August 2, 2013

Another Dose of Cumberland

The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing;
not only will it shelter you from the tempest,
but in the other troubles of life
which may be even more disturbing,
it is a safe retreat.
 L. Francis Herreschoff

Post # 26
midnight full moon at the bait shack
Before setting sail from Fernandina Harbor, we witnessed an usual amount of aquatic wildlife activity in the marina... right next to the hull of Glory Days, appeared 2 otters frolicking about... so playful they were... but as soon as I dashed below to fetch my camera, they were gone... camera shy I suppose... later that day a sea turtle was poking around at will, slow and deliberately... surfacing here and there.

Finally, just as we were sitting in the cockpit of Glory Days, a sluggish manatee surfaced and then was quickly down again... as it to say, "safe sailing my friends... then there's always the steady parade of sea birds, gulls, cranes, pelicans, egrets and spoonbills.

It was a perfectly full moon the night before we set sail... some call it a "super moon" but I'm not really sure it got that nam ... here she is (supermoon) in the background of the bait shack as seen in the photo above.

I never get tired of visiting Cumberland Island.  It is indeed a magical destination that offers so much mystical wonder I can never fully describe with mere words or photos.

So off we went.  After returning from the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville, and setting sail, Amy and I arrived at Cumberland Island on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 23, 2013.  We started out just doing a little day sailing under the genoa.  But since there was little or no wind, we decided to drop the sails and try our hand at bottom fishing in the main channel which is pretty much smack dab on top of the Georgia/Florida line as the St. Mary's River enters the sea... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Little white trout caught by that little Green girl

Again my ever growing coastal acumen would test me and teach me yet another lesson about tides and currents.

It was like "hey, why don't we just drift fish here and see what we get!"... and drift we did... again, I underestimated the strength of the outgoing tide, and before long we had drifted about a half mile past Fort Clinch headed to the open sea... so far so problem, but wait, I think we should head back into the bay now... duh... have you ever tried to motor against an outgoing tide in a narrow inlet of coastal Georgia with the wind in your face?  It ain't easy.  Suddenly, we found ourselves motoring against a current so strong that we could barely make 1 knot of speed although our engine was nearly full throttle.... at least I stopped the drifting before we were really far out there.... 

To compensate and make mends for my lapse in judgement we made a wise choice to just drop the anchor about 100 meters off the far southern tip of Cumberland beach and wait it out... The anchor would hold us in the current and there was only about 90 minutes left in the ebb tide before she would be neutral again.  We might as well park our arse here and go ashore to the beach... then we can enjoy the fishing while waiting for the tidal rush to do her thing.

 which is what we did... my of my, what a good decision that was... maybe I'm learning something after all.  Here we are at anchor after dinghying to the shore in Dazy. I'm doing my tough guy stance.

Big man on a mission
These pics show the vast beauty of Cumberland Island beaches... these are the widest beaches I've ever had the pleasure to stroll... ripples, sand divits, pristine pools and an abundance of sea shell varieties made it one usually exciting point of interest... Seeing it at this very low tide, as seen below,  made the details even more vivid.
That little dot in the center is Amy.

We  counted 32 horseshoe crabs beached during our walk.... there must be thousands of them I figure.
Anchored just outside the main channel for Cumberland Sound/St. Mary's River

He gave his body up for science.
After exploring the beach, we returned to Glory Days, via Dazy the dinghy, Amy insisted on trying her hand one more time at fishing... Luckily, she caught this little white trout which we decided to use for bait to attract something even bigger... sorry his body is missing in this photo, but you get the idea I hope.

Amy, the shark slayer.

Sure enough, within 10 minutes something of notable size had seized her bait and bent her rod over... she dashed to the rod holder and before long had reeled in a 3 foot shark... Sharks are so plentiful in these, and most all florida waters, that catching them is fairly routine if you use a nice big piece of cut bait like the fresh flesh of a small trout... 

We considered eating his ass for dinner, but decided to release him instead and make our way to our anchorage, another 2 miles around the bend.... but at least she got the thrill of catching this guy... fishing is so cool, and I'm proud to say my little girls is one of the best when it comes to diligence, perseverance, and pure dedication to the sport.... way to go Amy!
No worries, we released him.. or was it a her?
Now back to Cumberland Sound for a nice sunset anchorage near the Sea Camp dock... Tomorrow, we would explore the island.  

There's always something magical about a Cumberland anchorage ... At this anchorage we observed these wild horses grazing along the shore. 

Below are some scenes from the following day, just hanging out at the beach and exploring the old ruins of Dungeness... During our hike inland, we encountered lots of wildlife to include, osprey, raccoons, deer, armadillo, wild turkey, and more wild horses.

Proof of Heaven

Dunes to cross after leaving the beach toward the ruins. 

Awesome the way 3 different ecosystems converge here.

Turkeys didn't seem too spooked as we passed them by.  We were getting tired at this point... Sometimes I can bite off a bit too much "playing too hard"... Luckily, we stumbled upon a well where we refilled our water bottles for the 2 mile hike back

Yes, we overdid it, and were pooped out as we finally motored Dazy back to the boat under the veil of a wonderful setting sun... Dinner didn't happen until 10 p.m.  I would soon rise at 5:30 a.m. to ride the outgoing tide back to Fernandina.  We had a big day ahead as Amy had to drive back to Atlanta... and as long as we were leaving so early, we decided to make the 8 a.m. yoga class in Fernandina... our 2nd class of the week!  Not bad for a couple of sleepyheads like us. 

Cotton Candy sky 6 a.m.  The sea was smooth as glass.  We made it back to the marina in 1 hour and 15 minutes.

So Long Cumberland, till we meet again.

Job well done, matie

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