Photo: Wild Horses... and a whole lot more. Please check out the photo gallery of Cumberland Island.
Cumberland Island, GA
A little back track north up the ICW and well worth it!
Welcomed by a wild horse, we began our day entering an arched forest of Living Oaks; the sunlight filtering down through the draping Spanish moss into the thick underbrush. We all were taken by the ambiance and solitude surrounding us. I'm sure that this would be a perfect setting for The Blair Witch Project or on the flip side, a tale of Swiss Family Robinson.
Although none of us are exemplary bird watchers, we all tried to identify the sounds coming from above. Usually these sombre hued forests are dressed with the vivid plumage of painted buntings, summer tanagers, cardinals, pileated woodpeckers, Carolina wrens and yellow - throated warblers. We never saw anything...and the islands white tailed deer must have been scared away with our vocal excitement.
Emerging from the shadows of the forest we found huge sand dunes and a beach that beckoned to be explored. We arrived at low tide and began our search for shells.
Steve and I proudly produced a magazine that had a great number of pages of information to help us identify our found treasures. How exciting to see adults on a on a treasure hunt, gleefully running over to one's find, hoping to look and touch and guess what it was. The largest and ugliest discovered was a Horseshoe Crab, the smallest being the Atlantic Abra. Our best finds, a Lightening Whelk and a Royal Sea Star - both alive and tossed back into the deeper water.
On lookers at the beach were Sanderlings and Sandpipers scurrying across the sand with their little legs and "shit hawks" of various varieties... Laughing, Ring-billed and Herring gulls joined by a group of proud Royal terns.
And as we left the beach to follow another path, a long boardwalk led us into a saltwater marshland. It was here that we encountered the remnants of the common raccoon and fiddler crabs. Herrings and Egrets lined the marshlands and as we headed up to higher ground, we were aware that human live was also present. We entered the Dungeness Ruins and cemetery. The old cemetery and abandoned, Carnegie-era rusty cars that are overgrown with weeds add to the timeless feel as you continue past the Dungeness ruins.
We walked for four hours. . That's nothing for a cruiser. Oh forgot to mention that we saw our first armadillo.
History: The history of Dungeness dates to James Oglethorpe, founder of the Georgia colony, who built two forts and a hunting lodge he called Dungeness on the island in 1736. In 1783, Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene acquired nearly 11,000 acres (4,400 hectares) of the island in exchange for a bad debt. His widow built her own Dungeness house in 1803, which burned in the middle of the century.
In 1881 Thomas Carnegie (brother and partner of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie), with his wife Lucy, built yet another Dungeness on the foundation of the Greene estate. This Dungeness was built in 1885 and lasted until 1959, when much of it burned. The ruins remain, though, and include what is called Tabby House, the oldest house on Cumberland Island and the only building the Carnegies spared when they rebuilt the area from the ruins of the Greene estate. The house was built around 1800 of tabby, a kind of concrete made of oyster shells, lime and sand. Tabby construction can be seen throughout Georgia's coast.
As you walk down what would have been the main sand "driveway" into the estate, you see the main house before you, well intact from the foundation but mostly gutted by the fire. The building is large and majestic and you get the sense, as you walk the sprawling grounds, that Dungeness was at one time a beautiful home.
Feral "wild" horses were all over the grounds, quietly grazing and seemingly unconcerned with us.
November/28/2009, Cumberland Island, GA
Royal Sea Star
A Thanksgiving Dinner That Couldn’t Be Beat (Alice’s Restaurant … Arlo Guthrie ).
November/28/2009, St. Mary’s, GA
Photo: Helping to bring order to the food brought to the tables... Ann s/v Sea Tramp was a wonderful kind and lively super organized co-coordinator.
More photos in the gallery.
Pecan's everywhere! Wow, what a wonderful, generous, welcoming town...keep it a secret please. There are well over 90 boats here (not a record) in St. Mary's, Georgia for Thanksgiving and we are one of those boats! Thank you Larry for telling us about this one! For the cruisers out there... this is one stop you cannot miss!
We had always planned to visit Cumberland Island (around the corner). An aquafit participant and fellow sailor - Sue McDonald, was kind enough to share her memories of the island (they sailed through here with no refrigeration and family aboard) and Steve and I look forward to sailing there tomorrow.
However, the last three days have been spent enjoying the fan fair that St. Mary's has to offer. We arrived here Tuesday after leaving Hilton Head, Tybee's Road Sound (Savannah River SC), on Monday, for another offshore jaunt. As we arrived a boater shouted for us to turn on the VHF to channel 68 for the Cruisers Net at 9 am. As we were anchoring, we listened to the net and they had a lot of information of events to follow. Too much to take in (pulling all nighters...being our age...we just don't bounce back as quickly as we used too) but we heard that at 5:30 pm there was to be a Painkiller Party, so we slept for a couple of hours in preparation. And from there it's been one thing after another!
On Wednesday it was a ride to the Wallmart Super store for groceries, and that evening at the Riverview Hotel / Seagle's for an oyster bake. And the finally, on Thursday at 1 pm it was a Thanksgiving Feast Pot Luck Turkey and Ham Dinner! Followed by an evening band-shell "Riverdance" at the waterfront gazebo ... ah dancing...my passion and a welcomed bit of shake, rattle and roll to get the kinks out. The two-man band played everything from rock to blues...Goodnight...just so you know, it's very cold here and we have the heater on again...
* Painkiller: Two parts orange juice, one part pineapple juice, one part rum, and a teaspoon of coconut cream. Blend, serve over ice, and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Harbour Town Golf Links
November/17/2009, Hilton Head, SC
It's not often that you're driving down the street and your "personal tour guide" answers the cell phone to his wife (her name will not be disclosed) and she say's that she has just left the White House (after having tea with the first Lady Michelle Obama) and the traffic is really congested...and as most of you know, we are not name droppers...
Today was spent with Harold Hadley. He was such a great host. I reluctantly phoned him today. Nancy and Kris Weber (Steve's sister and husband) had given us his phone number. They know him from Huntsville, Ontario and they suggested that we please give him a call and remember them to him.
We had an entertaining three hour lunch talking about our adventure and his full life and finding out how small a world it is. It is amazing how many related topics and life experiences you have with someone, when you just sit and chat for a while. For example; the property that Steve's mum and dad purchased in Bobcaygeon was previously owned and subdivided by Harold.
Earlier this morning, I was so delighted that I could visit the golf course that Michael plays with Tiger Woods on the video game at home. Steve and I dinghy'd into Harbour Town, so that I could take a peek of this golf course. Dolphins crested in the creek as we whizzed by. It's great to have seen the course from the water and land.
This was such a wonderful day.
My thoughts on tidal current.
November/16/2009, Beaufort, SC
Sitting here in Beaufort South Carolina (there's a Calhoun Street here too) with its 9ft tide I thought I would like to give my views on tidal current.
We were stuck in a creek for a couple of hours which is irritating but all you have to do is wait for the tide to flood and away you go. The current is more interesting. A one and a half knot current seems to trump a 13 knot wind when anchored. The boat will point into the current rather than point into the wind and waves. It's like sitting at a intersection and having the bus beside you roll backwards. You jam on the brakes and your stomach does flip flops because you think you're moving forward, but you're not. Same thing when you are at anchor. In this situation you look down into the water and you can't convince your self you're not moving. Then when the wind cranks up to 15 or 18 knots, it starts to over power the current and now you are side ways to the wind and all the landmarks (you used to get a fix on your location) are all in the wrong place. This is when you are thankful that you have GPS tracking. The tracking component of the Chart plotter or GPS is the only visual to convince me that we indeed are not moving.
While anchored in Charleston the current had a big affect on the position of the boat, even though we were anchored behind an island that would protect us from the northerlies (this was during the effect of the hurricane Ida - and they were calling gale force north winds). By-the-way, when you see an" island" on the charts - don't go imagining a large clump of white pine on a rock face. In these parts of the country it is invariably a clump of grass at high tide and a pile of mud with a grass crew cut at low tide. We anchored in a narrow part of a creek flowing east / west; so we anchored Bermudian style - one anchor to the east, one to the west. This is instead of one anchor having to reset each time the flow of current changed with the tide. We thought we were done however, when we poked our head out to have a look around at slack tide (that's the time at the top of high-tide or the bottom of low-tide and there is no current), we found that we were being blown into some guy's boat to the south of us by the north winds. Needless to say, the north winds were in effect when there was no the current and pushed us to the south. . . we set a third anchor for the wind.
Back in Beaufort we have no wind and a large open anchorage so we have only one anchor out as the tide switches all the boats in the anchorage take slow lazy shift and end up pointing the opposite direction. This dance occurs every 6 hours.
A day in Beaufort (sounds like Bew-ford).
November/15/2009, Beaufort, SC
Today we met Johnny Lee Bee. He was biking along the same street when he decided to take a chance and stop to talk to us. We had just opened up our map of the city. I was taking a photo of the Spanish moss hanging down from the trees with a view of Lion's Paw at anchor. Draped with sunglasses, hats, camera, purse (me only) and a large shopping bag, I suppose we looked like tourists (something that all the guide books tell you not to do), but we had a good feeling about this town and didn't feel threatened at all. Turns out, Johnny Lee Bee (you gotta love a name like that) didn't feel threatened by us either. Evidently, he had admired the same view for many years. He'd been born with-in a couple of blocks from there and when he learned that we were from Canada, he was thrilled to tell us that he had gone to Toronto's Caribana Festival. We had a great conversation about his town and the changes he had witnessed over the years. Thanks to people like Johnny Lee Bee, we've been able to really enjoy our walks into town. He told us that our meeting was a divine intervention. Whatever it was, isn't important. Both Steve and I welcome the chance meeting.
November/14/2009, Bull river
A beautiful anchorage of the ICW within sight of some big homes. We are in the "mudflats" of South Carolina.
History of "Colquhoun - Calhoun":
There is a major street in Charleston named Calhoun St. I assume after John C Calhoun, a united state senator from South Carolina and a defender of the south before the civil war. He was an outspoken advocate for the continuation of slavery and preached that blacks were an inferior race meant for labour. Yes more info gathered by Steve from the book "Chesapeake" by James A. Michener.
This spring when we were renewing Steve's drivers licence in Burlington, the clerk there told us that it was her husbands Grandfather who researched and had written "the" family history book of "Colquhoun - Calhoun" (when they came to North America some families simplified their name). She told us that Abraham Lincoln was the illegitimate son of the senator. When we were invited to dine at Glenn and Valerie's home last July, his Aunt (an authority on the family name of "Colquhoun" also confirmed that she had heard the same information.
Keep in mind that "Historic facts are not checked for their authenticity".
Ben Sawyer Memorial Bridge – gateway to Charleston along the ICW
So far we've been able to weather the effects of Ida, but there are other cold fronts developing as I type this. At the moment we have three anchors deployed and the gusts are not too bad (touch wood). 2 anchors are east and west of our boat (now) and share the work. We mostly hang off 1 when the current changes direction (ebb and flow of the tide) and the third anchor (~North) is working all the time because that is the direction of the prevailing wind. We are not feeling the effects the waves that seemed to be blasting towards the anchorage in Charleston. We are kind of tucked around the corner behind a mound of marshland that they call an island. It seems to be enough of a land break to stop the waves. Behind us are some lovely looking homes (Note to self: Don't ever buy a home where yachts can anchor in front of you).
We just talked to our friends on "Blue Blazes" and they have found help for the repair to their transmission. They may be there for a week or so but they are certainly in a very nice marina on the Isle of Palms and seem to be well looked after so they're going to make the most of it ($2.00/ft a day ouch!) Unfortunately, we will have to leave them behind for a while but we'll keep in touch and they will catch up. You never know when the shoe will be on the other foot and we'll be in a marina for repairs (double ouch!).
So, it will be Friday that we head to an anchorage near Beaufort, SC. Today it is cold and we have put on our handy Propane Heater (Mr. Heater). Steve and I quite happy just sitting still today. We plan to go for a hike tomorrow in search of the usual staples that we run out of on a regular basis (bread and milk). I thought we should leave tomorrow, but I don't think Steve relishes the idea of me pulling all these anchors when the wind is howling and the weather is so cold. . . ha!
Notes: It is important but also a lot of fun looking at the Waterway Guides and maps on board. Planning our next move is just something you do every day. You check the weather (at least three times - hoping that they really didn't say that?..); you check the boat rigging and the engine (and all that that entails); you start to stash away all the stuff that made its way out onto the saloon benches; you check the Ham radio for any contact and if you have a local radio signal, you listen to the weather report again. I was told that you throw away your watch, ha! That's just "bar talk"! Everything is about timing. When is dawn and dusk? What time is the ebb and flow of the tide? When did they say to expect that cold front? Marg is irritable, is it past lunch time? When does that bridge open and is this a holiday schedule or regular schedule? . . and finally . . What day is it? What month is it?
So, where was I? Oh yes the fun about planning. We are trying to plan our next large provisioning stop and it seems that it will be at Hilton Head. We sure wish Anna and Adam were down here. They would know their way around this island. They've been coming here every year for quite some time. Steve and I look forward to our visit there. We've heard so much about Hilton Head.
Notes: We've really been anchoring out since September 15th at Hop-O-Nose Marina where we stepped the mast (Hudson River). We were at mooring ball for 1 night after stepping the mast (given to us for the night) and 2 days at Great Kills Harbour in NJ and on Oct 4th for 5 days (at a $10.00/day) we enjoyed a dock at the Whitby Rendezvous (just before the Annapolis Sailboat Show). The challenge is on...the whole ICW without staying at a marina..
Two very different Islands - side by side
Canadian Remembrance Day
November/11/2009, Anchored somewhere near Charleston, SC
photo Isle of Palm
We left this morning with lightning threatening us from the south. According to or tide tables, we needed to leave early before the water disappeared and it was reported to be very shallow on the ICW just after McClellanville. Luckily, the rain came down but the system passed to our right and was well north of us... we virtually drove out and away from it. At the shallowest part, we had to wait for a tug towing a barge. Life's like that and everything went well. My only complaint is that my "naturally blond" hair is one big frizz ball. It is damp but warm today and we hope to make it to Charleston (mile 469). They have promised us rain all day and night and the local weather reports warn of flooding in the area.
Notes: The ICW channels between Mile 437 and Mile 456 is among the straightest stretches along the entire Waterways and with the rain and overcast skies I have no pictures to show. After that we passed through a land cut between Isle of Palm, on the ocean side, and Goat Island on the mainland side. The two islands are quite different. The Isle of Palms is well-developed with golf courses, resort hotels and restaurants. Goat Island was formally inhabited by only a few hardy souls who commuted to their jobs by boat. Now the island remains relatively isolated except for a few cottages.
History: From 1931 to the early '60's, Goat's Island's only inhabitants were Henry "Goat man" Holloway and his wife Blanche and a herd of goats. For more than 30 years, they lived on the island as hermits and, according to legend, ate what the land and sea provided. The Holloway's died in the early 1960's leaving behind the legend of the Goat man.
Photo of Egret
Ever Changing Scenery
November/10/2009, Anchored at Five Fathom Creek (mile 430)
? Anchorage - Marshlands
Miami 713 miles South
Golfing Gondola across the ICW
Crossing the Boarder between North and South Carolina
Where did the water go?
November/9/2009, Prince Creek (mile 381), Waccamaw River (ICW)
In the Dark!
Today was another early start. We had planned to cover another 70miles today, so at 6:15 we pulled the anchor. Blue Blazes was already heading towards the entrance. Steve noticed that they had slugged their way out (actually he noticed that they had stopped, but managed to continue out to the ICW). Steve nervously negotiated his way out of the anchorage. It wasn't for long though. We also came aground, about 2 boat lengths away from where we had anchored, but we were well stuck in the mud. We radioed good bye to Blue Blazes and knew that it was best for us, to wait for the tide to flow back in again. We needed the extra water beneath our keel. . must be all that beer we carry! It was obvious that we would not be able to make the destination planned and it was going to be a long day. We finally slugged our way out of Dutchman's Creek around 8:30 am and headed down the ICW.
Mile 341: as we passed Little River Inlet (just north of the Little River Swing Bridge) we entered South Carolina (mile 340.9) and headed towards Myrtle Beach (mile 365). Beautiful homes and golf courses lined the banks and both Steve and I talked of the memories of our first and only trip to Myrtle Beach (back in September 1985, with Jim Keast). Back then, Mike (our son) turned 1 year old and we didn't golf. Last spring Mike went golfing here and bought us our "Lion's Paw Golf Links" shirts... we wondered if we would pass this course... and I wished I could stop and go golfing...Not In The Budget (Steve reminds me).. Oh well.
Right now we are anchored at mile 381. We had to anchor in the dark, in a narrow creek, surrounded by huge trees, just off the Waccamaw River (told to be a very scenic part of the ICW). The water in Waccamaw River looks like a well brewed tea and the moss-draped cypresses line the sides. The scenery is different.
Where Did The Water Go?
We woke up at the crack of dawn (6 am with day light savings) to get an early jump on the day. The tide had gone out.. and we had accounted for this (12ft depth on our approach (coming in) minus the 4ft tide, would leave us with a depth of 8ft . . easy cruising. We must have missed the 9ft shoal - 400 ft inside the creek. The feeling of the boat going aground is something you feel in the pit of your stomach. We waved Blue Blazes goodbye and waited for the tide to come in. I worried about making the planned anchorage that was 60miles and 10 hours down the ICW. We bumped up against the shoal a number of times thinking that the old Whitby could get through but then decided to have a coffee. Marg suggested a more subtle approach of sounding the area with the dinghy, so off we paddled. We finally bought a depth sounder for the dinghy (better than the old system of throwing a line with a wrench attached to the line for a weight).We were distracted in our task by a crab cage washed up on shore in 1ft of water with no buoy attached, so we went over to investigate and found a trap with three large crabs in it. We left the trap for future consideration and went on sounding our way out. As we thought, we had found the deepest route out of the creek and were returning to the boat when we noticed it adrift from the sand bar that we had safely wedged it on. :ion's Paw was moving down the river with the returning tide. We jumped on the boat and motored it into the same sand bar that we had just been detached from, backed up took the passage we had sounded and bumped, ploughed and skimmed out of the creek. But what about my 3 large crab " left behind!!!!".
Freed from our anchorage, we motored down the ditch for the rest of the day with favourable currents on one side of an ocean inlet and "sour" currents on the other side (depending on the tide). It was an interesting passage including views of the ocean and the back side of Myrtle Beach with golf courses lining the banks. In the end we anchored in a cypress swamp in the near dark. I wonder if there are alligators out there it sure looks like alligator country.