At 4 AM, we are awakened by heavy rain and the rumble of thunder. There is no hurry to weigh anchor this morning. We are perfectly content to slumber and wait for the rain to subside. Our destination is St. Mary’s City, GA, just 30 miles to the south and an easy half day sail from our anchorage near Jekyll Island.
At 9 AM, the rain subsides to a drizzle and the anchor is up in Umbrella Creek, an appropriate location for a wet start to the day. We enter the open waters of St. Andrew Sound, then follow the curvature of Cumberland Island south along protected inland waters. Cumberland Island is a national seashore managed by the National Park Service. It is home to wild horses that roam the beaches, foraging on sea oats.
The midday segment of today’s leg is another tedious experience on the shallow Georgia section of the waterway. Cutter Loose runs temporarily aground in a sharp bend of the Crooked River. In several dredged channels with range markers, we experience depths of 6 feet at low tide.
Our course this afternoon takes us alongside Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, which is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s homeport for nuclear submarines fitted with Trident missles. Massive buildings on the base house subs that are being refitted. Naval security vessels patrol the ICW to insure that vessels transiting the area keep their distance and keep moving. When a sub is transiting the area, the ICW is closed in both directions for hours. Today, there is no such delay.
We steam ahead to the St. Mary’s River. The southern shore of the river is in Florida while the northern shore is in Georgia. Several miles upstream is the town of St. Marys, GA, host of the annual Thanksgiving Day feast for transient boaters. At 2:30 PM, Cutter Loose is anchored in St. Mary’s harbor where the tidal currents are fierce. There are already some 70 visiting boats at anchor with more expected to arrive in the hours leading up to Thanksgiving.
At 5:30 PM, all of the cruisers bring an appetizer to the local downtown hotel for a pre-Thanksgiving reception. The place is packed with salty looking characters that descend on the serving table like a herd of hungry locusts. We meet a couple from Toronto that had their boat trucked to Annapolis because hurricane damage to the Erie Canal lock system thwarted their plan to move their boat to the Hudson River.
Watch for more details on St. Mary’s City and the Thanksgiving feast for cruisers in tomorrow’s post. In the meantime, be sure to take time to count your blessings. We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.