Sunday, July 10, 2016

05-Jul to 09-Jul: Edisto to Charleston, SC

Departing Simmons' Marina
After five wonderful days of taking advantage of Paul & DD’s outstanding hospitality, it was time to move on to our next destination, Charleston, SC.  We planned our departure for 0900 at a high tide and slowly diminishing current and took Ghost Rider back down-river towards the open waters of the Atlantic, and the relatively short hop to Charleston Harbor Marina, 40 nautical miles to the north. 

At around 1000 our trip log reached the 1,000 NM mark for our first 2 months of this overall planned journey.  In total, according to our Nobeltec voyaging logs, we now have put a total of 2,361 nautical miles under the keel (and over 600 hours on the main engine) since last October when we first started actively cruising on Ghost Rider.
Chugging Down the River
Towards the Atlantic
While general weather was pleasant enough – clear skies, no TRWs on the scopes for the entire route – it was hot, humid, windy and lumpy out there on this day.  We had 15K winds out of the south and mostly following seas at 3 to 5 feet for most of the sortie, then as we got near Charleston that increased to +20K and 4 to 6 foot seas.  It was sloppy, although the boat handled the conditions well enough.  The banging and clanking in the galley cabinets was somewhat annoying, but as far as we know nothing broke or spilled out of those.  In the Charleston entry channel we did take a bigger broadside wave on the port side that sprayed up to the pilot house level and also spilled a considerable amount of sea water into the amidships stateroom (our sleeping quarters....oops, we left that portal open), providing a significant cleanup opportunity.

Fort Sumter from the Charleston
Entry Channel
Unfortunately we also experienced more mechanical issues to be addressed whilst in Charleston – the main engine’s stuffing box got overly warm, the port side stabilizer fin failed in a fully deflected down position (that made steerage interesting), and once again it took us 2 hours to get the air conditioning system to function after arrival.  Rick spent entirely too much time in a 110F degree engine room for the second half of the trip troubleshooting stuff.  Is there an echo going on here?  We seem to be in a groove, but the wrong kind – I think it’s called a rut.

View of Yorktown from Our Fly Bridge 
At any rate, Charleston Harbor Marina is a nice place – it’s big (459 slips and 17,000 lineal feet of dock) – located up-channel on the Cooper River on Patriot’s Point.  The currents (and lately the wind) run strong here, and as one wise person put it in an Active Captain post, docking here is a varsity level sport.  We pulled it off without banging into anything, but just barely, and mostly because they gave us a really big slip.  There’s no cable TV and the wireless signals come and go, but next door is a big maritime museum, including the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier as well as the USS Laffey destroyer, a submarine, and a Medal of Honor museum.  And some of the best restaurants in the country are in the area.  As soon as we get our key maintenance issues sorted out, we'll be spending time exploring this area, and are thinking of staying more than a week now.

CHM in the Foreground, with the
Yorktown in the Background
Wednesday (06-Jul) was a down day – we slept late, handled some minor routine maintenance chores, lined up the needed service calls, and then socialized with some new friends dockside.  Michelle also made good use of the loaner bicycle, riding several difficult miles over the bridge to a nearby ACR shop to drop off one of our EPIRB devices to have a new battery installed.

Thursday morning (07-Jul) was spent troubleshooting (and actually fixing!) the port side stabilizer.  Rick spent time on the phone with an ABT Trac technician – Steve Owens, who is simply outstanding – and he talked us through troubleshooting and parameter changes to the system.  Essentially we were able to trick the port side servo valve into working once again by mucking with its polarity setting.  Steve also advised us on some other system parameter changes that should result in better performance and fewer issues going forward.  That all needs to be sea trialed, but at this point we appear to have a functional port stab fin once again.  This is the second time ABT has helped us resolve a problem….their expertise and service ethic are flat out exceptional.

The Yorktown and the Laffey Closer Up
On Thursday afternoon we got a local marina tech to come aboard and help us pull apart the main engine’s stuffing box and replace the packing material (it’s always good to have an expert guide you on how to do it the first time around.)  That should address the overheating issue, although that, too, needs to be sea trialed.  It’s pretty typical for new packing to require multiple adjustments while underway.

The Submarine Clagamore
in the Foreground    
Friday (08-Jul) was a hot day, with temps reaching over 100F, but Rick was finally able to get off the boat for a while, and so we spent the afternoon touring the nearby naval museum assets – the submarine Clamagore and the carrier Yorktown, as well as the Medal of Honor museum.  As you might expect, the aircraft carrier is quite large, hosting 22 aircraft in its hangars and on its flight deck, from the vintage warbirds of WWII to today’s F/A-18 Hornet.  The MOH museum is both an enthralling and humbling experience…as well as emotional.  If you’re ever in this area it’s worth a visit.  That evening we enjoyed happy hour(s) aboard our live-aboard neighbors’ Ron & Mercedes gorgeous sailboat Samana, a good way to end a day that didn’t include boat maintenance.
Mercedes and Chelle
Popping Shrimp Heads
Saturday (09-Jul) was another relaxing day, starting with a visit by more new friends, Kevin and Tiffany Taylor, and their son Lance, who were visiting Charleston (from Dublin, GA.)  They wanted a closer look at a Nordhavn as they assess their future boating options, and it was fun to provide the tour and discuss all the pros and cons.  A brief line of storms blew through around mid-day, and then again late afternoon, but honestly the cloud cover, cooler breeze and rainfall provided a welcome if brief break from the heat.  In between we went shrimping….or at least made a visit to Shem Creek local Tommy Edwards, aka the “shrimp pimp”, from whom we bought 10 pounds of the freshly caught crustaceans….for just $20.  Gotta love that.  We hosted a late social gathering on the fly bridge following a great (fresh shrimp) dinner with some of our new dockside friends, and finally called it a day.

That's it for this week's update....more to come from Charleston in the next week or so.  Stay tuned.