Monthly Archives: November 2012

A little (generous) slice of heaven here in Beaufort SC.

We left Charleston on Thursday to continue our journey south, working our way to Beaufort.  As we were leaving Charleston we circled under the bottom of Charleston and got a good view of the lovely historic homes on the waterfront. Yes, these homes look as good from the water as they do when walking around Charleston.  Love the whole palm tree thing.
I didn’t quite know where to put this photo of a local canine that we ran into the other day so here goes.  As random as it may be, how about this for a great looking dog?   What’s even more interesting is that the breed is fairly large, about the size of a Golden Retriever.   The owner said that she is a Briard, a Russian breed but this link says French.  Well, the French would say that they were there first.
 The cropped ears make her look, to me, like a breed that George Lukas would have conjured up for Star Wars.  I suggested to the owner that to me she looks more like an Ewok than a dog.   The owner didn’t seem particularly amused.   See the resemblance?After leaving Charleston we continued to head south and decided to anchor up a creek in a marsh for the night. The view was spectacular and we were treated to a brilliant sunset.    Did I say that I like sunsets?   Indeed, and made all the better when accompanied by a proper beverage. In the other direction there was a new bridge.  The contrast between the soft, flowing marsh grass and angular bridge was striking. Brenda and I arrived with Pandora to our current spot near Beaufort SC yesterday and are anchored in  one of the most tranquil spots we have seen to date.  We anchored here, as opposed to downtown Beaufort because there is a SSCA cruising station, the home of Rick and Carol, long time cruisers, who were highly recommended by other SSCA friends as a particularly nice place to stop.

The view that greeted us this morning was so tranquil in the soft morning mist.  You could almost imagine a hippo surfacing to look around.   Our hosts, Rick and Carol lived aboard and traveled to the Bahamas for something like 10 years.  In their travels, Rick and Carol were looking for a place to live when the time came for them to “swallow the anchor”.  Just like us, they anchored where we are now and found out that there was a piece of property on a point that was for sale and the rest is, as they say, history.

They open their home to visitors from SSCA whenever they arrive and even have dock space for some.  When Pandora arrived we were instructed where to anchor and last night they hosted a cocktail party for the 15 to 20 cruisers that were visiting.   What a great time we had making new friends and even seeing a few who we had met along the way.

Rick and Carol have done a wonderful job of crafting the design, siting and details of their home and it is an inspiration for me and Brenda.  What an attention to detail, from the kitchen cabinet details, built from Rick to the huge copper mobile hanging from the tall ceiling in the living room complete with a flock of our favorite, the pelican.

Windows dominate the front of the house.  This is the living room and the bedrooms are behind.  It’s a bigger house than meets the eye.Rick is a retired Navy skipper and you can certainly see an attention to detail in the house with a nautical flare.  That and a penchant for keeping everything ship-shape.  Even his dock, which is nearly 600′ long is carefully painted and in excellent shape.   Rick told me that he had the house framed up and covered and then spent three years finishing the inside himself.  His work is really impressive.  The floors are cherry and trim is carefully varnished and looks for all the world like mahogany.   The kitchen cabinets were built from scratch by Rick and there are wonderful cherry accents on the counters and cabinets.  The moment I walked into the home I realized that Rick had done the work himself as nobody pays for that level of detail.

Perhaps the most elegant room in this amazing home is a diminutive bedroom up in the loft that Rick designed and built to look like a ship’s cabin.  The room has bunk beds just like you would see on a ship.  Notice the wainscoting on the walls.  The room doubles as a place to keep artifacts from his time as skipper of ships in the Navy including commissioning pennant from his commands.The details are impressive, including ships knees and curved deck beams overhead.  There are even port holes, complete with blast covers.  You can almost imagine the movement of the ship if you sat here to write a letter.

This box with cutouts is actually the AC and heat vent crafted to look like it belongs.  Nice work, really nice work. He even went to the trouble to install a speaking tube that was once used on a ship to speak from the bridge to the engine room.   Alas, this one does not go to the kitchen as one would hope.  Perhaps commands from a disembodied tube “please bring me my slippers” wouldn’t sit well with Carol.Among the many details in their home, Rick was once given a porthole by a friend.  The gift was contingent on Rick promising to use it in the finishing of their home.  After much thought, Rick decided to install it in the one room in the house without a water view, the bathroom.  So, he had the mirror over the sink specially cut and now there is a water view, all 10″ of it that you can see as you brush your teeth.How’s this for a view of the water from their back yard?   At night the live oaks are lit with flood lights.

Their side yard has an equally brilliant view.  This is a wonderful setting to share with friends and share they do. Rick and Carol have hosted some 500 cruisers over the last 10 years and even keep an old pickup truck on hand to lend to those who need to make runs to the market.  He told me that they call it the “magic truck” as it is used all the time and yet never needs gas.  Visiting cruisers always put in a gallon or two to replace what they have used, enough so that the tank always has enough gas for the next visitor.

Even though we have only known Rick and Carol for only a few hours, we feel like we’ve been friends for years.  I guess that’s the best way I can describe this trip, making new friends that we have already known for years.  This whole trip is turning out to indeed be “our little slice of heaven, one bite at a time” and we aren’t even in the Bahamas yet.

I should note that Rick visited us aboard this morning to give us a very thoughtful tutorial as to what makes a successful cruising couple.  Words of wisdom and great advice for us and me in particular.   Perhaps I will share some of his advice here soon.

Where’s Pandora….Going? Not the same direction as Maserati.

It’s Wednesday morning and we are still in Charleston and look forward to our last day of sightseeing after a week in this wonderful city.   Our loose plans have us heading down to Beaufort SC over the next few days, perhaps on to Savannah and then on to St Mary’s GA for Thanksgiving.

St Mary’s is home to perhaps the largest Thanks Giving Feast/Party on the ICW and attracts nearly 100 boats and hundreds of cruisers who make it a point to stop there on their way south each fall.    As I understand it, the Riverview Hotel hosts the event and volunteers provide turkeys and help run the event.   Here’s a description on the hotel’s website that describes what is involved.

Every year the St. Marys boating community hosts a Cruiser’s Thanksgiving at the Riverview Hotel.  Local volunteers bring the turkeys and hams, set up tables and chairs, and organize the annual feast.  The cruisers bring all the side dishes.  We gather the night before at Seagle’s Saloon for an Oyster Roast and pot-luck social to meet new and old friends.  On Thursday, the Captains come over early to set up tables along with the locals.  Complimentary coffee and donuts are served.  During this time tables may be reserved for your party and decorated however you like.  The Captain & First Mate, and their Crew bring over the side dishes around noon with dinner at 1:00 p.m.   Also, on Friday morning there is a Swap Meet Sale and Book Exchange in the side yard of the Riverview Hotel.  Coffee and refreshments are served.  (Because of limited seating, the Cruiser’s Thanksgiving dinner is not open to the general public.)  To RSVP please email:

I RSVPd today and look forward to learning more.

As we have headed south over the last two months we have met many cruisers who say that this is one of the highlights of their trip and a visit to St Mary’s should not be missed.

While we have done the entire ICW to date inside, we do plan to head out into the ocean from Beaufort or perhaps Savannah and do a run outside to St Mary’s.   Me, I am looking forward to sailing again as the mainsail cover hasn’t been off since we left the Chesapeake.  Going outside is a must for us as we draw 6′ and there is considerable shoaling in Georgia.  In order for boats with our draft to make the trip, we would have to time much of our time underway according to the tides which would make the trip very tedious as there just isn’t enough water at low tide for us to make it through.

Last evening we hosted two couples aboard Pandora for cocktails having met them both while doing laundry at the marina.   One couple, aboard an IRWIN 42 has been sailing to the Bahamas for the last 5 winters and it was fun to hear of all the great places that they have visited.   Hearing more about where we are headed was inspiring to us both.  The other couple, new to cruising, are heading south on their first trip. On top of that, they were also new to sailing so this is all new to them.  We learned a lot and it was fun to make some new friends.

Another highlight yesterday was the arrival of a Volvo Ocean Racer 70 footer.   Maserati was at the face dock at our marina and had just arrived from Spain with a full crew.  Their next step, after clearing customs here, will be to head north to New York City where they plan to make an attempt to break the New York to San Francisco monohull record originally set by the clipper ship Flying Cloud in 1854, a record that she held for over 100 years.   Interestingly, the Flying Cloud captain’s wife, Eleanor Creesy was the navigator and is credited with much of the success of the record run.

I didn’t take this photo of Maserati.  However, if I did, it would have looked much like this.   What an awesome machine. 

This is her under speed.  It seems that she can run 40kts.   That’s cooking.   Besides, at the dock she looks like she is moving fast already.  
As Maserati is an Italian boat, some of the crew feeds on their site are in Italian although much of it is in English.  The site is worth checking out.  There are also videos and photos worth looking at as well.  This is one slick looking boat.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough on the trigger to get any photos before they shoved off from the dock.  It seems that the captain of Maserati was with the customs officer in the same room as the laundry, trying to stay warm, where Brenda was doing the wash so she was able to listen in as the officer went through the clearing process.  She overheard the captain say that their plan is to have Maserati in New York soon and that they hope to leave around December 11th to begin their attempt.  They fully expect to break the current record.  So where was I while this was going on?  I was off doing grocery shopping.  Bummer.

From our standpoint, Maserati is headed in the wrong direction and a NYC to San Francisco run certainly isn’t in Pandora’s future.  With regards to records, I don’t expect that the crew of Pandora will be breaking any records today with the possible exception of the most visits to the local grocer in a single day.   Well, you have to have goals in order to do your personal best.

Ready, set, grocery shop!!!

Doorways to Charleston and a window to how the 1% lived and lives.

As we were having morning coffee today we heard a low rumbling and looked out to see what it was.  It was a wall of steel slowing moving by.   This shot doesn’t begin to give a feel for how the ship blocked out the sky, or how close it was to us as it slid into the dock.  I am perplexed as to why they can’t build attractive cruise ships these days.  I guess that if “form follows function” then these floating feeding stations should look at least as bloated as their passengers.   By that measure the designs are just perfect.  Yesterday, Sunday, we went for another walk through downtown Charleston and although we had visited some of the same neighborhoods the prior day, we found ourselves noticing things that we had not yet seen.  Being here for a full week is very nice as it takes some of the pressure off and makes us feel less like “ohmyGod,ineedtoseeeverythinginasingleday”.

While I may not be, or may never be, in full cruisers mode, (I’ll get to that manana dude) I am trying REALLY, REALLY HARD not to overachieve.  Wish me luck as it will be tough to unlearn a lifetime of time management in the extreme.  I am not optimistic that “laid back” will ever be a phrase that others will use to describe me.  Perhaps if I get a pierced ear with an anchor earring and a tatoo and let my hair grow out it will be a start.  Hmm…

Not sure where that was going so I’ll just drop it.  In any event, I thought that it would be fun yesterday to take photos of some of the nicer, as if that’s even possible to decide, doorways that we saw.

We also visited another mansion, one of several that are open to the public.  This particular one, the Calhoun Mansion, is still in private hands and we were told that the owners, when they are in town, live there.   Not sure that I buy that but it’s what we were told.  They didn’t allow photos inside, but the website has an impressive slideshow that gives a feel for how much stuff is in the home.  It’s PACKED in the extreme, the fashion of the day we were told, where the rich collected massive amounts of stuff to prove how rich they were.  It seems that the current owner is making the same statement and I am convinced that he has firm footing as a member of the 1% club.

I like doorways as it tells you a lot about how the owner wants you to think about their home.  Some are very spare and shabby chic.  Old money perhaps?Some make it clear that a 15 year old SAAB doesn’t live there. Some seem to say “I am above it all”.Some, like this door onto a porch, seem to say “enter, but you aren’t there yet”.Some seem to say “my life is very orderly and if you saw my sock drawer, which you never will, you’d agree”.This seems to say “if you think my patio is nice, you wouldn’t believe how nice it is inside my home”.    Me, I believe!!!

Ok, this isn’t a door, but it’s certainly a window into another world.  No, it doesn’t really fit in this post but I like the shot.
This seems to say, “If you like this door, you can only imagine what’s behind it”.  And, indeed it is an OMG moment when you enter this one, the front door of the Calhoun Mansion. This one?  Not sure what it says.  Me?  I say it’s very nice.I can only guess what is behind all the wonderful doors in Charleston.   However, it’s fun wandering around and imagining.  If there is a common theme here it’s probably “I have money and am not afraid to show it!”   And, I expect that you won’t run into many of them at the buffet table on the cruise ship docked near by.  “Go away you bloated thing, you.  You are blocking my view!”

Gardens of Charleston.

Perhaps to say that this post is in some way a documentation of the gardens of Charleston overstates it a bit. However, when Brenda and I went for a walk yesterday I thought that it would be fun to find some nice gardens to include in a post.  The weather continues to be wonderful if a bit chilly but it’s perfect for walking around town.

Into every life a bit of rain must fall and our day will likely be Tuesday.  I guess that will have to be our chore day.  Besides, the engine oil needs to be changed and wash needs to be done.  At some point I also have to change the zincs on the prop but will have to wait until we are in a place with less current.  I’d hate to be swept under the dock with the current, pretty creepy thought.

It’s amazing to see just how scenic Charleston is.  The level of detail that goes into everything is inspiring.  In lusting after the gardens I do have to remind myself about the cost of all this.   However, taking pictures is cheap so here goes.   We were told that when a gate is let open to the street it means that the owner is welcoming you to explore their gardens.  Alas, on a Saturday with loads of tourists, no gates open.  These photos were taken through a hole in the gate or bars.   Most of the best gardens we saw were very compact and some, like this one, surround a driveway.

Some are very simple with meticulously sculpted hedges.   Not a lot of oil stains on this driveway.  Very elegant. The architectural details are a visual feast.   This patio/driveway wouldn’t last a single winter in Essex.
Some are perhaps better described as intimate vistas.  It was hard to tear myself away from this one. Imagine an evening pitcher of mint juleps here with friends.  Mmmm…
Container gardens are wonderful and there are plenty to feast your eyes on here in Charleston.
And an endless variety of window boxes, most with automatic watering systems.  You’d surely need them in the heat of summer.
There is an amazing amount of ivy growing everywhere but it’s nearly always very carefully maintained.  I expect that it is trimmed nearly as often as the yards, as small as they are, are mowed.  Labor intensive is the standard here in the nicest neighborhoods.
You can be pretty lavish with your attention to detail when your front yard is only 5′ deep.  I wish my yard was smaller.  How great that would be.
Intimate of not, these gardens are nothing compared to the homes that they surround.  I can’t imagine keeping such a work of art looking fresh for a hundred years.  This would be a good example of the house owning you.
However, in all their grandeur, no house, even here, can rival the beauty of today’s sunrise as viewed from Pandora.  And the cost is only the willingness to be up early enough to enjoy it.
I am blessed to be here with Brenda.  What a wonderful city.   So, what to do today?  So much to do, so little time.

Enjoying Charleston and some great Southern hospitality.

Friday was our first full day to wander around Charleston and wander we did.  We are very pleased to have chosen, and gotten into, the Maritime Center with it’s 21 slips.  It’s a very small place compared with City Marina on the other side of the city with it’s 100s of slips.  While this spot is a bit rolly, it is so convenient to town, shopping and the historic district that the occasional bumping isn’t a real problem.

We walked around the city much of the day and enjoyed seeing all of the wonderful homes, most in nearly perfect condition.   I understand that the “hysterical society” is quite aggressive in making sure that owners don’t allow their homes to be altered or managed badly.  I would find that intrusive but it would be nice to know that everyone has to keep things just so. I do like “just so”.  And just so they are.  Keeping these, mostly white, homes looking perfect takes a massive amount of effort so it’s a rare block that doesn’t have some sort of home repair going on. Masons, carpenters and groundskeepers are everywhere and the loving care and open check books really shows.

I can’t begin to describe the scale and number of beautiful homes but perhaps this random mix of photos will give you an idea of just how amazing it is.   I do love porches, so perhaps that’s a good place to begin this tour.  If one porch is good surely two is better and there are plenty of homes with multiple porches.  There are many curved porches.  I just can’t imagine what it costs to maintain such a home.  No vinyl siding here. One of the grandest homes is now the Two Meeting Street Inn.  We tried to have afternoon tea here but it’s only available to guests.   Everything about this house cries out “wow, I am really expensive to maintain!!!”  It’s a beautiful place and had better be as it’s not an inexpensive place to stay.  One night costs about twice what we are paying for an entire week at this marina.  Somebody has to pay for all that white paint.
The turret is an amazing piece of construction.
Ok, no porch here to speak of but what a home.  Someone told us that many of these homes are only used for a few months a year.  Yikes!!!The home above looks out on this park at the Battery at the southern tip of Charleston.  What a riot of live oaks.  Actually, as they are all lined up,perhaps “riot” isn’t a good word to describe this carefully manicured vista.  I am trying to imagine living in an area with this sort of landscape out in front of my home.  Hmm…  The scale of all of this is a bit overwhelming.While white is the color of choice for homes here, I expect that this one was always painted a color other than white as getting a color change past the local historical society would be nearly impossible.   It also may be the largest porch we saw.  If the outside is this elaborate I can only imagine how the interior must look.
Some of the homes look like they have been heavily updated with new siding and detail work like this one.  Others show generations of paint.   This one is downright modest.  One must have pity or the owner who’s porch is perhaps less than 100′ long.  How demoralizing that must be.
One particularly fun place to visit is the city marketplace.  There are many vendors selling everything from food to baskets.  Brenda’s very focused on one of the sweetgrass baskets and it’s fun comparing the offers from all of the vendors.  You enter the market through this front door and wander for what seems like 100s of yards through packed stalls. We enjoyed a late lunch in this lovely courtyard restaurant.  Perhaps not the most artfully composed photo but the lunch was great.  I can almost hear our son Christopher saying “dad, you can’t get good metering with your camera on auto mode”.   Oh well…

Last evening we had dinner at the Charleston Yacht Club compliments of the local SSCA cruising station hosts Emmett and Mecca, who are now living ashore after eight years of cruising.  They sold their boat last year which must have been tough.  Emmett and Mecca are one more example of how helpful the community of cruisers have been to us on this trip.  The club is informal and very friendly.  We were introduced to many nice folks and had a great evening and were, once again, shown what southern hospitality can be.

Tours by horse drawn carriage is a popular pastime for tourists.  As we are in fact, tourists, we will be taking a ride in one of these before we leave town on Thursday.   It’s fun to walk by the stables and see all of the carriages.

Oh yea, speaking of “a horses ass”, this shot of me making our bed yesterday morning seems to evoke something equine.  Getting under the mattress is the only way that I can get the sheets secure and tight.   And, anyone who knows me realizes that I like things just so.  Tight is good.   Who says that I don’t put photos of myself on the blog. So, that does it for today.  Off to do some more sightseeing.

In Charleston, finally! And, for a whole week!!!

Well, it’s hard to believe but we are finally here in Charleston another important milestone for us as we have not been in this town together since before we became parents.  With all the fun of Sandy, our arrival was delayed by about a week but we have finally arrived.  In fact, the last time we were here was “less” than a year since we had Rob, our oldest.  You do the math.

We arrived yesterday, Thursday, now over 1,000 miles into our trip on the log, and have splurged on a slip for an entire week. Last night we kicked off our visit with a dinner at a very nice restaurant Sermet’s Downtown.  The food was just terrific and the wait staff was very attentive.  The staff was even wearing bow ties, supplied by a high end men’s store right next door.  Bummer, I should have brought a few of my bow ties aboard Pandora.  Who’d have guessed I’d need them.  Interestingly, there was a 21st birthday girl with 17 of her best girlfriends at a table near us.  I’ll bet that daddy will choke on the check when he sees it.   He wasn’t there to defend himself and it was clear that the management had been told to take care of the girls, which they did.  More champagne girls?   Oh yea, ID first.   As an interesting observation, of the 18 girls there were only two that were not “blond” or some derivative of same.  Must be the gene pool here in Charleston.  Perhaps not.   Only their hairdresser knows for sure.   Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the happy group but this one of some pelicans that we took yesterday morning is more similar than different.  And, they were just about as noisy.  I wonder if the sign says “happy birdday Sally Mae”?

Today we head out to do some sightseeing and I know that Brenda has her heart set on getting one of the local sweet grass baskets that are synonymous with this area.  I expect that she will be posting a photo of one in the next day or two.   Me,  I want to get a haircut and have already scoped out a place to get it done.  Interestingly, the barber is directly across the street from a very fancy hotel that I stayed in a few years ago when I presented at a medical society board meeting.

It’s good to be back in town without worrying about projectors and presentations.   No, a haircut, the first one since early September, is what I care about.  That and restocking the fridge which has run low after nearly two weeks without a proper market to visit.

For now I will close with a few shots of Pandora and environs.  Lot’s more to photograph here but this will have to suffice for now.   How’s this for a backdrop?My dad loves bridges and I expect that this one will really get him excited.  Here Dad, a closeup.Now, I am off to get a haircut.   So, how short?  Hmm…