Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sea Isle cruising

Hello all-
Here is a view of the north end of Cumberland Island, with a navigational buoy from the sea channel washed ashore next to the old lighthouse. Two lessons can be learned from this photo... never stake your vessel (or your life) on the location of a navigation aid... and never HIT one of those things because they are BIG and made of steel.

For the last few days, the Winnie W. has been getting closer to home, and cruising relatively familiar waters. This is a double joy because we love this area and we can appreciate it even more for having seen new strange places along the Great Loop. The Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina are famous for their wild beauty. Once the workaday world of the poorest and the playground of the richest, in the last twenty years, they have become increasingly developed and accessible to anybody.

Here is a view of the Brunswick bridge from St. Andrews Sound, actually looking over the southern tip of Jekyll Island.

The IntraCoastal Waterway follows the mostly natural channels winding through the river estuaries & swamps behind the ocean-front Sea Isles. The tides here run swiftly and the current often scours out the channels to depths of 30 or 40 feet, but it also piles up sand & mud in inconvenient places to block channels.

One answer to the problem of shifting channels it to put in rock jetties... this one is covered at high tide and the current sweeps over it, but the Corps of Engineers helpfully put a sign warning us of it. This is another view of the Brunswick bridge, this time from the north end of Jekyll Island, with a shrimp boat.

There are plentiful anchorages among the creeks & islets of this region, but there are fewer good places to walk a dog ashore. The Winnie W. is fairly bold in seeking out cozy places to anchor and Hank loves to explore. This spot is just behind St. Simon's Island. The shore is actually a bank of rough shells piled up along the edge of the marsh by the currents.

Doug rows Hank ashore, by this time a familiar routine to them both. Doug has been worried about Hank's reaction to dolphins, since they love to play near dinghies, but so far that hasn't been a problem.

The shell banks make quite a nice plot of solid land, which is a strong contrast to the marsh itself... totally unsuitable to walking the dog unless you either want to lose the dog or have him bring a ton of gluey black mud aboard.

Doug is careful to drag the dinghy ashore high enough that the rising tide will not carry it off. He enjoys a morning stroll with a cup of coffee while Hank runs on the crunchy shells... somewhat hard on his feet, we think, but he doesn't complain.

This is a pleasant way of life, which explains why we tend to get late morning starts and only make 40 or so miles per day. The channels themselves can be quite challenging. As mentioned, the depth can vary a LOT. Fortunately, unless you have hit a jetty, the bottom is soft sand or mud and running aground is not a disaster. The current not only pushes you forward or back, helping or hindering your speed, but can also push you sideways!

The answer to this latter problem is a special kind of navigation aid called a "range." The maze of creeks & rivers & islands make the tidal current go every direction imaginable (link to map of this location on the ICW). When the helms-person keeps the higher, rear range marker aligned with the lower, front range mark, the vessel is traveling right down the channel. Sometimes the bow is pointed 20 degrees askew to go straight!

The Winnie W. arrived safely at the next anchorage, this time at St. Catherines Island (link to map). This entails another romp ashore for the crew, and here's Hank doing just that!

There was another cold front coming, this one with warnings of squalls & thunderstorms, so we anchored in a place that should have been good shelter & good holding ground. We got one out of two; this anchorage was a bit rocky-rolly but the anchor didn't budge despite the strong currents pushing the boat first one way & then the other.

You can see the Winnie W. anchored over Doug's shoulder in this Hank's eye view of the St. Catherine dinghy ride. Kathie helped Hank work the camera! This was a long row, but Doug needs exercise too.

Here is the glorious sunset viewed from our St. Catherine's anchorage, the end of a perfect cruising day.

The next day we traveled to Thunderbolt, a small town just south of Savannah. But that's another story.

Hope you all are well & happy-
Doug & Kathie

1 comment:

Ben said...

Hi Guys -

I have really enjoyed your blog and it's pictures. It's really been an inspiration as Deb and I look at future plans. Thanks for sitting down and taking the time to keep the blog "live" and fresh. I must admit, it's a bit melancholy to know you are approaching local waters and at some point your big trip will conclude. Enjoy every minute.

Best Regards,

Ben M.