Cruising Georgia

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

Eric here welcoming you back onboard.  After a six-week repair stay at the Huckins Yacht Center, the crew has finally set sail and is back on the Atlantic Intra Costal Waterway (ICW).

47 Atlantic Ocean
Looking out at Atlantic Ocean from Jekyll Island

During the repair work, a few adventurous folks signed up to be virtual crew members, so a special Welcome Aboard to:

Master Chef Jacob

Simple Ula


Summary of week:

The crew left the Ortega River and made their way to the AICW at the Jacksonville free dock.  They then made a run to St Mary’s where they stayed two days.  Then made a run to Jekyll Island for the weekend.

Still Waters II VIMEO site

There are two new videos:

Haul Out which shows Still Waters II getting hauled out of the water at Huckins Boat Yard to start her maintenance and repairs.

Bike Ride Jekyll Island which shows about 12 minutes of the skipper’s two hour bike ride around Jekyll Island bike paths

Monday, May 22, 2017

Before departing Huckins, the crew decided to have breakfast over at the Metro.  The crew was accompanied by Rob and Glenda of the motor vessel Monterey.  After a nice breakfast the crew shoved off and started the 26-mile voyage on the St. John’s River back to the Atlantic Inter Costal Waterway.

20 Huckins
Leaving Huckins Boat Yard

When the crew shoved off they immediately ran into two delays.

21 RR BridgeThe first was the railroad bridge was down and they had to wait for one passenger train and then one commercial train to pass before the bridge tender opened the bridge.




22 Ortega River BridgeThen when the crew arrived at the Ortega River Bridge a few minutes later, they found the bridge out of service and some maintenance hands working on the bridge.  After about 30 minutes, the work crew finished and allowed the bridge tender to open the bridge.  This 26-mile run might take all day if this keeps up.

Even with the delays, the crew timed the tides just about perfect and got to ride a 2-3 mph current all the way to the ICW.  The dolphins were also out in force this fine day.  There was pod after pod after pod of dolphins the whole route.  One energetic dolphin even decided to show off a little by jumping completely out of the water two times.  The dolphins are always exciting to watch.

23 Container Ship

When the crew arrived at the ICW juncture there was a fairly large container ship approaching and the skipper initially decided to cross in front of the behemoth ship and turn north up Sisters Creek on the ICW.  The big ship sounded one blast on their horn, signaling the skipper not to cross and steer to starboard.

The skipper obeyed the horn signal and allowed the container ship to pass by on the port side before turning to port and heading up the ICW.  That was probably a smarter decision than trying to cross in front of that fully loaded ship travelling at 12 mph.

Since my last post there have been two Looper boats lost.

67 Boat Ffire

One boat caught fire while underway and burned all the way to the water line.  The second boat was tied along a dock just south of Norfolk and was rammed in the middle of the night by a tow boat.  Though both boats were total losses, miraculously no-one was hurt.  But as the ole saying goes, things tend to happen in threes, so this is not a good time to be taking chances.

After getting tied down, thunderstorms rolled thru the area and the rain washed the boat down good.  She was in need of a major bath after being in the boat yard for six weeks.

25 Low Tide Jax Free Dock
The view from Jax Free Dock

After the storms blew themselves out, Dave and Barbara of Miss My Money surprised the crew with one final goodbye.  The crew has had many great moments with Dave and Barbara over the last six weeks.  Thanks for the hospitality!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The crew has visited Fernandina twice, so the skipper decided to skip the port this time and go five miles further to St Mary’s.  Aiding this decision is the fact that the Fernandina Marina got hit pretty hard by hurricane Matthew and has not fully opened back up for business for transient boaters.

32 Fernandina Beach

A few boats are still scattered about the area.

After arriving at east Lang’s Marina, the crew took a walk around town.  The Cumberland Island Visitor Center is on the waterfront in St Mary’s so the crew stepped in to visit.  A ferry runs from the Visitor Center to Cumberland Island. The ferry is the only access to the Island.

37 Dungenesse
Dungeness Ruins

One interesting story line on the Island has to do with some ruins named Dungeness.  James Oglethorpe built a hunting lodge in 1736 on the Island and named the lodge Dungeness.  After the Revolutionary War, Nathanael Greene acquired 11,000 acres of island land and started a home on the original hunting lodge site.  He died before the home was completed, but his widow completed the four-story home in 1803 and named it Dungeness.

In 1818 Henry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, came to visit the home and died there on March 25, 1818.  Henry Lee was buried on the island with full military honors due to his heroics during the Revolutionary War.

The home was abandoned during the Civil War and burned in 1866.

During the 1880’s, Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of Andrew Carnegie, bought the land and started a third home on the original site.  This home would be a 59-room Queen Anne style mansion.  Like his predecessor, Thomas died before the project was complete.  His widow completed the mansion in 1886 and named it Dungeness.  In addition to her mansion, she built other estates for her children, including: Greyfield, Plum Orchard, and Stafford.

35 Cumberland Island
Horses on Cumberland Island

The Carnegies abandoned Dungeness in 1925, and in 1959 the Dungeness mansion was destroyed by fire. De je vous, all over again.

After returning to the boat, the Admiral noticed a motor yacht towing a sailboat to the west Lang’s Marina.  She brought the curious event to the attention of the skipper.  After observing the motor yacht help get the sailboat tied to the pier, the crew went about their own business and did not give the incident any further thought.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

st-marys-submarine-museumThe crew spent most of the day taking cover onboard Still Waters II.  Storms started early in the morning and did not let up until late in the afternoon.  After the rain stopped the skipper did manage to go visit the Submarine Museum in town.  The downstairs portion of the museum has a working periscope that patrons can look out and see boats on the St Mary’s River.

The downstairs section covers the history of submarines up to the modern diesel boats.  The upstairs is dedicated to nuclear submarines.  Half the area is for fast attack subs, and the other half is for ballistic submarines.  The skipper enjoyed finding several items of memorabilia from the USS Permit SSN-594.  He served aboard the USS Permit from 1983-1985.

Later in the evening, Jen and Mike of the sailing vessel Lacuna dropped by for a visit.  The four sat on the sundeck and enjoyed each other’s company.  During the conversation, Jen mentioned that they had been at the library most of the day yesterday during the storms.  When they returned to the marina, they did not see their sailboat anchored out in the river.  Upon closer inspection, they noticed their sailboat being tied up at the west marina pier.  They went down to see what was going on and learned that the sailboat had broken free of her anchor and set adrift.  The motor yacht noticed that no one was on board so they went and made the rescue.

Yes, that would be the same boat the crew watched get towed to the pier yesterday, but did not recognize the sailboat.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The crew shoved off from the dock and headed towards Jekyll Island.  This is another stop the crew has not made before.  But before they can dock, they have to cross the St Andrews Sound.  Two of the three times the crew has crossed these waters they have been met with some miserable conditions.  The last time they crossed the sound they had 4-5 foot waves off the starboard beam.  Not much fun.

Today, the winds are out of the west, 10-15 mph and the tide should be going out when the crew arrives.  This should make for better crossing conditions.


But before crossing the sound the crew must get past the Kings Bay Sub Base.  The Coast Guard came over the radio and announced that the Navy was doing a “live fire” exercise in the area.  As the crew got close they got buzzed by a military helicopter.  The skipper recalled this information that was posted to Active Captain, ‘…..the actual charted route takes you uncomfortably close to the security zone around the sub base.  I actually had a “protection boat” change course and close distance on me rapidly.  I hailed the boat on the radio and the female voice informed me that I was NOT violating the security zone, they were just conducting drills.  I assume I was the bogey.  Not fun when there is a large mounted 50 cal mounted on the deck and someone is behind it…..’

The ‘Protection Boat’ with 50 cal up front

Our crew safely navigated the area without any friendly fire.

41 STM 700
Mile 700 on Atlantic ICW, nice calm water

By the time the crew got to St Andrews Sound, the wind was gusting 15-20 mph.  The good news was that the waves were only 2-3 feet.  The skipper decided to push the throttle to 2,000 rpm and get the boat up on plane to smooth the ride out.  This would also minimize the time out in these messy waters.

42 STM 690
Mile 690, not so calm anymore

Another challenge with this particular sound is that the shortest straight-line distance across is only 1-3 foot deep.  This forces the boater to have to actually go out in the ocean a bit to get around the shallow water and then come back in hugging Jekyll Island.  The crew managed the 10 miles of fun without incident in just under an hour due to the increased speed.

It took the two sailboats that the crew had been following almost two hours to safely pass through the area.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The crew took a trolley tour of Jekyll Island and then rode their bicycles around the northern end of the island.  The trolley tour was informative about the history of the island and broke the timeline into several eras for the island.

English Colonial Era

General James Oglethorpe named the island after a friend Sir Joseph Jekyll.  The General had William Horton set up a military post on the north end of the island to help protect Fort Frederica on St Simon’s Island just to the north from those pesky Spaniards down in Florida.

By 1738 Horton had taken up permanent residence on the island and was running a plantation that was feeding his post and Ft Frederica.

62 Horton House
Remains of the second Horton House

Plantation Era

Christoph du Bignon was a refuge from the French Revolution and arrived at the island in 1792.  By 1800 du Bignon had acquired all the property on the island and was running a successful plantation.  Du Bignon died in 1825 and passed the island to his son Henri Charles du Bignon.

An interesting side story about the island and the slave import business took place on November 28, 1858.  The United States had made the importation of slaves illegal back in 1808.  However, The Wanderer landed at Jekyll Island in 1858 with a cargo of 409 slaves from Africa.  It is thought to be the next to last successful shipment of slaves from Africa.  Also, interesting is that the slave traders were prosecuted, but were acquitted by the jury.

Henri Charles divided the island among his four children upon his death.  In 1875 John Eugene du Bignon inherited the southern third of the island from his father.

The Jekyll Island Club Era

Du Bignon set about buying up the island from his relatives.  His plan was to build a winter retreat for the wealthy families of America.  He built a clubhouse in 1888 and began to sell memberships into his exclusive club.  Some of the club members were the Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Goodyear.

51 Moss COttage
Moss Cottage

The club opened every January and stayed opened thru Mother’s Day.  As the Club grew in popularity the members began building cottages to stay in rather than the clubhouse.  They called these mansions cottages because the homes did not have kitchens.  The expectation was that all meals were to be taken at the clubhouse.  The evening meal was a black-tie affair with 10 courses that took two hours to serve.

59 Crane Cottage
Side view of the Cherokee Cottage

The Club era came to an end during WWII.  German U-Boats were patrolling and sinking ships off of the shores of the island.  The US government requested that the wealthy folks evacuate the island and remain away until after the war for fear that the Germans might try to kidnap someone and hold them for ransom.  At the time 1/6 of the total wealth of the US was held by the 53 members of the Jekyll Club.

60 Faith Chapel
Faith Chapel

The stain glass window in the Chapel was made by Tiffany’s.  Louis Comfort Tiffany actually signed the piece.  It is thought to be only one of five known stained glass windows with his signature.

Jekyll Island Authority

Following WWII, the state of Georgia condemned the island and then purchased the island for $675,000 in 1947.  The state placed a convict camp on the island and used convict labor to rehab the island for public use.  The island was opened to the public on December 11, 1954.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Originally the crew was going to have to leave Jekyll Island this morning because the marina was full and reservations would keep it full.  However, the marina staff rearranged some boats on the face dock by moving them closer and Still Waters II gets to spend another day on the dock.

The crew spent the day relaxing and exploring the southern end of the Island. They rode their bikes to the St Andrews Beach to go look at The Wanderer Memorial.  The memorial added additional details to the slave delivery and trial.

68 The Wanderer Memorial

After the acquittal, the government put the seized ship up for action.  One of the principals in the slave trial bought the ship.  He immediately sold the ship to a man who had plans  to go back to Africa to get another load of slaves.  One bit of irony was that the buyer slipped out of town before paying for the ship.  On the way across the Atlantic, the crew learned of the plan, mutinied, and sailed the ship to Boston.

56 Tanscontinental PhoneLastly, How about a trivia question?  What were the locations of the first transcontinental telephone call?


The call was made January 25, 1915 from New York City to San Fransisco, 3400 miles away.  Also on the line were Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C. and Mr. Vail of The Jekyll Island Club and also CEO of AT&T.  The picture above is a replica of the phone used on Jekyll Island.

Graham Bell used the same line “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”  that he used on his first phone call.  However, Watson’s reply was different because he was in San Francisco.  He answered by saying “It will take me five days to get there now!”

Boat Name of the Week

 It’s About Time – A 70 foot yacht with a home port of Tulsa, OK pulled into the marina late Friday.   On Saturday morning, a sailboat with the same name was circling waiting to get to the fuel dock.  What are the chances of seeing two boats with the same name beside each other?

Next Week

The crew will take two days to cruise to the suburbs of Savannah and dock the boat at the Isle of Hope Marina.  From there the crew will rent a car and head to Oklahoma City to take in the Women’s World Series of Softball.  The games start on Thursday and play thru the weekend.  The finals are a best 2 of three series that start the following Monday.  The crew will return to the boat June 8th and make the run to Savannah on Saturday June 10th with a few friends from the skippers working days.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red


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