For us, Cumberland Island is one if those places we can’t get enough of. It’s beautiful, pure, natural, and spontaneous. You never know what you will see. And whatever it is, you can be sure that it will be amazing. The moment you set foot on shore, you’re engulfed! Literally.
We’ve been here before, and were concerned about the tide going out and the sandbar in the bay. While Misty herself was in deep water, the anchor would be in very shallow water as the tide receded. Cumberland has severe tidal changes, up to 6 – 7 feet! So, we opted not to do the entire 4.5 mile hike due to time constraints, but ended up doing good chunks of it. First up, the beach! But to get there, you get to wander through the Palmetto forests. No problem there!
We made it to the beach without any live wildlife sightings. but it doesn’t matter, as the landscape can speak for itself! We did see some not live wildlife on the beach, though.
Shortly after leaving the beach and re-entering the forest path, we had a very brave Armadillo walk right across our path. He was within a foot of us, and he didn’t flinch when he saw us approaching, and getting close for photos. Bizarre creatures!
We came back to the forest and decided to turn north up the Main Road to get to Dungeness, the ruins of Thomas and Lucy Carnegie’s beautiful mansion. As we turned on to the path, a horse walked through the brush ahead of us, headed in the same direction. He got there long before we did…helps to have 4 legs!
When we arrived at Dungeness Ruins, the field to the right of the house had several groups of wild horses (including our friend from the road!) grazing in the grass, and some were being a little frisky. Note the white male, who wasn’t particularly happy about having his picture taken. Yes, he was one of the frisky ones!
We once again took the River Trail, which immerses you in the wild plant life of the island, with old oaks, palmettos, ferns and so much more. There are several places where you can grab a quick side trip to the bay beach, tides permitting. It’s truly spectacular!
There are guided van tours of the island, and we would recommend that you take one. It will get you a comprehensive visit that truly can’t be done on foot, or bike, or would require a long dinghy ride. We’re disappointed we did not get up to Plum Orchard, the home of Thomas and Lucy’s son, George, and his wife Margaret. Unlike Dungeness, it is not in ruins, and there are scheduled, but limited, tours of the house.
When we got back to the boat, the sand bar in the harbor was making it’s presence known. We threw out some extra chain to let Misty drift back further into deeper water, and made the commitment to get up for high tide to move the boat (at 1:00 am), and avoid any problems with the low tide in the morning.
Across the sound, we could see the lights of the U.S. Navy Kings Bay Nuclear Base, and got a better look at it the next morning, as we passed by on our continued trip north.
We made a short run of 38 miles up to Morningstar Marina in St Simon’s Island, where we would stay for two nights due to (yes, again!) high winds! We stopped here on our way south last November, but didn’t have time to really explore. This time we took an Uber into town, and wandered the shops after a delicious lunch at Barbara Jeans, where we enjoyed delicious low country Southern food! Another local Uber driver recommendation!
We enjoyed strolling around Pier Village and the park on the inlet, home to the St. Simons Island Lighthouse. With the high winds, we were happy to be tucked into a marina, and glad we had a better opportunity to see the island.
We were planning to make a long run the next day, as we wanted to get fairly close to Hell Gate, to ensure timely passage of this tricky spot on a rising tide. We went just over 72 miles, to a lovely anchorage in Cane Patch Creek.
We woke up the next morning to a fairly thick fog, so we didn’t pull anchor until 9:20. While the fog was still around, the sun was quickly burning it off as we got closer to Hell Gate.
Fortunately, there was another good sized boat in front of us, and we were able to follow his lead through the tricky, shallow passage.
Gotta love those yellow exclamation points on the chart!
The other concerning part of this run up to Hilton Head, is Fields Cut, just north of Savannah. On our way south in the fall, we brushed bottom here twice, so we again wanted to be sure we were passing through in plenty of water. Fortunately, we got through the cut without incident, and proceeded on to a relaxing few days in Hilton Head.
We passed some beautiful homes, and Bonaventure Cemetery, which is visible from the river.
Fields Cut, Georgia, shortly before the South Carolina border