Chris and I had high expectations for our stop in Charleston, and I’d say they were definitely met. Prior to our departure, we were so busy getting “Firefly” and “Bug” ready to go that we barely took the time to scope out the possible stops along ICW. Honestly, the only part of the ICW I knew I wanted to hit was Charleston.
We had originally thought we were going to hit Charleston on Thursday (the 19th), and I got my hopes good and high, but because of nasty storms and the timing of the tides, we realized it was going to be Friday (the 20th). I spent that afternoon more than a little upset; I was pretty excited about the prospect of a hot shower and a big city full of restaurants and culture. But, on that Friday, we had a short, sunny journey from our anchorage on Dewees Creek to the Charleston Maritime Center on the Cooper River. The marina was a bit bouncy, but was within walking distance of all the good stuff in the city and had an incredible view. A tradeoff we were comfortable with.
After showering (yay!), we walked to “Husk,” Sean Brock’s Charleston southern-revival restaurant that is extremely highly-rated. After seeing Sean on a show on Netflix called “The Mind of a Chef” I had made lunch reservations for us (it was impossible to get dinner reservations). We had pig’s ear lettuce wraps, pork rillettes, pork belly with faro verde, shrimp and grits, and a cast iron skillet of bacon cornbread (mayhaps we ate a whole pig?). And a nice glass of wine for me and a Pluff Mud Porter (local beer that we loved) for Chris. Mwah!
We hit a couple bars (including Amen Street, a raw bar with oysters and clams) in town that evening and enjoyed ourselves quite thoroughly. Chris dragged me to a terrible dive bar (I was pretty grumpy about this), after which I was pretty much ready to hit the hay. However, on our way back to the marina, we thought we’d stop at a Walgreens to get some things, and out of the blue, we heard someone say “hey, don’t I know you?” Turns out, Nick Falk (former drummer for one of our favorite bands of all time, Old School Freight Train, and current drummer of The Rigs) was in town to play a gig and was at the Walgreens at the same time we were. He recognized Chris! Turns out, his band was in town to open for the Wood Brothers. He had already played his set, but he very kindly added us to the guest list and we got to see most of the Wood Brothers set! Chris and I both had an absolute blast at the show, and very much enjoyed getting to see Nick again. I went from grumpy to elated in about point-six-seconds.
Me, Chris, Nick!
The Wood Brothers!
Saturday morning was also amazing, in that we got to go to the Charleston Farmer’s Market. We got fresh veggies and eggs (if these things are not refrigerated to begin with, they’ll keep for a bit without refrigeration, which is good for us!). We also got breakfast sandwiches and coffees. Chris had a Roti called a “Wakey Bakey” which was apparently good enough to mention. It was a beautiful day and was very pleasant to meander around the market. I was so excited to get fresh food and good coffee that I’m pretty sure I prattled on about it for the remainder of the day.
Then, we met up with Pete and Gail, good friends of the Johnsons, Chris’s aunt and uncle (Hi Pete and Gail!). They sail and are currently retired in Charleston. They took us to Holy City Brewery (home of the aforementioned Pluff Mud Porter) and then to this amazing place called the Tattooed Moose, where we had probably the best meal of the stop. We had a lot of fun hanging out with them and are very grateful they took some time out of their lives to hang out with us!
Gail, Me, Chris, Pete!
We went to another place (The Blind Tiger) for a drink and talked to a very nice couple around our ages for a while.
On Sunday, we had coffee at a really cool spot called Caviar and Bananas and then met Mallory, a good friend’s brother, for lunch at a bar called The Griffon. He is an experienced sailor and we picked his brain for a bit (Hi Mallory! Hi Blaine!). We also had a Harris Teeter within walking distance so we spent that evening provisioning (Read: bought more beer).
Mallory, Chris, Me!
Monday, we got our outboard engine serviced, picked up our mail (which I had forwarded to Charleston), and then walked around The Battery, which is an area on the water filled with historical mansions and cannons. It got pretty chilly the last couple days we were in town, but we still had a great time.
On Tuesday, we headed out. I cried when we were pulling away from the city… it was such a welcome stop to me after so many days in remote anchorages and making do with canned food and no showers. I think if I were ever to live in a city, Charleston would definitely be in consideration. It seems so young, vibrant, healthy, and “in.” Every single person we came into contact with was kind and helpful. The food is great, the beer is great, the views are great. It’s hard to capture the feel of the city in words, and even harder in pictures (mainly because I’m a terrible photographer).
We are definitely planning on stopping again in Chucktown on the way home. Chris wanted to add some thoughts about some of the feelings that served as a kind of backdrop to our time in Charleston as well, which are below:
As we made our way through the approaches in Charleston Harbor (a stirring sight for beer-thirsty and food-hungry sailors) we sighted a small island with a fortress, “Shutes Folley” and “Pickney’s Castle,” respectively. There was a French flag flying from the small fortress and it took me a moment to realize why. While walking down Calhoun Street in Charleston, we had a similar moment when we realized we were standing next to First Emmanuel AME. In both instances we were struck hard with the reality that in many ways we have been insulated from during our travels. What can you say in the face of madness? As we write, we are sitting at anchor in Beaufort, SC after having enjoyed a delicious-if-unorthodox Thanksgiving meal of saltines, salami, and smoked trout. And wine. We are very lucky, and very thankful for the opportunities afforded and taken that have led us to this safe harbor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
PS- We celebrated Thanksgiving in Beaufort, SC. We’ll be in Georgia within a day or two…Carolinas, it’s been real.