Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Freedom On the Loop

Freedom has begun her Great Loop adventure. In honor of this we have created a new blog:


You can find us there for the next year or so.........

Monday, March 31, 2014

Freedom Forever

Late last week the Cap'n looked out the window at the anchorage and said "There's Uncle Harry's old boat." "Oh yeah, I replied, That does look just like his boat.". "No, the Cap'n said, that is his boat."

Yes, the Cap'n knows his boats -- it has been said that he knows boats the way some know cars - boat builder, size, year built, he can call it all, even at a distance. Still, I needed to be convinced.

"And look, he said, it's still called Freedom."  I grabbed the binoculars. Sure enough, he was right. There she was, a 48' Jarvis Newman Lobster Boat.  Uncle Harry passed away several years ago, and had sold her boat at least a few years before that. The last time I recall seeing it was when our now 22 year old son was 7 and we were docked side by side in Rock Hall, MD. A the time we owned a green hulled 38" Jarvis Newman Lobster Boat named Freedom -- a mini-me to Uncle Harry's.

(Longtime readers of this blog will remember that 'Freedom' is a family boat named -- first established by his maternal grandfather,passed on to Harry and then from Harry to the Cap'n)

Excitedly, we tried to raise the current owners via VHF, but they had turned off their radio and were enjoying the sunset after a day of travel. The next morning, after a night of heavy rains, they tied up right in front of us. The Cap'n was thrilled to see how well she has been maintained and to hear where she has been over the many years since our Rock Hall meeting.

What are the chances: Two green hulled motor vessels,  docked in tandem, sharing a family name and a family link? It's a small world after all.

Two Freedoms

Uncle Harry's boat has the beautifully classic lines of the lobster hull

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Springing Forward

Spring has tentatively arrived in Charleston. The tulip magnolias and azalea are in bloom, and the temperatures have warmed a bit.  Mother Nature is still not fully ready to commit to the change in seasons, but we are. It is time for us to spring forward with our projects and plans as our departure date is just three weeks away.

We are about mid-way through our long awaited septic system reconfiguration.  Old hoses out, new ( and fewer) hoses in! Yea.  The only downside is "the facilities" are out of commission. As a result we moved from our spot waaaayyyy out on the Megadock to one closer to the bathhouse.  A more social,  much busier location, with a perfect "Mrs Cravitz" vantage point it suited us well for several nights....until the slip holder came back and we had to move again. Now we are back on the Megadock, yet still close to the washrooms.  All afternoon we have enjoyed watching the confused looks on  fellow slip holders and marina employees as they have passed by.  We can almost hear them think "Wait, didn't they just move last week?"

The best part about this slip is our front row river view. Not long after we tied up the Cap'n notice 6 dolphins playing just off our port side.  We may have to move again when the weekly cruise ship arrives on Friday, but for now we can't complain.

In addition to boat projects we are  checking off our Charleston To-Do list: ie, all the things we meant to do all winter.  There are restaurants to visit, museums to tour and at least one plantation yet to see. Add that to a visit from the k'dults, tickets to a few cultural events and provisioning errands it promises to be a busy few weeks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dolphins Off the Dock

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This has been a  long, cold and lately, rainy winter here in the low country. I know I get no sympathy from our friends up north who have been slogging through endless snow storms, school closings and power outages, but all the same, it is miserable here.

We have been cheered by the random days of flip flop weather and the recent appearance of large numbers of dolphins in the Ashley River. It was about three weeks ago that I first noticed them - groups of 3 -5 arching to the surface and gracefully diving beneath.  As Ham and I walk to shore before bed we can't see them, the color of their skin matching that of the waves, but we can hear them breaking the surface to breath,   "refilling the lung in one fifth of a second through an explosive blow which can reach velocities up to one hundred miles per hour."  (www.dolphinsworld.com)

At dawn, they spread ripples across the calm waters as they rhythmically breath and dive. From time to time, a pair will swim into the marina, weaving between and beneath the boats. I have learned that dolphins breathe purposefully, not automatically like humans do. Consequently, they can never fall completely asleep or else they will drown. One half of their brain always stays awake to continue sending the right messages to the lungs

We rarely see a solo dolphin. Some are in adult pairs, some are family pods of two adults and a child, and once I saw a group of 10. As we have traveled along the Intra-coastal we never see groups of more than 4, so such a large pod was exciting.

One sunny day I stepped into the cockpit and noticed a group of three playing just yards from the dock. One briefly disappeared and then emerged in a vertical leap between his two companions. It was a spectacular Sea World-worthy show.  I have always thought such behavior indicated a playfulness among dolphins -- simply a way to use up some energy on a beautiful day. Turns out it has a practical purpose -- such a leap from the water is called a "Spy Hop."  It allows a dolphin to get a good look at what is going on above the surface of the water.

No one is quite sure why we have so many resident dolphins in the river now: some have suggested it is mating season, although dolphins mate all year there is a spike in spring and fall , others think they are attracted by a higher number of fish in the area. All I know is that they have provided us with some beautiful sights and sounds as we wait patiently for spring.... 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stuck in Colder Weather

Actually, we're stuck on the boat, at the dock, and the weather is much colder than we ever imagined.

Before I natter on about my cold feet and ever growing cabin fever,  let's go back to October, and listen in on a conversation between me and the Cap'n:

The Admiral: "I think we should stay here in Charleston for the winter. There's lots to do, and the restaurants are great. How cold do you think it gets?"

The Captain: "It  is nice here, but it won't be as warm as Florida."

The Admiral:" I know but really, how cold could it get?  And it will be a good jumping off point for The Loop.".

The Captain "That's true. You might not be able to wear your flip flops all the time."

The Admiral: "I know, but I have asked around and everyone says it doesn't really get that cold, not like up north.  There are palm trees here -- how cold could it get?"

Fast forward to January 28th:

Okay, that cold. Icicle cold. Ice and snow on the dock cold. The City of Charleston closed for a day cold. Bridges in and out of the city closed because of icy surfaces cold. Record low high temperature in Charleston cold. Colder than I had signed up for cold.

As I write we have not been off the boat in 48 hours -- minus the brief and treacherous walk up the dock taken by the Cap'n and Hamilton yesterday afternoon  Soon after returning to the safety of  Freedom Ham willingly gave up his very high standard of  never "pottying" on board. Desperate times require desperate measures.

The marina was eerily quiet yesterday. A typical day has the marina staff riding by on their golf carts with some regularity, service technicians and crew hopping on and off occupied and unoccupied boats, local residents and office workers out for a stroll, and a steady trickle of boats pulling up for fuel or overnight dockage. Yesterday we saw a few smokers on the dock, an adventuresome ( or crazy) guy motor by on his small power boat, and the occasional car pass by on the road that hugs the harbor. We didn't even see any birds until late in the day.

We spent the day doing chores, looking out the windows, watching local tv reports of storm closings, and power outages, snapping photos, doing jumping jacks to keep warm ( or at least I did) and indulging in an American Pickers marathon. Even Hamilton, the dog who never met a weather system he didn't like, decided it was best just to snuggle up on the settee and nap.

From my galley widow I can see that life on shore is a bit closer to normal today: cars are driving at normal speeds on the road and near by bridge. There is still  little activity on the dock, but marina staff member rode out with today's paper. Warming temperatures and a light rain have washed away much of the ice and a family walk is planned for later this afternoon.

Maybe tomorrow will be better........

Here are a few photos of sights we never thought we would see, and quite honestly, hope never to see again:

Snow and ice on the bow

The Cap'n crawling across the icy cockpit to pull the potty rug closer to the door

You expect me to potty on that?  No way!

Ham hanging out in the snow

Snowy dock, looking south

Another view of the snow covered dock

The dock looking north. That's ice on the pilings

Saturday, January 25, 2014


He had a good run -- 14 1/2 years, 4 boats, dedicated crew member, always at my side.

We brought him home on a late summer day in 1999. Within 24 hours we bundled him in his laundry basket bed and headed to "the boat." He took to it like, well,  a water dog to water. Definitely a homebody, and never a fan of the great outdoors,  no one was more excited when the car pulled into the marina parking lot. Nothing was better than a sniff of salt air.

He had slowed down of late -- deaf, hobbled by bad hips, a growth in his mouth making eating difficult, but still, always at my side. His quality of life was poor and he told us so.

We said goodbye as the new year began.  He was:

Miles James

Bodyguard and Boyfriend          Companion and Confidante
Lover of the Boat Life 
Enemy of the Vacuum Cleaner

May 25, 1999 - January 7, 2014

We will miss him

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Best and The Worst

After a Thanksgiving shore leave we are back in Charleston -- happily well south south of the early winter snows in PA.  As usual, our days are filled with the Cap'ns chore list, dog walks, and Loop planning.  Walking about the city is a special treat now as Charleston is dressed for Christmas -- offering a bit of southern charm we don't see up north magnolia leaf wreaths adorn doors and fences.

Here at the MegaDock the parade of southbound boats continues.  The most recent wave are either 1) owner operated vessels who waited until after Thanksgiving to leave the Chesapeake Bay or 2) professional crews moving new boats south for the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. This group of boats are smaller than what we saw earlier in the season -- the mega yachts safely in their Florida slips awaiting winter charters and/or owner visits.

There is not much more to report, so I though I would share the results of an informal poll I took of the Freedom crew:

Question:  What are the Best and Worst parts of living on a boat in Charleston?

The Cap'n: Best: "It's a Boat, and the weather is pretty good"
                    Worst: "Dog needs" (this response came soon after an unfortunate                                           2AM incident involving vomit)

The Admiral: Best: "The fulfillment of a long time dream to live in Charleston;                                              Wearing flip flops in December; Fabulous                                                                        Food;Sunrises and Sunsets; Carolina blue skies;                                             other than washing dishes by hand, less housework"
                      Worst: "No walks or lunches out with my friends.                                                                 Walking Ham up the dock in high winds or when                                                     he sees another dog".

Miles: Best: "Mom can never get more than 10 ft away from me."
            Worst: "The long walk to shore -- it hurts my hips".

Hamilton: Best: "Mom can never get more than 10 ft away from me. All the                                             attention I get from boaters who miss their dogs".
                   Worst: "Not being able to run around on my own".

We're here for another week before heading north for a month or so on shore....