Thursday, October 23, 2008

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.

By contrast a woman in her early forties, a cell phone pressed to her ear, paces the sidewalk along White Point Gardens at midday. She’s dressed in leather boots and a long wool coat. A coat that is as heavy as her Fran Drescher New Jersey accent. She’s oblivious to the fact that October in Charleston is heavenly and while the calendar up north says it’s time to break out the parkas, down south you must learn to be patient.

Patience always 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. White Point is full of neighbors this time of year, and so the park has once again become a friendly place for those who live South of Broad and the Citadel and College of Charleston students who run dutifully along Murray Boulevard.

The woman continues to pace, finally sheds her coat but not the phone, as male runners clad only in shorts and Nike running shoes rush by her. Her efforts to find Charleston Place have failed and all she can do is stomp up and down the battery while staring out at "some island with a flag." I consider offering that Charleston Place is a hotel and not a street, but she is too busy screaming at the poor soul on the other end of the phone, so I move on to chat with a friendly couple and their two dogs.

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.


ngk wire grips said...

nothing beats a sunny day day with a hot coffee and an excellent view of the bay with all the yachts lining up. Notice how all ropes are made of dyneema and uses a ngk wire grips. Now that's what you call a professional boatsmen!

Anonymous said...

We've lived in Charleston for almost 7 years now. I am still in love just like the first month :) I truly feel blessed to live in such a beatiful and friendly place!