Saturday, March 31, 2012


Just after 7:30 on Thursday morning fellow CYCers Jamie and Meg tossed us the last of our lines and we slipped away from the dock at Fernandina, Amelia Island. Within an hour, and after 4 sun drenched and adventure filled months, Freedom left Florida.

Fernandina Beach has become one of our favorite stops along the ICW. The town is full of brick sidewalks, charming homes,  and unique shops and restaurants. The air is filled with the hum of the pulp mill, the scent of wood, the sound of a train whistle.  Like many of the other Florida towns we have visited (St. Pete, Stuart, Daytona) the nearby shopping district had few, if any, national chains -- the boutiques, bakeries and restaurants are almost all locally owned, or at least Florida-based chains.  It is such a breath of fresh air and really gives you a sense of place instead of feeling like you could be in "Anywhere USA." From conversations with locals around the state, the dedication to local businesses is widespread, intentional and a point of pride. I like that in a State!

Here's a photo of one of the two Pulp Mills lining the waterfront in Fernandina Beach. It reminds of the game Chutes and Ladders.

We are now traveling a bit of the ICW that we bypassed in the fall by "going outside" ie, in the ocean. Georgia is know for its shallow waters, but so far so good. We made it through the Little Mud River and Hell gate (at low tide, even) without touching bottom.  Phew!

Along with the low water, or perhaps the reason for it, the ICW in Georgia snakes its way through isolated marshlands. We are still traveling in solitude. passing the occasional sailboat, trawler or local fishing boat, but for the most part we are on our own. For the past two nights we have settled into isolated anchorages, with only the pelicans, gulls, and gnats as company. Thursday night we anchored in the Darien River and watched burning sugar cane fields light up the shy after sunset.The next morning Freedom was covered in ash

Last night, we anchored in Walburg Creek, mile 625, of of St. Catherine's Island. The St. Catherine's Island Foundation owns the island and maintains a survival center there for endangered species such as gazelle, parrots and Madagascar turtles.

The next part of our trip has been subject to much debate: Should we go up the river and dock along the bulkhead in Savannah? Will the commercial traffic be an issue? Should we bypass Savannah and go to Hilton Head? If so, for how long, and which marina? How long should we stay in Beaufort - one night or two?  (Going to Beaufort was never a question) The only caveat was  our slip reservation (and dinner reservation!) in Charleston next Thursday for three nights.

At last, a plan was made. Here we are in Isle of Hope, GA, just outside of Savannah, where we plan to stay for two nights before moving on to Beaufort, SC for 2 nights, with one night at anchor before Charleston. The marina has a loaner car, so a provisioning trip is scheduled for later today -- hopefully after the thunderstorms have ended.

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