Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Charleston Mile Marker 470

We made Dataw Island by noon on Thursday the 28th of May. Our experience crossing Port Royal Sound was a smooth one, so different than last year. While on the sound we heard a transmission from friends we've been trying to catch up with as they docked in Port Royal following a 22 hour run.  It was bitter sweet to move through Port Royal to Dataw without that stop but we knew they were too tired for company. We expected them later in the day but I think the weather was perfect for an ocean run. Glad you are home, Jeff And Marjorie, we'll miss you. Once again, it was a "we should have done the outside!" moment.

But we slogged on to Dataw, arriving at noon. Docking was ok though swift current is the norm here. We took advantage of our early arrival to wash down Promise as the salt crust was building up. Time to rest, then a pleasant surprise.

The marina itself is older but has floating docks. The Sweetgrass Bistro restaurant above the marina feels newer. What a delight. We are fans of everything low country, especially the food. The food here by a local chef was amazing and the setting serene, porch rockers, screened porch for dining and live oak surroundings. We enjoyed "Pluff Mud Cake" for dessert- the locals didn't know why we didn't recognize this milk chocolate pan cake with pecan chocolate ganache frosting. Well, that's because we didn't know that thick muddy soil that we curse on the waterway in South Carolina is the fertile, rich soil that once grew Carolina rice during the 1700 and 1800s and it is known as pluff mud. Hence, the rich chocolate cake name.

We knew we had to have that recipe, it was google to the rescue. Not only did we find the recipe by the Sweetgrass chef and the history of this dessert but we found a link to a new cookbook, Shrimp, Collards, and Grits by Pat Branning. It's a coffee table book of recipes, stories and art from the low country originally published to celebrate a centennial in Beaufort. A quick call to the restaurant before closing, a second hike up the dock at low tide, and this book was in our collection. Watch out friends and family, we are practicing our "ya'll" and planning low country menues to keep this genteel feeling alive.

The palm trees have been replaced by miles of sweetgrass and live oaks draped with Spanish moss. The colors in the low country are sky blue, and every shade of green. It is restful to be here, even if challenging to move between towns because the runs are so long.

There is no rest for the homesick so we cast off at daybreak, 6:20 or so. The herons, egrets, and osprey in the air, the crabs in the pluff mud were the only ones up as we left today. We played with dolphins on and off and only saw a handful of boats all day. Our biggest challenge was the entrance to the Ashepoo Coosaw River Cut which we found to be barely five foot. We knew tide was low but this was scary. We had to make the McKinley Bridge at low tide, and we did. With a tide of 6 to 8 feet, we can safely say that this bridge was never 65 foot because three hours before high tide it read 64, and this is the fourth time we have had this experience. The great news is that we had 67 feet at both the Limehouse and James Island Expressway  bridges later in the day. We lost thirty minutes waiting for the Wapoo Bridge opening, but Charleston welcomed us at 2:15 this afternoon, just off the high tide. Two passes to get in our slip and tying up never felt so good. We are tired, need provisions and a good dose of art, history and, yes, low country food so we will stay a few days.

End of the day
Dataw Island, SC.