Monday, November 16, 2009

Last stop in Georgia

Finally, blue skies! It was time to leave St. Simons Island at slack tide on Friday. Melissa at the docks was a great help. Getting through Jekyll Creek's shallow spots was a "piece of cake" thanks to Captain Pete's adept use of our depth sounder. The sailboat in front of us was a good guide too!

We anchored alone on Friday night in Delaroche Creek where I saw three shooting stars after dark--which comes very early these days (around 6 p.m.). I was hoping for a pitch dark night for sky-watching, but the nearby Navy's Kings Bay submarine base is lit up like a Christmas tree.

Delaroche is another marsh creek anchorage where we heard a unique new sound--that of the marsh hens called Clapper Rails. They should be called clacker hens since they make loud and rapid clack-clack-clack calls as they look for dinner as the tide drops. They are skinny little things (although we never saw them) and supposedly the source of the saying "thin as a rail." They go to sleep at dark, so their loud noises soon stopped. Photo is from Google.

Yesterday we saw a sub (they are huge!) coming down the Cumberland River as we turned to go up a side branch to a popular anchorage. Friendly-looking fellows in flak jackets with machine guns were in small Navy patrol boats to "discourage" cruisers from approaching.

Anchored off Cumberland Island, GA
We soon anchored, "splashed the dinghy" for the first time this voyage, and dinghied to the nearby Sea Camp dock where campers can arrive. The only way to get to Cumberland Island is by boat and it's now run by the Park Service as a National Seashore.

We took a 5-mile hike to the ruins of Dungeness, a big mansion built by Thomas Carnegie (Andrew's brother) that burned down in 1945. Mrs. Carnegie requested that her horses always be allowed to remain, so MANY of these wild horses wander the beaches and island. MANY piles of road apples were proof. It was much worse than Duke of Gloucester St. in Williamsburg. We saw some armadillos too. No one knows how they got here.
Dungeness House ruins

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 (who sounds familiar to Governor's Land folks) acquired nearly 11,000 acres of the island in exchange for a bad debt. After Nathaniel died from sunstroke, his widow built her own Dungeness house in 1803, which burned in the middle of the 1800s. Looks like bad karma for a home in that spot!

We walked along the almost deserted beach for a mile or so, then returned to the dinghy where we bumped into Art and Jeannie. We had talked with Art back on the docks in St. Simons, so of course we were invited to their trawler, Change-O-Pace III, for happy hour. Art is a bronze sculptor who has done some impressive life-size golf scuptures.

Then we noticed Moondance anchored near us, so dinghied over to say "Hey" to Harriet and Skip, whose progress we've tracked on their blog. We last saw them in Beaufort, NC, and they invited us onboard later for a drink. But we really didn't want to drink our way around the anchorage, so we had to decline. If you see a trend here, you're not mistaken. Cruisers do become instant buddies, and we have one major common interest--happy hour!

On the next day, we took another long hike to Greyfield, a very exclusive luxury inn on Cumberland Island. We had hoped to dress nicely and eat lunch there today, but a phone call confirmed that we could merely peer in through the gate. If I was paying $500+ per night, I guess I'd prefer to not see riff-raff boaters in my dining room either. BTW, this hotel was the site of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette's  hush hush wedding reception.

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