Sunday, November 7, 2010


Dueler's Alley, where men defending their honor
were banished to fight it out at dawn.
Charleston, SC 32º47.344N | 79º55.75W

Aboard Cara Mia, we had developed a restless rhythm, a drumbeat pulling us south at a rapid pace.

And then we got to Charleston, and our rhythm came undone.

Something about this town has lolled us into stasis, a happy inertia that threatens to hold us indefinitely.

Despite the fact that the temperatures have hovered in the 40s, we have donned enough layers to look like the Michelin man, walking and biking for hours peeking up Charleston's hoop skirt.

We even sat through a one-hour travel club presentation (not a bad program) just to pocket the free tours -- and $50 in cash. Our one-hour dues coincided with daylight savings time, so we considered it a wash.

The "free" one-hour carriage tour was uninspiring except for Earl the horse, who got totally spooked when we passed the old prison. Our driver said all the horses react that way around the creepy place. Weird. The 90-minute Ghost Walk was delightful and spooky, a late-night trudge through alleys and graveyards, each stop narrated with a tragic tale of death and sorrow and woe.

Apparently Charleston has as many ghost sightings as Roswell does UFO sightings, some have even been captured in photographs. Actually the ghosts are often seen only in the photographs, invisible to the photographer in real time. Thank goodness I didn't take my camera.

Charleston's many textures make me want to reach out and touch it, the rough cobblestone streets made from old ship's ballast stones, the haint blue trim on doors and windows intended to keep the restless spirits away, the heavy marble Greek revival columns, the delicate ivy crawling on brick walls, all to the soundtrack of the clop clop of carriage horses, pealing church bells and long, mournful ship's horns.

The streets are rife with Antebellum ostentation, their gutters running thick with history. And just in case you forget you are in that South, you come upon tacky souvenirs to remind you.

Shouldn't these be illegal?
I could be content spending many weeks here in southern comfort, discovering Charleston's secrets and searching for her ghosts, but our marina will only indulge us one more day, and then our plod south resumes once again.

Charleston, thank you kindly for your southern hospitality, but soon you must let us take our leave.

Charleston, SC 32º47.344N | 79º55.75W


  1. Wonderful writing and photos! I hope it's warmer there than we've had in N.C. Charleston is such a beautiful place.

  2. I met this great couple briefly in the Backporch Grill at the Port Royal Marina just before they departed Beaufort, SC.
    Not only a great couple but, as I have now discovered, a great blog which I look forward to following.
    Fair winds my friends, I will be waiting to buy you a drink in the BPG in the spring.

  3. I love sweet Charleston! I dream of cruising there one day! Love the blog, looking forward to continuing south with y'all.