Charleston's Genteel Grip
Charleston had us in her steely genteel grip for nearly three weeks before our ducks got their feathered butts in a row so Drakka could continue south. The city is as lovely can be, all gushing flower boxes and deeply shaded porches. Shrimp n’ grits puts itself in your mouth every time you say "Y'all". It is also the home of Charleston City Marina, which boasts the most gleaming mansion yachts you can imagine. Go on, imagine one. Nope. It’s bigger! And more gleamy! Like movie star teeth; impossibly gleaming. Our friends on Gypsy Soul, who we’d met way back in Atlantic City, and who have an excellent but not movie-star-teeth sailboat, are also docked there. We used their address to order a couple engine parts. The air filter & glow plug advertised to be forthcoming, but proved to be as impossible to obtain as our President’s tax returns. Hence the three weeks.
This seems to be how cruising is. You make a plan to go from point A to point B, not as the crow flies but as the fish swims, and the fish ends up hitting a log, losing an eye, going to physical therapy, dating his therapist, breaking up, going on a bender, taking up ornithology, retiring, converting to Buddhism, and then arriving at point B.
The first night our anchor rode wrapped around Drakka’s keel in the opposing wind and water. This makes our sea dragon fishtail like a wind vane on cocaine, and nearly drove us into a nearby trimaran in a four-hour rodeo before sunrise. After that we hijacked a neglected mooring ball for most of our stay. We are new to mooring balls. C put it this way: Let’s suppose you have a $100 dollar bill: Anchoring is putting that bill on the end of a fishing line. Mooring is stuffing it in your mattress. Docking is putting it in the bank in Switzerland. Usually mooring balls belong to people and have eye hook attachments on top. Or, they don’t (we hoped), and you lasso them cowboy style and pray they’ll hold. Which it did. I gotta say, I love that murky mooring ball. If my heart is normally a cherry, it is a banana split for that mooring ball, which held us so sweetly in its bobbing arms all those wavy nights. Also I love the crew of Gypsy Soul for accompanying us through our Charleston trials and tribulations, rodeo and all.
Howeeeever, the ball was on the opposite side of the river as civilization. The tides reverse every six hours, and because Dinkerbell is engineless and oarfull, our days were dictated by the ebbs n’ floods. What day is it? Hell if I know, but it’s slack tide, and we’d better get our ass in that rowboat if we want to make it to shore. I can tell you the hourly wind forecast, speed and direction on any given afternoon, but I do not know if it is February or March. Did I brush my teeth today? Dunno, but git in that boat and row, for the love of plankton!!!
We haven’t gotten deeply weird yet. We still wash the dishes, speak in complete sentences, and empty the pee tank. In other words we’re not cross-dressing, smashing peanut butter between our toes, or holding philosophical conversations with the no-see-ums. But expectations are a nasty master, and the unanticipated delay did take a crazy toll on us.
C got to surf one sloshy day at Folly Beach, and had a festive turning of 31 (happy birthday baby!). K had a slobbery sobbing breakdown at one point, but then again, her insides are being tinkered with by a miniature baby Oz beneath a curtain making her exterior Emerald City go berserkers. Living on a 29’ scoop of fiberglass that never stops heaving side to side can wear a body down, she’s here to tell you.
At last we headed the open Atlantic, departing Charleston Harbor on a lemony gold afternoon, headed for Hilton Head Island. C elated, K sedated on dramamine (only one tablet, because two make me hallucinate). 18 hours of medium to mildly rolling seas, wimpy winds, and clear skies. The sun set like an ember sizzling in guava juice, and a mezzaluna kept us company until 2 or 3 am, then left us with gauzy stars and blackened swells. Uneventful, I am grateful to report. Manageably chilly with all layers onioned on. We both slept a few hours in the cockpit while the other bicepted the tiller, and saw naught but a far off passing ship or two. Night sailing oozes with a special sort of concentrated delirium that’s hard to compare to anything else. Numbly alert, achy-sleepy-exhilarated, yearning for bed, but the purity of the yearning is sort of delicious in its own right. We made it to Port Royal Inlet and were rewarded with a blissful anchorage in Skull Creek, followed by a few days at Thunderbolt Marina in GA, where we could sleep, shower, and gorge our souls on Savannah.
The Sea Monkey is 17 weeks old. I saw my body for the first time in months in the large mirror of the marina bathroom, and gaped in awe. Whomp, there it is! I’m flipper fracking pregnant! What is this mysterious continuum my body is now a part of? I feel like…such an animal. A specimen of my species. I can’t bend, fold, or lift anything without “Ooofing”, and the ungainly lump of my gut makes me look like I swallowed a fender, yet somehow I feel timeless and noble as Aphrodite.