Friday, April 16, 2010

Cumberland Island Round Two

Shadows along Cumberland Island trail
We hadn't even heard of this terrific and isolated (can only get here by boat) National Park along the Georgia coast before last fall, and now we're back for the second time. Since we've now qualified for National Park Free Perpetual Senior Passes (62??), it was easy to decide to come back here today. Plus it was a lot warmer than it was last November when we visited this great natural wonderland. Thank you Carnegie family for keeping it like it was in the 1920s. What a great legacy!

We nearly had the whole beach to ourselves again today, and then the wild horses arrived. Lucy Carnegie and her grand-daughter Lucy Ferguson insisted that their horses be given permanent reign (rein??) over this island. We had seen them on the Cumberland River anchorage side when we were here last fall, but today they walked the beach as if they owned it. Guess they do!

Wild horses on Cumberland Island, GA
Fewer boats here tonight at the anchorage too. Only 2 sailboats and 2 trawlers. The snowbird parade north is slowly beginning.

Good humor in a cemetery???

After dinner last night at Lang’s Seafood in St. Marys, I convinced Pete that I really needed to revisit the Oakgrove Cemetery that I had walked around earlier that day. I had been a bit nervous walking around it alone, snapping photos of long-ago residents’ graves. But I'm really into cemeteries, and this one was from 1788.

An Oakgrove Cemetery Angel
During dinner, I looked up at a photo on the restaurant wall of the same "Awaiting the Resurrection" tombstone angel that I had photographed a few hours earlier. Shades of Savannah’s “Garden of Good and Evil” kinda gave me the heebie geebies.

So I just had to show the Captain the grave, but now it was dusk. Is that the ideal time to visit the dead, or what?

I had read that during the yellow fever era in St. Marys, the undertakers supposedly tied strings connected to bells on the hands of the deceased—in case they were in a coma and not dead. That may have been the origin of “saved by the bell” or maybe it’s an old wives tale.

But there we were at dusk, walking through this cemetery, when we heard a very loud bell. Yegads! Chill down our spines.

But it was the local Good Humor truck (and we had skipped dessert) so we enjoyed some ice cream treats in the cemetery as we finished out “graveyard shift” tour.

On to St. Marys

No pirates onboard?
Yesterday we sailed up the St. Marys River to St. Marys (what else?), Georgia, after leaving the Fernandina mooring field.

We passed by this area in mid-November, one week too early to attend the St. Marys Thanksgiving Dinner for cruisers.  So we wanted to see the great town that gives such a warm reception to boaters every year.

This cool ship was anchored in the harbor. Sure makes you wonder—pirate wannabe or anarchist?? We tied up to the dock at Lang’s Marina after checking in with dockmaster Nat, then enjoyed a light lunch at the Madhatter’s Tearoom.

Orange Hall in St. Marys, GA
While Captain Pete visited the Submarine Museum, I walked around this Georgia makes you think of “gone with the wind” town, and checked out the Orange Hall antebellum home, where I had a private tour.

This cute town is worth a visit although I held my breath as I walked past the demolition of the old elementary school. A nearby antiques shop owner told me it was a “sick building,” but that they were taking it down while the new school (next door) was in session. It was recess time too! Guess lead and asbestos aren't scary to these folks.

I got some coloful photos of fishing boat markers at the docks here tonight too, plus a great marsh shot with a sunken derelict boat.

Colorful floats

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last days in Florida waters

We just picked up a mooring in Fernandina Beach. The wind has been howling an almost steady 15-20 knots from the Northeast all day. Grabbing a mooring ball is so much easier than docking in this wind. No need to embarass ourselves if we can avoid it!

The last time we were here in Fernandina was November 16, as we were heading south. A lot of water under the bow since then! But 5 months??? We did fly home twice for about 10 weeks off MicMac, but this has been a journey.

It's time to swap out the cruising guides and charts too. Thank you, George and Denise, for loaning us so many of yours. Non-boating friends might be amazed at how expensive these necessary charts are. $70-$100 is the going rate. But cruisers can't simply rely on GPS and electronic chartplotters.

I just had a "happy sad" moment, realizing we'd be leaving Florida tomorrow morning. But golf, lawn, garden, and friends are waiting back in Virginia. We estimate another 4 weeks before we see them.

Last night, we stayed in Jacksonville Beach at Palm Cove Marina. We arrived at dead low tide and had about an inch under us in their channel as we very slowly approached. After an invigorating walk to Publix to restock the frig, we enjoyed one of our best dinners of the entire trip at Marker 32 Restaurant next to the marina. We are growing gills and fearful of looking like grouper, but had to order more swimming creatures. Pete enjoyed his Florida pompano, while I devoured my Florida shrimp and grits. Food and Service were terrific. Ask for Tiffany or Steve.

The night before that, we stayed at Camachee Cove Marina, in St. Augustine where we shouted "Ahoy" at one of our heroes, Tom Neale, when we spotted him on "Chez Nous" at the end of the dock. We've been Tom Neale wannabes since we first heard him at a cruising the Chesapeake seminar at some boat show back in the '70s. We even have some of his old cruising newsletters onboard. He and his wife Mel inspired us to cruise the Chesapeake and "do the ICW."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Masters at New Smyna Marina and Palm Coast Marina

We requested one of our final bridge openings for quite some time yesterday morning as we left Florida's "Space Coast." Most of the bridges ahead of us are either fixed bridges or open on demand. It's still quite fun to watch all that traffic stop for about 5 minutes as we pass through. There were googads of them around Fort Lauderdale, so Captain Pete is glad to see them behind us.

After another "o dark thirty" departure, we got to New Smryna Marina yesterday just in time for the Captain to watch the Masters (otherwise we would have anchored out) and the First Mate to walk downtown (all of two blocks away).

New Smyrna car rally
An antique car rally was taking place and it sounded like a Nascar race (or what I imagine one sounds like) as many of the engines revved up as the cars sat parked along Canal Street. It was sorta like a "BIG ENGINE" contest for guys with lots of tats. Many of the women were heavily tattooed also. I had hoped for a quiet little stroll downtown, but kinda enjoyed the people-watching.

Pete got to enjoy it too a few hours later, after the Masters, as we walked to the Dolphin Watch restaurant for more good seafood.

Landshark goes with everything.
We've been supporting Jimmy Buffet lately since we discovered Landshark Beer. It goes well with fish sandwiches. Shrimp sndwiches too!

Today we're again hooked up to cable, this time at the Palm Coast Marina and watching Phil, Tiger, Lee, and the gang.

Cocoa Village Marina again

Another easy motor sail up the Indian River with a nice breeze to Cocoa Village Marina. This is a terrific place to stay because of the cutesy downtown nearby--with lots of great restaurants. Our goal was to get there in time to catch the second round of the Masters. Gotta have cable sometime!

One of the big trawlers that Captain Pete admired (as they passed us) was Moon Beam from Charlottesville. Owners Peter and Didi are "loopers" on their way home and invited us onboard for docktails later that afternoon. They are on their way home on their counterclockwise loop (up the Hudson, through canals and some Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast, etc.) All with a Golden Retriever and a cat! They shared some great loop stories during dinner at The Black Tulip restaurant nearby.