We left our anchorage early on Day 176 to transit Elliott Cut on a rising tide and had no issues. However, our fuel was running a bit low and we thought it would be wise to diesel-up before arriving our diesel-less marina in Charleston. We attempted to get fuel at Ross Marine just south of the big city, but a wicked current and poor placement of the fuel dock (on the inside shoreline rather than an outside T-head adjacent to ICW—why??!!) made for a treacherous situation. So we waved goodbye and decided to get fuel at the mega dock at the Charleston City Marina. We docked there beautifully, only to discover that the section of the mega dock we sidled up to had mega fuel nozzles that were, well, quite mega. Yes, the nozzle was larger than our deck fill diameter could accommodate safely. Okay then. We powered up again and moved about 150 feet further to where the normal-sized nozzles were located, at the southeastern end quite close to where we camped out last fall. Eighty-five gallons later we were on our way up the Cooper River, on the northern side of the Charleston peninsula, and passing under the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Bridge.
Due to Race Week (sailboat races) in Charleston, we were unable to secure reservations at any marinas close to downtown, including the mega dock we had just departed and two others. Many weeks before, we had been warned by friends about the limited number of slips due to the race, and boy were they right. But we had secured a week-long reservation at the Cooper River Marina, which turned out to be an affordable and pleasant place to spend seven days. Not only did we want to visit with our friends Cathy and Mark, but the winds would be blowing super hard all week so we would have needed to take refuge somewhere. The remote location was a bit of a concern, but Cathy and Mark offered to loan us one of their cars for the duration. Wow! And yay! Loaner cars are rare but very welcomed gifts to cruisers.
Shortly after the marina staff settled us into a primo slip, we were met by our generous friends, who arrived in two cars in order to leave us our wheels for the week. We dined together at Edmunds Oast, catching up on events since our last rendezvous in Cocoa Village FL in February when they were returning north on their DeFever 41 trawler, Avalon. We first Cathy and Mark in January in New Smryna Beach when our boats shared adjacent slips, and we shared many similar interests over a couple of weeks in NSB.
Presently enjoying landlubber life at their home in Charleston, Cathy and Mark plan to bring Avalon up to the Chesapeake for the summer months. So this visit to Charleston was an opportunity for them to share the highlights of their region with us, and then we’ll get to return the favor in a few months. This is the part of the cruising life that we enjoy the most: making friends and keeping the connection going, on sea and on land.
As I settled into bed that night, I checked FaceBook and realized that the Key to Keys bicyclists, from the Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF, http://ulmanfund.org), had just arrived Charleston (yes—from Baltimore) and would be visiting a local cancer center near me the next morning. And I had wheels to get there! So the next morning, I donned my UCF Team Fight apparel and met up with them at the Charleston Cancer Center in North Charleston, about 25 minutes from our marina. It was so good to meet these bicyclists as they delivered messages of hope and raised money to help young adults battling cancer.
We visited one-on-one with the patients receiving their chemotherapy treatments, and delivered bags of goodies and warm blankets to brighten their day. Hearing their stories brought back memories of 21 years ago when I was a caregiver to my first husband as he bravely fought his cancer as a young adult. Although I recently left the board of the UCF, I still support many programs there, and am proud that we will be awarding the second annual John W. Duvall Memorial Scholarship through the UCF in a few weeks to a deserving college student. If you are interested contributing to this cause, please visit my Team Fight page http://tinyurl.com/h3or29b, and support me in completing my 5th triathlon this summer.
It was good to hug my Team Fight training buddy, Lee Keagle, in Charleston before she drove away in one of the Key to Keys vans. Lee is truly a dedicated volunteer and Team Fight member, and the Keagle and Duvall families are intrinsically connected, forever and always.
After that auspicious visit, it was time to begin chillin’ in Charleston. Dudley and I visited a charming small movie theater, The Terrace, to see Eye in the Sky, and dined before and after at a delightful music café, How Art Thou, which featured live music.
The next day we spent a long and glorious day with Cathy and Mark, in historic Charleston. We had lunch at Kitchen 208 and then toured the exquisite Nathaniel Russell House.
A couple of hours later, we toured the preserved Aiken-Rhett House. It was then that we began to understand the difference between restoration and preservation. The contrast was striking, and we each had our own opinion of which house we preferred. I opted for the more rustic Aiken-Rhett.
The day was sunny and beautiful though quite breezy, and we enjoyed a walk along the Battery with a view of heeling sailboats towards Fort Sumter. We all paused to admire an ancient relic, and wondered what the cost of a pay phone call might be these days. Answer: 50 cents.
After more than 10,000 steps, it was time for an early dinner, and the Mellow Mushroom nourished our spent bodies and minds. Our first three days in Charleston had been a study in contrasts: health and illness; free and enslaved; restored and preserved; walking and driving; past and present; and old friends and new friends.
I couldn’t help but think about how Cathy and Mark were actually new friends, and yet feel like old friends. That’s a nice contrast, and one that we are really enjoying about our return to Charleston.