Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mega Yachts, Chilly Mornings and Allison

The dock lines creak and the cold wind blows steady from the north. While Charleston’s summer lingers like an unwelcome relative, fall is often fleeting and may last only a few short weeks.

It seems as if only yesterday the sun rose at 5 AM and wouldn’t set until long after small children should be in bed.

But in October the sun slips over the horizon before the evening rush hour is complete, then darkness drags on until 7:30 each morning and with the extended darkness comes a chill to the predawn hours.

The transit dock at the Charleston City Marina is overflowing with “Mega” yachts fleeing winter's grip. Names like Traveler, Carpe Diem, Sun Chaser, Argyll and Chevy Toy, their New England summer behind them, the crews of these yachts are looking forward to summer all over again in South Florida or the islands.

Sun Chaser at Dawn, Charleston South Carolina Photo by the Author

The marina dock staff is happy to receive newly issued winter jackets, stoically black in color to hide the noticeable effects of handing diesel fuel hoses and wet dock lines. Yachts heading south consume outrageous amounts of pricey diesel fuel and dock work is hard and often dirty.

The Charleston City Marina's always smiling Allison stops to say hello. She's riding shotgun in one of the marina's many golf carts and her legs are covered with a thick fleece blanket.

As the sun warms the morning and the chill retreats, Allison discards the blanket and long before noon the jacket as well. It might be cold in the morning, but she’s not yet ready to give up on wearing her summer shorts. Such is the way of pretty southern girls like Allison.

Patience brings midday temperatures in the 70’s, absent is the smothering humidity, as are the tourists who clog East Bay and Market Streets during summer afternoons.

As the last days of autumn come to a close in New England, the sleek and shimmering 100 foot yachts begin to move south. The City Marina will be a busy place for the next few weeks, as the mega yachts and their snow birds head to warmer waters.

Those who arrive at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers before the end of November will without doubt enjoy Charleston’s wonderful fall weather and of course the always warm and friendly smile of Allison.

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