Sunday, 24 June 2012

No 20 - Boon Hall, Charleston

Hi from Clare,                                                       Saturday 23rd June 2012

Part two of sight seeing in Charleston South Carolina.

We visited Boon Hall which is a working plantation dating back to the late 1600. We spent about 4 hours touring the house, the slave quarters and a coach tour of the plantation. The best part is the entrance to the property, which is stunning. We drove through two ¾ mile rows of 250 year-old live oak trees with Spanish moss festooning from the branches - truly beautiful. The worst part is the area known as the lowlands is a paradise for mosquitoes. We had great clouds of them swarming around us. Fortunately for us Andrew brought the repellent which we applied liberally throughout our visit.

250 year old Oak Avenue and 1936 Boon Hall

In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds Boon Hall was a slave run cotton plantation. The whole slave story is pretty sickening. The poor devils had no life at all. When they arrived from Africa they were auctioned off and families split up with mother, father and children going in different directions. Once on a plantation they were not allowed to leave the plantation, so they never saw their families again. They worked from dawn to dark (or in Gullah language from "can't see" to "can't see") and there is plenty of evidence of whippings, hangings, burning at the stake, rape and brutality.

Original brick slave quarters & City Slave Mart

The workers slept close to the cotton fields with 20 to a small wooden shed with no windows and dirt floors. I read that each slave might get a blanket every three years. They were fed on a meagre diet of grits (corn cereal) and beans. At Boon Plantation there were 27 brick quarters for skilled slaves. These quarters were close to the house and seen as a status symbol for the owner, boasting to visiting white folk that owning slaves costs money. There were two families and normally 15 skilled slaves in these small quarters but at least they had a fire place. A recent archaeological dig revealed that many animal bones were buried under the slave's quarters. They must have gone out at night (at great risk) to hunt for meat. In fact what the archaeologists found is that these slaves had a better diet than the landowners - good for them.

I was shocked to discover that on today's values the average price of a slave was $25,000 to $40,000 depending on their skill level. However any children born to slaves were born into slavery and so after a period of time and numerous babies, the initial investment looked pretty good.

We read that 3% of the population of Charleston owned 95% of the slaves. Most of these families were the political movers and shakers including the Governor who owned 1700 slaves. Some of the whites owned a million dollars worth of slaves (on today's prices) so they didn't want to see the abolition of slavery and the demise of their fortune. Interestingly the cotton industry collapsed when slavery was abolished because no one else would do the work. America stopped importing slaves from Africa in 1808 but slavery continued until the Civil War around 1865. In the Slave Mart we read that a total 750,000 slaves both imports and domestic passed through Charleston.

Heyward-Washington House & Nataniel Russell House

We visited a few of the historic homes. The Heyward-Washington House built in 1772 and named such because George Washington stayed there for a week when touring the southern states (it's a bit like Elvis slept here). It is known as Charleston's Revolutionary War House as the owner was a patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence. It was furnished with Charleston made furniture and had a formal 18th century garden.

We then went to the Nathaniel Russell House built in 1808 and recognized as one of America's most significant neoclassical dwellings. It has a very graceful interior with elaborate plasterwork, geometrically shaped rooms and a magnificent free-flying staircase (unfortunately no photos allowed). Nathaniel was a merchant, an importer and exporter and owner of a rice plantation. He is recorded as owning the largest number of slaves totalling 1861.

Charleston residential district

Each day we would walk into town via a different street. I loved the Classic Georgian houses, which in England were built with stone, but in the USA were replicated in timber. We also went down to Rainbow Row which represents the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the US and dates back to 1680. After the Civil War (1860s) and decades of neglect the houses were declared a slum. However the Preservation Society of Charleston restored them back in 1920. It's just another wonderful success story of how Charleston has restored and preserved their history for all to enjoy. I hope we will call into Charleston on our way back down the coast as there is still plenty to see.

Rainbow Row & the waterfront Boulevarde

We are currently in Beaufort, North Carolina after sailing overnight from Charleston and arriving here in the early hours of Thursday. Andrew caught two Mahi Mahi on the trip so we have been enjoying succulent fish dinners. We will explore the small town today before heading north via the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW). This will be a new experience for us as we have shallow water, tides and low bridges to negotiate. We will be able to sail in some places but for most of the time we will be motoring. We have heard that the ICW is beautiful so I will let you know in our next newsletter.

Love Candy xx

At 5:29 PM23/06/2012 (utc) our position was 34°42.91'N 076°39.91'W

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Monday, 18 June 2012

No 19 Charleston, South Carolina

Hi from Clare,                                                                                    Sunday 17th June 2012

Before leaving the rainy Abacos we met up with our cruising buddies on Yindee Plus, Matador and Innamorata. On Saturday Sue,Chris and their twin sons Wilf and Syd (Yindee Plus) hosted afternoon tea which gave everyone a chance to catch up on each other's news and make plans to travel north together. On Sunday we went for a very relaxing dive with Steph and Stu from Matador. The water was 29 degrees and the coral and fish life were gorgeous. I guess this will be our last dive for a while.

We left the Abacos Monday lunchtime for the 500 mile sail to Beaufort, North Carolina. The weather was showing four days of southerly winds to carry us up the coast. However this was cutting it a bit fine as there was a low forming south of the Abacos (which we didn't want to stick around for) and a low pressure system up near Beaufort which we hoped would blow out to sea before our arrival. Plan B was to head for Charleston South Carolina if the weather didn't cooperate.

We were lucky; we enjoyed good sailing and managed to get into Charleston before the weather turned sour and the wind blew from the north. Coming into Charleston we had black storm clouds and lightning both north and south of us. However we traveled along a corridor of light and clear sky leading straight into Charleston. It reminded us of the Biblical paintings of the parting of the Sea of Galilee; we were very glad of it.
Dramatic skies on our arrival,             An old Charleston home

Charleston is a fascinating place steeped in history from the War of Independence, the slave trade and the consequent fabulous wealth generated from large cotton and rice plantations before slavery was abolished and the Civil war. It has also been devastated by fire, earthquakes and hurricanes and yet proud Charlestonians have tediously repaired and preserved many fine buildings and historic homes some dating back to the mid 1700's.
Homes leaning together,                    Free trolley buses

This is our fourth day in Charleston and we are enjoying glorious sunshine and no rain. It has been a pleasure to walk into town along tree lined streets before hopping on one of the free trolley buses which run around the city (we pick a different street each day). Our first stop was the tourist information centre and then on to the Charleston Museum where amongst other things we learnt a great deal about the two major wars. We intend visiting at least two historic homes and a working plantation which has been in operation since the late 1600s. We will also visit the Maritime Museum and the old Slave Market. But more on this in our next newsletter with photos.

Most of the lovely old homes have large verandahs as the summer months in Charleston are really hot. The verandahs are accessed through a solid door similar to the front door. This is for added security as back in the days before air conditioning whole families used to sleep on the verandah. Once we knew this and took particular notice we saw that most verandahs have this very practical feature.

Perhaps not quite so practical is "The Smoking Shop". This is where a person can go to make his/her own cigar and then sit there and smoke it. We saw or should I say we smelt it on the way home from dinner the other night - quite an extraordinary sight in this day and age!
The Smoking Shop,                       A typical secure verandah

We are anchored in the harbour outside the Charleston City Marina. This is twenty miles inland and we are enjoying not having to keep a close eye on the weather. We are with our sailing buddies mentioned above plus Kate and Kurt on Interlude and Deb and John the new owners of Moon Shadow. Since arriving we have been out for dinner twice, this evening we are having a pot luck dinner on the dock beside Interlude and yesterday we had breakfast out with ex cruising friends from Marmaris, Turkey, Renel, Neil, and their boys Emile (10 yrs) and Peter(7 yrs) from 'Tiger'. They have recently completed a five year sailing trip and have settled in Charleston so the boys can attend a formal school. Yesterday Neil drove some of the guys around to purchase boat supplies and Neil and family will be attending the pot luck dinner tonight. As you can imagine it is unsettling for them to have their ex sailing buddies in town. They wish they could still be one of us but I think they have chosen an excellent town to settle into.
The Tiger crew                        Dining with Moonshadow, Interlude and Matador

In between sight seeing and socializing we have been tackling the never ending list of boat chores. I am delighted to air the boat and hang damp things out in the sun. I have emptied all the cupboards and wiped them out with a weak solution of bleach to combat mold. This is something we never encountered in the Med. I guess it's a small price to pay for seeing the world.

We will be here for a few more days sightseeing and generally enjoying ourselves. Conditions will be fairly mild by then and so we will continue north.

Love Candy xx

At 11:19 AM17/06/2012 (utc) our position was 32°46.50'N 079°57.12'W

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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Bahamas, Abacos

Hi from Clare,                                                                                    Friday 8th June 2012,


Well we had some fun this week. We experienced high humidity and torrential rain, we ran from a tornado, endured many lightning storms and held tight as a 50 knot squall came through the anchorage bringing more torrential rain. In between this we managed some snorkelling, shopping and shared time with the cruising community making new friends and rekindling old friendships.

Water Spout

We are currently anchored in Marsh Harbour. It is very shallow and Andrew went snorkelling at hide tide to discover a mud line six inches up the keel. We have now found a hole which is 3 metres deep at low tide. We have two anchors out to keep us centred in the hole as a few metres either way will have us touching the bottom again.


In Marsh Harbour we have befriended a fellow Sydneysider Mark on ‘Sea Life’.

He came across to our boat for a coffee when we first arrived and gave us the benefit of his local knowledge. He has been cruising for three years and having completed his circumnavigation in the Caribbean last year, now plans to travel between the Med and the Caribbean each year. This season like us he is heading for the US. He is single handing and very interesting to talk to as he is sailing a Beneteau the same size as our boat. We had drinks together last night on the jetty at one of the local restaurants. The live band was good and the conversation lively but not as lively as the biting bugs who eventually won out.

We also met up with Mike and Marguerite on ‘Ithaca’ who we have known casually for a number of years. We have spent time with them in various anchorages in the Med and they came across the Atlantic this year. They are heading home to the Chesapeake after 14 years of cruising. We have been over to their boat for drinks and we have reciprocated. Mike has given us photocopies of Chesapeake Bay and marked all the good anchorages for us. Mike and Marguerite live in Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and have invited us to visit them there.

Another rainy day


We have purchased the Cruising Guide for the Abaco which shows snorkelling/diving spots and all relevant depth readings. With our deep keel, we are pretty limited where we can go and with the highly changeable weather we are reluctant to anchor the boat and go diving for an hour. We did do some good snorkelling on Mermaid reef and spent three nights away from the all round protection of Marsh Harbour. We anchored in Sugarloaf Cay away from the prevailing southerly but before morning we were bobbing around in an unpredicted northerly. We motored about a mile over to Man-O-War Cay and intended going ashore there when we saw a small tornado forming and heading our way. We turned around and ran back to where we had come from. Good thing we did as the tornado went close to Man-O-War Cay swirling the sea water up into a cloud of mist. I don’t know the associated wind speed but it was scary enough for our first experience with a tornado.


We have been speaking on our radio net with other yachts heading our way. There is ‘Matador’ who we went to the Barbados Rum factory with in January and ‘Yindee Plus’ who we met in the Cape Verdes. Both these yachts are heading up to the US. They are currently in the Abaco a few islands south of us. Late Wednesday they witnessed a spectacular storm over Marsh Harbour. They said the sky was ink black and the lightning bolts were running off in all directions. Meanwhile in Marsh Harbour Andrew and I had just gone over to ‘Ithaca’ for a chat and beer with Mike and Marguerite. One minute we were relaxing in their cockpit and in the next we were scurrying below as the black clouds rolled in. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos but the storm hit with a 50 knot wind. The lightning was frightening and the thunder deafening. Mike and Andrew donned their wet weather gear and stayed in the cockpit ready for action. Eye Candy was hanging on her second anchor and our 14 millimetre warp was shrunk down to 12 millimetres as it stretched like a rubber band. Our only damage was a lost zipper off the infill between the dodger and bimini as it flapped wildly. Thank goodness we had two anchors deployed keeping us steady in the 3 metre hole, otherwise we would have definitely been driven onto the mud bank.

Earlier this morning the sun came out and one of the cruisers came on the radio and said “What is that glowing orb in the sky” there was no response, I’m sure no one knew the answer.


Who knows, but one day we will be in America.

Love Candy xx

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Bahamas - the Abacos

Hi from Clare,                                                           Friday 1st June 2015

When last I wrote, we were anchored in Nassau harbour waiting for a low pressure system to pass. However it didn't pass but developed into Tropical Storm Beryl. It is still very early in the season and Beryl is in fact the first Tropical Storm to hit Florida in the month of May.

Christopher Columbus outside Govt. House Nassau and an old Colonial building

For us it has meant torrential rain and wind squalls every day. The sun comes out intermittently and so we go ashore to sight-see or shop. It's quite funny really as our timing has been hopeless. We have managed to get wet every day. However the biggest problem in Nassau is poor drainage. The streets flood quickly and the water covers many large potholes, uneven footpaths, open drains and broken culverts. The only safe way to move is shuffle hoping to feel the edge of a hole before falling in it.

Day one sight-seeing and day two shopping, watch out for potholes!

We are now the proud owners of two dive tanks. We brought our regulators and BCD's to the boat in February and so we are now set. The tanks are stored in the bilge after much rearranging. The boat is a bit like a giant jigsaw, it's not easy to move or include a new piece. We hope to do some diving in the Abacos as well as the Caribbean and Pacific in the future.

We left Nassau on Monday night after saying goodbye to our sailing buddies.
Norna, Ventana and Blue Moon are going home to America to work after long term cruising. I can't imagine what that would be like. Tactical is hauling out in Florida and flying home to Oz for a few months and Innamorata is staying in Nassau with English friends who are residents. We will miss the company, the games and drinks together but I'm sure we will meet new friends as we go along.

So we are now in the Abaco and our only companion is Beryl. It is currently bucketing rain but we did manage a walk this morning without getting wet.
We are in Marsh Harbour (Abaco) which is the third biggest town in the Bahamas after Nassau and Georgetown. It is quite a trendy little village with smart shops and lovely bars and restaurants along the foreshore. I haven't been to the supermarket yet but I am told it is first class as everything comes from America. Marsh Harbour has many American owned holiday homes as it is only a short plane flight from Florida. Yesterday we went into a large American hardware store, all systemized with huge stocks. We haven't seen anything like it elsewhere in the Caribbean or Bahamas.

Marsh Harbour trendy village shops 

The harbour is very shallow. We draw 2.1metres and we touch the bottom at low tide. We have bought the Explorer Chart Books for the Bahamas and Abaco. These are necessary as the electronic charts, although pricey, lack the fine detail in the Bahamas. The shallow water is certainly a new experience, most of this harbour ranges from 1.6 to 2.4 metres at low tide.

We are hoping to leave Marsh Harbour and explore some of the reef islands nearby. At this stage it looks like we will be in the Abacos for a week or so waiting for the right weather pattern to make the 500 mile trip to Beaufort, North Carolina. I know we are missing a lot of the coast but we intend picking it up on our way back. At this stage we are focused of heading north and out of the hurricane belt.

Love Candy xx

PS. Posting this has taken half a day due to the very slow connection speed hereAt 10:57 PM1/06/2012 (utc) our position was 26°32.84'N 077°03.58'W

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