Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dock lines away! (Cumberland Island, GA)

Goodbye Brunswick Landing Marina

We were a little rusty after almost 3 months at the dock. After some last minute laundry & settling up, we started our checklist. We fumbled through and finally pulled away from the dock, telling our neighbors, "We're out of here. See you in the islands!" It was a beautiful day, blue skies and a light breeze, a little warm. We passed Jekyll Island first--probably should have stopped here, but we were anxious to get some miles under the keels.  One of the things I enjoy about being on the water is channel 16 is our entertainment instead of tv. The birds were out fishing.  Several dolphins, made appearances. I didn't even mind the drone of the engines.  We also discovered we had a stowaway pet frog (he was given a wet paper towel and moved to the shade). 

Anchored out (Plum Orchard on the right)

We crossed St. Andrews Sound, which is basically like being out on the ocean. Luckily today was smooth.  We turned down Blackhill River and were immediately rewarded with a wild horse munching on marsh grass. Then the fun ICW game of gator-or-log. That was a gator, less than a mile from our destination. No kayaking for me!  We dropped our new Mantus anchor, then deployed the new riding sail. The current is still 8 ft here, but at times, slowed to nothing. Even with a light crosswind, the riding sail kept us pointed so there was a breeze down the hatches.  We are anchored next to Plum Orchard at Cumberland Island, GA. We were anxious to explore after reading, "Untamed" by Will Harlan (highly recommend), and every cruiser will tell you this is worth the stop.   

It was a peaceful night.  We're just drifted back and forth over our anchor instead of "swinging".  We're in the middle of nowhere (except for the glow of the sub base over there). The Captain got a good nights sleep. I was awoken once to "it's raining" but it was over before I could get all the hatches closed.

STATS:  Total time 5:04, total mileage, 25.5 nm, 5.0 kts avg, motored.'s portable SSB & HF Weather Fax setup

I was up at 5:00 am, and for a second, couldn't remember where we were.  There was a break in the overcast so I could see the moon and stars when I stepped out into the cockpit. Without much interference nearby, I was able to listen to Chris Parker give Hurricane Joaquin updates on our new portable SSB radio (  We subscribe to his email updates that come in the evening, but the morning update is nice). Thanks to our friends over at, The Captain was also downloaded a few weather charts.  

Shrimp boats off the Cumberland Beach

Confident the boat is safely anchored, we set off in the dinghy for the Plum Orchard dock. We can see one of the outbuildings on shore from the boat. As we pull up to the dock, we saw 4 wild horses grazing on the lawn between the dock and the house. We snuck over to the map long enough to get the trail name, then we're off. I packed DEET bug spray and snacks, but forgot the water bottle.  The Captain is wearing flip flops because "it can't be that far."  An hour later, we can hear the waves crashing as we trudge through some mud, pop out at a sand dune and plunge back into the woods. Finally, we're on the beach. Joaquin has turned more northerly, but the Atlantic still looks unsettled.  One of the infamous shrimp boats (that threaten the sea turtles) is just offshore. We gobble down our snacks and head back into the forest with sand filled shoes. While discussing the varied growth of ethereal spanish moss, palm fronds with cedar and hardwood, we hear something coming through the woods. We stop and see 4 wild pigs BARGE across our path at a full-on charge. "Did you see the size of that first one?!"  I'm informed flip flops were not a good choice for a 2-hour hike.  No kidding.  Perhaps I should nag more.  "Really.  Is that what you're wearing?" 

Hardwood, spanish moss, palm frond forest...

I lost track of the number dolphins we saw at this anchorage. One momma and baby cruise through several times a day and another group of three came close to the dinghy while Craig was out working.  I may have even glimpsed a manatee. Birds nested in the marsh grass and we could see the eggs peeking up out of the nests.

We depart without touring the Plum cabin for Sea Camp anchorage, because it's supposed to be "better" and we want to get a spot before the weekend crowds arrive. We also need to leave during high tide because of shoaling down from our anchorage. We saw a depth of 9.5 ft on the way out, which would surely be above water during low tide!  It was an uneventful 2-hour motor past the sub base through Cumberland Sound, which turns out to be quite choppy.

STATS:  Total time 1:52, total mileage 9.2 nm, avg 4.9 kts.  Motored.

The first night at Sea Camp is so rolly from the unforecast NW winds, that we don't get to sleep until 11:30 pm, resulting in a late night TV marathon.  (We'll have to run the generator to charge the batteries, when the sun doesn't come out the next day).  I'm informed the new job #1 is doing something about the water sloshing in the water tank (right behind our berth)--either putting on baffles or sound proofing.

Short walk from Sea Camp dock to the Ice House Museum

The Captain almost didn't see the armadillo.  He didn't seem very interested in us either.

The next morning, we dinghy in to ranger station, which directs us down the trail to the Ice House Museum where more horses are grazing. We turn down the tunnel of oaks that leads from the dock to the Dungeness ruins.  As we pass through the front gates, there are 6 wild turkeys grazing.   The ruins are absolutely breathtaking and sad. The estate is enormous beyond comprehension. I can't imagine it in it's heyday (300 employees to keep it running!). We circle the grounds, then hike back down the main road towards the beach, stop for a snack, and the sun finally comes back out as we head home. 

Dungess Ruins on Cumberland Island

On our last day, we dinghy in with the bikes. It's 8 miles on a sandy, main road back to Plum Orchard for the house tour. On the return, we're delayed by horses (Cumberland traffic jam). We're surprised to see 4 dinghies at the dock & 5 more boats had arrived since we left. We've mostly had the island to ourselves.  The generator is drug out again, so we take advantage by microwaving lunch and making espresso. I've deployed the mosquito net (because we're too lazy to sew) and Amelia the Cat tried to walk through it.  She doesn't quite understand the concept.

Dinghy in with bicycles

Bike back to Plum Orchard

A Cumberland traffic jam

We woke up to water as smooth as glass and 68F. We're only leaving because forecast is for winds out of the NW again (and there is a managed boar hunt on the island today).

It's a short 7 mile hop across Cumberland inlet to Fernandina Beach mooring field (On Amelia Island--yep, where they have the big car show). It's misting, and next to a paper mill (with a train--looks vaguely familiar). We pick up the mooring on the second try. (The first boat hook is retrieved out of the water with the dinghy). We immediately jump in the dinghy for lunch, which turns out to be Pablos Mexican restaurant (with skinny margaritas). This town has everything we need--grocery store, coffee shop, ice cream shop & plenty of restaurants. We could stay here awhile, or until we blow our monthly budget on eating out!

STATS:  Total time 1:22, total mileage 6.8 nm, avg 4.9 kts.  Motored.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you are on the move again. You can't stay marina barnacles forever. ;-)

    Have fun.