So much about Charleston is poetry. The place has a distinct, pleasing rhythm to it. It’s the way the city moves at a more relaxed pace than most. It’s way the gas lamps flicker in the evenings on wide front porches. It’s the way Charleston Harbor gently laps up against the seawall of The Battery, part of the city’s downtown historic district.
Jack Tankersley, owner of a brand new 510 Sundancer, has called this southern hub home for years, but he has never tired of local sightseeing. “We like to take evening cruises around the harbor, especially if I’m entertaining guests,” Jack says. He maneuvers the boat in the vicinity of The Battery where he often chooses to take in the beauty of storied Charleston.
Downtown sits on a peninsula, jutting out into the harbor at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. The end of the peninsula houses the South of Broad neighborhood, where estates feature ornate pillars and generous balconies common to Antebellum homes. These residences, some now museums, are a mixture of neoclassical, Greek revival and Federal style inspiration. Located at the very tip of the peninsula, White Point Gardens with its majestic live oaks offers shady spots for visitors to rest under tangles of chartreuse-colored moss.
“On the weekends, we head out to the Barrier Islands,” Jack says. “It’s just 10 miles away. Charleston is centrally located: we’re just 90 miles from Myrtle Beach to the north, and 100 miles to Hilton Head to the South.” The “we” in the equation includes his wife Beverly, their daughters Melissa and Shea, son John and grandchildren.
Shea and John work with their father at his insurance company, located in Mt. Pleasant, not far from where Jack keeps the Sundancer. The office is near Shem Creek, an inlet with plenty of restaurants and a long boardwalk that extends over the marsh. When the Tankersleys get tempted to sneak away from work, Jack heads to the marina about 10 minutes away, picks up the Sea Ray and then maneuvers up the creek to fetch the rest of the family. Sometimes they’ll hang out near Shem and indulge in waterside cocktails and the catch of the day. Other times they’ll cruise back out and head to Charleston City Marina, where they’ll tie up and sample downtown’s hip restaurant scene.
Charleston is home to several James Beard Award-winning chefs who dish out Low Country cuisine with a heaping side of high hospitality. Chef Sean Brock first garnered fame at McCrady’s Restaurant, creating flavorful meals out of local and sustainable fish, meats and vegetables. McCrady’s is located in the French Quarter where the city frequently holds art walks to show off its many galleries. Sean also opened the renowned Husk restaurant, which Bon Apétit magazine named the “2011 Best New Restaurant in America.” Husk specializes in seed saving, house pickling and cooking with heirloom ingredients. It’s located in the King Street district, a corridor that hosts a mix of high-end luxury shops along with eclectic local boutiques.
Mike Lata, an Iron Chef competitor and winner of the “2009 James Beard Best Food: Southeast” award opened FIG (Food Is Good), a restaurant that has gained notoriety not only for its delicious farm-to-table menu but also for a cocktail list that employs locally sourced seasonal ingredients. The modish eatery is located on Meeting Street in the heart of Charleston’s Museum Mile. Recently Mike also opened The Ordinary, a fancy oyster hall on King Street.
For southern food in all its cornmeal-encrusted and slow-smoked glory, head to The Hominy Grill, where dishes are prepared by JBA winner Robert Stehling. The Hominy is a hotspot for relaxed, leisurely lunches enjoyed inside the charming barnlike building or al fresco.
Whenever the sunlight dims on a full day of leisurely cruising, Jack and the older Tankersleys enjoy cocktails in their favorite spot on the stern of their Sea Ray. “I’ve just enjoyed boats all my life,” Jack says. “My father used to take me fishing, and I used to enter slalom ski competitions.”
The new 510 is Jack’s sixth Sundancer bought from Hall Marine. “I like the way it drives in the open water,” he says of the Sundancer line. Before buying the 510, the Tankersley family owned the 48 Sundancer, which they had for eight years. When Sea Ray began the plans for the release of the 510, the company included Jack in many conversations about layout and features. “They are so customer oriented,” he says. “I was very excited to have a little input on the design. I like that Sea Ray asks customers what they want.” Jack actually made several trips to the Sea Ray plant down in Merritt Island, Florida, to watch the construction of his new boat. When it came time for the much-anticipated delivery, Jack and Beverly flew in, picked up the yacht and headed straight for Key Largo.
The 510 features an amazing open layout with a large cockpit sunroom and two retractable sunroofs. Six feet of space extend from the helm to the base of the windshield, which stretches over part of the cabin. The new design allows for an incredible amount of natural light to brighten the salon and galley below.
The Tankersleys often revel in the 510s sumptuous embrace as they glide through Shem Creek, where the colorful masts of shrimp boats announce the entrance of the popular waterway. Jack passes by them frequently, and the contrast of the gleaming 510 Sundancer against the backdrop of the industrial trawlers, often draws stares from the kayakers and stand up paddle boarders who enjoy Shem Creek’s calm waters. Each spring, the trawlers parade through the harbor. Led by a reverend, festivalgoers offer a blessing for the individual vessels to enjoy bountiful catches and smooth sailing during the season. The festival raises awareness for restaurants and diners to support the local fishermen.
That’s the great thing about Charleston. The city honors its roots. The historical City Market located at the corner of Meeting and Market Streets in the Ansonborough area –just steps north of the French Quarter –is the place to go for all things artisanal. The market dates back more than two centuries and has grown to span four buildings. The vendors craft and sell jewelry, scented shea butter, pottery, spices, scarves and sweetgrass baskets. Sweetgrass weaving is one of the oldest African art forms in the United States and these baskets were originally crafted to help with rice cultivation.
Now, the interwoven blades of bulrush, palm leaves and long leaf southern pine serve as a metaphor for the interlacing cultures that make Charleston such a vibrant spot on the map. Southern American ethos combine with French, English and West African heritages to create a city that excels in everything from architecture and cuisine to music and art. It’s no surprise that Condé Nast Traveler voted Charleston “Best City in the World” last year, but the Tankersleys have given the city that distinction all along. Even though they call Charleston their home and have the opportunity to explore it regularly, they still mark it as their favorite port of call.