A Return to Savannah, Friends, and “Good Fortune”

We awoke in our marshy anchorage in the Vernon River to the sound of birds and dolphins swimming around (I still find it curious that there are so many dolphins in the ICW. There was a time when I thought of them as ocean creatures.) Although we skipped most of Georgia, we believe we did spend time in the two best places – Cumberland Island and Savannah.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint. It won’t be long until boaters will not be able to tell if it is green!

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

We stopped in Savannah to visit two couples once again. Peter and Kay live on Skidaway Island in the winter months and Connecticut in the summer. We made plans to visit again and they insisted on waving to us as we passed by, even though that would be 7:30 am.

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Our final stop for the day, just 16 more miles on top of the 86 miles from Cumberland Island, was the transient dock at our friends’ community in Causton Bluff. Al met Al (yes, they are both named Al) online through a trawler forum and learned that both own Mariner Orients 38. When we stopped in Savannah on our way south we met Al and Lynn in person.

After settling in at the dock, we began a much-needed cleaning of Kindred Spirit. Washing off salt from the offshore run would soon be followed by washing off the tree pollen. Washing the boat is a never ending project (If water is available. If not, just grin and bear it.)

The tides in Georgia are tremendous. Truly tremendous to boaters from Long island Sound like us. The normal tidal range is 8 feet here, but there was a little extra on each end due to the moon phase.

High & Low

Low and High – I tried to take a photo standing in the same place by the dock ramp. Hope you can see the differences in the angle of the ramp and the amount of the rocky berm exposed.

The Causton Bluff docks are just off the ICW and near the marshes. We could watch boats passing by on the ICW and watch the birds hanging around.

Pelicans!

Pelicans!

Snowy egrets

Snowy egrets

Peter and Kay invited us to dinner for a home-cooked Southern meal. Who could resist an offer like that? What a lovely evening we enjoyed with them -delicious food and lots of fun catching up on news. Peter and Kay’s boat, Cheers, will be Kindred Spirit‘s dock neighbor at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Connecticut this summer.

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I've ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I’ve ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Peter and Kay - thank you for a lovely evening!

Peter and Kay – thank you for a lovely evening!

We had explored the city of Savannah for a day during our visit in November (Savannah, the City of Squares and found it be a gracious and beautiful southern city. Although we weren’t able to tour old Savannah again, we did have the opportunity to visit Bonaventure Cemetery, outside of historical downtown Savannah and just 2 miles away from where we were docked. Bonaventure Cemetery is a public cemetery located on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries and one of the most haunted locations in America.

The cemetery is located on the site of “Bonaventure Plantation”, a 600-acre plantation with its own private cemetery originally owned by John Mullryne. Bonaventure means “good fortune.” In 1846 it was sold and the new owners formed the Evergreen Cemetery Company in 1868. Evergreen Cemetery Company was later purchased by the City of Savannah in 1907, making the cemetery public and changing the name to Bonaventure Cemetery.

There are over 30,000 interments (burials) in the 600 acre cemetery, including famous people and regular folks. There is actually a website finding specific graves in a any cemetery– Find a Grave. Who knew such things existed? According to the Bonaventure section of Find a Grave, there are 15 Watsons buried in Bonaventure.

It would have been easy to spend hours and hours, if not days, wandering through this cemetery. The Spanish moss hangs from the live oaks casting a sorrowful, but beautiful light over the graves. The tombstones are as varied as the time periods and the personalities of those who created or chose each one.

Without captions, let the photographs paint the picture. As it is, they only touch the surface of the experience.

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As you walk down the roads lined with the live oaks the first thing you notice is that the graves are organized in family plots, usually with a concrete boundary marker or fencing.

family plot 2 family plot

Headstones of "Father" and "Mother" were often surrounded by their descendants.

Headstones of “Father” and “Mother” were often surrounded by their descendants.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

grave structures

Some sites are marked by simplicity and some, like the above, are notable for more grandeur.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments, as well as some very simply adorned burials.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments.

The statues that adorn many of the gravesites are works of art, evoking a mournful sadness. We overheard a guide telling his group about a sculptor named John Walz who became very well-known from his memorial sculptures here at Bonaventure. I do not know which of these were created by him.

statue 1 & 2 statues older statues

As we wandered in the sun and shadows, we also wondered if we would find anyone named Watson (this was before I stumbled upon the “Find A Grave” website.) Purely by accident, we saw the name Watson on the ground and the full name “Gracie Watson.”

Found a Watson

We paused for a longer time here to read about little Gracie. It was not until later that I learned how famous this little girl has become.

Gracie Watson plaque

The plaque above reads —  “Little Gracie Watson was born in 1883, the only child of her parents. Her father was manager of the Pulaski House, one of Savannah’s leading hotels, where the beautiful and charming little girl was a favorite with the guests. Two days before Easter, in April 1889, Gracie died of pneumonia at the age of six. In 1890, when the rising sculptor, John Walz, moved to Savannah, he carved from a photograph this life-sized, delicately detailed marble statue, which for almost a century has captured the interest of all passersby.”

Although this is the family plot, Gracie rests here all alone, which is so sad. After her death, her father and mother eventually left Savannah and moved back to New England.

John Walz

Gracie’s father had sculptor John Walz carve a monument to his beloved daughter. Using only a photograph as reference John Walz sculpted the statue that now sits upon Little Gracie’s grave site. It is said to be life size and a picture perfect representation of Little Gracie Watson.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Our brief time in Savannah came to a close too soon, but we did squeeze in a breakfast with Al and Lynn before we departed.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

Southern hospitality and warmth is not a myth, it is a fact. Not only did we have that early morning wave from Peter and Kay to welcome us, but Al and Lynn came down to the dock to wave goodbye and send us off in style.

Waving farewell from the dock.

Waving farewell from the dock.

We may have only made two stops in Georgia, but both were filled with friends and “good fortune.”

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