Passage to Charleston

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The forecast was showing the beginning of a settled trend for good sailing northward.  We, by that I mean Rob, hauled the the dingy aboard to secure it to the deck.  I helped by documenting his work.  Not wanting to give you the wrong impression, I will state here that I’m often at that winch; to haul Rob up the mast and to move the outboard to and from the dingy as it sits in the water.  I’m a hard working crew member.  By the evening, we were ready to pass through the Bridge of Lions at a 7:00 opening next morning.

Two other sailboats were heading out the St. Augustine inlet at the same time.  It was a good day to sail. Local knowledge advised not making a turn north until reaching the sea buoy to avoid running into any shoals.  That’s what we did.  A call to Sea Tow was not in our plan.  Next, we put all sails up and engine off and….  I heard the sound of nothing but wind, ocean, and sea birds and felt the breeze over my skin.  Is this like heaven?

Our plan was this:  we would sail until night to St. Mary’s inlet and anchor off Cumberland Island until the next morning.  Or, we would continue through the night, the next day and second night and arrive at Charleston the third morning.  I usually find the first overnight of a passage the most difficult.  After that, we settle into a rhythm that allows us to rest better between watches.  So, the idea of two first overnights was not as appealing as sailing right through.  The first day was glorious sailing.

We saw dolphins and turtles.  The illusive turtles.  Every time I pick up my camera to make a photo, the turtles dive.  Suddenly, I saw something in the water ahead.  I tried to identify the distant floating object with binoculars.  My heart skipped. Was this a person overboard in a life jacket.  We had heard The Coastguard on the radio all day making announcements of a fisherman overdue. I handed the binoculars to Rob to see if he could confirm.  A rescue procedure started going through my mind.  Rob, too, thought maybe a person.  I took another look.  We were closer now.    No rescue needed here.  It was a sea turtle.  Lord, I do hope that man was found.

By evening, the winds were too light, so we put the engine on and motor sailed.  Sleeping with the engine that night was not nearly so nice.

But through the second day, the wind picked up until late afternoon. Rob secured a boom preventer to keep the boom to the port side as it threatened to slam side to side as we sailed downwind.

When I was on watch I tried to keep the engine off as Rob napped.   I trimmed the sails to make the most of the fading wind.  Alas, I got things set up pretty well and we were clipping along.  This was fun.  When Rob came up from below decks, he was even impressed with our progress.  We decided to go through to Charleston, but arrival would be about 2 a.m.  We needed to slow down so we could go through the inlet at daylight. Rob reefed the main sail.

Now, it wasn’t but a couple of hours before the wind died down.  It seemed to take a long time to reach and pass this anchored ship.  Soon, I saw that anchored ship pass us.  Ha.

We were now going backward in the current.  We had to give up and turn the engine on.  The rest of the second night was motor sailing.

That’s the thing about sailing.  If we’re going from point A to point B intentionally and with an agenda of any sort, we often have to use the engine.

By sunrise of the third morning, we entered the Charleston inlet at daybreak.  This is Providence passing a Charleston inlet marker at daybreak.

It had been an uneventful passage.  No rescues were required and we didn’t hit any markers, buoys, shoals, or ships.  By now, though, fatigue had shortened our patience and we were anxious to tie up at the Charleston Marina.  Rob radioed for a slip.  No room for anyone, no reservations being made until at least the next week.  We anchored our small sailboat across from their docks full of mega yachts.  It’s happening in Charleston.  We’ll spend some time here before continuing.