50 Jekyll Island, GA to Titusville, FL

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We tied up at Jekyll Island, got Tranquility properly secured and then took off to see the alligators we had found on an earlier visit. They live in a little pond near the bike trail. Finding them is tough. Mom usually hangs out in the shadows with just her eyes and the tip of her nose out of the water. After a bit of searching we found her, practically straight out in front of the spot from where we were looking. After more searching, we found the little ones. They’d grown and are now about 2-feet long. One bold one stayed ashore as we quietly walked by. We resisted the temptation to see how close we could get and left him sunning undisturbed. The others were more timid and slipped quietly into the water and swam lazily out toward the middle of the pond.

Jekyll has a quiet, lazy feel and we fell right into that mode. Ruth’s back continued to bother her, so some days she just stretched out and rested. On days when her back felt better we worked on a cleaning cycle. Ruth washed and began waxing topside. I tackled the sides and waterline. After much elbow grease we again have a clean boat.

The ongoing project to convert the stove to propane advanced another step. I ran the wiring for the remote propane shut off solenoid to the aft locker. Running wiring in a boat is never an easy task. To finish the partially completed run we took apart the aft cabin berth and berth base, ran the wiring and then reassembled everything. Sounds simple, but it took 3 hours.

As Ruth’s back made slow improvements, we began bike riding both for exercise and to enjoy the beauty of the island. We poked along finding new streets to explore. On the north end of the island we found a bike trail we’d never been on. It led along the north side of the tidal marsh, and we enjoyed the wilderness views with snowy egrets. The next day on the south end of the island, we rode the hard packed sand and shells down around the end of the island. As we rode along, the crunching of shells under our bike tires let us know that we were helping nature to make more sand. We found men chest deep in the warm water with nets strung between them, fishing in what could have been a classic scene out of the bible if they hadn’t been wearing ball caps.

Ah justice. On two occasions powerboats went flying past the marina causing wake damage. The first guy had a real attitude. He gave the marina the finger and made some nasty cracks on the VHF in response to our complaints. His attitude continued when he heard the marina call the Coast Guard and heard they would come and investigate the damage. He turned around came back and made a big show of calling his lawyer “to sue” as he got on the dock. He left with a ticket for wake damage and knowledge he’d have to pay the damaged claim. The second guy kept on going. The Coast Guard chased him down and brought him back. He was very apologetic about his wake and no one pressed charges. He got off with a lecture and two hours of lost travel time.

Jekyll Island has a magic hold on us. We stayed a week. Not much to do, but relax and enjoy its quiet beauty. The bike trails wind through woods, under live oaks, and through an interesting historic district. A small grocery store provides basics, but nothing fancy. Miles of hard packed beach lined with sand dunes make for enjoyable biking and walking. The marina even has a pool and hot tub where we rested weary muscles after one of our 20-mile rides completely around the island. Reluctantly the day after Thanksgiving we again started south.

Cumberland Island is just below Jekyll Island and is the most remote of the Georgia Sea Islands. It’s now a National Park reachable only by boat. We anchored off, rode our dinghy ashore and walked the sun-speckled trails under live oaks dripping with Spanish moss to find Dungeness. Back in the late 1800’s the Carnegie’s built Dungeness mansion on the island. Now we view the ruins of burned out Dungeness and old photographs near the ruins and let our imaginations picture the grandeur that once was there.

Wild horses on Cumberland

Continuing along the trail to the beach, we searched the shadows looking for the wild horses of Cumberland Island. All along the trail, hoof prints and manure gave clear evidence that horses were around, but not one was to be seen. We headed out to the beach and there munching on sea grass were horses. We approached carefully not wanting to disturb them. It rapidly became evident they were used to people and continued munching as we passed by, happy having seen them close up.

We covered 50 miles in a long day of motoring, stopping by Pine Island to anchor for the night. Six boats shared our calm anchorage. We relaxed and watched the sunset over the marshlands. Morning brought a unique sight. Off in the distance fog filled the woods with a bright gray mist in the early morning sunrise. Trunks of pine trees along the edge of the woods stood out in sharp contrast to the background fog giving the appearance of a ghostly picket fence in the woods.

We had a short jump to St. Augustine and anchored off in front of the city. As darkness fell, the Bridge of Lions glowed in outline from the white lights strung along it’s length. One by one, all the buildings along the shore turned on their lights until the entire waterfront glowed in white Christmas lights. We enjoyed the show from our ringside seat as we enjoyed a glass of wine and cheese and crackers.

At Matanzas Inlet the buoys brought us within 20 feet of shore to get around thin water. I thought I’d done a great job getting through the narrow passage and was heading for the wider part of the ICW when we bumped up on a sand bar, passed over, bumped up on a second bar, passed over again and finally bumped over a third bar. By that time we were both completely engaged in trying to figure out where the deep water, if any, was. I turned right and the depth sounder went up to 0.4 feet under the keel. We inched our way along not touching again.

It happened again at Ponce Inlet. This time Ruth was threading us through and in the center of the channel when we bumped up on a sand bar and stopped. We were aground. Ruth threw Tranquility into reverse, pushed the throttle to maximum and we slowly spun in a circle, still trapped on the bar. Quickly playing with forward and reverse and the throttle resulted in finally spinning Tranquility off the bar. Our dubious record of having touched bottom somewhere on the ICW on each passage is still intact.

Overnight stops anchored in the cement factory channel and a free dock at New Smyrna Beach brought us to Titusville to visit friends and watch a shuttle launch.

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