Esteemed HaveWind fans, where did we last leave you? Ahhh … Portsmouth, VA where we spent an unanticipated month (nearly) having some serious work done on our Fischer Panda DC generator, where he earned the title “Rocky” for stepping back in the ring and conquering all odds. With a fully functioning generator at last, and an approaching winter, it was time for Phillip, me (and Ubi makes three!) to get headed south as quick as safely possible in the fall of 2022. Ironically, the right weather window came to us, once again, around Halloween (the same time we rounded Hatteras headed south in 2021). We happily dubbed it “Happy Hattereen” ( … again! : ) and started our journey south for the winter, making four memorable, mentionable stops along the way. Off we go Ubi crew—BBQ to Bikinis: Cruising Down the East Coast 2022.
We made the sail from Norfolk to Charleston (about a 400 nm run) in roughly 62 hours. The wind was light at first allowing us to motor-sail around Hatteras—a significant obstacle to put in our rearview mirror. I am totally okay with motoring around that treacherous patch of the Atlantic. We can sail later, you know … where the depths and shoals are actually charted. It was a little unnerving watching some thunderstorms off the port bow during our voyage but they, thankfully, never approached us.
We rigged up the whisker pole for the last 24 hours and, overall, had a nice downwind run into Charleston, even coming in at night (not a problem in such a big inlet).
We dropped the hook in the anchorage by the Yorktown, where we had spent a little over a week in 2021.
We like that anchorage as it’s a fairly short dinghy ride in across the Cooper River—although it can get a bit wild with massive cargo ships coming through and a little wet in wind and chop—but then you’re right in the heart of downtown Charleston. That’s worth a wet dinghy butt any day. And, while Phillip and I thought we had really gotten the lay of the land in Charleston in 2021, there was one HUGE culinary piece we found this year we had been missing.
If it hasn’t yet been clear here on this blog, we’re pretty big foodies. We like to eat. We like to drink. And, we LOVE to eat and drink at the same time.
Phillip, our Chief Trip Planner and Restaurant Sommelier (yes, that is a thing) has a pretty meticulously culled “travel list” for each city we’ve been to—or plan to go to—of restaurants to check out (or hit up again), cool bars, neat theatres, landmarks, sights, tours, or just cool things, in general, to do and see there. And, we’d spent several weeks total in Charleston during our voyages up and down the East Coast in 2021 and thought we had a pretty good handle on things. Turns out we were wrong. It took a feisty little grandma Uber driver to prove it to us.
When we get a rideshare driver who is a local and gives us a good “I’ll bet he/she knows some good spots” vibes, we’ll ask for a recommendation. This has often taken us to little-known places, typically off the tourist path, that have afforded us a supremely “locals” experience. This day in November, this Uber driver did not disappoint. “Do you like BBQ?” Uber Granny asked. Do we? “Ahh … well, then. You need to go to Lewis. There’ll be a line out the door. Don’t let it deter you. There’s a bar where you can get a drink while you wait because you’re going to have to make some tough decisions about what to order. Personally, I like the brisket. It’s the best I’ve ever had.” This coming from a 30-year Charleston veteran. That’s saying something. “All the sides are incredible, too. They have a limited menu for a reason. Every single thing has been perfected.” Uber Granny caught my eye in the rearview mirror. “Perfected,” she reiterated.
That’s all we needed to hear. Lewis BBQ for lunch it shall be, Phillip and I determined that day. Uber Granny was right. There was a line out the door. But we did not let it deter us. Phillip and I got a beer and a coke at the bar and promptly got in line. We knew we were going to get the brisket, but I also wanted to try their pulled pork with the three different BBQ sauces. Phillip wanted to give their ribs a shake. And, I remembered what Granny said about the sides—we decided on the collards (obviously), coleslaw (I love veggies), and their fries.
What we didn’t expect, though, was the freebie. When we got to the front of the line, a professional “carver” said hello and promptly handed us a piece of meat. Just handed it over. Like it was a totally normal thing. “It’s the brisket,” she said. “You won’t be disappointed.” What other response is there? Phillip and I put it in our mouths. Jesus, it was good. Fatty, salty, flavorful meat filled our palettes. We were definitely getting the brisket. We ordered up – by the pound: quarter, half, and (for Annie) upwards. The cashier dude asked me how many “plates” I would need. Turns out, at Lewis, a “plate” is a strip of butcher paper. Nice. I could really get used to a place like this.
Once our tray was put together, Phillip and I could barely stop long enough to snap a couple photos before we dug in and demolished that beautiful spread. The pulled pork was exceptionally tasty. Almost didn’t need any BBQ sauce at all, and that’s saying something. The collards had this meaty backbone to them. Phillip’s rib sandwich was incredible. Everything was incredible. Lewis is hands-down the best BBQ we’ve ever had.
I don’t know how we had never heard of this before, but add it to your Charleston list. Charleston, Lewis, we’ll be back.
Our next sail was a much shorter leg from Charleston to Fernandina Beach, FL, roughly 150 nm. We were expecting a nice 10-13 knots of wind to push us down the coast.
Unfortunately, we got battered. The wind was a steady 17 knots through the night, very close to our stern forcing us to sail a tight line to avoid being pushed to shore. At one point in the night—during my shift, of course—the wind shifted fiercely, throwing the auto pilot off. By the time I got back to the helm to clear the auto and take over, we had gybed. Thankfully, we were under a reefed main and we had our preventers on, so it wasn’t too violent, but I had to gybe us again to get back on course. By the time Phillip came up (after all that clanging, banging ruckus) we were secure, but my nerves and confidence were shattered. It was not a fun night, followed by not a fun morning.
The wind picked up to a steady 20+ over the course of the morning. It was also right behind our beam. Probably about the best place for it at that speed so it wouldn’t accidentally gybe us again, nor was it in our face. But, with a 3-4 foot swell pushing us, too, we were really moving, making 7.5 to 9 knots pretty steady.
Thankfully, Ubi is strong as hell and she was handling it very well. It was unnerving, however, hearing clatter on the radio of other boats taking on water or having run aground in those conditions. It made us incredibly grateful for our powerful, capable boat and her competent captain guiding us in.
But, the wind would not let up. We had to slice into 24 knots of wind when coming into the channel to Fernandina Beach. When we finally anchored in the Amelia River, we were thrilled to get the sails down and tuck Ubi in for a well-deserved rest. Whew.
It was our first time to Fernandina, though, and we found rewards in store for our intense passage in the form of a quaint, clean eight-block radius of really cool shops, restaurants, and bars. We were kind of wishing we had planned to spend more time there, but the weather was affording us a nice window the following day down to St. Augustine. But, on a recommendation from a fellow cruiser, we split a tasty and beautiful paella at Espana that was worth the salty passage.
We would like to spend more time in Fernandina Beach during our next transit up or down the coast. Just … minus the wind next time.
While we had cranked “Rocky” (our newly anointed generator) several times to charge the batteries while we had been underway, we hadn’t yet used him to accomplish the goal we had set out to do when we first found he wouldn’t crank (back in Coney Island). That is, use our brand new Brownies Third Lung unit to clean our own bottom. When we finally settled in West Palm Beach (warmer water), we were excited to fire Rocky up to give Ubi a well-deserved bottom scrub. I wouldn’t want to think how fast she would have rocketed into Fernandina Beach if she’d had a slick bottom. 9 knots is plenty fast for me.
In West Palm, we performed our generator checklist and sang our now iconic song to get Rocky fired up. “Duh-uh-uh, duh-uh-uh! (Gonna Fly Now/Bill Conti) Let’s go Rock-OH!” we shouted. With that intro, Rocky turned over like the champion he is and we were very pleased with the easy setup and user-friendly use of the Brownies. Just turn on the inverter, set the unit up on deck, plug it in and turn it on, and *voila* we were able to jump over with our respirators and breathe underwater. Phillip and I took turns going down and scrubbing each side, able to give Ubi’s bottom the attention and time she deserves. We were comforted to know our time, money, and efforts spent in Portsmouth, VA back in October had not been in vain.
After West Palm Beach, it was a quick hop to Ft. Lauderdale where we planned to rent a dock and set up a “home base” for Ubi for the winter. I highly recommend, if you’re even in Ft. Lauderdale, take this seasoned sailor to lunch! We got to meet up with Pam Wall while we were there and show her Ubi for the first time! I think her face says “Quite posh!” don’t you? : ) Having Pam aboard … what a treat!
While we’ve raved about Ft. Lauderdale and all it has to offer before (which includes the amazing Pam Wall), one of our favorite things about Ft. Lauderdale is that it’s just a short day hop from the Bahamas. In the right conditions, it’s only a quick 10-hours or less trip from the States to the Islands. Leave at daylight; dock in time for a goombay smash. Can’t beat that. It was time to trade in our beef for conch, big winds for Bahamas breezes, and our stinky, fat foulies for bikinis! Who else has spent Christmas in the Abacos?
Turns out Papa Noel likes goombay smashes, too. Next up on the blog: Holiday in Tropical Heaven. Stay tuned!