Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Beaufort to Brunswick

At 0900 when we had planned to leave Fort Federica (more below), we could see the Lanier Bridge and prepared to get underway. As Ann took her place by the anchor, however, she asked where the bridge was. “What a silly question,” I thought, “she must have turned gotten turned around.” As I started to point out the bridge, I realized that it has disappeared in the fog. The good thing was that we really didn’t need to be anywhere soon. Brunswick, our next destination was only about 2 hours away. We decided, very prudently we thought, that we would wait a while and check again at noon. It is a good thing we did because we heard some boats on the radio that had deployed the first mate to the bow so he/she could see other boats approaching and could point out navigation aids. Yikes!

At noon we hadn’t heard anything on the radio for a while AND we could see the bridge so we decided it was time to go. After about an hour, the bridge disappeared again. This was not good. About 20 minutes later, the water ahead of us began to disappear as a huge fog bank began rolling in. As it approached, I swear it looked as if the fog was consuming the navigation aids, the trees on the banks and even the water itself. Now this was going to be a problem.

We slowed to idle speed (6MPH), turned on the radar, located the ship on the AIS and yes, we put Ann on the bow so she could see things twenty feet earlier than I could. We have been in a dense fog before, but this was dense enough – visibility was about 150-200 meters or so. Then we heard on the radio a securite call. Securite calls are issued when a captain wants to issue a navigational warning that may concern safety at sea, yet may not be particularly life-threatening. This particular securite warning was about a vessel called Emerald Princess. Her captain wanted everyone in receiving distance to know that she was setting to sea – about a mile from where we were. <Gulp!> Now, I know that we could not see Emerald Princess if she was 200 meters in front of us and she could not see us at the same distance. I know from my AIS that she was taking some time to set off from the dock and I could not yet see her on my radar. Still, I was picturing the Emerald Princess from the Princess Cruise Lines. She is a 952 foot long ship with 15 decks and weighs in at 113, 581 tons. Though I must admit I was wondering what the largest ship in the Princess Line was doing leaving from Brunswick, Georgia I didn’t doubt that she was.

As it turned out, our Emerald Princess was not THE Emerald Princess. It was a casino boat from the Golden Isles Cruise Lines that was about 150 feet overall and about four decks high. Moreover, by the time she got underway, we had picked her up, first on radar, than as the fog lifted, visually. Still, we gave her plenty of room. In case you were wondering, no, it wasn’t really scary. But for about thirty minutes it was very nerve wracking!

Well, so much for the excitement! Before the fog and before the fake Emerald Princess we stopped at three anchorages. One was just past Savannah on the Vernon River at Beaulieu or Possum Point (it is called different things in different anchoring books). It was a mediocre anchorage without too much protection, but since the wind wasn’t blowing too hard, it wasn’t a problem. Next we stayed at Duplin Island. It has very good protection from trees from the west, but unfortunately for us, the wind was from the north. In fact, it was so strong that it was actually a bit bumpy in the anchorage the next morning! Still we may have made a discovery. The Duplin River anchorage is about ¼ mile away from the Sapelo Island ferry dock.
Some historians believe Sapelo Island was the site of San Miguel de Gualdape the first European settlement in the present day United States – though it was short-lived (1526–27). If true, it would also be the first place in the U.S. that a Catholic mass was celebrated. The island also houses the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. Now here is the cool thing. There is a ferry from Sapelo Island to the mainland that brings visitors and tourists. Since we love anchorages that are also historical sites, next spring we are going to find out if we can show up on our dinghy (rather than the ferry) and tour the place!

After the Duplin River anchorage we headed to Fort Federica. We had been here before so didn’t go ashore; we just waited for the fog to lift. Still, Fort Frederica has a history, about which I wrote last November:
Fort Frederica itself is one of those national monuments of which very few people have ever heard. According to the National Park Service, Georgia's fate was decided in 1742 when Spanish and British forces clashed on St. Simons Island. Fort Frederica's troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring Georgia's future as a British colony. Today, the archeological remnants of Frederica are protected as a National Monument. As I am sure everyone knows, the Battle of Bloody Marsh, near Ft. Frederica, took place during the “War of Jenkins’ Ear,” which, as far as I know, is the only war named after a body part. In case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia, “Its unusual name … refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship. The severed ear was subsequently exhibited before Parliament.  The tale of the ear's separation from Jenkins, following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, provided the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire …”

Frederica was followed by our harrowing encounter with the fog after which we arrived at our destination Brunswick, GA.
We stayed at Brunswick through Thanksgiving. There were about 100 people at the Marina Thanksgiving celebration. The owner of the marina provided all the food, except dessert. A number of the cruisers brought a dessert to share. Ann made and brought a scrumptious apple pie. We met Jim and Paula on Sea Eagle on their way to Sanford, Florida other folks who live in and around Brunswick.
Now, according to the locals, Brunswick has not had any snow in over 28 years – and it did not snow while we were there. But it was COLD, WET and MISERABLE!!! I mean seriously cold, wet and miserable. It was so bad I was in long pants – again!!! It was so cold I actually got the coax cable out of storage and hooked up the cable TV. Man oh man, I do not want to belittle global warming, but couldn’t we have just a little bit down here in southern Georgia?
Brunswick isn’t like many of the towns and cities we normally visit. It isn’t an exclusively tourist town and it isn’t one of those dying fishing villages; it is as much an industrial center and seaport as it is anything else. It is kind of like a miniature Baltimore in that respect.  Like the islands in the area, Brunswick was initially settled in 1738 as a buffer to Spanish Florida. The Brits never did trust those Spaniards down in Florida and were always concerned that they would start coming north.

The Brunswick Excursion
If you look closely, you can see a small rafter of turkeys.
After Thanksgiving we decided to take a week-long cruise around Brunswick to check out some of the area. We decided to go to Cumberland Island, to St. Mary’s and Jeckyll Island. Cumberland we had visited before and liked it so much, we thought it would be worth another visit. St. Mary’s is a traditional cruiser’s destination to which we had never been. The town puts on a big Thanksgiving for cruiser’s that we were going to attend before we decided to go to the marina’s instead. Jeckyll is one of Georgia’s barrier islands that has been developed as a tourist destination with a number of hotels, restaurants and at least one marina – that we planned on visiting. We figured it would take a week to do these places justice, so off we went.
Our first stop was our southern –most destination, Cumberland Island.  When we arrived there were about 15 boats there, by the time we left there were about ten. We anchored in the northern half of the anchorage which I believe gave us the best protection and the best view of the other boats arriving.
The main road on
Cumberland Island
We had visited Cumberland before and had already seen the feral horses. This time, though, we saw the full panoply of animals, several horses, four separate armadillos, a bunch of individual deer and at least two different a rafters of turkeys. (Do you like the way I snuck in “rafter of turkeys?” A rafter is a gathering of turkeys. In one rafter there were about ten, in the other there were maybe four.) We also paid more attention to the history of the island (Ann is really getting into it) and went shelling on the National Seashore. For some reason we found more and varied shells last year, but we managed to pick up a few.
After a couple of days at Cumberland Island, we went to St. Mary’s, GA. St. Mary’s traditionally puts on a huge Thanksgiving bash for all cruisers in the neighborhood. Initially we had planned to go to St. Mary’s for Thanksgiving, but changed our minds at the last minute and decided to stay at our marina in Brunswick. Anyway, besides a huge harbor that could easily hold a hundred boats at anchor, the town also has three museums, one focused on Cumberland Island, one at Orange Hall, a well-maintained 1740ish mansion built in the Greek Revival style, and the Submarine Museum. Yes, you read that right, the Submarine Museum. King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base, right next door to St. Mary’s, is the home port for all Trident submarines in the Atlantic Fleet. The town has a kind of homemade museum that consists of donated artifacts. It is interesting and kind of fun to explore.
The second floor of the submarine museum in St. Mary's

After a couple of days at St. Mary’s we started meandering back towards Brunswick, but before we did, we had to stop at Jeckyll Island, another of Georgia’s barrier islands. Jeckyll is a very developed, resort-type island with water parks (too cold to use while we were there) several hotels, a number of restaurants, a few historical sites and bike paths galore! I was able to go bike riding only one time, though, as the fog was so bad it kept us inside a lot of the time. We managed to get out a couple of times on the marina’s golf cart (substitute for a car) so we could get to the grocery store, some souvenir shops and a small museum. As I suggested above, though, the name of the game at Jeckyll was FOG. In fact, we had intended to leave on 4th  December and ended up staying another day because of the fog!
Our Coast Guard Inspectors
The trip from Jeckyll Island to Brunswick Landing Marina was only about an hour-and-a-half, BUT on the way, we were stopped by the United States Cast Guard! Once in a while the Coast Guard will stop a boat for a simple safety inspection. In the three years we have been full-time cruisers we had never been stopped, but in Brunswick Harbor,  just as we were turning into the creek that led to the marina, we saw the flashing lights and the coast guardsmen that meant we were about to be boarded. We weren’t quite sure how they were going to get on the boat, but that is only because we had forgotten how athletic young men in their late teens/early twenties can be. Four young men jumped (literally) from their boat to ours to make sure we had all the equipment and paperwork necessary to operate a boat safely in US waters. And … we … PASSED!!! The next time the Coast Guard wants to check us out, all we have to do is show them our paperwork.
ANN’S Notes: Since we are in Virginia over the Holidays and all my notes are on the boat in Brunswick GA. I will not have my wild count in this issue. I will update you in the next blog issue.
Ann's luscious Thanksgiving Apple Pie
While we were at the marina in Jeckyll Island, we had our cruising friends, now RV land cruising friends, come visit us. It was wonderful seeing Russ and Lori again and enjoyed having lunch in a rather POSH restaurant. The food was good and pricey but the company was priceless and excellent.
Thanksgiving was fun but loud. 100 people in the same room all waiting to be fed proved to be an interesting experience. The apple pie was a first for me, I made it in a ten inch cast iron pan, it was yummy and I had to pull it off the “share” table so our table could have some. There was plenty of other sweets, so I did not feel too bad.
To close my part of the blog,I will end with a poem I saw on the cruising  Facebook page,

 We wish you all a Merry Christmas and have a Healthy and Blessed New Year.

Traveling Soul..