November 1, 2015 – Charleston to Hilton Head, SC

I returned to Charleston from Greenwich, CT and the LLS board meeting Friday evening and Adrienne returned from our home in Florida early Saturday afternoon.  I spent Saturday preparing to continue our trip south – grocery shopping, engine checks, refilling our water tanks.  Once Adrienne arrived, we did laundry, watched a little college football and made dinner.  It was an exciting Halloween.

We were up early Sunday morning to time our departure with slack current at the City Marina and with dawn’s first light.  At 6:15am, Adrienne eased Curiosity away from the docked and out into the channel for our 85 nautical mile ocean run to Hilton Head.  It was a beautiful morning with calm winds and mild temperatures.  The morning sky over Charleston was spectacular – red and orange skies framed by blue skies and some grey clouds.  As the sun rose higher, it reflected down from the skies above.  Simply beautiful.

Leaving City Marina

Leaving City Marina

Sunrise Charleston Harbor

Sunrise Charleston Harbor

Sunrise over Fort Sumter

Sunrise over Fort Sumter

The ocean was calm with seas of about 2 feet with a period of 4-6 seconds.    The seas were empty most of the day – no boats, no whales and only scattered flocks of birds.  There were a few dolphins but none wanted to play.  Eventually we turned on the TV in the helm and watched a silly comedy about a meteor that hits earth and harbors alien life forms that rapidly evolve into menacing creatures; it was Ghost Busters meets Aliens.  It did kill some time.

By 2pm, we were nearing the Tybee Roads Inlet that leads to Savannah and Hilton Head.  Suddenly things began to get interesting.  The radar showed a slew of boats at the entrance to the inlet; it looked like the boats were engaging in a massive orgy.    There were tugs boats pulling barges and going in various directions with no clear pattern to their movement.  There were large container ships anchored about the inlet.  There was a tug with barge heading out to sea from the inlet and another in the center of the channel.  And parked right in the middle of the channel was the dredge Alaska.

Going in Circles

Going in Circles

Dredge Alaska

Dredge Alaska

As we got closer to the inlet, I called one of the tugs, which was on a collision course with us to see what she was doing.  It turns out that the tugs were just circling towing large barges.  We assume that the dredge was dumping its dredge materials into the barges.  The tug turned away from us to give us room to pass and enter the harbor.  The dredge told us we would have plenty of room to pass if we stayed close to the inlet buoy; all of its dredging pipes were marked with floats.

Shortly after 2 pm, we were in the channel heading into Tybee Roads.  What looked from afar like a real mess turned out to be relatively simple.  We turned into the channel just east of the dredge and its floats and had plenty of room.  By 2:50 we were in Calibogue Sound, and by 3:20 we were tied up at Hilton Head’s Harbortown Yacht Basin.  It’s a bit of pain to have to come so far inland to get to the marina, but the free bottle of wine they give you when you dock makes that a little bit better.

We rinsed all the ocean water off Curiosity and chamoised her down and then had a few hours to relax before dinner.  We wanted to have an early dinner because Monday would be another early morning for our run to St. Simon Island, some 85 nm to the south.

We decided to have dinner at the Links American Grill, a new restaurant in a new clubhouse at the Sea Pines resort and a short walk from the marina.  We ran into another couple on our way who told us that the owner of the resort had just spent $87 million renovating the building.  It was beautiful from the outside and even more so on the inside.  It even had the new building smell when we walked in.

Dinner was surprisingly good, although a bit on the expensive side.  I had grilled shrimp over cheesy grits with a very good smoky sauce, while Adrienne had a Caesar salad to start.  For the main course, I had grilled meatloaf with mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables and a side of excellent onion rings.  The slice of meatloaf was massive, and although not as good as the meatloaf at the Annapolis Yacht Club, it was a close second.  Adrienne chose a grilled spearfish, which neither of us had heard of before, with a kale and cabbage slaw, crispy fries and the same excellent onion rings.  The fish was delicious and also a hefty piece, so we had plenty of leftovers for several lunches this week.

We headed back to the marina, expecting a pleasant walk in the mild November air and were greeted instead with pouring rain.  This was completely unexpected.  There was no rain in the forecast (how dare the weather not follow the forecast!), and more importantly, we had neither raincoats nor umbrellas.  So back to the restaurant we went and sat at the bar and watched the end of the Dallas/Seattle football game and yet another Dallas loss.  We hoped that by the end of the game the rain would have at least let up a bit, but it had not.  The Links hostess, however, offered us a golf umbrella so that we could make it back to the boat without getting completely drenched.  It worked beautifully.  Alas, the same could not be said for Curiosity’s interior.

Not expecting rain and having late afternoon temperatures around 80, we had opened the side windows in the galley and the portholes over the bed in the master stateroom and left them open when we went to dinner.  When we got back there was quite a bit of mopping up to do.  Nothing terrible, just a lot of wet.  We were fortunate that we had an extra blanket folded up at the foot of our bed right under the portholes and my jeans on top of that.   These absorbed most of the rain, so our bed could still be slept in.  But we ended up with comforters, towels and clothes draped on sinks, plumbing fixtures and across other beds in an effort to dry them.  Live and learn.

Once everything was cleaned up, we settled in for the evening and prepared for our departure the next day.

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