Originally named Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, the city of Charleston and Charleston Harbor play host to thousands of land- and sea-based visitors every year. Beside historic attractions and museums, Charleston is known for its colorful Victorian homes and beautiful palm-lined streets, which you can tour via horse-drawn carriage from most any location in the downtown area.
Among the most famous landmarks in Charleston Harbor is Fort Sumter, a military fort where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. You can access the fort either via ferry boats that leave from Charleston and Sulivans Island, or use the public dock at the fort itself (no overnight tie ups allowed).
Once you have cleared Fort Sumter, a number of navigation possibilities open up. To the east of the inlet is the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) at Isle of Palms, which leads to the north along a protected route all the way to Norfolk, VA. Farther in directly to the west is the Cooper River and the industrial section of Charleston where the Patriots Point Maritime Museum and the now retires [i]USS Yorktown[/i] sit. If you want to continue a passage south on the ICW, head up the Ashley River and stay a night in one of the citys fine marinas before picking up Wappoo Creek for the journey south.
Use NOAA Charts 11518 and 11521.
From the Atlantic Ocean, red and white Morse (A) buoy C marks the beginning of the approach to Charleston Harbor and is further supplemented by the lighted Fort Sumter Range to help guide you in. Once you have safely picked up Morse (A) buoy C, follow the aforementioned range toward the harbor for 13 miles until you reach the North and South jetties of the Charleston Harbor Entrance, which are marked with quick flashing red bell 18 and quick flashing green 17, respectively.
Inside the inlet past Fort Sumter, you can pick up flashing red 130 to head north on the Intracoastal Waterway, or split to the west past flashing green buoy 25 toward the Ashley or Cooper rivers and into downtown Charleston. The area can be busy with commercial traffic, so a close watch is recommended at all times.