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Thursday, November 30, 2006

16 NOV thru 30 NOV 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

We're still in Charleston and still with Guy and Marilyn, our dear friends from Ohio. They have to leave here on the 20th, so we've spent the last few days touring Charleston and seeing the sights together. So much history and so little time! But that's a good thing, as there's always a reason to come back.

We had our first meeting today with Keith Callery, of All Star Canvass. Keith came to the boat and took measurements for our new cockpit enclosure. He believes that he'll have it done and installed before the end of the month, and when you consider that we have a Thanksgiving Holiday in there, that's pretty spectacular. In the boating industry, we're not used to that kind of service. It's usually "we'll get to it when we can," so this is quite a pleasant surprise.

With the measuring completed, it was back to our friends and a walk into Charleston for diner. We went to Bocci's Italian Restaurant and had an absolutely fantastic meal. Their menu selection is extensive and they have a very good wine list too. I had the Lasagna Bolognese, which was excellent, and we also had Shellfish Fra Diavlo, Seafood Alfredo and Chicken Conchiglia. Combine these great dishes with a bottle of Trentino and a bottle of Chianti and you have the perfect meal.

After Bocci's, we needed to walk a bit, so we wnet on one of Charleston's famous tours, The Ghosts and Ledgends of Charleston. This tour, which consists of a group of eight or ten people and their guide, winds through Old Charleston for about a mile and a half and visits haunted old buildings, alleys and graveyards.

Taking just a bit more than an hour and a half, the tour is billed as Charleston's most popular walking tour and has been featured on CNN Travel Guide, The Learning Channel, Charleston's Post & Courier Newspaper, Charleston Magazine, and more. We certainly weren’t disappointed.

Our guide was funny, extremely knowledgeable about Charleston and its history and during the tour, we never felt rushed or that the tour was dragging either. We went through all sorts of spooky places and some of us saw (or thought we saw) some pretty strange sights under the cold light from the neighboring streetlights. Needless-to-say, we were not disappointed and it was the perfect way to end the day in Charleston.

The next day was Sunday and it was time to do a bit of sailing. Guy and Marilyn had never been out on a sailboat, just powerboats, so this was going to be a new experience for them.

We departed the Maritime Center on the high tide and went up Wapoo Creek and through a drawbridge for our friends. Then we came back down the Wapoo to the Ashley River South and out to sea for some quiet sailing. Not too much wind, so we didn’t go very fast or very far, but we did see lots of porpoise and went through a school of jellyfish that were as big as cantaloupe. It was really cool!

From there, we came back in the channel, up the Cooper River and passed by the USS Lexington. Then, it was under the Ravenel Bridge for pictures. With that done, it was time to head in so we could make it into the marina on the low slack tide. What a great day to be out on the water.

Our friends left Charleston today and are on the way to meet up with some folks in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. For us, it's back to preventive maintenance and, on the 23rd, our first fitting of the new enclosure. I'm glad Keith is doing it and not me, because from my perspective, it looks like nothing fits (or is ever going to fit.) But Keith is the pro and has assured us we'll be pleased with the final result.

Today is Thanksgiving Day! For the first time in our lives, we have no kids, no family and no relatives to feed, so it’s kinda’ lonely. But, the holiday has been saved!!! A group of boaters, also stuck here for the Holiday, have organized a Potluck Supper, with turkey as the main course.

The maritime Center Marina has been really super and has given us the run of both their kitchen and banquet room. We made an appetizer and a vegetable dish on the boat and carried them, along with a couple bottles of wine, upstairs to the banquet room. Immediately upon entering the room, we were struck with the wonderful smells of roasting turkey and baking pies. It smelled so good that you felt as if you were at home.

The crews of Milano Mist, Merlin, Oz, Caribbean Dream, Puddle Jumper, White Bird and some other boats that I can’t remember were the attendees. The conversation was great and filled with stories of cruising and other holidays spent in far away places, like today, in the good company of perfect strangers. For our first holiday away from home, it was a great time.

Bright and early on the 27th, we received a call from Keith. He said he was ready to do the final fitting and installation of our new enclosure. He was on the boat within the hour and, panel-by-panel, the enclosure became a reality. Kim and I were both amazed as each panel joined to the original Bimini top and the neighboring panels, as if it had always been there.

Although we couldn't see any problem, Keith wasn't happy with the fit of one panel and said he'd take it away, remake it and be back tomorrow to finish the installation. True to his word, Keith was back in the morning with a new panel, installed it and set all of the snaps and closures in the hull. We are SO happy with the end result and now have the equivalent of and extra room on the boat. Now we can do some traveling!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

01 NOV thru 15 NOV 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

Being back in Charleston, SC is like coming home for us. Both Kim and I feel a connection to this city that is beyond explanation. As far as living in the US is concerned, we've only lived in the north, yet Charleston makes us feel as if we’ve always been here and everything about the city has an eerie sense of familiarity.

We spent the first couple of days here doing the shop and resupply thing. We rented a car from the local Enterprise office and made the usual stops at Sam's Club, Wal-mart and West Marine to restock low inventories of food, household supplies and boat maintenence items.

With our boat resupplied, we spent the next three days cleaning, shining, wiping and waxing the boat. It takes a lot of work to keep Current Jumper looking like new, but the results were worth all of the hard work.

With the boat all in order, we got on the bicycles and began touring the city of Charleston. No visit to the city is complete without a trip along the north shore to see the old row houses. Most of these have been around since the civil war and are held together by long threaded rods that pass through the entire structure
with a star shaped nut on each end. It worked well then and is still working today.

From the Row Homes, we went on to Battery Park. First used as a public park in 1837, Batter Park became a place for artillery placement during the American Civil War to protect the approaches to Charleston. It is also, the site where, on April 12, 1861, the residents of Charleston gathered to watch the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, which marked the beginning of the War.

Today, however, Battery Park is a beautiful public park that still contains many of the original Civil War artillery pieces. Everyone seems to agree that the Battery is the city's best spot for strolling. Maybe it's the live oaks drooping with Spanish moss, the pleasant ocean breezes, or the lovely views of Charleston Harbor. Whatever the reason, Battery Park is definately on the "A" list of places to visit while in Charleston.

Our next stop was the Charleston Market. The market has been at its present location for 220 years and has survived a tumultuous past, out lasting tornadoes, hurricanes, a major earthquake and devastation by fires and bombardment from without and within.

Located near the waterfront in the Ansonborough area, the first actual suburb in America, the property was built on low lying marshland and a small tidal creek which were gradually filled in between 1804 and 1807 and were by then high enough to erect the market stalls.

The main building, Market Hall, was built in 1841 and is an apparent modification of the Grecian-Doric temple of "The Wingless Victory" at Athens. The cornice is ornamented with ram's and bull's heads, a symbol of the ancient Greek custom of hanging the skulls of animals sacrificed to the gods in the temple.

Today, Market Hall is used by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for the preservation of articles of historic interest from the War Between the States.

Below Market Hall is a spacious portico, which was used as a meat and fish market until modern times. For sanitation purposes the three buildings behind Market Hall, which sold fruits and produce, were set apart.

Today when visiting Charleston, the City Market is a must see. There are a total of four buildings spanning from Meeting Street to East Bay Street. Sweet grass basket weavers can be seen in every building, along with, local artists, jewelry, tapestry, souvenirs, church dolls, afghans, rugs, rice, beans, sauces, local candies and cookies and much more.

Well, today started off with great news. We received a call from some old friends of ours from Ohio and found out they’re in Charleston! They travel the highways in a fifth wheel camper and, being retired like us, spend their time traveling and sightseeing in the US.

They are staying at the James Island County Park, which has a huge RV facility in addition to 643 acres of well-manicured public lands. Our friends came and picked us up at the Marina and then we all went to dinner at Melvin’s Barbecue. Melvin’s wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t expensive, but the food sure was FANTASTIC!! I can’t believe we ate so much.

Once diner was done, we got back in the truck and made our way to the James Island County Park. When we arrived at the park, we all got out of the truck and began the walking tour of the Festival of Lights (what a great way to recover from over eating!)

The walking tour covers a leisurely 3-mile trek along forest paths illuminated by light-sculptured art. With over 600 displays located throughout the park, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a magical place to be!

Once the light tour is complete, there is still a lot left to be seen. One can visit Santa's Workshop, tour the facility on Santa's Train, ride the Giant Carousel or visit the huge sand sculpture (it takes more than 50 tons of sand to construct) that is specially created each year for the Holiday Festival of Lights

We had a great time at the park and it was great being with our friends again. Tomorrow, we'll see them again and have more adventures together.