Thanksgiving week 2014
03 December 2014
Since we last wrote, we have cruised the Georgia ICW, something that Roger had vowed we would never do again since our last Georgian experience 15 years ago. However, after leaving Hilton Head Island and heading south, the winds and weather were not favorable for us to go offshore .... so we were forced to head south along the windy rivers, creeks, cuts, marshes, etc. Halfway through this 4 day experience, we had to pass through 2 cuts which are known for extremely shallow waters. With a 7-8 foot tidal range, you have to go through Hell Gate and Little Mud River on a rising tide or high tide.... if you try at low tide, you will ,literally, run out of water. So our departure times each day were determined by the tides that day. Fortunately, there seemed to be a rising tide every morning we took off so we cleared these potentially harrowing cuts with no difficulty. Roger even confessed halfway through Georgia that he actually thought the scenery was beautiful!!!
Last year we spent Thanksgiving with Eric and Courtney on Jekyll Island, Georgia. It was a wonderful time with them but this year, the children were not joining us so we decided to spend Thanksgiving at St. Mary's, Georgia, the last town before you cross over into Florida. In fact, depending upon the way the wind was blowing, the mother ship, Sanderling, could have been in Georgia and the dinghy in Florida....the border crosses over the St. Mary's anchorage. The town of St. Mary's hosts a "cruisers potluck Thanksgiving dinner" where St. Mary's residents and restaurant owners provide the turkeys and hams, and the cruisers bring a side dish and their own beverages. There were over 40 boats in the harbor plus many of the residents of St. Mary's joined in the 3 day festivities. The amount of food - and variety of dishes- was remarkable, and the conversations we had with both cruisers and residents were just wonderful! This town is known for their hospitality and we certainly experienced it from everyone! By the end of our 3 day visit, we had made several new friends, had been offered rides to the local shopping center, attended 2 happy hour evenings, been sung to, received hugs from new friends- even Casey was allowed to hang out in the local bar all night and try to make friends with the roaming cats and a dog! Roger was on cloud 9 watching the Eagles victory on Thanksgiving evening in a warm bar!
We left St. Mary's on Friday and crossed over the Cumberland Sound on the ICW and anchored at Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. This National Park is a very special island where very few people live. Visitors arrive by boat and can walk /bike the many trails, visit the beach and explore the grounds of the Plum Orchard Mansion and the ruins of the Carnegie mansion, Dungeness. There are wild horses everywhere- on the beaches, on the grasslands and under the moss hewn oak trees. We even spotted an armadillo as we biked over 16 miles one day. Our evenings were entertained with wonderful dinners with our friends Dorothy and Jonathan (s/v Egret) and Suzy and Dave (s/v Cay Pariaso).
On Sunday afternoon, we cruised over to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. This is one of our favorite spots in Florida from last year so we wanted to stay a few days and see the island on our bikes. With the weather finally warmer, we took advantage of the sunshine and biked to Fort Clinch on the northern tip of Amelia Island and then cruised along the beach, heading south and biked the Greenways, a path amongst the marshes where we saw turtles basking in the sun. We were on the lookout to see alligators but never saw one..... Tonight we plan to drop in on a yoga class - why not? - and then tomorrow we are going offshore to St. Augustine where we plan to spend a few days. Life is good, especially with the warmer weather....