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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Northbound on the Spirit of South Carolina

A Ship Update I wrote for South Carolina Maritime's website:

"Our last few days in Charleston were a flurry of activity as we prepared the Spirit for her inaugural trip north and her first long voyage. At 0815 on Tuesday, June 3rd, we cast off our docklines and headed out of the harbor bound for Norfolk, Virginia.

Facing a time crunch and light winds, we motored for much of the passage between Charleston and Norfolk. Most of our first day out was devoted to safety, crew training, and drills, all to be sure we were ready for a variety of possible emergencies. Wednesday morning we caught a beautiful Mahi Mahi at dawn. That afternoon, instead of training, we focused on having a bit of fun, including setting sails and fire hose deck showers. Just before dinner, we caught another Mahi, ensuring everyone could fully gorge themselves on the delicious fresh fish. At dinner that night, crewmember John Pickering said that he pitied any future wife he would have, as even a wedding day would not be able to compare to the perfection of this day.

Wednesday night that wind picked up and we were able to sail, reaching speeds of almost eleven knots--admittedly with help from the following Gulf Stream. Just after lunch on Thursday June 5th, we entered the Chesapeake Bay and began preparing the ship for her first out-of-state Ambassadorial experience: Norfolk Harborfest.

Friday afternoon was the Parade of Sail, with over 100 boats including Naval vessels, workboats, pleasure craft, and tallships. Saturday and Sunday we hosted deck tours as part of the event. We faced record-setting temperatures, similar to Charleston's August weather. Those that braved the brutal heat, however, all remarked on the beauty of Spirit of South Carolina and were thrilled to be our first port of call north of Georgetown, South Carolina.

Our trip from Norfolk to Washington, DC was relaxing. The Chesapeake Bay lived up to its reputation for no wind in June, so we were forced to motor. Monday June 9th we dropped the hook just past St. Mary's, Maryland in the Potomac River. We enjoyed a cooling swim and were lucky enough to meet the owner of the nearby restaurant, The Reluctant Navigator. Normally, his restaurant is closed on Monday's, but he offered to open just for us!

The following morning, we hauled back the anchor and set off for Alexandria, Virginia. After a day of sailing and motoring we were ahead of schedule and so we anchored for a few hours across the river from Mount Vernon-George Washington's home. After a refreshing swim call and so relaxation we hauled back the anchor and again got underway to ensure we didn’t miss our appointment at the Woodrow Wilson Drawbridge. As we motored to the bridge, Deckhand/Educator Ian Buttermore gave an impromptu lecture about the British burning Washington during the War of 1812.

Today, June 11th, we are tied up alongside at the Capital Yacht Club. Even though we arrived at 2200 last night, our welcome has been impressive. They kept the main building open late for us last night so we could use a real shower, we have been invited to their traditional Saturday breakfast buffet, and one of their members brought us a case of South Carolina's own Blenheim Ginger Ale as a welcome gift!

Though this summer’s journey has just begun it has been inspiring to see that people outside of South Carolina are just as excited about the ship as everyone in South Carolina."

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