State of GEORGIA (ICW Mile Markers 576 – 674)
The ICW started out as a straight manmade channel in Miami (Florida) but now it winds and weaves more like a natural waterway. Bridges are few and far between and the surrounding areas rural. Hitting the keel on the bottom is becoming a common occurrence and just part of everyday life. A few times we have been hammering along at full speed only to be stopped dead in our tracks by large patches of shoaling right in the center of the canal.
Motoring through the state of Georgia there weren’t many opportunities to get off the boat, most of the course interwove around miles and miles of desolate marshland. Despite the lack of bridges timing our route is still a real challenge, some stretches are only passable during high tide and with lots of inlets leading to the Atlantic ocean the tide can be with or against you. Approaching one around low water can be beneficial as the current draws the boat out towards the inlet but then as soon as you cross the open bay and start heading away from the inlet the tide is against you so the engine has to fight against the current. This makes progress slow and with tides changing every 6 hours planning the perfect passage is impossible.
Jekyll Island was the first stop after a miserable Sunday to get there. It rained non-stop all day and a dense fog made visibility very poor, luckily no one else was stupid enough to be out boating in it. We spent a creepy night anchored in a narrow channel between the main land and this tiny island, mist eerily hung above the flat calm water and the sky was a strange grey colour as moon light tried desperately hard to fight through the haze. In the distance an orange lamp shone down on an empty floating dock, I imagined the silhouette of a creepy character in a trench coat standing there. It reminded me of a scene from a thriller novel like the Hounds of Baskerville or an Inspector Calls.
Simon took Scrumpy for a bedtime walk and the waves from the dinghy rippled across the water like a breeze over black satin sheet. I only noticed as I’d popped outside to crouch on the swim platform and have a pee. The bathroom (head) is in the front cabin, which happens to be Daisy’s room and any parent knows once your child is finally asleep you dare not wake them. With little background noise on a calm evening one trickle of wee or pump of the toilet has the potential to kick off a long painful sleepless night, so hanging my bare white ass off the back of the boat in the freezing cold is a far better option.
The following day we walked through tall slender pine trees and past giant live oaks covered in Spanish moss to get to the Georgia Sea Turtle Centre, which was enjoyable but mediocre. There was a funny little marina which only had a couple of docks labelled as the Historic Wharf which was full of rustic southern charm. With little to do here and keen to hit up Savannah another big historic city we filled up with water and headed on our way.
Savannah (Wilmington Island)
Anchoring at Savannah is banned and the marinas very expensive, so the closest anchorage was an hour bus ride away at Wilmington Island. It took 2 days to get there from Jekyll Island only stopping in a couple of faceless spots at night. Turners Creek was cosy with dinghy docking facilities at Lee Shore Marina, which looked like it had seen better days. There was a very steep gangplank from the floating dock with rotting timber and severely corroded rusty metal frame I felt I was taking my life into my own hands every time I set foot on it. Close by was a freeway, supermarket and some other stores but not much else. Although being greeted by a bald eagle sitting on the jetty was pretty cool.
We took the bus into Savannah, its cobbled streets, ornate ironwork, public squares and Antebellum architecture make it a charming city steeped in history. Apart from people wandering around in modern day clothes and cars passing by it was like stepping back in time to what life was like before the civil war. Instead of meandering around aimlessly we took a free walking tour to actually learn something.
It turns out Savannah was founded by James Oglethorpe an Englishman who sailed across the Atlantic from England in 1733 and he named the state of Georgia after King George II. I’m amazed at how much the USA is teaching me about my own history.
The tour took us through some of the beautiful squares with monuments, oak trees and flowers including the one from the film Forest Gump where Tom Hanks is waiting for a bus and famously quotes ‘life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re gonna get’. Sadly the bench is no longer there as people kept writing graffiti on it, Simon was extremely disappointed as its one of his favourite films. We ended at Forsyth Park’s huge ornate fountain and then popped to a bakery for some treats before leaving. The long bus ride home was cold and soggy after getting soaked in the rain but a small price to pay for a great day out.