We love Charleston, and planned to stay for about a week to get boat work done, take Pepper to the vet, eat good food and have some fun.
November 18 – 25, 2019
Charleston, SC at The Mega Dock
Days 36 – 43
We have stayed at Charleston by boat several times, so it is familiar and we are comfortable at The Charleston City Marina, otherwise known as “The Mega Dock”. The docks are excellent, the views of the river are nice and the staff is professional. Although the tourist areas of town are about a mile walk, the marina runs a free shuttle if you are feeling lazy, and there is a huge brand new Publix just a few blocks away. We love staying here.
We had a packed agenda for our layover.
First and most important, Bruce was on a mission to eliminate vibration in the boat. New engine mounts were waiting for us, so his priority was to swap out the old mounts, install the new ones, and align the engine. Boxes of tools and parts were waiting for us at the marina. The afternoon we arrived, while Bruce was unpacking his new toys and getting organized for the project, I gave the pups a nice long walk then headed up to Publix to replenish our dwindling stores.
The highlight of our first evening was a cocktail aboard OLOH. Tim, AJ, and Jasper, who we had met in Georgetown two days earlier, were awesome hosts and mix an excellent Manhattan. They have a wonderful cocktail hour tradition of ringing a bell: I can’t remember the story behind it but we enjoyed the ritual. Just a fun evening and a start to an excellent friendship.
Back on the boat we had fresh shrimp from Independent Seafood in Georgetown, a nice South Carolina treat. We were up much too late but it was all worth it.
The next morning, Bruce dove into the engine room. I know — from lots of experience — that this is a good time for me to get off the boat and find something else to do. The pups and I went for a long, lovely, cool walk. Our favorite destination is Colonial Park, but we mix it up from there, sometimes heading to the sea wall along the river, sometimes across town to the College of Charleston and the French Quarter., and sometimes to the King Street shopping district. There is no limit to the neighborhoods worth exploring.
Our other big priority for the stopover in Charleston was to get Pepper to the Charleston Veterinary Referral Center for an ultrasound re-check of his chest and lungs. This can only be done at a specialty hospital rather than a regular vet, so it was an important item for us. We had an appointment on the calendar for a month, to make certain not to miss the opportunity. On our second day, Pepper, Mattie and I all piled into an Uber together, leaving Bruce to his wrenches and hammers, and headed off to the hospital.
The visit was successfu. Pepper was given the relatively clean bill of health that he needed for us to proceed with our trip. For anyone who has dogs, CVRH is an outstanding resource. They saved Pepper’s life a few years ago. We were camping in our Airstream at Edisto Island State Park, when Pepper suddenly became ill and lethargic. In a panic, we broke camp, googled vets, and headed as fast as we could towards Charleston. We got an emergency appointment with a wonderful doctor at regular vet, but they did not have the equipment necessary to help Pepper. They referred us to CVRH. Pepper spent two days in intensive care. We are forever grateful.
By the time we returned to Esmeralde, Bruce had finished up his motor mount replacement and engine alignment. As I approached the transom I could see some prop wash so I knew the engine was running, but I couldn’t hear anything and as I stepped into the cockpit I couldn’t feel a thing. For a moment, I was confused and thought the engine was off. Then I realized: everything was much quieter. It was like a different boat. Wow.
Bruce was thrilled with the results so far. To check things out, we cast off the dock lines, told the dockhands to save our spot, and headed off for a short sea trial. The boat was definitely quieter with the new mounts. Big difference. At slower speeds the change was substantial. At the higher end, the change was less, but still better. Nice!
To celebrate Bruce’s success with the vibration and Pepper’s good medical results, we marched across town to Hall’s Chophouse. Hall’s is once of Bruce’s all-time favorite restaurants. We love sitting at the bar, chatting with whatever guests happen to be seated alongside, and indulging in excellent food.
The next day I felt lousy after overindulging at Hall’s. It was a good day to clean out my head by going for a long run. I love running around Charleston, especially early before the traffic and tourists get going. I can run forever and not feel the effort because there are so many great things to look at. I usually start along the sea wall and the Battery, then poke through various neighborhoods and historic districts. It’s terrific.
One of my priorities for our stay in Charleston was to begin to prepare for Thanksgiving. We planned to head to Edisto Island for the holiday, which we love, and have a quiet Thanksgiving aboard Esmeralde. I needed to stock the galley for the feast, and start prepping food ahead of time.
I shopped at Publix and Harris Teeter, purchased a hand mixer, turkey trussing twine and a fat separator from Williams Sonoma, and — why not? — got my toes done! Bruce spent time doing some refinishing of the cabinetry below, as well as tackling some waxing on the upper deck.
After I finished making turkey stock and cranberry-orange relish, Bruce appeared with a big box shipment from Lobel’s full of high-quality meats for our freezer. He had me start in on one of his all-time favorites, home made meatballs. It was a galley marathon session.
The meatballs were a hit at the Mega Dock. After I mixed them up, Bruce grilled them on cast iron on our BBQ in the cockpit, causing mouthwatering all over the marina. We had fans! The Danas had arrived aboard Contraband at some point during all this, and Bruce packed up a stash of hot meatballs for Charlie. There’s kind of a beef match going on between the two of them. Committed carnivores.
During our stay we managed to squeeze in a dinner at Stella’s, a happenstance meal at the local favorite rustic Greek restaurant that turned out to be great. We also went back to Hall’s for a second time, and used one night to have a low key meal at The Marina Variety Store Restaurant, where we enjoyed some very good grits.
On our last morning, we stopped the marina office to check out. I glanced quickly at the receipt for our eight-night stay: $0.00. I was confused, but didn’t say anything and we left. Outside on the dock I showed the bill to Bruce and asked if he had paid earlier. Nope. We scratched our heads and then realized: as Black Card members of Safe Harbor Marinas (our home marina, New England Boatworks, is a Safe Harbor Marina), we get ten free nights at other Safe Harbor marinas. Our stay at the MegaDock was free! Awesome!
Our stay in Charleston was productive and successful. We were loaded up with supplies, and ready to head off to Edisto Island for a quiet Thanksgiving aboard Esmeralde.