South Carolina’s Low Country

We are in South Carolina, the "palmetto state."

We are in South Carolina, the “palmetto state.”

Before we knew it, we were in “Low Country”; South Carolina was just across the Savannah River which acts as the border between it and Georgia. The “low country” is used to describe the geographic and cultural characteristics of coastal South Carolina.

Our goal was Charleston which would take two days on the ICW.  On the first day, Mother Nature gave us an early rain, but then tossed in the sun to brighten the way, along with some stronger west winds of 15-20 knots with 25+ gusts to keep us on our toes.

 

plotter speeds

Two pics on the left side — Sometimes the current was with us (going 10 knots in Port Royal Sound ) and sometimes it was against us (going 5.9 knots in Calibogue Sound) . Notice the end arrival times in both cases – same day, same anchorage. Two hour difference. That’s traveling on the ICW.                                                                                                                                                                On the right, another chart plotter picture the following day,  just for fun – 12.5 knots! Now that was a current that was with us. All of the speeds are at the same 1800 rpm.

I have been taking fewer photos along the way on this northern trip. Most of the good sights have been photo’d and blogged already on both of the southbound trips. It’s not easy finding new things to photograph and write about. 😉

But it is hard to resist a beautiful dawn in the marshes of the Low Country.

But it is hard to resist a beautiful dawn in the marshes of the Low Country.

Coming around the tip of Charleston by Battery Park, we saw these very fast little sailboats that get up above the water's surface and speed!

Coming around the tip of Charleston by Battery Park, we saw these very fast little sailboats that get up above the water’s surface on what looks like little posts, and the speed all over!

Two of the steeples of Charleston are visible from the water.

Two of the steeples of Charleston are visible from the water.

We love Charleston and that’s quite obvious by my previous blogs – Charleston Charm in 2013 and Captivated by Charleston’ Charm Again in 2015. This stop would be a short one for visiting with friends, grocery shopping, laundry, and a bit of Charleston fun. We were headed for a dock at the Charleston Maritime Center (friendly people, free laundry, close to historic Charleston.) We knew that 4 pm was the best time to arrive, for current and tide, so we tried to dawdle watching those fast little sailboats coming around the Ashley River and into the Cooper River, but……..we were still early. It was only 3:30 pm when we approached the entrance to the Maritime Center.   The marina staff said come on in, we will be on the dock to assist. Dan and Marcia were right there as well, but there isn’t much anyone can do when you get stuck partly in and partly out of the slip due to a dead low tide. Oh well. We tied off and sat for a half hour, just long enough to get enough water below the keel and shimmy in completely. I don’t believe that is what is meant by “low country!” We saw a lot of mud churned up under us. Not a pretty sight, and a somewhat worrisome one. Al did some preventive maintenance and cleaned the water intake filter thoroughly.

clean out that mud

Al took out the water intake filter for the engine and gave it a thorough cleaning. Get rid of  any mud that was sucked up!

Kindred Spirit in the slip (2nd boat in) Next time, we will be sure to request a slip that is a little farther out!

Kindred Spirit completely in the slip (2nd boat in) Next time, we will be sure to request a slip that is a little farther out!

South Carolina’s dramatic tidal range includes the Maritime Center. Even the water taxi had to use different docks around the marina to avoid the lowest tide.

Looking from our aft deck to the shore. The top photo was taken at low tide - the buoy is in visible sitting in the mud. The bottom photo was taken at high tide - water all the way up.

Looking from our aft deck to the shore. The top photo was taken at low tide – the buoy is tilted over sitting in the mud. The bottom photo was taken at high tide – more water!

A different style of “cruising” —-

The Maritime Center is near the Port Authority where cruise ships arrive and depart. This was the first time we were there when a ship was loading with luggage and people. Ecstasy is one big ship as she backs up just outside the small entrance to the Maritime Center.

The Maritime Center is near the Port Authority where cruise ships arrive and depart. This was the first time saw a cruise ship loading with luggage and people.
“Ecstasy” backs up just outside the small entrance to the Maritime Center before heading out to sea. We can’t wrap our heads around cruising on such an enormous ship with so many people!

It was fun to catch up with Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class again. Saturday morning was the first Charleston Farmers Market of the season, so the four of us walked over to Marion Square to check it out. And look at the crafts, buy produce and eat breakfast.

The vegetables and fruits were a thing of beauty. Like artwork!

The vegetables and fruits were a thing of beauty. Like artwork!

Country corn and country music.

Country corn and country music.

We chose breakfast crepes filled with ham and cheese. Charleston is the place for eating!

We chose breakfast crepes filled with ham and cheese. Charleston is the place for eating!

Before dinner that evening, we held a benne wafer “taste test”, in honor of continuing this southern food exploration that began in Georgia.

The history of benne wafers (from a package).

The history of benne wafers (from a package).

Two samples on the plate on each side. The winner? Package on the right -- "Southern Sisters."

Two samples on the plate, one type on each side. The winner? Package on the right, but the actual wafers are on the left side of the plate — “Southern Sisters.”

This was a good weekend to hang out in Charleston. Saturday was the first Farmers Market of the season, and Sunday just happened to be “2nd Sunday on King Street.” The city closes King Street to all traffic so that pedestrians can leisurely amble down the street to shop and eat.

King Street, Charleston on the 2nd Sunday."

King Street, Charleston on the “2nd Sunday.”

Guys and gals, aimlessly wandering down King Street in Charleston.

Guys and gals, aimlessly wandering down King Street in Charleston.

Food trucks on King Street

Food trucks on King Street. I noticed “roti rolls” in several  places but had never heard of it. It’s not a Southern food at all. Roti is an unleavened flat bread made from stoneground whole meal flour originating in Inda, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as South Africa and southern Carribean. I assume the “roll” part means the bread is filled with something and then rolled up.

Dan and Al (n the background) are patiently waiting while Marcia and I asked if we could take this picture -- Southern ladies with style! Wouldn’t that be such fun to do with a few girlfriends??? But where can we find hats like that in New England??

Dan and Al (in the background) are patiently waiting while Marcia and I asked if we could take this picture — Southern ladies with style! They looked awesome and were ever so gracious. Wouldn’t that be such fun to do with a few girlfriends??? But where can we find hats like that in New England??

In the interest of continuing our Southern food explorations, we all ate the “lunch express” at S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad, our favorite Charleston restaurant), the best deal in town. The “lunch express” for the day included soup, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and okra with iced tea or coffee for $12.95. The restaurant is beautiful and the service is wonderful. It’s no hole in the wall.

Juicy and flavorful Southern fried chicken with creamy mac and cheese, and okra. My first taste of okra - not bad at all.

Juicy and flavorful southern fried chicken with creamy mac and cheese and okra. My first taste of okra -not bad at all.

Our walk around Charleston took us through the Old City Market again just for the window shopping experience, although I did buy some bags of benne wafers to bring home, for good luck, as is said.

flower boxes

The blooming window boxes declared that spring was here in Charleston.

Fountain near the waterfront.

Fountain near the waterfront.

Enjoying our time in Charleston with good friends and good food.

Enjoying our time in Charleston with good friends and good food.

Monday morning was departure time for both Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class, each of us taking a different route. Cutting Class opted for a long offshore run of 33 hours from Charleston to Beaufort, North Carolina. We decided on the inside ICW route for two reasons, 1) The weather outside did not look compatible with a trawler, and 2) We would be able to stop and visit our friends on Magnolia, our Morgan 43/44 sistership, in Myrtle Beach. Cutting Class departed at 6 am while we waited for that pesky low tide to rise enough for us to slip out of the slip at 8 am.

We enjoy the mix and match between “civilization” and nature. After the civilization of Charleston and Savannah, we had two days of the wiggling and wandering through the marshes of the winding Waccamaw River.

icw creek

Creeks flow into the Waccamaw on both sides.

That'a lonely (or private) home sitting marshland.

That’a lonely (or private) home sitting out in the marshland.

The marshes can be quite lovely in the right light.

The marshes can be quite lovely in the right light.

Pelicans and egrets everywhere.

Pelicans and egrets everywhere.

We were still spotting dolphins all through the ICW. I have always thought of them as ocean creatures, but obviously I was wrong about that.

We were still spotting dolphins all through the ICW. I have always thought of them as ocean creatures, but obviously I was wrong about that. These dolphins were in playful moods, splashing and flipping their tails around.

We learned about the indigo and rice plantations that once covered this low country on a visit to the Rice Museum in Georgetown, SC  two years ago. Before the Civil War, miles of rice fields lined the ICW. Slave labor cleared the land, built the dikes and gates, and managed the water level by a system of wooden floodgates. The plantations and rice fields are long gone now.

We passed several structures that could only be the remains of the gates built to regulate the water in the rice fields, letting in water when needed and keeping it out when necessary. Supposedly a slave chid would sit atop the gate and wash his/her hands in the water on the non-field side. As long as the soap lathered, all was well. As soon as the soap no longer lathered, it was a sign that the water was sea water and salty. Any sea water let into the fields would ruin the soil for many years.

We passed several structures that could only be the remains of the gates built to regulate the water in the rice fields, letting in water when needed and keeping it out when necessary. Supposedly a slave chid would sit atop the gate and wash his/her hands in the water on the non-field side. As long as the soap lathered, all was well. As soon as the soap no longer lathered, it was a sign that the water was sea water and salty. Any sea water let into the fields would ruin the soil for many years.

Our anchorage for the night, just off the ICW in Butler Creek. All alone, just us and the sound of the birds.

After 61 nautical miles, we ended our day in an anchorage  just off the ICW in Butler Creek. All alone, just us and the sound of the birds.

Another glow on the eastern horizon accompanies us as we get an early start on the day’s miles.

Our second day on the Waccamaw River was much the same as the first but the view changed from marshes to trees lining the water’s edge. It was also a damp and rainy day. 🙁

We are still seeing Spanish moss hanging in the branches.

We are still seeing Spanish moss hanging in the branches.

Reflections in the water, even though it was overcast and damp.

Reflections in the water, even though it was overcast and damp.

trees and roots

Interesting roots on these trees that appear to live above and below the water, depending on the tide.

Red roots

Reddish orange roots

After only 21 miles, we arrived at Osprey Marina, just off the ICW on the Waccamaw River, to visit with our friends Anthony and Annette on Magnolia. We had left the Bahamas about the same day, but they took the long offshore route for multiple days and skipped Florida and Georgia entirely. This was our first stop at Osprey Marina and we found it to be one of the nicest marinas we have seen. I mean “nicest” in the true sense of the word. – friendly and nice. It may not be the fanciest or be near any stores, shops, or attractions (within walking distance of the docks), but we stayed an extra day because of Magnolia, first, but also because we were meeting nice people. Why should you stop here? Cheapest diesel fuel for miles and miles ($1.54/gal, reasonably priced dockage (a little more than $1/ft), very nice building with a small “convenience” store, and an area with tables and chairs for cruisers, free wifi, AND free donuts, bagels and coffee in the morning. They even give each new boat a little goody bag when you arrive.

Magnolia has been docked out in the "hinterland docks" for the past month. That dock lines the channel that leads to the fuel dock and inner docks. The marina provides golf carts for traveling back and forth.

Magnolia has been docked on the outer edge for the past month. That dock lines the channel that leads to the fuel dock and inner docks. The marina provides golf carts for traveling back and forth. Magnolia has a good view of everyone who enters and departs.

The marina office building.

The marina office building.

The crews of Magnolia and Kindred Spirit shared stories from the past five weeks over dinners onboard, first night on Magnolia, next night on Kindred Spirit. Anthony and Annette had a rental car so we did grocery shopping, West Marine, Home Depot, and……… drum roll………. ICE CREAM!!

Anthony and Al live for and thrive on their ice cream. Annette and I just go along... (not! We love it, too.)

Anthony and Al  thrive on their ice cream. Annette and I just go along… (not! We love it, too.)

Osprey Marina may n to be near many conveniences, but there is a nice road to take a walk and stretch the legs.

Osprey Marina may not be near many conveniences, but there is a nice road to take a walk and stretch the legs.

My walk took me past horses grazing and a field of goats. Each winter these goats are kept at Osprey, and in the spring they are gathered and brought back to Murrells Inlet, to Goat Island.

My walk took me past horses grazing and a field of goats. Each winter these goats are kept at Osprey, and in the spring they are gathered and brought back to Murrells Inlet, to Goat Island.

This little turtle was h hanging around the bow of the boat for a long time, never even submerging for a swim. We heard that people feed him. I guess he was expecting a treat to come his way.

This little turtle was  hanging around the bow of the boat for a long time, never even submerging for a swim. We heard that people feed him. I guess he was expecting a treat to come his way.

The happy hours on the deck at Osprey, rain or shine, were a delight. We met some very nice fellow boaters, sail and power. Some doing the ICW north and south, some to the Bahamas and back, some doing “the Loop.”

Becky (on the right) with Pat (in the middle) are soon-to-be cruisers.

On the porch on rainy days — Pat and Al talking with ? in the top photo and  Anthony, ?, and Becky. Pat and Becky are soon-to-be cruisers on “Turas”, their boat.  It was fun to meet Becky and learn that she reads my blog.

Annette & Anthony with us in the top photo. Jim and Joey on "My Pleasure", and Laurie and Artie on "My Leap of Faith" in the bottom photo.

On the sunny deck — Annette & Anthony with us in the top photo. Jim and Joey on “My Pleasure”, and Laurie and Artie on “My Leap of Faith” in the bottom photo.

Gene and Kimberly are great dockhands. Ready, willing and very able.

Gene and Kimberly are great dockhands. Ready, willing and very able.

During happy hour, Gene and Kimberly told us that an 80-foot long Trumpy would be arriving in Osprey that evening.What’s a “Trumpy?”, I asked (hopefully nothing related to the Trump in the news these days!) Trumpys were built for over 50 years until the factory closed in 1973. They were boats for the elite, status symbols, as it were.  The 80-foot Trumpy we would all soon see was the S.S. Sophie, built in 1947 and now owned by Greta van Susteren (host of FOX News On the Record) and her husband, John Coale. The November 2003 issue of Power & MotorYacht magazine has a very complete and thorough article on the S.S. Sophie.

We all watched S.S. Sophie pull into the fuel dock, very competently handled by her captain and first mate, a couple that take care of her (not Greta van Susteren and John Coale), with dock assistance from Gene and Kimberly.

The S.S. Sophie arrives at Osprey Marina

The S.S. Sophie arrives at Osprey Marina

Once Sophie was fueled, watered, and pumped out, she settled in for the night, staying at the fuel dock and planning to depart at 7:00 am the next morning. Hmmm…. we had plans to depart at 6:30 am for a long 78 miles day. Below is all 80-feet of Sophie at the fuel dock perpendicular to little 38-foot Kindred Spirit in her slip. Will there be enough room to maneuver out of the slip in the early morning hours just before full daylight????

Sophie and KS

Kindred Spirit in her slip with bow pointing at the port side of Sophie at the fuel dock.

Al and Anthony decided it was worth the effort to move Kindred Spirit that evening after our dinner so that Michele would not lose sleep all night worrying about whether we would damage a multi-million dollar yacht (or our own little boat) as we try to wiggle out of the tight quarters. I suspect the “boys” just loved the idea of a clever use of lines to skillfully maneuver her out. Where did Kindred Spirit go? Out to an empty spot on that long dock lining the channel. And that required parallel parking.

I managed to take couple pictures before Annette and I ran over to the other dock to catch the lines when they arrived.

I managed to take couple pictures before Annette and I ran over to the other dock to catch the lines when they arrived.

Kindred Spirit ready to parallel park at the long dock. I did not notice the homeport on this catamaran until I was looking at the photos just now. That homeport is Schwenksville, PA where I lived from the ages of 5 years to 11 years. Not a common homeport!

Kindred Spirit is ready to park at the long dock. I did not notice the homeport on that catamaran until I was looking at the photos just now. That homeport is Schwenksville, PA where I lived from the ages of 5 years to 11 years. Not a common homeport!

 

We will be moving on again in the morning to make our way from South Carolina to North Carolina.

Slogging to Savannah

I’m getting a little behind in my blog posts, so I will try to catch up bit by bit. We said goodbye to Charleston on Monday, October 26th. The night before we had a happy hour with Magnolia and Simple Life. We had first met Simple Life and her crew, Michele and Joe, in Chesapeake City on our 2013-2014 cruise. It was a treat to see them pull into the Maritime Center and say hello again.

Last night in Charleston Happy Hour with Magnolia (Anthony & Annette) and Simple Life (Joe & Michele) .

Last night in Charleston- Happy Hour with Magnolia (Anthony & Annette) and Simple Life (Joe & Michele) .

Our travels from Charleston to Savannah took two days, two dreary rainy days, which is why it felt like slogging was the correct descriptive word. But, it wasn’t all that bad because we were traveling with Magnolia again, which makes it fun as we chat back and forth on the VHF comparing notes on conditions.

An early departure meant another sun coming up behind us as we motored around the Battery in Charleston and up the Ashley River to the ICW.

An early departure meant another sun coming up behind us as we motored around the Battery in Charleston and up the Ashley River to the ICW.

Al noticed windblown roofs on these docks. They were all near one another which made AL wonder if they had all been constructed by the same company, and poorly at that.

Al noticed windblown roofs on these docks. They were all near one another which made Al  wonder if they had all been constructed by the same company, and poorly at that.

But, there was also some very windblown trees along the shore so perhaps there had been a strong blow through the region.

But, there was also some very windblown trees along the shore so perhaps there had been a strong blow through the region.

Another important milestone along the ICW - Mile 500, very close to this red marker 126. Once again, I think there should be a marker of some significance, like a big" 500."

Another important milestone along the ICW – Mile 500, very close to this red marker 126. Once again, I think there should be a marker of some significance, like a big” 500.”

A photo just to show the dreariness we were slogging through.

A photo just to show the dreariness we were slogging through. Pretty gray.

The waters were very high, from the high tide made higher by the full moon and the recent flooding in South Carolina. The edge of the ICW was difficult to determine - see how the marsh grasses barely show above the water line? And this green marker was almost under water.

The waters were very high, from the high tide made higher by the full moon and the recent flooding in South Carolina. The edge of the ICW was difficult to determine – see how the marsh grasses barely show above the water line? And this green marker with someone’s nest sitting upon it was almost under water. 

We anchored in a South Edisto River anchorage for the first night and even had dinner with Magnolia in spite of the rain. The next morning we headed towards Beaufort, South Carolina (pronounced Be-u-fort, not Bo-fort as in North Carolina) slogging again though gray clouds and rainy periods. In spite of that, there were still things of interest to notice.

A shrimper coming in the Port Royal inlet.

A shrimper coming in the Port Royal inlet. 

A duck blind. Through one stretch of marshland, we heard a lot of gunshots. Keeping our fingers crossed that we did not resemble a duck.

A duck blind. Through one stretch of marshland, we heard a lot of gunshots. Keeping our fingers crossed that we did not resemble a duck.

Ibis and pelicans

Ibis and pelicans

We continually had to pass through current line debris consisting of dried grasses carried in long lines. The current changed throughout the day, sometimes with us and sometimes against us, depending on where we were.

We continually had to pass through current line debris consisting of dried grasses carried in long lines. The current changed throughout the day, sometimes with us and sometimes against us, depending on where we were.

We anchored right off the ICW in the May River for the second night. A nice spot with dolphins swimming around.

Our route from South Edusto River, past Beaufort, stopping in the May River where we anchored right off the ICW for the second night.

The dolphins were all around us in this anchorage.

The dolphins were all around us in this anchorage.

You can see just how heavy the rain was at times - we could barely see Magnolia anchored nearby. Needless to say, we stayed on our own boats that evening!

You can see just how heavy the rain was at times – we could barely see Magnolia anchored nearby. Needless to say, we stayed on our own boats that evening!

Dark skies above Kindred Spirit as well.

Dark skies above Kindred Spirit as well.

Much to our surprise, the skies cleared enough for a rainbow before darkness came. Must be a good sign for the next day!!

Much to our surprise, the skies cleared enough for a rainbow before darkness descended . Hopefully this  a good omen for the next day. 

The full moon shines above us. I love the hatch over our heads - we could watch it just before we fell asleep.

The full moon shines above us. I love the hatch over our heads – we can look at the moon and stars as our eyes close and we nod off to sleep. 

The final day of travel to Savannah was a short one and much less gray. The skies were finally brightening. This is the where the ICW enters the Savannah River.

The final day of travel to Savannah was a short one and much less gray. The skies were finally brightening. This is the where the ICW enters the Savannah River.

On the other side of the Savannah River we arrived at our destination, a private dock in a friend’s community, right off the ICW in Savannah.

"Home" for the next 10 days (which will be another blog.)

“Home” for the next 10 days (which will be another blog.)

Our friends, Al and Lynn, also have a Mariner Orient 38, so you know that our conversations were all about those boats, AND Savannah.

Mariner Orient sister ships

Mariner Orient sister ships                                                                                                                             Left – Kindred Spirit in the foreground and Marisol across the way.                                                  Right – a closer look at Marisol.

Captivated by Charleston’s Charm Again

It is hard to resist Charleston’s charm, so we didn’t even try.  Be warned – This is a long blog post. I don’t want to forget any of this visit to one of my favorite cities of all time.

In 2013 we stayed at the Charleston City Dock on the Ashley River, known as the “mega dock” for 2 nights – very expensive! (Our 2013 visit –  Charleston Charm) This time we tried the other side of the peninsula at the less expensive Charleston Maritime Center in the Cooper River. The current is always an issue when docking here in Charleston, so we waited in the anchorage for slack tide, around 10:15 am.

Charleston is a busy harbor, with cruise ships, tankers, barges, fishing boats, tour boats, and pleasure crafts of all kinds. The Maritime Center is close to the cruise ship docks and the Port Authority.

A study in contrasts - tanker and a an old schooner.

A study in contrasts – tanker and a an old schooner.

Magnolia passing by the cruise ship. We all agree that we would rather cruise on our little ships than travel on one of these big boats!

Our friends on Magnolia passing by the cruise ship. We all agree that we would rather cruise on our little ships than travel on one of these big boats!

Across formt eh Maritme Center is a large old battleship. We assume it is not in use any ore because so many boats anchor near it or dial around it. The top photo is our Kindred Spirit - looks so tiny next to a battleship. Thanks Magnolia for the pic!

Across from the Maritme Center is the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown (Thank you, Sam, for the identification!) on site at the marine museum. The top photo is our Kindred Spirit – looks so tiny next to a battleship. Thanks to Magnolia for the pic!

The Maritime Center is a good choice for staying in Charleston, primarily because of its price (especially when compared to the “mega dock”), its location (most of Charleston is within walking distance), its friendly staff, and the free laundry (that’s important to cruisers.) But, you have to put up with huge wakes from the river that will rock and roll your boat even while at the dock, and the busy sounds and sights of the Port Authority and the tour boats.

Approaching the Charleston Maritime Center

Approaching the Charleston Maritime Center

Kindred Spirit is settled into our corner of the dock.

Kindred Spirit is settled into our corner of the dock.

Carolina Belle, a tour boat, was right there across from us when at the dock. The dock above and in front of our bow (lower photo) is the same dock that Carolina Belle is on. At least the music they played was enjoyable and the people waiting in line were fun. A few came down the ramp on our side to talk with us.

Carolina Belle, a tour boat, was right there across from us when at the dock. The dock above and in front of our bow (lower photo) is the same dock that Carolina Belle is on. At least the music they played was enjoyable and the people waiting in line were fun. A few came down the ramp on our side to talk with us.

At the end of our long dock, which held three boats, was a wide catamaran, named Impossible Dream – look at the name and see what they did with it. I thought this was an awesome name, especially when we learned that this boat take handicapped veterans out for rides.

At the end of our long dock, which held three boats, was a wide catamaran, named Impossible Dream – look at the name and see what they did with it. I thought this was an awesome name, especially when we learned that this boat takes handicapped veterans out for water rides.

On land, across from the Maritime Center was a terrific city park with soccer fields, swinging benches under pergolas, and very cool playground equipment in the shape of boats.

We passed a strange old partial structure every time we took the back streets to the market or into the downtown region. It sits there in the middle of the Port Authority region. It bothered me that I did not know what it was, just sitting there surrounded by an industrial site. Google is so useful, isn’t it?? 😉

It is the Bennett Rice Mill façade standing at the center of the South Carolina State Ports Authority's Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston. The mill, opened in 1845, is considered one of the finest examples of 19th century American industrial architecture. In 1960, Hurricane Donna almost demolished the mill so the Port Authority built a steel frame to support what was left. 90% of the braced façade survived 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. In the 1990s, a series of restoration projects teamed local master masons with high school students to repoint the façade and repair the cracked brick arch. Considered to be one of Charleston 's architectural gems, the mill is continually maintained and monitored. My curiosity was satisfied.

It is the Bennett Rice Mill façade standing at the center of the South Carolina State Ports Authority’s Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston. The mill, opened in 1845, is considered one of the finest examples of 19th century American industrial architecture. In 1960, Hurricane Donna almost demolished the mill so the Port Authority built a steel frame to support what was left. 90% of the braced façade survived 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. In the 1990s, a series of restoration projects teamed local master masons with high school students to repoint the façade and repair the cracked brick arch. Considered to be one of Charleston ‘s architectural gems, the mill is continually maintained and monitored. My curiosity was satisfied.

Our first walk was to the City Market. Established in the 1790s, the market stretches for four city blocks. The entire market is a series of sheds with breaks at intersections and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the 1800s, the market provided a convenient place for farms and plantations to sell their products and as a place for locals to gather and socialize. Today the City Market’s vendors sell souvenirs and other items ranging from jewelry, spices and southern treats, clothing to Gullah sweetgrass baskets.

The “sheds” and structures vary in size and style, from fancier to utilitarian. Insides are the same. This photo shows one of the “fancier” sections. It’s a great place to wonder around for the afternoon – a “must do” in Charleston.

The “sheds” and structures vary in size and style, from fancier to utilitarian. Insides are the same. This photo shows one of the “fancier” sections. It’s a great place to wonder around for the afternoon – a “must do” in Charleston.

11 basket

Danetta gave me the green grass roses to go with it.

 

I had to buy another sweetgrass basket, or “low country coil basket.” I have a small one from the last trip and thought a slightly larger one would be nice for fruit or bread. They are pricey, but it is a souvenier that has culture and history behind it. Supposedly, the value of these baskets increases with age and they will last forever. I don’t really care about that, if it is even true. The most important thing to me is that it will remind me of our visit to Charleston and South Carolina.

 

On one of our walks, we passed a lovely white church, and then recognized it as the Charleston church where 9 people were killed in June during a mid-week prayer meeting. The oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church in the south, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has always stood for freedom and civil rights. Founded in 1816 by blacks fleeing racism, it’s services were conducted in secret for many years. and was a part of the Underground Railroad. The congregation played a major role in anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and was burned down after a thwarted slave rebellion in 1822. Destroyed again by an earthquake in 1887 and rebuilt on its current site, the church has continued to be a focal point for the civil rights movement.

12 african church

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – It’s beauty, inside and outside, has survived years of turmoil and stands for freedom.

I signed us up for a culinary tour because Charleston is known for its food. My original plan was to do the “Downtown Tour” in the historic district, but that one wasn’t available, so I chose the Upper King Street tour. In the final analysis, this might have been good because we experienced a different Charleston than on our last visit. This “midtown” area had fallen on hard times by the 1970s. Few people would venture there after dark, Charleston natives and tourists. Over the past 15 years the neighborhood has been revitalized with galleries, boutiques, bustling restaurants and nightlife options. The renovations integrate new and old by utilizing reclaimed materials and architectural details with the new construction.

The Upper King Street Culinary Tour took us around the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood (King/Cannon/Rutledge Streets), a region that has emerged as an area showcasing culinary innovation, and numerous James Beard award winners and has been named one of the top 10 food neighborhoods in America.

Our tour guide, Guilds Hollowell, is a native son of South Carolina, fourth-generation. He certainly knew the history, the culture, the restaurants, and the secrets of Charleston. Here is a quick recap, in picture form, of our 2 ½ tour food and history tour —

HoM (pronounced “home”) - burger boutique and ping-pong lounge. We had a turkey burger, calamari, and a delicious flatbread.

HoM (pronounced “home”) – burger boutique and ping-pong lounge.
We had a turkey burger, calamari, and a delicious flatbread.

Cannon Green – doesn’t open until 5:30 pm but we got to walk through it. Exquisite décor with an outside courtyard and an interior that incorporated part of an older structure within the dining room.

Cannon Green – doesn’t open until 5:30 pm but we got to walk through it. Exquisite décor with an outside courtyard and an interior that incorporated part of an older structure within the dining room.

At Lana's, we had a tomato based fish soup and rutabaga pom frites. Thats' our guide, Guilds, chatting with us.

At Lana’s, we had a tomato based fish soup and rutabaga pom frites. Thats’ our guide, Guilds, chatting with us.

R Kitchen, on Rutledge Street, was opened by Ross Webb (my question – is it named R for Ross or Rutledge??), to be a “culinary collective” where 5-course dinners are served for $30. We heard that guest chefs stop by and cook and that reservations need to be made 3 weeks in advance. The building is so nondescript (and that’s an understatement) that you would never even know it was a restaurant. We sat at rustic dining tables out back on a porch.

R Kitchen, on Rutledge Street, was opened by Ross Webb (my question – is it named R for Ross or Rutledge??), to be a “culinary collective” where 5-course dinners are served for $30. We heard that guest chefs stop by and cook and that reservations need to be made 3 weeks in advance. The building is so nondescript (and that’s an understatement) that you would never even know it was a restaurant. We sat at rustic dining tables out back on a porch while the chef and Guilds served us and described the food – fish, chili and filet.

Sugar Bakeshop - former NYC architects turned bakers in the fall of 2007, Sugar Bakeshop has been committed to using fresh, local ingredients including farm fresh eggs, herbs from the borough's garden plot, and seasonal fruits.

Sugar Bakeshop – Owned and operated by former NYC architects turned bakers in the fall of 2007, Sugar Bakeshop has been committed to using fresh, local ingredients including farm fresh eggs, herbs from the borough’s garden plot, and seasonal fruits. The cupcakes were really delicious!

You would think we would be stuffed form all that food (and we were) but we couldn't pass by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. No synthetic flavorings, dyes, or off-the-shelf mixes, just fresh stuff with a very unusual twist on flavor combinations. Al had the "darkest chocolate & double toasted coconut."

You would think we would be stuffed from all that food (and we were) but we couldn’t pass by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. “No synthetic flavorings, dyes, or off-the-shelf mixes, just fresh stuff with a very unusual twist on flavor combinations.” Al had the “darkest chocolate & double toasted coconut.”

As we walked through the neighborhood on our culinary tour, this blue building was pointed out to us by Guilds. The family-owned men’s store, Bluestein's, was founded in the mid-1880s and later moved into their signature blue brick building in 1907. It survived a fire in 1987 and was rebuilt including the blue bricks ($45 each).

As we walked through the neighborhood on our culinary tour, this blue building was pointed out to us by Guilds. The family-owned men’s store, Bluestein’s, was founded in the mid-1880s and later moved into their signature blue brick building in 1907. It survived a fire in 1987 and was rebuilt including the blue bricks ($45 each).

Saturday mornings are Farmers Market day in Marion Square. Annette and I spent the morning there while Al puttered in his engine room. I definitively had the better day! This was one of the best Farmers Markets I have ever seen – variety of local produce, plants, herbs and cut flowers, breakfast and lunch vendors, live entertainment and an assortment of juried arts and crafts from local artisans.

A Farmers Market is the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday morning. If I lived in Charleston, I would be here every Saturday.

A Farmers Market is the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday morning. If I lived in Charleston, I would be here every Saturday.

Annette and I had a breakfast crepe to start our morning. Yum!

Annette and I had a breakfast crepe to start our morning. Yum!

For our last day in Charleston, I could not resist the urge to revisit the historical downtown streets, so we took a walk which turned out to be a long walk, especially for me and my leg. But it was worth it!

I have always enjoyed looking at a region’s unique architecture, and Charleston is a feast for the eyes. There are architectural features in Charleston that are worth repeating and photographing again (to me, anyway.)

A strong earthquake hit Charleston in 1886, estimated to be 7.3 on today’s Richter scale and the most significant earthquake have occur in the southeastern U.S. Many of the city’s buildings were left in ruins or severely damaged. Without enough funds to rebuild everything, buildings were stabilized by running iron bars from one end of the structure to the other, with iron bolts fixing them in place on the face of the structure.

Just two examples of buildings with earthquake bolts.

Just two examples of buildings with earthquake bolts. Although the bolts have a purpose they are decorative, too.

A closer look at the bolts show that some are made more distinctive than others.

A closer look at the bolts show that there is some variety.

Throughout the city, you can see what is known as the “Charleston single-house” architectural style. Wide piazzas (Charlestonese for porch) are built on the side of the house facing the prevailing winds. The houses are only one room wide, but that could be a 10 ft – 25 ft wide room, so that all rooms in the house have the advantage of the sea breeze. The home could be many rooms long and many stories high. The narrowest side of the house faced the street. This style was built throughout the 1700s and 1800s. Supposedly, at its peak, there were 4,000 Charleston single houses in existence. Today there are estimated to be around 2,700.

My favorite story about the Charleston Single house is the front door to the piazza/porch on the side. Known as hospitality doors, these portals were a way of communicating with friends and neighbors. Leaving the door open meant you were home and ready to receive guests – good old southern hospitality!

"Charleston Single Houses", a distinctive style

The “Charleston Single House”, a distinctive style.

Charleston’s ironwork is another architectural treasure. I found a nice description of the ironwork’s history on a blog called, Charleston Past.    “….Charleston’s love affair with the beauty of finely crafted wrought iron is evident. Charleston’s affinity for decorative wrought iron came about early in the history of the city. In 1772, a wrought iron communion rail was imported from England and installed in St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Blacksmiths, who had made a career of providing nails, horseshoes, and wagon wheels to the growing city, now began to expand their craft to include patterns and scrollwork. The earliest designs were taken from British pattern books, but it didn’t take long for the ironwork of Charleston to develop its own style. Unfortunately, much of the earliest ironwork did not survive the multitude of fires and natural disasters that plagued those early inhabitants.”

From gates to rail to balconies to windows, and fences —

xxxx

hhh

Many of the homes have private courtyards with gardens that are just lovely. Like a secret garden, except that people can peak through the ironwork gate and catch a glimpse. We did.

n

Many of the homes have private courtyards with gardens that are just lovely. Like a secret garden, except that people can peak through the ironwork gate and catch a glimpse. We did.

At the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets, stands the “Four Corners of Law”, named such because the four buildings represent federal, state, municipal and canon law.

Southwest corner - United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse, built in 1896. Southeast corner - St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, constructed between 1752 and 1761 Northeast corner - Charleston City Hall, constructed between 1800 and 1804. Northwest corner - Charleston County Courthouse, originally constructed in 1753, rebuilt in 1792 for use as a courthouse.

Southwest corner – United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse, built in 1896.
Southeast corner – St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, constructed between 1752 and 1761
Northeast corner – Charleston City Hall, constructed between 1800 and 1804.
Northwest corner – Charleston County Courthouse, originally constructed in 1753, rebuilt in 1792 for use as a courthouse.

It was a long walk down to the Battery, the fortified seawall at the very tip of the Charleston Peninsula, originally used to help defend the city from Union attack during the Civil War. It is now a public promenade with a great view out over the water. We enjoyed the view and rested for a while in White Point Gardens.

White Point Gardens, a nicely shaded park for a walk.

White Point Gardens, a nicely shaded park for a walk.

Cannons line the Battery as a reminder of its original purpose.

Cannons line the Battery as a reminder of its original purpose.

Walking north from the Battery are the beautiful historic antebellum homes on East Bay Street. Although these are also in the Charleston Single House style, they don’t seem to make use of the open/closed door to the piazza to invite folks inside. Although the basic concept of the Charleston Single House style is seen all over the city, I could see the differences in neighborhoods and “status.”

The mansions along the Battery on East Bay Street as seen from Kindred Spirit on the water.

The mansions along the Battery on East Bay Street as seen from Kindred Spirit on the water.

And the view on foot as we walked by some of these gorgeous mansions.

And the view on foot as we walked by some of these gorgeous mansions.

We continued our walk northward, passing “Rainbow Row.” This section on East Bay Street, built between the 1720’s-1790’s, was considered the ‘slum’ area of Charleston after the Civil War. It was renovated in the early 1900’s and given the Caribbean colors that are still seen today.

"Rainbow Row", a touch of the Carribean influence.

“Rainbow Row”, a touch of the Caribbean influence.

We sure needed sustenance after all that walking! I had been asking everyone I met, cruisers and Charlestonians, where I could find the best shrimp and grits. I really wanted to try it again, give it a second chance. The first time I tried shrimp and grits was less than outstanding. The name, “S.N.O.B. was mentioned over and over – “Slightly North of Broad.” The bartender assured me that their shrimp and grits was simply the best.

S.N.O.B. = Slightly North of Broad

S.N.O.B. = Slightly North of Broad

Al ate Geechie grits with fried chicken and green beans - delicious, he said. My shrimp an grits were amazing!

Al ate Geechie grits with fried chicken and green beans – delicious, he said. My shrimp and grits were amazing!

It might seem as though we ate our way through Charleston, but the walking makes that ok. What could be better? The food and streets of a beautiful city. Charleston can really capture your heart with its charm.

With full bellies and wonderful memories, we said our good-byes to Charleston. Thank you for another great visit.

With full bellies and wonderful memories, we said our good-byes to Charleston. Thank you for another great visit.