Saturday, December 11, 2010

Into Florida

We meandered south for a few days after leaving Beaufort and spent most of our time anchored in quiet little bends in rivers with lots of wildlife. Egrets and blue herons are everywhere now…. this egret flew so close to the boat we really thought it was trying to land on the deck. I'm not sure if it's the egrets or the herons, but one of them makes an ungodly, prehistoric sounding, LOUD squawk. It's a much bigger sound than you'd imagine coming from such a graceful creature.

Our first stop was the Cooper River where we seemed to have stumbled in to a dolphin playground/snack bar. They were rolling around half way out of the water up on the shoreline, then disappearing underwater again. We see them every day now, but they still make me want to squeal like a five year old each time i see them. I finally got a few photos of them. Not a bad sunset either. The tiny buildings in the distance are Savannah.

Another night we dropped the anchor in the Vernon River near these two fishing boats. Dammit and Po’ Boy Too seemed like they’d been there for a while and we wondered if they’d done much fishing lately. Then again, even the active fishing boats look pretty worn. Lots of rebel flags on the fishing vessels around here… we think they’re still fighting the ‘war of aggression’.

It’s still way too cold here…. it’s been below freezing for the past few mornings and the water temp is hovering around 50°. Technically, I suppose we could jump in the water to warm up. The hatch above our V-berth is covered in frost in the mornings and as the boat warms up inside, condensation drips down from the hatch frame – onto our faces. This is how we know it’s time to get up and put the coffee on. This was definitely NOT in the brochure.

 We continued on to Jekyll Island and on the way – more wildlife. Brownie points to Skip who spotted two bald eagles… one was pretty far away but this guy was close! 

We were looking forward to trekking around Jekyll since we’d heard great things about it. Their motto – emblazoned on signs all around the island – is “Jekyll Island; It’s All Good!”. They ought to consider changing it temporarily to “Jekyll Island; It’s All Under Construction!” Literally, every building within sight had been razed and there were piles of rubble everywhere we went. We'll have to return in the spring of 2012 when it's supposed to be finished.  

All the stores had been torn down and temporarily relocated in trailers toward the north end of the island. We walked for about an hour and a half through construction to get to the post office and grocery store. We were almost there when we came upon a young Georgia State Trooper posted along the lonely beach road. His job was to keep people from passing through because just beyond his post was the set of the new X-Men movie. He seemed slightly mortified to be stuck with the job but because it was pretty clear that we a) didn’t pose a threat and b) not only weren’t trying to snap photos of the stars of the X-Men, but had no idea who the X-Men were. He let us pass. The part of our walk nearest our anchorage was really pretty…

On to Cumberland Island – which we were especially looking forward to seeing. Skip hadn't seen it before but I’d been here years ago on assignment for Money Magazine. The story I photographed was about St. Marys Georgia, which had been chosen the “Best Small Town” in which to live in the US. Cumberland Island is a short ferry ride from the town and I had the opportunity to go over to photograph here. It was beautiful then and it’s beautiful now. The entire island is a preserve with hiking trails everywhere. We saw feral horses, tons of birds and even an armadillo! He looked a bit like a bunny that had been spray painted with metallic silver paint. He wasn't the least bit afraid of us and he let me take several pictures, peeking up from his snacking a few times to see if I was still there.

No photos of the horses though. We saw so many when we first arrived, I though we’d see lots more…. but it must have been too cold even for the horses to stay out in the open for too long. 

We stopped briefly in St. Marys to pick up our new new auto pilot (don’t ask); I had to get to the post office to send out some Sweet Maddies orders and we wanted to do a quick provisioning trip to the grocery store. Our only option was to cab the few miles to do our errands. Our cab driver filled us in on the decline of pretty St. Marys. People discovered the town in the years following the “Best Small Town” article; St. Marys attracted both young people looking for an alternative to the fast pace and expense of city life and for retirees who liked the small town and didn’t want to go to Florida or the Southwest. Real estate prices became hugely over inflated and when the bubble burst things fell apart for many people in the town. It didn’t help that it was a gloomy day but it was sad to see the town suffering. It was hard too, to leave St. Marys without spending much time there. Because of the weather we’d made the decision to continue inland (a slower way to travel) rather than go offshore to West Palm Beach, so we filled our fuel and water tanks and kept going. “Snowbird” (the Swedish kids) and “Wandering Star”, whose crew John and Sabrina we’d met in Beaufort, were both in the anchorage at St. Marys and it would’ve been fun to stay and socialize but the Bahamas are still a fair distance away and the desire to anchor in clear blue, warm water keeps us moving. 

A few more hours of traveling takes us into Florida past Fernandina Beach, which is flanked on each side by big, noisy, unpleasant smelling pulp plants and past fishing boats tied up at docks. 

We drop the anchor in the Amelia River and call it a day.

Note: Any plant identification would be greatly appreciated (hint hint, Miles.... )


Clay said...

Hi Skip and Madelyn,

Becky and I are enjoying reading your blog. Hope you get some warm weather soon. The pictures are lovely. However, the pictures of the fishing boats bring back memories.


Cindy said...

Ditto, Clay. Terrific photos.
And your text...well, I see a future in writing. Seriously.
You make us laugh and cry. Frost on the hatch..."this wasn't in the brochure"...kinda brings it right into our field of view. NONE OF THIS was in your brochure.
What can we say? Keep on keeping on. Don't look back. of the FIVE SIMPLE RULES TO BE HAPPY IS Free your mind from worries, most never happen. Ummmmmm should that one get rewritten?

Madeline said...

Hi Clay! I'm glad you and Becky are checking in with us. These fishing boats probably aren't bringing back the kind of memories you're talking about. Those would be about fishing boats out fishing at night... in the dark... in the fog... yes? Don't worry, we'll try to hang onto our rig!

Leslie said...

There was a brochure? I never saw it.

Really great photos. Some of them look like postcards. And you'd never know it was butt-freezing cold (except for the frosted hatch).

It's supposed to get really cold here this week. Hope you reach warm waters soon.


Ruth said...

I'm so glad you decided to update the blog more frequently with shorter bits..........NOT!

Sounds like you're enjoying everything though, which I'm glad to hear. I love all of the wildlife photos....keep them coming. (More dolphins?)

Looking forward to pictures of clear blue water too though.....

yfys - Ruth

Miles said...

Well, let's see. First, that prehistoric "Kraaank - Kraaank" you hear IS the blue heron. In the 4 photo montage you have with the egret and the deer, the upper left photo is Yaupon Holly. AKA Ilex vomitoria. Yes that's for real. Looks like maybe prickly pear cactus in lower right. That's a native plant here in MD also. More Holly and some Baybery with our friendly armadillo. Below the picture of skip walking in the woods is some nice fall color on sumac. Not which sumac but definitely sumac. Genus Rhus. If you decide the Bahamas aren't warm enough for you come meet us on St. John in January!

Madeline said...

Thanks Miles.... your description of the heron's 'voice' was just right too. St. John? January? It's possible!

Miles said...

Jan. 16 - 24. C'mon down!!