First Stop in Florida – Fernandina Beach

We left Cumberland Island, somewhat regretfully, and traveled 7 miles (yes, only 7 miles) over the border to Florida. We noticed that the pelicans are now white, not gray/brown.

Florida's pelicans

Florida’s pelicans

It was time for a fueling stop and Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, is directly on the ICW.  Fernandina Harbor Marina has $20 per night moorings.  Active Captain (the boater’s go-to for the latest information) reported concerns about mooring balls covered in barnacles and less than helpful staff. Our experience was the opposite. The ball was fine and the staff was very helpful! The “boaters lounge” near the showers and laundry gave us a chance to meet fellow boaters and chat.

The dedication on this bench along the waterfront caught my eye!

The dedication on this bench along the marina’s waterfront caught my eye! Doesn’t that make you smile? I would like to meet Florence and Arthur.

We only intended to spend this one day so we set off to explore. The main street of Fernandina Beach is quite charming with shops and restaurants…. and book stores. In our short time, I discovered two independent shops right on that main street. I indulged and bought a novel that takes place on Cumberland Island, Plum Orchard.

With a guide in hand, we walked through some of the historic district. Fernandina Beach was established in 1811 and named for King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The residential  houses represent architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Victorian, Italianate style and Queen Anne influences.

Upper Left, clockwise -~Prescott house (1896) ~Noble Hardy (1902) ~Hirth (1886) ~Baker (1859)

Upper Left, clockwise -~Prescott house (1896)
~Noble Hardy (1902)
~Hirth (1886)
~Baker (1859)

Love the weather vanes atop the cupolas

Love the weather vanes atop the cupolas

We stopped for lunch at Timoti’s Seafood Shak, recommended to us by Sue and Dave (san cles). One of our favorite pastimes on this trip is to try local restaurants. We give Timoti’s 4 gold stars for good taste and reasonable prices.

~Award winning Timoti's Seafood Shak ~ Al and his oyster po'boy ~Michele with a mahi mahi wrap

~Award winning Timoti’s Seafood Shak
~ Al and his oyster po’boy
~Michele with a mahi mahi wrap

Next door to Timoti’s was a very cool shop with lots of curiosities for outdoor/indoor decorating. It is a very good thing that we have no room for any of these creations on the boat, otherwise we would be tempted to bring so much home with us!

Colorful metal artwork

Colorful metal artwork

These old pieces of wood become fish with messages in the hands of their creator.

These old pieces of wood and scrap become fish with messages in the hands of their creator.

Have you ever heard of petanque? The Petanque American Open was in progress in Fernandina Beach that weekend. Petanque, pronounced  “pay tonk”, originated in southern France (early 1900’s)  and is one of Europe’s most popular outdoor games. It looks a lot like Italian bocce and is related to horseshoes. 

The aim is to toss, or roll a number of hollow steel balls (boules) as close as possible to a small wooden target ball, called a cochonnet (French for “piglet”). All players take turns throwing their boules from within a circle, keeping both feet on the ground. The team that ends up nearest to the cochonnet after all balls are played, wins. 
The target ball (cochonnet) can be hit, and thus moved, at any time, which can totally upset the score. 
Official bocce is played on a smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, while petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces.

All around us we could hear French, Spanish, Italian, and English. We watched two teams play – one team in white shorts and black shirts, the other in white long sleeves and jeans. It was an intense game, requiring a measuring tape in the final round.

The game of Petanque

The game of Petanque

Although short, we had a very nice day in Fernandina Beach. The next morning  brought another dawn departure so that we could make it all the way to St. Augustine in one day. With only 11 hours of daylight, we need to take advantage of each minute.

Leaving Fernandina Beach to head for St. Augustine

Leaving Fernandina Beach at dawn to head for St. Augustine 

“Magical and Mysterious” Cumberland Island, Georgia

We really wanted to go offshore for a long run when we left Beaufort/Ladys Island and head straight to St. Mary’s Georgia. We heard and read that the ICW in Georgia has not been as well-maintained as the other states, leaving shoaled areas. In Georgia, the ICW meanders, twisting and turning back and forth, making the trip much longer and probably more tedious. But, Mother Nature had other plans and sent some high winds and seas for our departure day. Rather than sit and wait for a good weather window, we set out in the ICW.  We made sure to plan our days around the tides so that we traveled the shallower sections on a higher or rising tide. We couldn’t do anything about the twists and turns, and it surely does twist, turn and meander. We also noticed that one cannot really plan around the currents to take advantage of them for the whole day. The current changes as you travel across inlets and in and out of rivers and creeks. It soon became a guessing game for us – so what do you think the current will be on that next section?? One moment we were moving along at over 8 knots, and the next we were slammed back to barely 4 knots, without changing the engine speed or adjusting any sail. Then, back up again to 7 or 8 knots.

That's a lot of current against  us!

That’s a lot of current against us!

Pelicans on every and any buoy!

Pelicans on every and any buoy!

After two days in Georgia’s ICW, we saw that the weather on Wednesday (Nov 6th) would be quieter and easy. We left St. Catherine’s Island and exited out Sapelo Sound just at sunrise.

Dawn, as we left the anchorage near St. Catherine's Island

Dawn, as we left the anchorage near St. Catherine’s Island

It was a good day to go outside and offshore!

It was a good day to go outside and offshore!

Although we thought we would only get to Jekyll Island, things went well, so we continued onto St. Mary’s Sound, the very last stop in Georgia. The Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, is located up the St. Mary’s River, so submarines go in and out of there quite often. We heard the Coast Guard telling boats to stay out of the channel long before we actually saw the submarine and its escorting ships. The “action” was in the distance, but I tried to get a few photos.

The escorting ship with the submarine

The submarine with BIG and small escorts

 

This smaller Coast Guard boat came speeding past us on its way back to the base.

This smaller Coast Guard boat came speeding past us on its way back to the base.

We anchored at the southern end of Cumberland Island just at dusk. Whew, made it!

Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest barrier island, a national seashore, and a Congressionally designated wilderness. The maritime forests, undeveloped beaches, and saltwater marshes are home to many species, including wild horses, turkeys, armadillos, sea turtles, and many birds. The human inhabitants span centuries – natives, missionaries, Spanish, French, and English explorers, enslaved African Americans, plantation owners, and wealthy industrialists, the Carnegies.

There are still about 3 dozen island residents, but, as a National Park, visitors are restricted to 300 per day. The only access is by the ferry which runs twice each day, or by private boat. People can hike, bike, camp, but cannot bring cars.

"Sea Camp" where the ferries dock and the tours begin. ~ Al relaxes and rocks on the porch

“Sea Camp” where the ferries dock and the tours begin.
~ Al relaxes and rocks on the porch

We really wanted to take the Land and Legacy Tour, a six-hour trip by van over the dirt roads. No room on our first day, so we set out to explore the southern end of the island on our own. Another cruising couple, Curt and Cindy (Classic Cyn) joined us on our hike.

Beautiful sandy paths under our feet and Spanish moss swaying above our heads

Beautiful sandy paths under our feet and Spanish moss swaying above our heads

Approaching the sandy beaches

Approaching the sandy beaches

The trees are incredible! Twisting limbs that reach out and ask to be climbed.

The trees are incredible! Twisting limbs that reach out and ask to be climbed.

It is hard to capture in a photo, but the winds and waves were fierce. Not at all like the day before.

It is hard to capture in a photo, but the winds and waves were fierce. Not at all like the day before.

~Shells tumbled across the sand ~Big and baby horseshoe crab shells

~Shells tumbled across the sand
~Big and baby horseshoe crab shells

We were so thrilled to see  wild horses as we walked back from the beach. There are about 150 horses on the island. They may be wild, but they pay no attention as you walk by. People are reminded that these are wild horses and should not be touched.

Wild horses of Cumberland Island

Wild horses of Cumberland Island

And there was this wild turkey strutting his stuff down the path

And there was this wild turkey strutting his stuff down the path

After the beach hike, we hiked to the ruins of Dungeness. In the 1880s Thomas Carnegie,  (brother of steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie) and his wife Lucy bought land on Cumberland to build a winter retreat. Carnegie did not live to see it finished, but Lucy and their nine children continued to live on the island, in their mansion Dungeness, a 59-room “Scottish castle.” The last event at Dungeness was the 1929 wedding of a Carnegie daughter. After the Crash and the Depression, the family left the island and the mansion was left vacant. It burned in a 1959 fire.

Even the ruined remains of Dungeness are impressive

Even the ruined remains of Dungeness are impressive

One of the most curious things around the grounds of Dungeness was the cluster of rusting autos, just abandoned there.

Old autos left to rust (rest?) on the grounds near Dungeness

Old autos left to rust (rest?) on the grounds near Dungeness

Can you figure out the model of the car???

Can you figure out the model of the car???

On the next day, we tried to take the Lands and Legacy Tour again.  No luck when we called for a reservation, but we hoped that someone might not show up. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The park ranger must have felt sorry for the four of us, so he showed us on the map how we could get to the north end of the island by using our dinghies. He showed us the route and where we might leave the dinghies. If we made it in time, we could join his tour group at “The Settlement.” We thought this was a great idea! Hopped in our dinghies, brought extra gas, our pb&j sandwiches, and off we went.

Are you familiar with the phrase, “not to scale”? The little land map we had wasn’t really quite enough for our trip by water. We went through the salt marshes, winding back and forth, just like a maze. If it weren’t for my iPhone, we might still be lost in those grassy waters! It took us almost 90 minutes, and we were moving at a good speed. Afterwards, we figured out that we had dinghied about 15 miles one way.  Then, we could not find the spot the ranger had described for landing the dinghies. In desperation, we went around a little corner and found a tiny beach near the edge. Walking up into the woods, we found a sandy path and began to follow it. It soon became a sandy road that looked like it was traveled. Certainly by horses because they left “evidence” all along it. Eventually we found (or was that stumbled upon?) “The Settlement.”

The Spanish moss canopy above our heads

The Spanish moss canopy above our heads

In the 1890s, “The Settlement” was established at the north end of the island as a residential area for black workers, as Georgia had passed laws requiring racial segregation of housing and public facilities. The First African Baptist Church, established in The Settlement in 1893, was rebuilt in the 1930s. It is one of the few remaining structures of this community. Hollis, the Park Ranger, was in the church with his tour group. As we entered the back of the little chapel, he looked quite surprised to see us! Evidently, he did not expect we would really try to get here by boat. Really?
This tiny little church was where John F. Kennedy , Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in a private secret ceremony with only 40 guests. John’ s college roommate was a Carnegie and had spent time here on Cumberland Island over the years.

The First African Baptist Church, Cumberland Island

The First African Baptist Church, Cumberland Island

 

The

The interior of the  little church

~The church bell  ~ Hollis describing the the history of the church and Kennedy wedding  ~ Supposedly, the natural wood cross was never there until after the Kennedy wedding

~The church bell
~ Hollis telling stories, describing the the history of the church and Kennedy wedding
~ Supposedly, the natural wood cross was never there until after the Kennedy wedding

Hollis also told about Jimmy Carter’s friendship with Robert Rischarde, a Cumberland resident. Carter visited the island many times and learned to appreciate environmental issues through this friendship.

Robert Rischarde's house

Robert Rischarde’s house

Hollis also told stories about a local Gullah Geechee woman, Beulah Alberty, who both befriended and helped fellow neighbors, but also cursed them at other times. He says that Jimmy Carter wrote poetry about a “Beulah” ……. Officially, Beulah took care of the church in the 1950s and ’60s as its secretary and as “the mother of the church.”

~Beulah's house ~colorful interior walls

~Beulah’s house
~colorful interior walls

On our way back to the dinghies, we took the path that led to the HIgh Point Cemetery. It is actually several different little areas, enclosed by brick walls (built by Beulah) or by black fencing.

High Point Cemetery, Cumberland Island

High Point Cemetery, Cumberland Island

Would we recommend or repeat this little adventure? Probably not. Are we glad we did it? You bet!
There is still much to see on Cumberland Island, and we would like to stop there again on our trip north in the spring. There truly is a sense of mystery and magic to the island that is unlike anywhere we have ever been. The mixture of nature, culture, history, without the typical tourism, is unusual. It is best described on the Cumberland Island website —
“The greatest and most lasting value of the Island is its ability to change us. It is a place of transformation. It is this intangible feature that seems to be the most important benefit which Cumberland Island has for its guests. This spiritual quality is what, year after year, its visitors, residents, and Park Service employees seem to believe is its most important contribution to our people.”

Salt marshes and Spanish moss

Salt marshes and Spanish moss

Beaufort and the SSCA Cruising Station on Ladys Island

Remember when I dropped my camera back in Georgetown, South Carolina?? Sometimes things happen for a reason, you just don’t know the reason until much later, if ever.  I ordered a new camera through Amazon (thank you, Adam for the fast & free shipping!) and had it shipped to Beaufort, South Carolina (Note – This is Beaufort, SOUTH Carolina, not Beaufort NORTH, Carolina. This Beaufort is the one pronounced “Bew-fort” while the North Carolina one is pronounced “Bo-fort.”) Why Beaufort? I looked ahead to where we might be by the time a package could arrive in a location and cross-referenced that with the SSCA “Cruising Stations.” Your next question would be what is an SSCA Cruising Station? Cruising Station hosts are members who volunteer to serve as a contact and host for other members in a given location. They may offer information about a port and facilities, welcome you, provide local maps and guides, accept packages, and assist in locating things you might need. I contacted the Butlers in Beaufort (Ladys Island)  to ask if I could have the new camera sent to them. Not only did Rick say yes, but he also stayed in contact with us, gave wonderful advice on the route we would be taking, and offered his own dock as a place to stay.

If I had not dropped and broken my camera, we would never have contacted Rick and met both him and his lovely wife, Carol. Things do happen for a reason! The morning of our arrival, Rick was out sailing in his beetle cat and quickly hopped on his dock to help us tie up. And what a beautiful dock it is – teal colored! You know how I love my blues.

Kindred Spirit resting at the Butler's dock

Kindred Spirit resting at the Butler’s dock

It is long dock!

It is long dock!

Once we were settled in, we spent the afternoon cleaning Kindred Spirit. She was scrubbed outside and inside, the refrigerator was defrosted, the stainless was polished, and the teak was sealed again. Al found time to make a “wave stopper” to lessen the sound of the waves slapping against the transom.

Al and his "wave stopper"

Al and his “wave stopper”

Rick and Carol invited us for cocktails and conversation, and introduced us to their neighbors, Allan and Cathy, also cruisers and once lived in Farmington, CT. There’s that small world again!

Carol, Rick, Cathy, Allan, and Al

Carol, Rick, Cathy, Allan, and Al

Rick showed us the best, absolutely the best, grandchildren’s room that I have ever seen in my life. I wanted to be a child again just to spend time in it.  Al was totally captured by Rick’s  workmanship and creativity – from a  nautical perspective and carpenter’s  perspective.

A nautical space for the grandchildren  designed and built by Rick

A nautical space for the grandchildren designed and built by Rick

The study area

The study area

Every detail was a delight to behold

Every detail was a nautical delight to behold

Rick and Al discussing the fine points of the room

Rick and Al discussing the fine points of the room

The tides are very different here in the south, with a much greater range.  New London, CT’s tidal range is 3 feet, 1 inch, while Beaufort, South Carolina experiences a 6-8 foot tidal range. We were fascinated with Rick’s “finger” on the dock —

The finger pints to the tide's height

The finger points to the depth of the water below the dock.
~On the left, the water is LOW since the finger is pointing down just below 7 feet.
~ On the right, the water level is HIGH, with the finger pointing at 15 feet.

We spent Monday doing errands and picking up boat and provisioning items, as well as visiting Beaufort. Beaufort is a charming small city. Once again, this is southern town was the location for a few very famous films – Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, Prince of Tides. We enjoyed our afternoon in Beaufort very much.

Historic homes, Spanish moss hanging on the trees

Historic homes, Spanish moss hanging on the trees

Beaufort has an amazing waterfront park

Beaufort has an amazing waterfront park

I loved the oyster shells embedded in the concrete paths

I loved the oyster shells embedded in the concrete paths

Relaxing in the waterfront park

Relaxing in the waterfront park

And, of course, we found an ice cream parlor – Southern Sweets!

Yummy ice cream, really cute place

Yummy ice cream, really cute place

Beaufort has mermaids, too. I wonder if they are cousins of Norfolk's mermaids?

Beaufort has mermaids, too. I wonder if they are cousins of Norfolk’s mermaids?

Tuesday came and it was time to say goodbye to Rick and Carol, as well as Beaufort. We hope to visit again on our way north in the spring.

The view from the Butler's home

The view of the dock from the Butler’s home

A sunrise tellin, given to me by Rick. I will be looking for them in the Bahamas! Thank you, Rick. I will treasure this one.

A sunrise tellin, given to me by Rick. I will be looking for them in the Bahamas! Thank you, Rick. I will treasure this one.

We passed through Ladys Island swing bridge

We passed through Ladys Island swing bridge

Put up our sails after the fixed bridge

Put up our sails and continued on.

 

Charleston Charm

We only spent two days in Charleston, South Carolina, one day beautiful and one day cloudy, but the city shined throughout. Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen (ok, that isn’t a long list, but my own experience is my only reference point.) It is like stepping back in time; the architecture  and history just surrounds you. I really wished I had my camera. 🙁 I have a few pictures taken with my iPhone but it couldn’t capture everything we saw.

As we sailed past the southern tip of Charleston we could see Battery Park

As we sailed past the southern tip of Charleston we could see Battery Park

We started our visit with a carriage tour. It was a neat way to travel around the city and to see it. Charleston has a unique way of managing the carriage tour companies. Each carriage must first stop at a “checkpoint” where a lottery system is used. They really use little balls in a spinning wheel. The specific tour is randomly selected in this lottery. No one, not the city, the carriage company or you the individual tourist, gets to pick which specific tour of the city you will get. This is done to fairly spread the carriages out so they aren’t all in one place or section of the city.

We chose Old South Carriage Tours. ~ Janice our guide was entertaining and knowledgeable. ~ Steve, our horse

We chose Old South Carriage Tours.
~ Janice our guide was entertaining and knowledgeable.
~ Steve, our horse

Charleston has a height restriction on its buildings, to this day. No building in Charleston can be built higher than its church steeples. I don’t know if that is an actual law, but that’s what Janice told us.

The tallest building in South Carolina.

The tallest building in South Carolina.

The streets of Charleston

Stucco was used to cover the brick. The stucco was etched to make it look like stones which were more prestigious. This building's stucco has deteriorated over the years.

Stucco was used to cover the brick. The stucco was etched to make it look like stones which were more prestigious. This building’s stucco has deteriorated over the years.

Here it is fall and the flowers are still blooming - we are in the south!

Here it is fall and the flowers are still blooming – we are in the south!

More flower boxes with a little bit of Halloween thrown in

More flower boxes with a little bit of Halloween thrown in

A home  "south of Broad", known as SOBs.

A home “south of Broad”, known as SOBs. (That was considered to be a prestigious designation.)

Just a lovely front

Just a lovely front to this home

The ironwork is one of Charleston’s most unique features. When a house was damaged or destroyed its ironwork would often show up on another house over the years.

Ironwork gates, balconies, fences, windows

Ironwork gates, balconies, fences, windows

Gorgeous side portico and ironwork gate

Gorgeous side portico and ironwork gate

On August 31, 1886, Charleston was struck by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast, damaging or destroying hundreds of buildings in and around the city.  Buildings that were rebuilt were repaired or reinforced with “earthquake bolts.”  Long iron rods were run through walls and anchored with a plate and a large iron nut. These earthquake bolts can still be seen on the sides of most Charleston buildings. No one really knows if the bolts are truly effective. Some skeptics think it may just have been an enterprising scheme by an”earthquake bolt salesman.”

Earthquake bolts are visible on the side of this brick building.

Earthquake bolts are visible on the side of this brick building.

Earthquake bolts adorn the front of this lovely structure.

Earthquake bolts adorn the front of this lovely structure.

This doorway was an interesting architectural feature.

The older entrance structure is still visible.

The older entrance structure is still visible.

A close-up of the writing above the door, gives recognition to the the “union” for restoration after the earthquake. “Union” = “Yankees”?
doorway - earthquake close upOur carriage tour was on Halloween. This one home decorates for Halloween and Christmas. The very top pointed structure is actually draped with black fabric to imitate a witch’s hat. At Christmas, it becomes a red Santa hat!

Halloween in Charleston

Halloween in Charleston

Centre Market or City Market, is a historic market complex in downtown, dating from the  1790s. It stretches for four city blocks through a  series of one-story market sheds. Along Meeting Street, there are even more sweetgrass baskets displayed and being made.

Sweetgrass baskets

Sweetgrass baskets

On our second day in Charleston, we toured the Nathaniel Russell House Museum which has been carefully preserved and restored. It is most well-known for its self-supporting elliptical spiral staircase. We also toured the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, which is preserved under a conservation approach rather than a restoration approach. This means everything has been left as it is, even if it is not in the best of condition or dates from different time periods.The two houses were an interesting contrast. We enjoyed both!

After all this touring and history, we needed a little libation and food so we ate lunch at Hymans’ Seafood, evidently very famous given the number of famous people who have eaten there! We had fried green tomatoes (Wadmalaw Delight) with grits, hush puppies, and a sampler of fried oysters, shrimp, crab cakes, and fish with local Palmetto beers.

"Fish" decor at Hyman's Seafood. ~Plates hanging on the wall are signed by the famous people who have eaten here. Gee, no one asked us to do that. :-(

“Fish” decor at Hyman’s Seafood.
~Plates hanging on the wall are signed by the famous people who have eaten here. Gee, no one asked us to do that. 🙁

Palmetto beers at Hymans SeafoodBefore I finish with our time in Charleston, I simply must describe the marina where we spent the two days – Charleston City Marina. Certainly the most “upscale” marina of our experience over the past 7 weeks! We were one of the smallest and oldest boats there; most were large power yachts. The marina provided a free van to take you downtown, free coffee, and a newspaper delivered to your boat in the morning, plus  a happy hour with beer, wine and sandwiches every evening. The outside dock, known as the megadock, is almost a half mile long!  But the talk of the marina this week was Rising Sun, a megayacht docked on the long outside pier. (I might also mention that our little Kindred Spirit was docked on that same long pier.)

~The crew loading Rising Sun  ~ Al next to (or drawfed by) Rising Sun

~The crew loading Rising Sun
~ Al next to (or dwarfed by) Rising Sun

A few tidbits we learned about Rising Sun, the 6th largest megayacht in the world.

  • 454 feet long, with a beam of 61 feet
  • Can travel at 26- 28 knots speed
  • Fuel capacity – we heard different numbers. Supposedly they took on 180,000 gallons (at $4/gallon that would be $720,000), but has a capacity of 265,000 gallons.
  • Custom built in 2004 for Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation
  • Currently owned by David Geffen, record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist
  • Reported to have 82 rooms, an extensive wine cellar, a movie theater and basketball court that doubles as a helicopter landing pad.
  • Room for 16 guests and a crew of 45

A crew of 45 for 16 guests………. don’t you think Kindred Spirit is a bit understaffed????? Seriously, we may not be a megayacht, but we are in the same port and having fun!

I want to come back to Charleston someday!