We crossed from Fernandina, Amelia Island, Florida into Georgia and traveled North along the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway). Our first time out of Florida since December of 2014
We were making our way toward Brunswick, GA and planned to stop for the weekend. Travel on the ICW in Florida on a weekend is perilous. There are a lot of boaters in Florida and many will plow by or overtake your boat without a radio call and waking your boat and all your possessions. We’ve been rocked a number of times. For the most part the boaters are courteous, however, it only takes a couple to spoil a nice day.
From Fernandina we first crossed Cumberland Sound. The charted route brought us out close to the Atlantic before heading back to the lee of Jekyll Island. The swells from the ocean made us rock and pound a little before we made our turn back toward the inside, Once across Cumberland sound we were then in Georgia.
We followed Jekyll Creek along the inside route and saw birds and ultra-lite airplanes. The tide was coming to its lowest point as we eased along Jekyll creek and our speed dropped to idle and water dropped as well. At time our depth sounder showed less than 3.5 feet. After Jekyll creek we entered St. Simons sound and the Brunswick River.
Brunswick Harbor Marina is up the river about 5 miles off the ICW and is considered a hurricane hole. A hurricane hole is a protected area were boats are brought or moored during times of bad weather. The marina is run by a couple of ladies, Sherry and Cindy.
Both of them have been on the job for plenty of years. When I called in on the radio Sherry told me to pay attention because she was going to give me specific instructions on how to approach the marina and get into our slip. I was look for the 80′ catamaran, hard to miss, pass along side and stern into the slip directly in front of the Catamaran. We were met at the slip by Cindy and Sherry. So now with myself at the helm I had Cynthia, Sherry, and Cindy all helping me into our slip. Actually it went quite well, except for when I let the front come over to the dock to fast. I had all three women telling me what was happening in the front of the boat while I was watching the back so I wouldn’t hit the dock. We made it and all the ladies were great help, to arrive, fuel, and pump-out in record time. (I spent a couple of mornings on the bench outside the marina office with Sherry, listening to stories of Brunswick, and drinking coffee.)
Brunswick is a town that has been hit like many by the economic down turn. This is shown by many empty buildings and an area that we were warned to stay away from. Even though depressed the downtown was active and had a number of small parks along the main street with fountains, walk ways, and benches to relax upon. As we walked with Toots we checked out the area for restaurants and other places to see. We passed Arte’s Wood Fired Pizza and Toots was offered some cool water and shade. We thanked the owner and said we would be back tomorrow for diner, and we were.
On Saturday there is a farmers market within easy walking distance. We were able to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, get homemade crab-cakes from Miss Earlene, and even pick up a couple of Tupperware goodies from the discount table.
During World War II Brunswick was known for building Liberty Ships and holds the record for completing 7 liberty ships in 1 month. This one business employed 16,000 people during that time. It’s amazing at what could be done when it was needed.
From Brunswick we traveled out the St. Simons Sound and up the MacKay River across the Altamaha Sound to the Darien River. Darien, Georgia is located 7 miles up the Darien River off the ICW. The ICW in this area of Georgia runs between large masses of sea grass. Along with the grass came huge flies These were Yellow flies At over an inch long just the buzzing was bad, but the females bite, and boy does it hurt.
We found ourselves pushing faster up the Darien River against the current trying to keep some air flowing across the bridge. Cynthia and I both armed with swatter battling the angry hordes of killer biting flies
Darien offers a free dock with power and water as a reward for battling your way up the river. The City Docks are at the base of town with ruins of an old fort just off the dock.
We were helped to tie up by locals that had gathered under a small pavilion to talk, keep out of the sun, and sip adult beverages from paper bags. At about 6:00PM the clientele of the awning changed to families fishing, dog walkers looking for a cool spot, and others just enjoying the waterfront.
We spent an evening on the dock and met different people while Cynthia, Toots and I walked the ruins of the fort. Fort Darien was established to protect the settlement from the Spanish in Florida. There had been a number of battles fought to protect the areas residents in the 17th century.
The Darien River had quite a current, that would go either way depending upon the flow of the tide. With the flow came a lot of debris and I had to push reeds, boards, and in the morning a large log away from the boat before we left the dock and headed our way back into the salt marshes and the flies
Our next day brought had us crossing Doboy, Sapelo, and St. Catherines Sounds to Kilkenny Creek and Kilkenny Marina, only a mile up the creek off the ICW. Kilkenny is located in the middle of nowhere Georgia. A beautiful area with large live oak trees and Spanish moss. There is a home located there that survived “Sherman’s March to the Sea” with only some cannon ball holes. The owner wanted to preserve the home and the holes and installed doors over the holes so that they could be opened to reveal the path of the cannon balls.
We met some sail boaters while on the dock in Kilkenny and discussed our mutual problems with the flies. The sail boaters having been more in the open than us had developed a game to capture flies in empty water bottles. On our next days run from Kilkenny to Isle of Hope, Cynthia and I tried our hands and bottles at fly-catching. Nothing happened while we traveled, but I could imagine the conversation.
Tow boat US; “How did you manage to run aground here Mr. Miller?
Myself: Cynthia was ahead on fly-catching so I put the autopilot on and was trying to get this big fly when…..”
From Kilkenny it was a short trip to Isle of Hope Georgia. We crossed only one sound, the Ogeechee Sound, without an problems.
Isle of Hope is outside of Savannah and is where Savannah’s elite would come to summer. The area has many beautiful homes and cottages along the river. We had many nice walks around the surrounding area.
At the Isle of Hope Marina we met many boaters staying for the Memorial Weekend. Cynthia and I wanted to go into Savannah to explore and tourist, so we tried to rent a car. We were told none were available and placed upon a waiting list. We would have to figure another way to get to town. Along came Ed and Joe from the boat behind us. They were headed to Hilton Head for the weekend and said we wont be using it so just take our car. They handed us the keys and said “have fun”. Ed gave us some helpful information on locations to see and that one of the tours was pet friendly.
Savannah is amazing. We spent our first day walking in old town close to River Street and the waterfront. Being a Holiday weekend there was plenty going on. Street performers, craft fair, and the regular shops and stores along River Street. While on our promenade we found the pet friendly tour and booked it for the following day.
Old Savannah Tours offered free parking and open air trolleys. We boarded our trolley mid morning with our host and driver Alexander Stuart. Alex was an amazing host that entertained us as well as enlightened the group to the history and story of Savannah. While on our tour the trolley would stop and occasionally a character actor would enter and give the riders a brief history of themselves or the area they were from. We were visited by John Jay, architect to the rich and famous, can you say “portico, it is so fun to say portico, portico, portico, see what I mean”. Smiling Jack the pirate from Pirate house , and the famous waving girl. There is a Waving Girl statue along the river were the women would wave to the ships as they passed by hoping for her love to return. She did it for 44 years and ships began to salute her with three blasts of a horn or 3 rings of the bell as they passed. Now as ships pass they still sound the bells or horns in honor of the Waving girl.
Savannah and Isle of Hope left us in awe of the history, the beauty, and the goodness of people. We hope to return.
After the Memorial Weekend we pressed on North an into South Carolina, which is another story.
Until next time, pay it forward when you can.