Every morning we’d start the kettle to make coffee, check the weather, then open up the iPad to consult ‘Active Captain’. Our dependence and use of Active Captain on our garmin charts is akin to that of the Federal Reserve using monetary policy; it was the ying to our yang, the other pea in the pod.
I say this because Active Captain is crucial to our trip planning, it’s a set of interactive charts that has community-sourced information. Meaning each user is able to update the chart with reviews on marina facilities, anchorages, hazards, and other useful information. You can plot courses and measure distances to weigh points. You can zoom in and out of locations to view safe and quiet anchorages that might appeal to you… or maybe want to avoid. Heavily traveled areas, like the ICW, make for heavily reviewed destinations. Charleston, SC, for instance, had many reviews for the public anchorage and all non-too enticing.
Things Charleston is wonderful for: porches, eating out… Things Charleston is not wonderful for: clearing old sunken ships and their anchors, fourth of July fireworks…
There are two parts to the anchorage, one area is riddled with mooring balls which I find to be annoying (the mooring balls tend to be placed at awkwardly far distances which, crowds out all the good free places to anchor). The second area has several submerged ships and forgotten anchor chains just waiting to become entangled in your own anchor rode. A number of reviews complained of having to call a diver to come out and untangle their own chain free from the depths. It’s a fairly deep anchorage and strong current… meaning you need more chain (more swing room) to ensure you don’t drag at peak ebb/flood current. But at the end of the day, we said f%ck it. Down with the anchor and come time to pull our manson supreme (that’s the type of anchor) back up from the bottom… we’ll deal with whatever comes…
We stayed in Charleston for the fourth of July and enjoyed dinghy-ing to shore to walk into town just to peruse the town and stay in over-air conditioned coffee shops. We both agree, Charleston is down right beautiful and slightly reminiscent of Boston (in other aspects…). While in Charleston, we barely survived the heat but learned two very important things. Southerners are a proud folk and as sweet as honey.
Secondly, the 4th of July show is none too impressive in Charleston….
Being an avid lover of fireworks, we made a plan to see the 4th of July fireworks here. Unfortunately for SC, we are from Boston, which means the ‘fireworks show’ bar is set pretty high. We asked a few locals where the best view of the show could be found. All 3 people shrugged their shoulders replying with an earnest ‘I’ve never gone to see the show’. BUT BUT BUT then what do you people DO if you don’t go to see the fireworks…. The fireworks barge was set out in the middle of the harbor. We scoped out the waterfront and found a few good places to view.
As night fell, we eventually walked to the edge of a long pier overcrowded with an odd mix of families with small children and inebriated college kids. The sun was now below the horizon and we could see other fireworks displays far in the horizon from other county shows. Everyone stood making small talk… we stood and waited… and waited… and looked at our watches and waited…. and I became agitated. Come on Charleston…. the show must go on… this can’t be your first rodeo let’s get this rolling… for crying out loud the toddlers are on the brink of a fitful rebellion. Finally about 3/4 of a mile away a few flares jettisoned into the sky and exploded… a polite clap reverberated through the crowd and dismally quieted to silence…… it was silent…. Hundreds of people, crowded arm to arm on this pier and it was silent…. I tell you the only person that could truly enjoy a quieted massive crowd is an elementary school educator. Firework after firework flew up into the sky making a beautiful bouquet of color… but there was hardly a boom to be heard. Where was the explosion you could feel in the depths of your stomach, where was the energetic patriotic music, where was the…. laughter and smiles…. it’s as if the grinch came out of hibernation and decided to steal 4th of July this year.
Well, they performed their show and now we know… you don’t go to the Charleston 4th of July fireworks show in Charleston. We (all) watched in silence… and it was only interrupted by drunken college kids who decided to rally the crowd in good spirits…. it worked…. for a bit but apparently not everyone was as easily moved to loud jovial roars quite like a 19 year old kid with a hidden flask of Jameson. The show ended with an onslaught of awe-inspiring fireworks displays that brought the crowd to cheer. The last 5 minutes was wonderful… and the moment it ended Mike and I had elevated anticipations of a wonderful night out on the town. It was our duty to find a proper Southern cocktail. And we did just that. We found a bar that made Mike’s Old Fashion. As for me, I chose to let the bartender surprise me. He asked for a kind of alcohol and a few adjectives then asked if there’s any particular taste I dislike. And that was all. He returned with a fragrant gin cocktail, chilled perfectly slightly sweet and made for a perfect evening.
The next morning, we raised our anchor slowly. We were very aware of our chances of being stuck on some old anchor. And with every foot of chain we hauled in, we were that much closer to freedom…. I was at the helm and I could see we were zero-ing in on our dropped anchor…. before I could see anything I heard Mike give a hoot and a holler ‘We’re Up!’ And that’s when I knew the sea Gods had smiled kindly upon our humble transient home this time.
From South Carolina, we moved up the ICW eager to make progress to the promising cooler temperatures of New England but for that… we would need to endure a week long heat wave. ….