Thunderbolt to Cumberland Island NS, GA

Thunderbolt, GA, to Big Tom Creek, GA

Monday, November 17, 2003

Monday got me tracking numbers and answers for both UPS packages we’d been waiting for. The lesser package was shipped three days later than promised … to the wrong address. We’ll have Sandy’s brother forward it to us later. The tracking number for lifeline stanchions indicated that they’d been delivered to this marina last Wednesday! We got the marina to get serious about looking for the package and found that it had been misplaced after being delivered to the guard house for the yard!

So, we washed the boat, filled the water tanks and left the marina about 11:30. It was a beautiful day with a high in the 70s and little traffic on the ICW. Along the way we passed a mini, coastal cruise ship. A number of these ply the ICW, running cruises in the northern tier during the summer and moving south for the winter.

Bill Relaxes in Cockpit
Bill Relaxes in Cockpit

We found an anchorage in narrow Big Tom Creek, all alone, with good holding for the anchor and a beautiful sunset. All you could see for miles was sea grass! Dinner was more shrimp … scampi, this time, with rice & spinach and a fresh garden salad!

Big Tom Creek, GA, to Brunswick, GA

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Weather reports had been consistently predicting big winds and storms for the next couple of days. So, we wanted to be in a marina for protection. The day dawned clear and warm but the winds quickly rose to 20-25 out of the SE. So, it was going to be a long motor to our intended destination, Brunswick, GA. There we would wait out the storm and install the long awaited for replacement lifeline stanchions.

New Bridge in Brunswick
New Bridge in Brunswick

This would be a 70 plus mile day … long but not too bad. Unfortunately, both the current and the wind were against us virtually the entire day! We finally went under the new suspension bridge in Brunswick at 5:10 and tied up in the marina 15 minutes later, assisted by Bill & Susan of Osprey. Also, in the marina were Jo & Bob of Narnia who we’d met in Thunderbird.

Bill took a much needed shower, while Sandy made a pot of chili.

Brunswick, GA

Wednesday – Thursday, November 19 – 20, 2003

It was a very windy night. About 4:00 am, the gusts seemed to hit new highs and Bill got up to check the anemometer. It reported gusts near 50 knots! A few people were up tying down flapping canvas but all else seemed ok. We were pretty happy not to be anchored!

We thought about Osprey, tied in an outside slip, stern to the wind and waves with several miles of fetch. They must be having a rough ride, even in a slip!

We’re in a city … there must be early morning coffee! And, Bill found his about 7:00 at a coffee shop on Gloucester St. Sandy went for a walk, hoping to return to the boat before the forecasted rain, while Bill began to tear out interior cabinetry in preparation for replacing lifeline stanchions. Sandy missed the pre-rain window and returned to the boat a bit drenched!

We had delicious pancakes on board for breakfast and some more coffee. Bill did some writing and Sandy did a little cleaning. The rain finally ended around noon. We began the stanchion replacement job, removing all three and replacing one. It was frustrating because the nuts that fastened them on the inside of the hull were impossible to see and nearly impossible to reach with a wrench, let alone getting the nut started when reinstalling the bolts. We signed up for a third night’s stay at the marina so we could complete the work tomorrow.

We enjoyed refreshments on board Narnia with Jo and Bob and Bill and Susan. Jo made microwave popcorn! We made arrangements to meet Jo and Bob for breakfast in the morning.

We had a great breakfast at a local café Thursday morning and then got to work on the stanchion replacement. Sandy decided to get her swollen knee checked out at a clinic nearby (a four-mile walk). Seems she has an inflamed bursa from her fall the other week. The doctor put her on an antibiotic. That night we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant with Jo and Bob after celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary with a bottle of champagne on board Whistwind.

Brunswick, GA, to Cumberland Island National Seashore

Friday, November 21, 2003

We left Brunswick fairly early in the morning, riding the fast tide under the new suspension bridge and hitting 10.3 mph! That’s moving for a sailboat! Cumberland Island National Seashore was our destination. Once again, we had a beautiful day with strong southerly winds and strong currents against us. So, we only had the sails up for a couple of miles, and then only to motor sail. But, we made it in time to get anchored and get ashore to orient ourselves.

No bridges connect the island to the mainland, only boats. The usual conveyance, a passenger ferry from the small town of St. Marys, doesn’t even allow dogs or bicycles! Most campers arrive via the ferry, load their gear onto hand drawn carts and haul it the ¾ mile to the camp sites on the other side of the island.

Cumberland Island Dock and Anchorage
Cumberland Island Dock and Anchorage

This is the island where John F. Kennedy, Jr. got married (at Greyfield Inn). The Thomas Carnegie family bought and mostly shaped this beautiful island. They eventually donated portions to the park service. It is absolutely beautiful. We dinghyed ashore and took the short walk across the island. We had the feeling that, maybe, Walt Disney had built the place … it just seemed almost unnaturally pretty and perfect, with the saw palmetto undergrowth and the nearly unbroken live oak canopy. The boardwalk across the dunes lead to a perfect, fine-sand, deserted beach that stretched as far as we could see in both directions.

Cumberland Island Forest Walk
Cumberland Island Forest Walk

We stopped by Narnia for a visit before returning to the boat for dinner – the leftover chili served over brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli. It was a beautiful night and a very quite anchorage.

Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA

Saturday – Sunday, November 22 – 23, 2003


Another gorgeous sunny, clear and warm day. We met Bob & Joe from Narnia, on the island at 9:30 walk to the ice house museum the ranger’s talk about the island’s history and to see the ruins of the main house, Dungeness. Along the way we encountered a number of the island’s wild horses grazing in grassy areas. (There’s a herd of about 160 on the island.) After browsing the history exhibit in the ice house, we headed out on our own to see the ruins, encountering the ranger along the way. Lucy Carnegie, matron of the island, occupied the house/mansion called Dungeness. It must have been spectacular (they had a staff of 300 at its prime), but all that is left is the ruins after a fire that occurred a few years after it had last been occupied. Most of us continued along the trail to the beach, and had a nice long walk up the beach before returning to the Camp Dock ranger station about 2:00.The rest of the afternoon was spent on the boat and another walk up the beach. And, we determined that we’d stay another day to tour the Plum Orchard mansion, open only two days a month, including tomorrow!

Dungeness Ruin on Cumberland Island
Dungeness Ruin on Cumberland Island

That evening we hosted both the Narnia and Osprey crews for drinks and a pot luck dinner that could hardly be beat!


Bill took Sandy ashore for her daily walk early in the morning. No one was around and she had the trails to herself, except for some wild pigs that ran across her path. Pancakes for breakfast again, showers and then we headed to the dock to board the passenger ferry for our ride to the Plum Orchard mansion. During the ten-mile trip we watched several dolphins play in our wake.

Dolphins Play in Ferry Wake
Dolphins Play in Ferry Wake

Plum Orchard is the largest surviving mansion on the island and is the property of the park. What a house! It is reminiscent of the Newport, RI, cottages. Although this one has been restored outside, to the tune of $4.5 million, the interior still has to be restored. All the wood used in the home was cut and milled on the island. Most of the extensive outbuildings that once supported the main house are gone or collapsed.