The winds began to rise early Saturday morning (April 16th) and continued to build throughout the day. A trip to town ended quickly as the skies darkened, causing us to scurry back to Orion to weather the storm there. As the dinghy left the
shelter of the marina’s docks for the open waters of the mooring field, Dave was having trouble making forward progress against the winds and current, which were combining forces to push us north, when we needed to head south. Once we made it to Orion, we switched to dry clothes and finalized the preparations for the storm. Dave put an extra line (a 5/8” dock line) on the dinghy, in addition to the painter and dinghy bridle. He had already added another line to the mooring ball.
While this is typical for harbors with current, what was unusual this time was the strength of the two forces, and the resulting gale force winds pushing on Orion’s beam. As we were working down below, the first indication of the change in our position was an unusual sound on deck after a particularly strong gust. “It’s the solar panels”, Cathy said and we both scrambled on deck to check. Sure enough the flexible panels on top of the bimini were working their way loose. While Cathy held the panels secure, Dave tightened the existing ropes. However, the way the wind was blowing, the wind was finding its way under the long side of the panels and kept lifting them off the bimini. We needed to reduce the windage. So, Dave ran some more lines from the stanchions across the solar panels to the jibsheets on the other side of the bimini. It was a temporary solution, but it kept them from lifting with higher gusts of wind.
swinging in 360 degree arcs around its mooring ball, causing her to frequently be pointed stern to stern with boats nearby. This was particularly alarming for another full keel boat, the schooner Harvey Gamage, who was at anchor north of the mooring field. This double-masted boat was also doing 360’s and making for some very close passes by some of its nearest neighbors. Many boats in the anchorage dragged, and we felt sorry for the couple on Yoda who arrived during the height of the storm and tried for over an hour to get an anchor to set. At one point, the wind picked up a dinghy off one of the moored trawlers and flipped it upside down, its outboard now dangling beneath it in the water. We watched helplessly as
the owners tried to set the dinghy right-side up in the water and retrieve the motor to no avail. (There were able to retrieve it the next day.) In the midst of all this wind, a trawler arrived to pick up a mooring nearby. Despite the wind and their height above the water, they managed to snag the penant and secure their line to it.
services and a procession down Center Street with
our palms in hand that Sunday morning. We had weathered the storm with little drama, and were thankful to have been on a strong mooring surrounded by boats similarly securely attached. And our loved ones had managed to stay out of the paths of the storms further north.
You could see the masts lined up in the distance ahead of us as we trailed them out the Saint Mary’s inlet and into the ocean on Monday, April 18th. We had made a decision at the last minute to take this window and head out for Charleston. With the winds forecasted to be around 10 knots, it was going to be a gamble whether we could sail much of the way. Tuesday had better winds forecast, but
it felt a little odd to let a calmer window pass in favor of a windier one. So, as the sun was beginning to rise Monday morning, we got into gear to get ready to leave. Dave dinghied ashore to return the shower key, while Cathy began to prepare the cockpit and stow stuff below. By the time Dave returned, she was ready to help haul the dinghy. While Dave secured it on deck, Cathy worked on the enclosure, cleaning the morning dew off the panels to ensure we could see as we headed east into the morning sun. It was shortly after 8am, when we cast off the mooring and got underway,
about an hour having passed from our decision to move.
as Cathy’s luck would have it, by the time her watch started the winds began to die. She waited about an hour and a half before resigning herself to starting the engine. Not long after that the headsail came in. By sunset, we were still motoring and we decided to furl the main. That was the last we saw of the sails on the trip.
We kept in touch with some of the boats ahead of us throughout the trip as we could – It’s About Time, Carpe Diem, Argonauta, Star. The boats were headed to a variety of destinations – Charleston (of course), Winyah Bay to Georgetown,Cape Fear to Wrightsville Beach and, the furthest destination, Beaufort. Although we lagged behind most, our AIS was providing valuable navigation assistance as the boats ahead of us tried to dodge the big ships coming in and out of
Savannah. With the confusion of the many ships, the sailboats in the lead were struggling to understand how to thread their way through the shipping lanes. Dave sorted out the various targets and gave the names of the key vessels and helped guide the others through. Once we made it through this gauntlet, the night settled down. With the help of the full moon, we continued our journey north.
enclosure panels overnight. With little hope for more sailing, and an ETA that would bring us up the
Cooper River at the tail end of the flood current, we powered on. Shortly before entering the inlet, we passed the schooner Spirit of SC on a sail south. We hailed them and found they were on a Spring Break cruise. Just after noon, we found ourselves on the dock at the Maritime Center, a little over 3 months since Orion had last been on a dock, and we planned to enjoy one more stay in Charleston.
Since Orion was due for an oil change by the time we arrived in Charleston, we took advantage of the warm engine and the nearby used oil disposal bin to take care of it. Having been off the grid for 3 months, we wasted no time in getting on shore power. However, the batteries were doing well and it didn’t take long to top them off. A few days later Dave equalized both banks to bring them to top performance. The Maritime Center's free washer and dryer make this a good place to do some spring cleaning, so Cathy washed all the cushion covers and curtains. To minimize any galvanic corrosion while on the dock, we suspend a zinc plate on a metal wire into the water and clip it to a shroud. The clips need to be replaced periodically, so Dave took care of this before putting it in place again.
And, since we were in one place for a while, we had our mail forwarded to us, which brings its own set of catch-up work.
With Easter coming so late this year, despite our later than usual arrival in Charleston, we were here once again for Easter Sunday. We returned to The
Circular Church for a beautiful service and their annual Easter Egg hunt in the graveyard. Later, we enjoyed some seafood at Hyman’s, the first of a few meals to be enjoyed in Charleston’s smorgasbord of restaurants. We discovered Blossom, which had some delicious artichoke hearts, and made a return trip to Southend Brewery.
We aren’t alone on a northerly migration, and we ran into a number of familiar faces. Bill and
Bettye arrived on Sea Mist, unfortunately with engine problems. But they weren’t too unhappy about being “stuck” in Charleston. Bo and Joyce arrived a little later on Dream Catcher, after a rougher passage up from Jekyll Creek. They were glad to take a break here as well. We got together one night on Orion for dessert before we started to head our separate ways again.
This time of year, Charleston is at its best. With flowers everywhere, the scents and colors surround you. The ships and sailboats are an endless pageant unfolding before you and there seems to be no bad place to go to take a walk. We have another week here, but it will disappear quickly and then it will be hard to say goodbye.