Saturday, December 8, 2012

Charles Towne

The sunsets and sunrises we see while on the move are really quite something. This picture is when we were rounding Cape Fear during our 206 mile run from Beaufort Inlet to the Cooper River at Charleston, carefully timed to arrive at the Maritime Center at high slack in view of the potential for strong current. The colony of Carolina originated in 1629, named after Charles 1. Subsequently  in 1663 Chales II granted the colony to reward eight Lords Proprietors who had helped restore the monarchy after Cromwell. Charles Towne settlement was established in 1670 and it thrived on trade initially with the West Indies. In the early years the prosperity of the Carolinas was founded on the export of deerskin, rice and indigo. In 1676 Magnolia Plantation was founded, a few miles up the Ashley River; this property has been owned by the same family for some 336 years and has been open to the public for well over a hundred years.

We enjoyed our day at Magnolia; the Admiral was in her element photographing life in the swamp (me) on the Audubon boardwalk and marvelling at the Spanish Moss on the Live Oaks. The once grand house at Magnolia is no more; it was originally burnt to the ground after a lightning strike and then
again by Union troops after the Civil War. Charleston was the main colonial port involved in the slave trade and the place where fighting started in 1861. At that time the population of the United States was 31 million of whom more than 4 million were slaves; within five years 600,000 soldiers died let alone uncounted civilian casualties. The fortunes of Charleston declined after the American Civil War; agriculture was much less profitable. However the region recovered as a center for the arts and tourism - the latter is now the number one industry.    
Gershwin was here in 1935  - he was even a visitor at Magnolia - and wrote his opera Porgy and Bess in fictional Catfish Row. It was not a commercial success at the time and subsequently was attacked for its stereotypical racial overtones. "Summertime" has been recorded over 25,000 times and I even used to play it with my earlier rock bands. What connects it to Deep Purple? Well, the riff in "Black Night" was copied from Ricky Nelson's performance of "Summertime". True. Strolling around Charleston is a delight, many miles of streets and avenues of southern style property.The properties South of Broad are all still in single occupation; no convenience stores, no modern developments, timeless.
Checking the weather I find that it is going to be unsettled towards the end of next week so tomorrow we plan to press on South while we have a weather window.

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