Thunderstorms were scattered about the Charleston area but the Harbor around Mt. Pleasant's popular waterside mecca of watering holes at Shem Creek was luckily spared and was basking in a moisture-rich late afternoon sun. Departure time had arrived.
With a full compliment of passengers, the catamaran's crew loosened the moorings and it eased away from the dock into the gentle out-going current. The age-diverse crowd of passengers gave out cheers of approval. We waved to the patrons lining the weatherworn rails along the waters edge of Red's Ice House as they gave us a Titanic send off. The party was now officially underway.
While navigating the narrow waters around recreational crafts of all sizes, the captain introduced himself and shouted out some pertinent instructions. It was Firefly Friday. Complimentary glasses of a Firefly Vodka laced drink were passed out. We crossed glasses and caught a glimpse of a shrimper dancing to some island music as our vessel passed-by. The bird sanctuary called Crab Bank Island came into view and the open waters of Charleston Harbor spread before us like a sparkling glass of Firefly Vodka. The sails were unfurled and the stimulating harbor breeze softly embraced our host, the Palmetto Breeze.
The Palmetto Breeze was built in Charleston and is the largest capacity catamaran north of Ft. Lauderdale accommodating 100 passengers plus crew. It featured a spacious wooden deck and covered seating by the bar with elevated seating across the back. In the front of the catamaran under the jib sail, three rows of eight leg-less chairs each were set up across the deck. If you were among the first to board, you had the ideal option of choosing one of these chairs. They were actually very comfortable and afforded a great view.
There was by far more passengers than there was seating. Most of the passengers, which consisted of families, couples, and one bachelorette party, sat wherever it was convenient or stood along the roped edges.
With the Ravenel Bridge towering over Patriots Point and the Yorktown in the near distance, the Breeze crossed the harbor waters passed Castle Pinckney toward White Point Gardens and sailed along the waterfront from the Battery to the South Carolina Aquarium.
The earlier storms had moved out of the area and through breaks in the slow moving marine blue clouds, the descending sun afforded some beautiful shots. Passing the port docks, next was the Ravenel Bridge where the Breeze briefly lingered under the soaring cabled-spires and then made the turn towards the Yorktown and Patriots Point. By then, the near-full moon had made its appearance, adding to the splendor of the darkening azure skies.
Finally, after four glasses of Firefly and one glass of wine, it was time to head back to port. The sun had disappeared below the clouds and the fading Charleston horizon. There was no mistaking Shem Creek. It was colorfully lit like a theater marquee--resplendent.
The harbor tour aboard the Palmetto Breeze is well worth the $35 ticket. It was comfortable, it was relaxing, and it was enjoyably fun. There is no narrative. History is not on the agenda. It is all about soaking in the romance of the Charleston Harbor ambiance--salt water, ocean breezes, and the unrivaled, beautiful waterfront of Charleston. Firefly Vodka was complimentary. Water and soft drinks were provided along with a cash bar as refreshments.
April-October, Charleston Harbor cruises aboard Palmetto Breeze include:
Pirate Sailing Adventure
2 for Tuesday Sunset Sail
“Windsday” Sail from Red’s Ice House on Shem Creek
FIREFLY Friday (sponsored by Firefly Vodka and benefitting Susan G. Komen Lowcountry)