Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Charleston, South Carolina

Hi y'all
This is a beautiful small city. The heart of Charleston is a two mile wide peninsula between the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, a very walkable community where beautiful old homes, courtyard gardens, massive spreading live-oak trees and spired churches of all denominations appear at every turn. The houses tend to be narrow fronted, with long porches down one side and barred basements and outbuildings. History provides the reasons for this design - residents were taxed according to their frontage; and the barred buildings housed slaves. There is a lovely historic waterfront, now dominated by the Arthur Ravenell Jnr Bridge, visible from the water long before you reach the city.

Charleston was the site of the first shots fired in the Civil War (known here as 'the recent unpleasantness' or 'the war of northern aggression' depending on the company you're in), at Fort Sumter. The city has survived military attacks, devastating fires, a major earthquake and Hurricane Hugo, so resilience is part of its character. I especially enjoyed the Museum of the Confederacy, a collection of artefacts collected from veterans themselves by the Daughters of the Confederacy. There are personal items like pocket bibles, tobacco pouches, letters from home; uniforms bearing pieces of red tape placed to show where bullets entered; home-made boots; an impressive collection of weaponry; haunting photographs of boys in oversized uniforms.

We've stayed on because the weather has turned awful - winds are gusting to 50mph and it's a bit scary. Here's Terry's Charleston news:

Well, here we are on the Megadock in a $2-a-foot marina with laid-on downtown shuttle etc.  We have multi-million dollar ocean liner boats like Rice Quarters and Themis for company.  Themis is owned by the lawyer who won $246 BILLION in damages from the cigarette companies for 46 US States.  Say his cut was 20%?  Rice Quarters is owned by his law firm partner.  Other boats in the line are not worth talking about, probably only in the $2 million vicinity.  Then there’s us in the cheap seats but everybody seems to like the look of ours.

Having a great time.  Pass on that, I’m telling lies. This is more trouble than Irene was.  Luckily we’re on the inside and only being blown away from the dock and back.  Those on the other side of the dock are being whacked into it repeatedly and partly under it.

One boat, named Sovereign was anchored out in the channel.  It broke free and raced back into the Megadock, hit two power cruisers and did a lot of damage to one of them.  Apparently the owner is in DC and was coming down tonight to move the boat into the marina.  They rang him to tell him it was already here.  I was in the Marina Office paying up when the marina’s insurance guy was there.  The marina guy told him he didn’t know what sort of boat is was other than he thought is was a 40’ er.  I said it wasn’t, it was a 43.6’ er – it said so on the side.  The marina guy got the boat card out and said “well, he told me it was only 40’” so he changed it.

We’ve doubled up our lines at each end just for some peace of mind.  Probably no practical advantage.

The forecast said 15-20.  It’s been blowing over 50mph on a regular basis i.e. every few minutes in the squalls. Sustained 30+ so I guess most of the swing bridges up the ICW will be staying shut, forcing all up the line to back up for a few days.

Supposed to go down to 9 tonight and back around to the north.  Still a bit large outside but say 5-8’ swells.  Friday smaller, Saturday building a bit but we should be safely inside Fernandino Beach by then.

Charleston is a very nice place and the people have a very laid back and pleasant disposition.  They say that the only proper noun here is “Y’all”.  Even the Xmas flags have “Merry Christmas Y’all” on them.  It’s been voted the best-mannered city in the US something like 11 years running.

We’re hunkered down in here, snug and warm and just enjoying each other’s company, talking and sticking our heads up every now and then to see if Noah’s arrived with his ark yet.

We went off to the Charleston Museum yesterday afternoon with my friend Larry.  We went in his ex AirForce Step Van.  Carol's seat was an office chair attached to the desk in the back.  I sat on the speakers he used to use in his DJ Business.  It runs on oil he gets for free from the Chinese restaurant where he lives.  It has to be pre-heated before the diesel will start so he uses 2 golf-cart batteries to run everything.  They also run two domestic air conditioners he has poking out the side of the truck. It has an industrial horn jammed into the grill for a car horn.  Sounds good when it goes off, too.

We went into the markets this afternoon and visited the Confederate Museum.  Very interesting. Lots of down-home artifacts from the Southern side of what they call "the recent unpleasantness in these parts"

The boat in last pic got blown out of the anchorage, too.  Apparently the guy who owns it has been living on it for 17 years!!  It has no sails, has straps for dock-lines because he never ties up to anything and has a beat up umbrella for a bimini.  He said someone stole one of his anchors. He managed to maneuver to where he is - he's right in front of Themis, worth some $15 million. He's a bit strange.

Hope you are all well and happy.

Hoges double-tied and hanging on for dear life.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Carol and Terry - love the photo of the Gullah women and the description of your current home. Fascinating about the narrow frontages and side porches, and barred basements. Such history. It seems that you are really mixing it with all sorts of characters of all sorts of means. I've learnt what a bimini is (I think), and I think it's hilarious y'all is on their Christmas greetings. I'm going to check out a map because I am having real trouble visualing exactly where you are (and where you have been). Have you got any Christmas decorations on Common Sense? What plans have you got for the big day and the festive season in general? Am flying your Christmas decorations here in Busselton, and they seem happy mixing it with our :) Love to you both XX