After leaving the Beaufort (SC) anchorage and passing under the Lady’s Island Bridge, we motored about 18 miles to an anchorage called “Monkey Island,” also known as Morgan Island. The island is uninhabited and home to a breeding colony of approximately 4,000 rhesus monkeys. Apparently, the monkeys were brought here from Puerto Rico in 1979 to be used as research animals. Morgan Island is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the monkey colony itself is owned by the National Institute of Allergy + Infectious Diseases. Visiting the island is strictly prohibited, as you can see from multiple large signs. From the anchorage, we were able to see several monkeys walking along the beach and through the trees. We chose to anchor here since it would put us a good position to navigate out Helena Sound for an Atlantic passage to Charleston. Unfortunately, we had high winds and gusts in the anchorage that night which rocked the boat and kept us both awake.
The weather the next morning called for offshore winds at 15 knots gusting to 20. Conditions were good to go sailing but it was the 15 miles or so getting out of the pass that were a bit sporty. Since the winds were offshore, the fetch coming down the Morgan River created a very lumpy, washing machine-like passage to get outside. After a couple hours dealing with getting tossed about, we turned the corner and got the sails up. An accidental tack right off the bat pretty much shook up all the contents of Blue Turtle. After that, things calmed a bit and we were able to sail a few hours before the winds died and we had to motor sail. By 5pm, the exhausted crew motored into Charleston Harbor and anchored by the USS Yorktown.
Knowing we wanted to stay a week in Charleston, we decided to reserve a slip at the Maritime Marina. We were only able to book 2 nights initially, but they were later able to accommodate us for the week. We love this marina for its location right in the downtown Charleston historic district. With friendly and helpful dock hands, free laundry, and a grocery store less than half a mile, it makes sense for us to stay here versus trying our luck with the sketchy anchorages. We didn’t get into our slip until late the next day because a vessel that was supposed to leave had an engine issue and was waiting for a part. Thankfully, the marina was able to shuffle some boats to get us in. I even managed to get a few loads of laundry done before we headed to Ru Ru’s Tacos + Tequila for dinner.
The last 2 times we visited Charleston, it was only for a couple of days. We really didn’t get to spend much time exploring the city and its historic buildings and streets. Since we had a full week, we had plenty of time to walk (and take hundreds of photos) all over the downtown area. And boy, did we walk! With Sophie in her stroller, we clocked about 25 miles in just the first 3 days there. We were able to explore most of the historic area’s landmarks and mansions as well as the beautiful campus of the College of Charleston. We walked through Joe Riley Waterfront Park and Battery Park. Checked out mansions and buildings on South Battery Street, Legare Street, Tradd Street, Church Street, and East Bay Street, also known as “Rainbow Row.” We also strolled through the Charleston City Market, one of the nation’s oldest public markets. Established in the 1790’s, the market spans 4 city blocks and is home to over 300 vibrant entrepreneurs.
There are eight distinct architectural styles found in the area: Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Classical Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Art Deco. I loved all the different facades, styles, and the beautiful gardens, which were all immaculately landscaped with colorful flowers and statues.
Of course, all that walking around made us thirsty so at the end of the day we would grab a beer at local brewery, The Rusty Bull, or the Bay Street Biergarten. We also hit up Ru Ru’s Taco + Tequila again before we left.
One other thing that we wanted to check out in Charleston (and never had time) was the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and the WWII aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown. We had anchored next to the Yorktown a couple of times, and the aircraft carrier has always intrigued us. So, we boarded a water taxi that took us across the harbor to Patriots Point so we could explore the ships and exhibits. With the entry fee, you not only get to explore the massive aircraft carrier above and below deck, but you can tour the destroyer USS Laffey and visit the Vietnam Experience, a 2.5 acre outdoor exhibit about the Vietnam War.
The USS Yorktown was the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy and was commissioned in 1943. Nicknamed the “Fighting Lady,” the YORKTOWN served the nation for almost three decades. In 1968, the USS YORKTOWN recovered the Apollo 8 space capsule and astronauts after the first mission to orbit the moon.
After a week in Charleston, we were ready to move on and head north on the ICW to Georgetown, SC. More on that soon!
Beaufort, SC to Monkey Island = 18.5 nm Monkey Island to Charleston, SC = 56.5 nm TOTAL miles to date: = 2,914 nm