It’s been a good while since our last post, because it’s been a good while since we last moved. Grrrr. Sailors may like big wind but normal boaters don’t. Big wind has kept us pinned down on Jekyll Island for what feels like a month but probably isn’t. Grrrr. The point, of course, is that this post contains an extraordinary amount of Jekyll Island content. But first we had to leave Isle of Hope.
Last weekend brought a full moon, which for both sailors and normal boaters meant the tidal current was raging. However—despite the fact that the old Shell sign is gone but perhaps because the old Shell sign has been replaced by a big blue sign with an arrow—we were able to find and flawlessly execute the starboard turn up Kilkenny Creek.
Not a hell of a lot going on up Kilkenny Creek.
On a positive note, however, this time we made sure to come in on a day the restaurant was open. Yum.
Did we mention the full moon? Big tides suck, but the moon over the marsh from our back porch was pretty cool.
All in all, a great afternoon and evening. In addition to that delicious meal, Tennessee whacked Mark Stoops and those checkerboard-copying Kentucky dirtballs, Texas thumped the Mormons, and the Diamondbacks evened the World Series. The latter of which sadly lasted all of one hot minute.*
Sunday morning the sun came up over that same marsh, signaling the start of a run that promised to be somewhere between seven and nine hours, depending on the current that we still are powerless to predict.
So off we went. From the ICW, Georgia barrier islands between Kilkenny and St. Simons all look the same, and mostly like marshy nothingness.
But looks can deceive. Sapelo Island, for example, has a rich history that may or may not include the first European settlement in what wasn’t the United States in 1526 but now is.
What isn’t disputed by historians is that Sapelo Island currently is home to Hog Hammock, wherein some 26 souls live in the last remaining Gullah-Geechee community. There’s also a palatial plantation mansion that survived the Civil War where one can spend the night for about $250. BYOB as there’s no alcohol. None of this, of course, is visible from the ICW.
St. Simons has a lot to offer, but not for us. We made it to the West Marine and the grocery store. That’s about it.
Monday morning threw fog at us, but we got the last laugh because we weren’t planning to travel anyway.
Actually we didn’t get the last laugh. Because when the fog didn’t screw us, Mother Nature whipped up predictions for the gale-force winds about which we’ve already complained. Starting Wednesday and lasting through today. Six-foot waves in the places we need to cross to get to Fernandina Beach. And we don’t do six-foot waves. But at least we had a nice day to jump the hour down to Jekyll Island, where they said there was room for us until Sunday.
Turns out, by “room” they meant one slip with less than eighteen feet of clearance, with very little opportunity to maneuver, with the nose of a big Riviera sticking out in the way, and with a two-knot side current. We knew there was a problem when we sat in the channel watching a Defever try to get into an even smaller space that the dock guys swore was big enough but which we later confirmed wasn’t close to big enough. Our worst docking experience to date—by a significant margin—made palatable only by much profanity and by the fact that Bill on B-Juled had fenders we were able to ride. Absolute BS. But we made it.
At least they have Moe. Moe was born at the marina some nineteen years ago and has lived there ever since, which is somewhat surprising given all the signs warning about alligators on the island. If that cat could talk what tales he’d tell.**
While stuck on Jekyll Island we’ve been able to watch boats piloted by braver folks than us go by.
This outfit charges $5,000 for basically the same trip we’re taking from Charleston to Fernandina Beach. They don’t get to eat at Marker 107, of course. They also don’t get stuck on Jekyll Island, although our dock guys almost certainly assured the Captain that American Eagle could fit into one of these tiny slips.
Jekyll Island is famous as the former home of the Jekyll Island Club, founded by turn-of-the-last-century gazillionaires. These dudes laid the foundation for the Federal Reserve System right here in their clubhouse, because once you have a gazillion you want to keep it. Regardless, the club now is a resort with historic buildings and spectacular grounds.
Long before the rich people moved in, however, one William Horton owned everything. British Governor James Oglethorpe gave the island to Horton after his countrymen successfully aligned with the natives to push out the Spanish and French and then—in a twist nobody possibly could’ve seen coming—pushed out those same natives. This all is important only because it explains the house slave-owner Horton built in 1742 as the jewel of his plantation and which now is a tourist attraction.
Some fifty years after Horton died, the du Bignon family purchased the island, and continued enjoying the fruits of slavery for fifty years or so. This is important mostly because it explains the small graveyard full of du Bignons.
Not surprisingly, the abolition of slavery after the Civil War made plantationing markedly less profitable. Whereupon the last of the du Bignons built the club to attract those rich guys.
Now, Jekyll Island mostly is owned and preserved by the State of Georgia. Which is nice, because it’s full of trails and wildlife and such.
Jekyll Island also has a turtle rescue joint. Not quite as big as the one we visited in Marathon, but still cool. Enough with the pollution, people. Fortunately Bandit may be released soon.
But wait. There’s more! The Wanderer Memorial Trail is along the beach where Wanderer—one of the last slave ships to arrive in the United States—delivered human cargo on November 28, 1858, with the help of one of those evil du Bignons. Sobering stuff, to say the least.
The great Tennessean Michael Reno Harrell told us to remember that above the clouds the sky is always blue. And he was right, because the wind didn’t prevent us from attending the annual Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival. And awesome it was. Except for the pork rind booth. There’s very little in the universe more disgusting than fried pig skin. The shrimp & grits, however, were delicious.
One last thing about Jekyll Island. Remember that time there were two boats from Arizona at the marina on Prince Edward Island? We now can beat that. Three Arizona boats on Jekyll Island. Crazy.
Tennessee won. Texas won. So today was a good day, made even better by the fact that we’re able to move tomorrow.
*No offense to Mama Cass, but we’ve never seen the funny side of losin’.
**But the cat was cool and he never said a mumblin’ word. RIP Hoyt Axton.