Weathering the weather and other tribulations – Fernandina Beach to St Mary’s, Cumberland Island and Jekyll Island

Fernandina to Jekyll Island

Fernandina to Jekyll Island

On Monday we walked 4 miles in hot sunshine, through maritime forest, along the Atlantic coast and salt marshes of Cumberland Island, suitably protected from the elements with sunscreen, insect repellant, sunhats, and collared shirts, and with plenty of water to drink.
On Tuesday I woke to the sound of rain on Carina’s roof, and she was pitching so much that I decided it was time to open the Stugeron as a precautionary measure. We were encountering what popular meteorologists now seem to refer to as ‘weather’.

But the journey from Fernandina Beach to St Mary’s on Sunday had been perfect.

Near Fernandina

Near Fernandina

Crossing the State Line into Georgia

Crossing the State Line into Georgia

We crossed the state line into Georgia and a few miles further on, arrived at the marina at St Mary’s, a modest establishment with not many boats or facilities, and seemingly run singlehandedly by an old man called Nat.

Arriving at St Mary's

Arriving at St Mary’s

Although there had been industries in St Mary’s in the past, there’s now little evidence of them, but the old houses and tree-lined streets are very elegant.

Orange Hall, St Mary's

Orange Hall, St Mary’s

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Evening sunshine on the Waterfront, St Mary's

Evening sunshine on the Waterfront, St Mary’s

 

Sunset at St Mary's

Sunset at St Mary’s

We could have spent another day in St Mary’s, but wanted to see Cumberland Island while the weather was still good. It was only a short journey and we were anchored in Cumberland Sound by 11.30. Cumberland Island is the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands and its history dates back 4000 years. Before the Civil War, there were several plantations which were abandoned in the aftermath, and then much of the land was purchased in the 1880s by Thomas Carnegie. He and his wife Lucy built an estate on the southern part of the island known as Dungeness, comprising a grand hall and several other houses for their adult children and staff. They left it at the time of the Great Depression and in 1959 the great house burned down.
Attempts were made to develop the island, but eventually the Carnegie family sold it to the Federal Government and it is now preserved in its natural state, of maritime forest, salt marshes and sea shore.
The only access is by boat, usually a ferry from St Mary’s, but there is a dock where small private boats can tie up.
So after a quick lunch we took the dinghy and did a circular walk along the river shore, across to the Atlantic shore and back past Dungeness and the marshes to the dock.

Carina in Cumberland Sound, from Cumberland Island

Carina in Cumberland Sound, from Cumberland Island

The river shore, Cumberland Island

The river shore, Cumberland Island

There was a little museum by the dock, relating the island’s history.
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The maritime forest

The maritime forest

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One of the stipulations of Lucy Carnegie’s will had been that after her death, her horses should be allowed to roam free on the island. We had hoped to see some of the feral horses in the distance, and were rather surprised when we rounded a bend in the trail and came face to face with this pair.

Feral horses

Feral horses

The dunes and the Atlantic

The dunes and the Atlantic

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Reflections on the seashore

Reflections on the seashore

Young tern being fed on the beach

Young tern being fed on the beach

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More feral horses, at a safe distance this time

More feral horses, at a safe distance this time

The ruins of Dungeness

The ruins of Dungeness

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys

We decided to move on the next day, because although the weather forecast was bad (wind, heavy rain showers, moderate chop) the day after was even worse, so it seemed sensible to be sheltered in a marina. As promised, belt after belt of rain passed over, but in a way the scenery was even more beautiful.

A storm threatens

A storm threatens

Another one on the way

Another one on the way

The most direct way to Jekyll Island was by crossing St Andrew’s Sound. But in the prevailing north-easterly winds, this was hazardous for small craft. So we took the safer route via Umbrella Creek and the Satilla River, but these were not without hazards of their own. There were a couple of anxious moments when the depth sounder beeped and we almost ground to a halt. Ian had to carefully reverse at low speed to prevent us being stranded in a marshland wilderness at low tide.

Because of the weather, we decided to have two nights at Jekyll Harbour, which was just as well, as I woke at midnight to the sound of clatterings and bangings from below deck. Ian’s head was just visible above the opening to the engine room.
We had a serious problem.
The bilge pump had made a horrible noise, and then packed up completely. Ian had fitted the spare one, thoughtfully left by the previous owner, but that didn’t work either. For the non-boaters, the bilge pump removes excess water which has made its way by various means into the bilges, compartments along the bottom of the boat. If they can’t be emptied, that’s trouble.
Breakfast wasn’t a happy meal. He tried to phone Seatow, the boating equivalent of the AA, for advice, but reception was so bad that neither Ian, nor the Seatow woman, could hear what the other was saying.
As a last resort, he decided to read the intructions which came with the new pump. ‘Long storage may cause the impeller to become jammed.’
Aha! A quick fiddle with a screwdriver, and lo! the impeller was unjammed, and the bilge pump worked.
The day improved. In the afternoon we borrowed bikes from the marina and went for a ride round the island,
The evening was better still. Scott, the young man at the marina, had advised us that we probably wouldn’t have suitable apparel to go to the Jekyll Island Club Hotel’s main restaurant, (‘I assume you don’t have your dinner jacket on board’) but we would be presentable enough for the Crane Cottage Restaurant, within the Club complex. Not only that, someone would come and pick us up and bring us back to the marina afterwards.
So we decided we would have a treat, and the food, service and ambience were all very good indeed.

Enjoying dinner at the Crane Cottage, Jekyll Island

Enjoying dinner at the Crane Cottage, Jekyll Island

4 thoughts on “Weathering the weather and other tribulations – Fernandina Beach to St Mary’s, Cumberland Island and Jekyll Island

  1. All looks wonderful; can’t help wondering what dinner would have been like at the other place, dinner jacket indeed! Weather-wise, I had concerns for you as isn’t September notorious season for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Caribbean? That sometimes go north to Florida. Anyway, hopefully each day further north will take you away from that.

    • Yes Sheila, there is a bit of a concern, but Ian keeps an eye on the longterm weather forecast – the real nasties take a while to brew up so we would have time to get to a safe haven. We’ve been out in the wilds the last couple of days – anchored out last night and the first building we saw today was the marina where we are now – 30 miles from where we were last night!

  2. Heh Jane and Ian I have always wanted to visit that part of Georgia Haven’t had the opportunity yet My computer has no periods as you can see Enjoy your diner Fred and Jo

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