It’s been two and a half months and more than 1,500 miles since I left home.

Today I find myself in the relatively warm city of Charleston, South Carolina, enjoying the Southern culture. I like the palm trees and the accents, and enjoy the way strangers call each other things like sweetie and doll.

Pelicans at rest near a bridge overpass.

Pelicans at rest near a bridge overpass. Sally Gardiner-Smith photo

The placards about the civil war are different than what I learned in my New England school but I enjoy seeing all sides of history.

Charleston, specifically, is full of wonderful architecture and a rich sailing background. As I admired the long porches and magnificent churches, I also stopped to – literally – smell the roses. I’ve heard from reliable sources about the temperatures in Maine right now and I’m thankful that I’ve sailed to a place with flowers blooming.

Sailors can get a close up view of this sinking ship on ICW in South Carolina.

Sailors can get a close up view of this sinking ship on ICW in South Carolina. Sally Gardiner-Smith photo

As I move further south I encounter an increasing number of cruisers. Most of them are traveling as families or couples or on a crew. They inquire as to what I do all day, as a solo sailor. The answer is primarily to sail and navigate. However, I have become adept at entertaining myself and finding comfort in solitude. I’ve become an avid reader. I like to watch for dolphins or birds. I try to teach Elli new tricks and usually end up giving her treats for a solid effort. On calm days I’ll give myself a manicure.

Elli on a fishing trip with another boater.

Elli on a fishing trip with another boater. Sally Gardiner-Smith photo

On days like today, I spend my time exploring new places and relishing in the short-lived relationships that I make everyday. I have found that the world is full of intelligent, interesting, kind people. I count myself lucky to be able to meet so many of these people, but I also miss the comfort of long established relationships.

It is difficult, as many of you probably know, to go a long time without seeing your family and friends. I think, however, it’s something that every person should attempt in his or her life. I have developed more confidence in myself and learned more about my country, as well as delighted in the countless personalities I’ve met and beautiful scenes I’ve seen.

Sunset from the water.

Sunset from the water. Sally Gardiner-Smith photo

I am close, finally, to Florida and should be there within the next week or so. Hopefully I will be rewarded with warm weather.

The further south I go, the less pressure I feel. No longer does the temperature drop below freezing! I wouldn’t classify the weather as warm, but I have taken my shorts out of storage in preparation.

A reflected image of a nautical map.

A reflected image of a nautical map. Sally Gardiner-Smith photo