January 29th, 2010

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Charleston, South Carolina to Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Friday, January 29th, 2010

(30⁰17.421′ N by 081⁰25.915 W -  Mile 2854.06 - Jacksonville Beach, Florida)

We left Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, October 29th continuing south on the Intracoastal Waterway and traveled 58 miles to Beaufort, South Carolina. Not to be confused with its namesake in North Carolina (pronounced Bow fort), Beaufort, South Carolina is pronounced B-you-fort. Pronounce it with the North Carolina pronunciation and the locals will quickly correct you and laugh.

A Beaufort, SC Home

A Beaufort, SC Home

Beaufort, South Carolina was established in 1514 and was first settle by the Spanish, then the French followed by the English. It endured Indian uprisings, occupation by the British and Union forces. It is in the heart of what has been aptly called “Low Country”.

As you will see from the pictures, film makers have used Beaufort as the location for movies like The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides and Forest Gump. The main attraction is the homes that have been lovingly restored to their original style which is unique compared to the homes of Charleston.

The style is more West Indian with a T-shaped floor plan, elevated first floors (rising waters in hurricanes and a place where the staff were sometimes housed), high ceilings and porches on the first and second floors which not only allowed a place to sit outside but offered shade to the inside of the building as well.

Magnolia and Dogwood trees take priority over sidewalks, roadways and traffic and some of these trees have obviously survived for over 100 years.

While we were here, the local merchants closed the main street of the town to hold a “Halloween Party” for the local

It's For Sale!

It's For Sale!

children who attended with their parents. Each shop offered the Trick-or-Treaters candies under their parent’s supervision and it was great to see all of the children dressed in costume.

Quick Fact (An Extract From Waterway Guide 2009)

Gullah Culture

The Low Country region of South Carolina and Georgia is home to the Gullah people. African-Americans whose ancestors were transported from Africa to the Carolina Colony in the late 1500’s. The Gullah region is focused in the Low Country, which includes the (Carolina) coastal plain and the Sea Islands.

Slaves from the West African rice-growing region were selected for transport to the American plantations for the skills in cultivation of the crop. Those slaves were retained and sent to the colony through the ports of Savannah and Charleston. By the 1700’s, the Africans had transformed the agricultural Low Country into a booming cotton and rice industry. A large, enslaved work force combined with disease and the Civil War, forced many white inhabitants out of the region and resulted in African dominated populations, complete with its traditions and language, throughout the Sea Islands.

Magnolia Crossing - NO TRUCKS!

Magnolia Crossing - NO TRUCKS!

The group became known as the ”Gullah”. Gullah speak an English based Creole language which has its roots in African language. In addition to their language, their cuisine, music, crafts, farming practices and folk beliefs all have strong ties to the culture of their West and Central African ancestors.

On Friday, October 30th we fueled up and took a 26 mile passage on the ICW to Hilton Head, South Carolina, a community literally built by sea-side golf resorts. It was a short day but we were setting ourselves up for the right sea conditions and visibility to jump from Hilton Head, bypassing Georgia and coming back to shore at Jacksonville, Florida a distance of 122 miles.

Georgia’s section of the ICW has long been ignored by the US Army Corp of Engineers the agency that is responsible for maintaining it. Silting and tides have created many sections which are today impassible by cruising boats with drafts greater than four feet. Many have claimed to successfully negotiated the passage while others tell of their groundings along the way. We chose wait for the right day and leave Georgia to others more adventurous.

We arrived in Hilton Head to stay the first night in Palmetto Bay Marina, nothing special but we felt we only needed secure overnight accommodation for our early start the next day. The next morning we woke to find a fog bank that

Halloween In Beaufort, SC

Halloween In Beaufort, SC

literally swallowed cruisers going into this curtain.

After two tries which took us late into the morning we decided to stay for the night at Harbour Town Yacht Basin closer to the channel leading to the ocean. This is also the home of the large, candy cane lighthouse you see in many of the post cards and pictures of Hilton Head. Climb to the top and you can see the 18th hole of Sea Pines Golf Club one of the more famous on the PGA Tour. By visiting the marina’s website you can see what we saw from the top of the lighthouse by live, internet camera. Just visit www.harbourtownyachtbasin.com and follow the links to the camera.

The next morning the fog had cleared and off we went on our first open-ocean running since we left Cape May. The sun was shining and the waves were less than two feet. Just a perfect day for a 122 mile, 8 hour ocean run!

We’ve made it to (northern) Florida and although Jacksonville is not quite the warm sunny weather we are looking for crossing into America’s southernmost state takes us one step closer to our goal. Warm winter weather.

From Harbour Town Lighthouse Internet Cam

From Harbour Town Lighthouse Internet Cam

Beaufort, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina

Friday, January 29th, 2010

(32⁰46.571′ N by 079⁰57.019 W -  Mile 2694.55 - Charleston, South Carolina)

Church in Charleston, SC

Church in Charleston, SC

If you were left with the impression that so far the trip south was just a process to get the boats south that would probably be correct.  Other boaters have confirmed that the weather had been very poor for an ICW fall journey.

As we left Beaufort, North Carolina after one day of rest our decision whether to take the ICW or the ocean route was determined once again by the weather. Waves south of Cape Fear near Beaufort were 4 to 6 feet and in some areas even higher and the day dawned with what else, rain!

On our first day we cruised 8 hours and made it 83 miles to Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Wirghtsville Beach has little to claim other than its access to the ocean from the ICW. A quiet night on board and we were off again the next day traveling 6 hours and 67 miles to Myrtle Beach, SC. Once again, a raining day from the heavens and 4 to 6 foot waves on the ocean.

By our third day, October 27th, we arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a good day since we had traveled 115 miles in 7 hours but, best of all, the sun was peeking out of the clouds as we arrived. Charleston was a place we had been reading about. A city with southern charm and history so, after three solid days of running the crews insisted on a lay day to convert from sailors to tourists.


Brick Architecture Charleston, SC

Brick Architecture Charleston, SC

Charleston’s architecture and history are probably the two things that bring travel magazines back frequently for a source of articles and it is not without reason. The city’s history, culture and love of good gourmet restaurants all conspire to make this a special place to visit.

The British founded Charleston in 1670 and was named after King Charles II. Colonists on the ship Carolina had originally planned to settle at Port Royal but the chief of the Kiawah Indians convinced them to move farther north. Within 10 years they had relocated to what locals refer to as “The Peninsula” or the site of the current downtown. The Peninsula is formed by the convergence of the Ashley River and Charleston Harbor. Within two years there were nearly 100 houses built establishing a vibrant community.

Of course many people are amused by the slow drawl of the southern belles and men of South Carolina and Georgia but it has a historical background that justifies their speaches tone and intonation. In the 17th and 18th century, English blended with the language of French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution. Many came by way of Barbados adding a Caribbean flair to the language and city’s lifestyle. The Spanish were also here and slaves certainly had a huge impact on the food, arts and language. Gullah, a patois of all the languages is still spoken on the sea islands in the area today.  (More on Gullah follows.)


Front Porches in Charleston

Front Porches in Charleston

This is also Confederate country as well and there is no doubt denial in theri minds whether the Unionists of the Confederates won the war, at least in South Carolina. Fort Sumter sits across from Charleston and according to local lore this is where cadets shelled to begin the Civil War. Maintained by U.S. Park Service, the rangers (northerners?) have a slightly different interpretation.

While we were walking through the park at the tip of the Battery I came across a bronze cast sign as you viewed Fort Sumter. According to local record at least the Confederate General in charge of the fort did not lose the battle to Union forces but instead “Ceased to Defend”. I thought this was not only a humorous description of a historical event but an indication of the southern pride and use of language that still exists to today.

And, as you have seen by the pictures, the historic architecture of Charleston is very interesting. The Battery is an area along the water front is where wealthy merchants built glorious homes reflecting their wealth and power in the community. There are also single homes, unique to Charleston which were built one room wide. You enter through a door onto a piazza giving the occupants privacy in the town.

All of these homes are surrounded by main streets and small lanes and the community was bonded with churches, the Old Exchange Building that used to house a prison and the Old Market that really was a market for food items, not slaves (the slave market is a few blocks away).

A Street, But No Cars!

A Street, But No Cars!

The best part of Charleston is its citizens. Stand on a street corner with a city map for even just a few seconds and the locals will offer directions or recommendations on what to see and do. Definitely a place we want to come back to.

Old Exchange Building

Old Exchange Building

Market Building

Market Building