throughout the whole wide earth… Join hands, then, members of the faith, Whatever your race may be! Who serves my Father as His child Is surely kin to me.” The one point from the sermon which stood out to me was the reference to the admonition of Paul the Apostle in Romans 12:21 – “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” And, that is exactly what the families of the victims are doing. That is exactly what Mother Emanuel Church is doing. That is exactly what the other Christians and Churches in the city of Charleston are doing. And, in fact, that is what the city is doing. Unlike other American Cities which have recently suffered race-related violence, Charleston has lived out the Christian response of overcoming evil with good.

The Charleston City Market which is, believe it or not, on Market Street

The Charleston City Market which is, believe it or not, on Market Street

Glorious tower of St. Phillip's

Glorious tower of St. Phillip’s

Sign inside the cemetery at St. Philip's, seen from sidewalk on Church Street

Sign inside the cemetery at St. Philip’s, seen from sidewalk on Church Street

St. Phillip's

St. Phillip’s

Beautiful details of interior architecture at St. Phillip's

Beautiful details of interior architecture at St. Phillip’s

The Porticoes of St. Phillip's

The Porticoes of St. Phillip’s

If the sails are put up tonight, we will likely leave tomorrow. If not, we won’t. I’m not sure when I will next have wifi service. So, until then, adieu.

Beatitude in her Slip

Beatitude in her Slip