Who names these places? Hell Gate, Muddy River, Bloody Marsh...
13 December 2011
You would think that whoever named the water ways would consider the impact of names like the Rock Pile or Hell Gate - but then maybe they are sadistic or masochistic! Hmmm... as I think about it - I guess all sailors are one or the other! Anyway, upon leaving Isle of Hope outside of Savannah, Georgia we waited for rising tide once again to be sure to make it through the skinny waters of Hell Gate. We once again were able to take advantage of our buddy boat sounding the water for us. After Hell Gate we motor sailed on the Bear River to St. Catherine's Sound. We anchored in a Wahlberg anchorage and headed out for the Frederica Anchorage at o dark thirty (sailor talk for a very early morning).
As we travel mile after nautical mile we admire the wide open creeks, rivers, sounds and marshland. The marsh grass looks like golden wheat alongside the water, the green water is perfectly flat with the exception of the ripples off of the boats, and the colors look like an old Dutch painting. Trees are few and far between. Pelicans glide in formations just above the water looking for breakfast. There is only the murmur of the boat motor and the birds. In the evenings the blue heron come on the docks or nearby on shore - if you approach them or startle them they give off a loud sound - much as we imagine a pteradactyl must have sounded.
We are once again part of a string of pearls heading south on the ICW. There are sailboats, trawlers, and power boats of all sizes, shapes and speeds. This includes a farmer we met in Isle of Hope whose business involved the harvesting of bull semen. You can imagine how the conversation between David the farmer and Wiley might have gone. David, the farmer, owns the boat (Montego),which is 25 feet long. He has a 15 hp outboard motor and starts later than us but blows past us every day at an amazing speed. He owns another boat but trying out a 25 foot boat because it is easier to use in the shallow waters. However, he and his partner are finding 25 feet a bit too small for them so they plan to sell it when they get further south.
Our goal on the second day was to arrive at the dreaded (Wiley's words!) Little Muddy River (which has a spot reported to have only 3' at MLW - mean low water) at 3/4 tide around 1400 in oder to get through. Isle of Hope Marina waits for us to call them with a report when we do; Wiley calls both days first after Hell Gate and then after Little Muddy River so they may share the information with other sailors.
We anchor in Fredricka River near the fort of the Bloody Marsh Battle and go ashore in Dimples to tour the grounds. The area is full of tall evergreen, cedar, and many trees with hanging Spanish moss. Since we go ashore near dusk and the place is empty except for the two of us it is a bit erie. We keep waiting for the Ents to start talking to us!
General Olgethorpe (previously mentioned when we were in Savannah) had prepared for and fended off the Spanish in the Bloody Marsh Battle at this location. There are remnants of the town and the fort. If Olgethorpe had not fended off the Spanish, English may not have been the native tongue of the south. The town layout is marked off by foundations and these are labeled designating where the blacksmith, bakery, etc. previously existed. A portion of the fort and some cannon remain. We scurry around reading the signage before dark and paddled back to our boat just as the sun set. We noticed that a few other boats have joined us in this anchorage. There are 5 boats settled in for the night.
The Fredericka River cuts around and flows down back to the ICW. We have concerns about leaving Fredericka opposite of where we came in because of shoaling - but trust once again that our friends will lead us through. We plan on starting just before o'dark thirty at a high, but falling tide, so that we can either make it all the way through some shallow and twisting waters of Georgia or go "outside" - sail in the Atlantic to make our way to Fernandina, Florida! We learn that there may be 4-6 feet waves and feel that may be more than we want for our first experience on the Atlantic and for David and Cathy's 25 foot boat. We decide not to decide until the morning - we will check in early in the morning after we review weather (windfinder.com; Boat US, and the weather channel).