08 November 2012

Day 118: Cumberland Island, GA to Jacksonville, FL – 08/11/12

We wake up early and as soon as I have my hands on my first cup of tea Mike tells me that I won’t get my second one until we are underway because he wants to leave in 15 minutes.  It’s getting very near low tide, he wants to get out while there is still water in the river and we have over 40 miles to go.  He doesn’t add that the main reason we have to leave so early is that he likes to piss me off – he keeps that one quiet but I know.

There is a mist over the river when we pull the anchor up, gradually rising into the air as the sun starts to burn it off.  Burn?  Who am I kidding?  There’s no burn in the sun at the moment!  We meander down the river with the cloud getting thinner and thinner but it gets no warmer.  I am looking further ahead in the charts, looking for problems for me to worry about later on when we suddenly come to a very slow, soft stop.  I glance at the depth meter and see that we have run aground.  Looking at the charts for where we are with my heart in my mouth I can see that we have wandered into shallow water while I wasn’t watching.  Shit.

P1130780 Photo:  Oops indeed

I stand helplessly while Mike gently puts the boat into reverse.  For a while nothing happens then as I continue grovelling ten to the dozen, Jeannius begins to move slowly backwards then forwards into the middle of the channel and into deeper water.

P1130781 P1130782 Photos:  The river bends through the marshes with mud shoals  appearing all the time

I glue my bum to the chart table seat, completely embarrassed by my dereliction of duty and continue to shout course directions out to Mike, some of which he heeds and others which he doesn’t.  Half a mile further on, just as we join the Cumberland River, we come to another slow halt. 

P1130783 Photo:  The whirligig at the top middle shows where we dance off another shoal that isn’t there according to the charts

This time I have heeded the charts and Mike has heeded me but the shoaling is not where the charts say it is.  Again Mike calmly gets us off after a few minutes although it’s not obvious exactly where we should go as there are channel markers all over the place and some of them are knocked over on their sides.

Eventually though we are into the Cumberland River and headed towards Cumberland Sound and the sea.

On our way we pass King’s Bay and its submarine base.  Dire warnings are posted up along the shore telling you in no uncertain terms to keep the hell out of the way.  Our course takes us within viewing distance but just as we get a bit too close for comfort, a security boat arrives.  They don’t say anything but shadow us, staying between us and the base until it is obvious that we are just passing on our way to sea.  Then they turn around and leave and that’s when I whip my camera out.

P1130785P1130786 P1130788 P1130789 P1130787 Photos:  King’s Bay submarine base and their security patrol

By now it’s 11.30 am, the sun is high in the sky, there’s not a cloud and it still really cold.  Mike skulks like a cold blooded animal in a little patch of sun in the cockpit trying to soak up any available heat.  He is not a happy bunny.

P1130790 Photo:  Look at the miserable face!

We are now in St Marys River which forms the official state line between Georgia and Florida.  As we pass the white sand on the tip of Cumberland Island, the story about the wild horses there turns out to be true as we see two of them on the beach munching on the grass nearby.

P1130792P1130796 Photos:  Georgia - white sand and wild horse on Cumberland Island

However, on the northern tip of Amelia Island, Florida, things are not quite as pretty!

P1130797 Photo:  Florida – well I suppose it’s got to go somewhere!

As we leave the relative protection of the sound, once again we are buffeted by the waves.  They are coming side on to the boat and it’s not nice.  Neither are the manners of the captain on the shrimp boat heading in as we are leaving.  He heads straight for us in the channel when he should be changing direction to stay on his side.  I could understand it if he was still trawling his nets – then it would be our job to stay out of his way, and rightly so.  But this ignoramus forces us to change direction at the last minute to avoid a head on collision, only changing direction at the last minute to avoid hitting us full on the side.  Bastard.  He doesn’t even answer Mike on the radio.

P1130802  Photo:  Shrimp boat heading straight for us

P1130803 Photo:  Another shrimp boat passes adorned with seabirds

Once we turn south, we have the wind behind us and a following sea.  With the decrease in wind, the temperature takes a more pleasant turn and I am able to lie out for a while on one of the trampolines, albeit with jeans, socks, shoes, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt and fleece!  Ah Florida!  While I am doing this, Mike manages to get decent enough internet to watch the Liverpool match.  He shouldn’t have bothered – apparently.

P1130805 Photo:  Watching Liverpool fails to warm the cockles of his heart or any other body part!

We have decided to go outside the ICW for the rest of the way to St Augustine because Mike read the following in the ICW guide.  Quote “The high-level bridges here are unofficially considered to be the “lowest” of the 65-foot bridges on the ICW; expect no more than 64 feet at high tide.  If in doubt, check the clearance boards and go through at half tide.” Unquote.


We need a 65-foot bridge to be 65 feet high at high tide and we still need to go under at low tide.  I have never heard such nonsense.  Are the bloody bridges sinking?  And tide boards would be great but they are missing more often than not, at least so far they have been.

Twenty miles down the coast and we are heading back in.  We haven’t got enough time to get down to St Augustine and that inlet is not one you do in the dark.  We head in at the St Johns River, nearest town, Jacksonville.  The water in the channel is all over the place and the dolphins seems to love it, playing in the whirlpools produced by the rather strange and very strong current.  I had planned a route to an anchorage at Sisters Creek but seeing how the water is Mike decides that another marina is in order.

We pass yet another naval base – war ships galore and helicopters constantly flying overhead and arrive at George Island Marina, the newest marina in the area and the one nearest to the mouth of the river for a quick getaway in the morning.

P1130811 Photo:  More war machinery

P1130813 Photo:  I bet this returning shrimper has more birds than shrimp aboard

We tie up, Mike signs in and we get our internet going so we can use Skype.  I decide that I need some chocolate and as there is nothing but beer in the marina shop, we have to walk down to the local petrol station shop to get some.  We are the only people walking.  There are no pavements and I am convinced that some waiting alligator wants me for his dinner.  We get the chocolate but see no alligators – thankfully.

A beautiful light falls over the water at sunset and if I had been quick enough with my camera, the side of this freighter as it passes would have looked like it was covered in gold leaf.  But I am not quick and have to settle for it disappearing into a pink tinged horizon.

P1130819 Photo:  Disappearing into the pink


Position:  30 deg 24 min N, 81 deg 25 min W

Distance so far:  3536 miles


  1. Welcome to Florida, you will be warm soon. How far south are you coming?

  2. Hi Jean, it seems you made all the efforts to reach Florida. Sailing would be an extraordinary experience one could have! Market is flooded with variety of Yacht Sails.