Friday, October 30, 2009

Charleston, S.C.

We are truly in the south, with all of the best connotations; talk is slow, life is slower, people are polite, nobody honks, everybody smiles.  You can walk across the street and if the light changes, the cars just sit - the driver smiles and waves. 

We both said we could live here - if we could afford it!

We arrived at the Charleston Maritime Marina on the Cooper River (the one on the north side of Charleston) on October 30th.

An interesting boat was docked near us called Monday Morning, which we had seen anchored near us in Weems Creek in Annapolis.  We haven't met the folks yet, but if our paths keep crossing, we will.

Across the river from us is the Aircraft Carrier "Yorktown."  There are tours on it so it's a museum, but it's stll humoungus.  Those little boats next to it are probably about a mile from it.

Here you can see that it dwarfs the marina next to it.

Speaking of big - the clearance under the Ravenal bridge behind this little sailboat is something like 186 feet - tall enough to let the big cargo ships pass under.  It doesn't look that big in this photo, but it's probably a mile and a half from us.  The sailboat is about a hundred yards from us.

The supports for the bridge are 520 ft high.  This is the largest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere.

Zooming in to look under the bridge, you can see the cranes in the distance which unload the container ships which come in and out through here daily.  That little sailboat, you can see it in the two photos above this photo, is still probably a half a mile from the bridge.  You can see, I'm impressed by big stuff.

Here is a crane dredging and putting the dredged material (the technical term is mud, but I don't like to use fancy words) in the barge next to it.  As I write this, the crane and barge are right outside our marina entrance.  We may not be able to leave when we want to today.

Parked at the end of the pier is this schooner for charter.

And two boats down from us we see this witch hanging from the mast trying to scare us a Halloween.  I warn't skeered none.

  Out on Charleston Harbor a three masted schooner is carrying many charter guests.

And he's soon joined by a ferry boat and a container ship.  This is a busy Harbor.

When we first went ashore we saw a parking lot filled with mini-Coopers which were still being unloaded from containers from a ship docked there.  You can just make it out in the distance - it looks like a building - but bigger.  If you follow the line back between rows A12 and A13 you can see a yellow ramp.  We could hear the cars rattling down there, one after another.  You don't see this kind of stuff in Galesville, Md. very often.

As we continued our walk past the more industrial section of the water front, we came upon the front of the Union Pier Terminal.  And only the front.  There are many things in the world not meant to be understood.   So we didn't even inquire.

This is a vendor of Sweet Grass Baskets.  They are each beautiful and unique.  They're also too expensive for our budget, the smallest going for $50 and up.  The larger are hundreds of dollars.  But they're all hand made and take many hours to make, so the vendors claim they don't make much more than minimum wage.  There's a lot of history to these.  Almost all of the vendors are black women.  I talked at length to one who said she learned from her mother, who learned from hers, back generations into the slave years and beyond to Africa.  The lady told me she had already taught her daughter and granddaughter.

Either this driver suddenly realized that she could have had a V-8 or she has an Excedrin headache.  These horse drawn carriages you'll find all over town.  We took a tour on one on Halloween, which this year fell on the last day of October.  I probably should have kept that as a surprise but, you know, didn't.

There were some red stairs on a red building so I took a picture.  There was a woman coming down the stairs to whom I took an inexplicable disliking so I photoshopped her out.  Can you tell?  It's really not like me to dislike people for seemingly no reason, so I invented the reason the she didn't look good in my photo.  I hadn't, up to that point, done anything to her to warrant such an artistic intrusion.  So she deserved it.  She was right by that lower window on the right at the landing on the stairs.  So you can understand how riled up I got.

Like I said, it was Halloween and this is a scarecrow.  It was working, too.  Not a crow in sight.

Suzi looked up at this building and thought the pattern of windows on the side was interesting.  There is someone peeking out from the curtain of the lower window.  You can't see them, but I bet you looked anyway.
They have a thing about harps around this town, this was like an angel, and a mermaid, and a topless lady stuck to, almost part of a harp.  Nobody knows why.

Beside many of the homes are gardens and fountains and stuff like that.  This is a picture of the stuff like that part.

They pay real close attention to detail in their decorating in Charleston.  They removed all the unsightly bark off this stand of trees.  I took a picture and hope to sell it as the foldout to Arborboy Monthly.  I think these are brazen trollop trees. 
'member what I told you above about the gardens and fountains and stuff like that.  This is the garden and fountain part.

All of the homes in Charleston have doors.  It's so people can get in and out.  You may have already known that,  but I can't take any chances, leaving important information out.
This garden had a big brick wall and an iron gate.  Probably mean people live here and they aren't allowed out.
Another house, another door.  See how it works out?  I'll tell you more later about some of the interesting things we learned about doors in Charleston, and how people could be arrested for doing (or not doing) certain things near doors in Charleston.  (In the literary world, this is known as foreshadowing, to keep your interest so you read farther.  I probably shouldn't have told you about that but feel that a little bit of education never hurt anyone.  I had a little bit, and it didn't hurt me.

Another garden. 

Here was another big iron gate.  Behind it we could actually see the mean people, as witness the next photo.


Another door.  Is the suspense killing you yet?

The witch put a spell on this beetle.

I looked away just in time and took a picture of a flower - just to appear nonchalant.  I am taking a course now, through the mail, on appearing chalant.  I'm not doing to well,  I just end up looking surprised and stupid.  You probably already knew that.  Unless you don't know me.  Then just disregard this.

Okay, enough suspense.  Here's the dope about the doors.  Most of the fancy homes face the side yard, where the garden usually is.  Next to the garden on the side of the house is a porch.  At the end of the porch, along the sidewalk is a door.  If the door is open, friends are welcome to come on to the porch and knock on the door because the residents are ready to receive guests.  You'll have to wait until another door comes up to find out about the arresting thing.

Here's another carriage but this one has a Viking on it.  Not something you see everyday.

This is a door but it's not a garden door, so you just have to continue waiting.

Nice place all decorated for Halloween.  Scary, huh?

Another pretty garden.  You could have one, too, if you moved to Charleston.  Many of the places like this are for sale.  With prices ranging from only 8 million, to a slightly more substantial $23 million.  (Hey, the view is great, it's got 33,000 sq. ft. (a couple of the ft. are round) and it was built in 1760.  Almost three feet above sea level.  You're buying history.

The trees and bushes around the homes are trees and bushes around the homes.

This was like a maze.  But it wasn't too difficult if you were more than 3 feet tall.  I don't know what they were thinking.

Nice, huh?  I'm going to build one like this on the side of our boat - very genteel.  (BTW what does genteel mean?)

Another wrought iron garden gate.  A lot of the homes don't have them.  During the Civil War the Confederate Army asked people to donate (read: confiscated) them to melt them down into cannon balls.  They promised to give them back after the war, but they lost and didn't get their balls back.

If you get up real close to a wrought iron gate you can stick your camera lens right in and get a photo like this.  I did, so you should certainly be able to.

Okay, here's the rest of the story.  Back in the 1700's and 1800's people from England, in order to be fashionable, wore clothes that looked as if they were still in England.  However, they were in South Carolina.  And in the summer it gets to 95 degrees.  In spite of this, the ladies wore 85 pounds of clothing.  So when they got home, they stepped onto their porch and closed the door behind them.  And shucked several layers, while still on the porch.  In full view of any passersby who were passing by, which is what they do.  Young boys were taught that if the porch door was closed, they were to shield their eyes with their hands and not allow themselves to look upon these nearly nude ladies who only had 33 pounds of clothes left.  Young boys grew into gentlemen who had this habit ingrained in them.  To insure that the habit stayed ingrained there was a $5.00 fine (a tidy sum in those days.)  Or an overnight stay in jail.   Now you have heard the whole story you can relax - but wait... there may be more.

I like photos that I don't have to write anything under.  You read it, we'll wait.

Sheesh, not another door.  Quick shield thine eyes, or face thy incarceration.

Even the alleys look kind of cool. (is it cool to say "cool" these days?  I know for a while back in the 70's "cool" was not cool to say.  You had to say, "Neat."  I then somebody started saying "Neato" and it sounded too geeky so the whole thing just went away for awhile.  I think it was replaced with "like, whatever."   But people who are cool enough to say things like that never speak to old coots like me.

Just read.

This may or may not be the picture of the house you just read about but, in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter?

The was the provost something and dungeon, Suzi says.

This was a guy dressed up like he was there a couple of hundred years ago, but he couldn't fool me.  He was walking around just as if he weren't dead or anything.

Suzi and I ate in a nice restaurant that used to be a fire station.

I took a picture of the sign out front so I don't have to remember what the name was.

This is the building that used to be the firehouse outside of which the sign is and inside of which we had lunch.  It was good.  Our insurance agent was a waitress and bartender there when she went to college.
(Hi, Christine.)

You will probably not believe this -  but it is the gospel truth - (yeah, yeah, I know a lot of which is accepted as gospel couldn't possibly be the truth, but this is.)  The sign above this establishment is right next door to the establishment which has the sign you will see in the next picture.

Am I the only one to notice this odd juxtaposition?

United States Custom House.  It says so.

A Charlestonamus vulgarishomita.
And right along the street, in front of children and proper old ladies and everything.

Just checking to see if your paying attention.  What is this building?

The next day, we walked back into town (Halloween) (the 31st of October, remember?) Pay attention now, you may find these pop quizzes popping up at any moment.  This is Charleston Bay.  With Cumulus clouds.  And a ketch towing a dinghy.  You can take notes if you want, but no referring back.

Okay, what kind of clouds?  No, wrong. They are not cunnilingus clouds.  Take better notes and write so you can read them.

Dolphin on a stick - sort of a fish-ka-bob.

A lot of these photos are self-explanatory, so I'm not even going to explain that this, I'm not going to explain.

I wanted to take a picture of Suzi next to the fountain (oops, I explained) but she said hurry, the fountain makes her want to go to the lady's room.  I don't know what the problem is, I see bushes.

We ate lunch in a restaurant that had a keg of rum on the ceiling.  I can't explain that one at all.

So we took a carriage ride around Charleston.  And this is the guy who drove the carriage and told us about Charleston.  He was very informative.  He's the one who told us about the five dollar fine - his name is AL.  The horse's name was John. (Remember that)
POP QUIZ - "What was the five dollar fine for?"

This is the Powder House - where the confederates kept their gun powder.  Me?  I would have spread it around a bit.  But they kept it all in here.  Thick walls and a not so thick roof so if it blew up it didn't hurt anybody.  The damn yankees knew where it was, but it was behind a big church so they fired cannon and knocked the crap out of the church.  But they missed the powder house.  Aren't these things fun to know?

That's the church that the Powder House is behind.  They fixed it up after the war.

This is a church.  It has one of those mean people gates.  Al didn't explain why.  We were way in the back and couldn't ask.

From here on in, there's just a lot of pictures of houses and doors and stuff.  They're pretty to look at but I can't remember everything that Al told us about them.  But maybe this will encourage you to go to Charleston and take the tour yourself.  Al would like that.  John probably would not.

Like I started to tell you under the last photo but got distracted and forgot, there's nothing worthwhile to say so I'm just going to put the photos up for you to look at but tell you why we didn't leave Sunday like we were supposed to.

Sunday morning we got up and innocently had breakfast.  (That means I had my pants on.) After breakfast I started to change the oil - not as innocently because I didn't want to stain my pants.

While in the engine room, I noticed that a wire to the alternator had broken off so I knew I had to fix it.  Not too big a deal.  The only thing I needed to do was release the belt adjustment bolt so I could tilt the alternator back to get access to the nut that was supposed to hold the wire on.

In so doing, I discovered that the bolt that holds the alternator to the engine was broken off.  And missing. It being Sunday, Bolts 'R' Us was closed in spite of Saltwater Suzi's gallant efforts to locate a bolt purveyor on the phone. 

So we couldn't leave Sunday.  This would not have been a problem except that the Marina had promised our slip to someone else.  But we couldn't go.  So they graciously said we could stay.  There being only the one option.

So I changed the oil and changed the secondary fuel filter and moved the raw water pump -
SURPRISE POPUP QUIZ - What was the Name of the horse?? (Extra prizes if you know what a raw water pump is.  Or care.)

-moved the raw water pump so I could change the alternator belts.
(Answer: John was the horse's name.  And nobody knows what a raw water pump is for - but the devilish engine won't work without it.)

And I got the alternator loose and the bracket off so when I got to the bolt store I could make sure I got the right size.

So the next morning Suzi located a store and called the taxi, and I put my pants back on, and went to the store.  I had to buy 10 bolts, grade 8 hardened, 3/8" diameter, 5 1/2" long.  The taxi ride cost more than the bolts.  I have 8 I'll probably never use - I'll keep one as a spare, so if you need one that size, get in touch with me.

Once I got back to the boat, I had a good strong dose of rum to fortify my innards - it's what we sailor types do when we're about to perform a distasteful and difficult job.  You see, a 170 amp alternator is heavy.  And you have to hold it in place with one hand while laying on top of the engine with your head hanging over while trying to insert a bolt in a place you can't get your hand into.  And the boat is rocking because of the boaters we affectionately call gassholes who are zooming by and putting out huge wakes. (In spite of the big NO WAKE signs.)

It could be compared to riding a horse, backwards, while attempting to give it an enema.  In the dark.

Which are you enjoying more, the photos or the alternator story?

So I got the alternator back on and then discovered the bolt that holds the alternator to the belt adjustment arm was broken.   And... well, picture it.  A sixty four year old sailor, naked, covered with engine dirt, grease, smudge, with a charley horse because of holding his weight in one position with a bent leg while putting a heavy alternator back in place while he's upside down with blood rushing to his head. 

Got that imagined?  Not a pretty sight, yes?  This, THIS is why sailor words were invented.  And this is why the rum production can barely keep up with consumption.

But luck was with me.  I had a replacement.  And I installed it.  And tightened everything up.  And checked my work.  And fired up the engine.  And it ran!!!! And it ran smoother than it had in a long time.  And I had to wonder, how long had that bolt been broken?

Oh, look, a house.

You are lucky we take pictures of houses and not of sailors giving enemas to racehorses. During the race.

So I was exhausted and we asked the marina if we could stay one more day and they graciously said yes.  So I spent the next two or three hours picking up tools and washing the grease off of me.  Suzi helped pick up the tools but she wouldn't even consider helping me clean off the grease.

So we ran the engine for a couple of hours just to make sure. And there were no problems. None.  Do you have a sense of foreboding?

Next morning we went to the library and did some stuff we needed to do at the library which involved Bill Gates but that's another (sad) story.

And we ran the engine some more - just to make sure.

And we waited for slack tide cause we didn't want to run into any other boats.

And when it got here, the dock master and a boater from the next slip helped us untie the lines and get going.
Our goal was to get past the Wappoo Bridge and on about another 18 miles to Church Creek and drop anchor.  A short day.  And the next day on to Beaufort, SC.  Did you notice the tense back there?  Our goal was...?  Feel the foreboding.  I'm building up literary excitement.

We left the marina -  current was with us.  We were doing 7.4 knots and our engine was just above idle.

And Saltwater Suzi is doing the navigating and pointing out the marks I'm supposed to steer to and where the shallow spots are when...


The engine overheated and the alarm is screaming at us.
(BTW, as an aside, notice the harp in the Hibernian Hall Sign.  No naked angel/ mermaids this time though.  And now back to our story.  Will Saltwater Suzi and Captain Larry live through the travails and ghastly sounds of an overheated engine alarm?  Will Captain Larry ever get the grease out from under his finger nails?  Will anybody read this far?  Will the closing parenthesis ever appear?  YES!)

Saltwater Suzi and Captain Larry leaped (or leapt) into action.  Suzi grabbed the helm and throttled back to neutral.  Captain Larry hurtled (pretty good for 64, huh?) down the companionway, and started to pour himself a rum when suddenly he remembered what he had gone there for.  After finishing pouring the rum and one quick swig, he opened the engine compartment door and rapped on the thermostat housing soundly with the hard object he held in his hand.  Ha! he thought, (I'll bet you thought the hard object was his rum glass -  you don't know Captain Larry very well, do you?)

Can you name this horse?  I bet you can!!
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The stuck thermostat released and the engine, which was not actually overheated, just the gauge said so, returned to normal.  But then it happened again.  And again.  And again.  And Captain Larry was getting awfully tired of hurtling down the companionway.  Remember, first syllable of hurtling is hurt.

So up went the sail, and after a bit down went the anchor in the Ashley River all the way on the other side of Charleston.  Which is where we are as I am updating this blog while the engine is cooling enough to fix the cursed thermostat.

I thought I should show you this photo taken the evening before we left the marina.  The sky was awesome...

 and a little scary!  Notice those funnel shaped clouds on the left. 

Here's a closeup.

But the clouds went away and we were treated to this sight of little training sailboats on a training mission.

And we say goodbye to Charleston.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures and keep in mind this axiom -




1 comment:

  1. This is not a real Osterone. This is a test Osterone. This is only a test Osterone. Please do not adjust your sex.