Saturday, June 27, 2009
I had planned to leave Charleston a couple of days ago but heard about the Charleston Sail Fest so decided to stay another four or five days and watch the tall ships. The Festival featured the ships and a period village held by the Maritime Center. A number of the Tall Ships have been involved in the Atlantic Challenge, a friendly race from Europe via Bermuda. One of the ships lost it's foremast above the trucks and another carried away her jib. From what I gather, they failed to shorten sail in time and were struck by a squall.
I have been here for almost a month and find Charleston a great city to live and hang on the hook. I had spent two weeks in the marina while back in the NW for a funeral. Very expensive but am now safely back on the hook opposite the marina.
The major part of the city is on a peninsula that connects with the other quarters via a series of new and very old bridges. There has been a major attempt to keep the peninsula part of the city as historic as possible. A feature I find appealing is a lot of the waterfront is actually wetland! So plenty of bird life is evident throughout the city.
After, the Great Depression a lot of American cities started developing the downtown areas clearing most of the old houses that were over a hundred years old. Renovation came very late to Charleston and buy the time it did there was intelligent thought that realized the neighborhoods should be preserved. So as you walk around Charleston's downtown area there are many houses 200-250 years old. It goes without saying they did not save the small houses although there are instances of less than mansion quality. It is easy to spend an entire day walking through the neighborhoods admiring the architecture and the gardens.
There are four colleges/universities in town so a big need for housing . Before the major renovations a lot of the owners could no longer afford the upkeep and the taxes so many of the houses were divide into apartments with the owner usually living on the top floor. This arrangement is still common so many of the houses have been in the sames families for generations.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Well, After 12 days from the Virgins we made landfall at Charleston, South Carolina. The sail here was fairly slow as we never travelled more than 120 per day. Mostly right around a 100 per day. We sailed almost the entire way except for the last 6 hours coming into Charleston. We used the spinnaker for 5 days straight!! As I do not have an asymmetrical we could only make the spinnaker work well downwind. We flew the spinnaker about 9 out of 12 days.
I had forgotten that Ft. Sumpter is in Charleston, so was pleasantly surprised to see the fort as we approached the harbor. For those a little light on history...First shot of the Civil War took place here.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When John Glenn splashed down in the Carribean about the Friendship 7 capsule in 1962 his first landfall after being plucked out of the ocean was Gran Turk. Most of the flights in the early days of the Space Program ended here. There is a replica(?) of Friendship 7 that appears to be the real thing. It is amazing how tiny the capsule was.
Set sail from St Thomas on May 26th for the Eastern Seaboard. On board was your truly and a 32 year old woman named Rebbecca. She had never done an ocean passage but was keen to give it a go.
Winds were forecast to be light and they were all the way to our first stop at the Turks and Caicos. We stopped at Gran Turk and anchored off the dock on the SW side of the island. We arrived after 1700 so would have to clear customs in the morning.
Our experience at customs was one of a kind. After customs and immigration the custom officer offered to drive us around the island. Never had that happen before. Everyone we met in town was helpful and glad to have us there. Great experience!
There is a controversy here. Many say Columbus landed on San Salvador an island about 100 miles west of the Turks. Gran Turk maintains he landed here. Their claim has about as much merit as the San Salvador claim so who knows. Anyway the time spent was short and we departed the next day. Plan to return next season if possible
Monday, June 8, 2009
St John is another world away from the bustle of St Thomas. As most of the island is controlled by the National Park Service there is a small population in and around Cruz Bay and Coral Bay on the opposite side of the island. The beaches are world class and the night life in Cruz Bay is low key but exciting. The well off come from the Westin Resort to slum with the locals and pretty good music can be found almost any night along one of the bars that front the beach.
I was there for the regatta that featured a boat race ! Rules were a 4x8 sheet of plywood a roll of duct tape and a few fasterners. It was a beautiful day and most of the downtown turned out to watch the race. Several of the boats due to design flaws were sunk on the final leg.
I spent a fair amount of time in St. Thomas. My friend Dave Crossley who I met in Venezuela hangs there and has a vehicle so provisioning is easy and the beach at Honeymoon is one of the best. Joes Bar on the beach is convenient to the Water Island anchorage and the venue every night as the sun goes down is superb.
I have included in the photo an over view of the harbor of St Thomas.