3rd - 8th November 2004

Georgia had been on our minds since our last aborted attempt to visit Savannah in June, when we were foiled by the Secret Service having closed the river for the G8 summit.  Our visit was long overdue as Georgia's unspoilt beauty had often been described to us by other cruisers.

As we approached the Georgia border, the scenery was very pretty, even when passing the marine base at Parris Island. The route was very convoluted, often winding several miles to arrive at a spot only a half-mile away but it was certainly tranquil.   Our first contact with a native Georgian was at the bridge just after we crossed over the Savannah River into Georgia and he was very charming, a taste of things to come. 

We'd decided not to take Anju up the Savannah river to the city centre but instead to anchor in nearby Thunderbolt, which was directly on the Intracoastal Waterway and attempt to reach the city from there.   However, as we passed through the town, we didn't see a public landing stage, so once we'd anchored in the Herb River, Phil flagged down a passing jet-skier, Scott, and enquired about our options for getting to Savannah.  Scott said he'd make enquiries on our behalf and call us, which was very kind.  Later he called with the bus times for us and had also arranged for us to tie up the dinghy at his community dock but then generously offered us a ride into Savannah on his way to work the next day.

River front walkways of Savannah


As luck would have it, the first thing we spotted on arriving at Savannah's waterfront was our Finnish friends Henrik and Malla in their boat Scorpio.   They were heading to Thunderbolt to anchor there that afternoon, so we'd solved the problem of how to get back to Anju!  

We set off to see as many of Savannah's sights as possible in our limited time.   First we explored the river front with its fascinating multi-level walkways.   Apparently the locals would stand on the higher levels, looking down to select their slaves as arriving ships were unloaded. 

The city's downtown historic buildings were centred around beautifully shady squares and although we didn't have time to visit inside the old houses, we had a good taster of Savannah's atmosphere.   



Exploring was hungry work and we decided to track down an eatery visited by our friends Greg and Shirley from Herald Harbor, on their recent visit to Savannah.    The dining room at Mrs Wilkes' Boarding House was an excellent place to sample local southern-style cuisine.   Seating was at shared tables and Phil had lots of attention, being the only man at our table!   

We were overwhelmed by the choice of delicious dishes which were passed around the table; fried chicken, beef stew, sausage, lima beans, collard greens, okra, squash, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, cornbread and biscuits (otherwise known as scones to the British but served as a side dish to savoury dishes), to name but a small selection.   After taking only a teaspoon of each dish, our plates were loaded.  An experience to be highly recommended.


Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room



We were just about able to waddle back to the river to catch our lift on Scorpio.    It was fun being passengers for a change!

To thank him for his kindness, we'd invited Scott and his wife Nancy to visit Anju for dinner.  Unfortunately as Nancy was on call, they couldn't come but instead we found ourselves invited by them for dinner at a local restaurant.   With their guidance, we sampled the local seafood, including our first ever oysters and another local appetiser named "hush-puppies", fried corn-balls.   They were wonderful company and even obliged when Phil cheekily requested a tour of their beautiful home!    The friendly people we meet on our travels do so much to enhance our adventures!

After the excitement of our day in Savannah, the next day was quite a contrast.   We wound and wound and wound our way through scenic Georgia marshes, finally anchoring in a secluded spot on the Wahoo River, about 1.5 miles off the ICW.   However, we weren't alone for long, soon the bugs found us, then about half a dozen other boats including Scorpio.    Next day our Finnish friends headed offshore down to Florida, whereas we wanted to see more of Georgia, hopefully our paths will cross again soon.


The next place which had been recommended to us for a visit was Fort Frederica.   This meant taking a detour from the ICW on a parallel river for several miles.   Luckily the Fort was marked on our charts as it would have been easy to miss with not much remaining of the fort itself.    It had been established by the British to keep the Spanish from Florida out of the disputed land between St. Augustine, Florida and Charleston in South Carolina.  From its position the fort had a commanding view up and down the river and of Anju at anchor there.   We toured the park and viewed the ruins of the fort and town and later enjoyed an unsuccessful musket firing demonstration by the friendly park rangers in full costume.  It was finally the menacing biting bugs which drove away the amused audience!  The British must have been more successful with their musket firing, or Spanish would be spoken in Georgia now!  

Just checking Anju isn't in the firing line!

Wouldn't really matter anyway  if the cannons fire as reliably as the muskets!


Next day we continued south to Cumberland Island, a National Seashore Reserve, Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island.   It was a true paradise, with the only vehicles allowed being driven by the park rangers and all other visitors on foot or bicycle.   In some areas of the 20 mile long island even bicycles weren't allowed to disturb the tranquility.   We dinghied our trusty and somewhat rusty bikes to the visitor centre and set off to explore the island.   Cycling proved to be a challenge as the sand on the island's tracks was often deep enough to stop the bike suddenly and make you fall off!      

First we explored the southern tip of the island, abandoning the bikes to walk through the dunes to the beach and then paying a visit to Dungeness and the ruins of the Carnegie family's holiday home and cars which had been abandoned there and were now in the process of being reclaimed by nature.


Is this really paradise?

Mother Nature reclaims the Carnegie's holiday home......

....... and their cars.


Cumberland Island's wonderful shady tracks - just watch out for sand-drifts!

Christine finds a large sand dune too much for her trusty bicycle.



Back at the anchorage that evening we spotted a huge Welsh flag on another boat and just had to stop by and visit.  We were invited for a cup of tea with Neville, from Swansea and his American wife Ann. They showed us around their self-built plywood catamaran, Peace.

Next day we did some more exploring, further north on the island, where the sand on the tracks got even deeper and more treacherous for cyclists with the additional risk of running into the wild ponies.  We spent a wonderful hour beach-combing for treasure washed up at high tide, including a large red buoy!

I hope this isn't really the channel!

We felt guilty as the previous day we hadn't managed to track down the park warden to pay our entry fee, so made of point of going to the visitor centre on our way back to the boat.   We needn't have worried, the friendly ranger immediately recognised us as her second visitors that day from Wales and told us there was a special offer for the Welsh that day, in honour of the fact that her grandparents were from there and she had a good Welsh name, Gladwyn, just to prove it! 

We were so glad we'd made the effort to meander through the Georgia countryside, meet the warm and friendly locals and hope that one day we'll be able to return for a longer visit.   Bad weather was forecast and it was time to push on further south to Florida with the other snowbirds.

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