SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
Ghosting past Fernandina Beach, watching the lee the city caused drop our speed down to 0.7 knots, Walküre showed off her light-air skills. With her giant gaff mainsail and her mizzen set, she kept us moving toward our destination, past town, past the paper mills and out toward the inlet. Once out of the lee, with the ocean to windward, her speed jumped and we romped up the river toward St. Mary's. Because it was a Sunday, powerboat wakes caused several unexpected gybes and we realized before we were even within sight, that there was not going to be any space available at the free dock on a beautiful weekend like this.
Dave adjusted the mizzen and I took the tiller. As we sailed past St. Mary's waterfront our suspicions were confirmed: no room at the free dock.
"We're in Georgia," Dave said.
"Whoohoo! Finally," I was slightly distracted as I tacked through the moored boats and up the river to find an anchorage for the evening.
"Oops, nope. We just crossed the center of the river. We're back in Florida." He sure knows how to ruin a good thing. "But we'll be back in Georgia tomorrow."
We short tacked up the river, up wind but down current which made for interesting displays, making Walküre look like she was spinning in place. Up the river, around the bend, and right off the chart we sailed.
"How far can we go?"
"Until a board touches."
Without a depth sounder, we use our bilge boards as an early warning that the water is getting shallow. But with a 13" draft, "shallow" is relative.
We ended up sailing over a mile up the river, but came back to a little creek we had passed. Up Bells River, around the bend and finally anchored in the lee of Roses Bluff, to wait out the approaching thunderstorms.
In the morning, we sailed back to St. Mary's and as we'd hoped, the free dock was indeed "free." We were met by Jeff of the Public Works Department. He grabbed our lines and welcomed us to St. Mary's. We got advice, directions, and "be sure not to miss" from Jeff in addition to his warm welcome. His "area" is the waterside park and he is rightfully proud of it. Gazebos, benches, swings, playground and sugar magnolias abound in this piece of land that was obviously meant to be used and enjoyed.
We started (per Jeff's recommendation) at the tourist office where we got more advice, lunch suggestions and a walking map. We started by walking away from the water to the edge of town where we found an antique mall worth the effort. Though we don't have room to store anything else, we always enjoy looking at antiques. Back toward town we saw churches from the 1800's, beautiful old houses and cool, quiet, tree-lined streets. At the tourist office it was recommended that we take the ferry to Cumberland Island, but we were more interested in enjoying a town than the wilderness of Cumberland Island. We put it on our "next time" list.
St. Mary's is a small town, easy to enjoy in a day without taxing your legs very much, but it was an unseasonably warm day and I was glad for an indoor lunch stop at Riverside. This restaurant is owned by a couple: she is French; he is Greek. Needless to say, the food is astounding and worth its rather shocking price.
When we took our leftovers back to the boat we saw Jeff again. He asked if we'd seen the cemetery (no) or the pauper's cemetery farther up the road (no). We added them both to our after lunch itinerary and continued our leisurely pace. Like all old cemeteries, this one had a hundred stories to tell if you read the headstones. Mothers who lost babies and then died a few days later. Parents who lost several children in a matter of weeks to disease.
We made the walk out to the recently "found" pauper's cemetery more just to see that part of town than to see the piece of dirt with stakes and a sign. But any part of history is worth seeing and we stood in the shade of the large trees and contemplated the lives of those who were buried there: no tombstone or marker of any sort. Soon that would change and though those buried here would remain anonymous, their resting places would be properly marked.
St. Mary's was the first stop of what we call our "Southern Walking Tour." The tour includes many larger cities, but nowhere did we feel more welcomed than we did in St. Mary's. Besides, we were finally out of Florida and on new ground that Eurisko has never crossed. Let the latest adventure begin.
MONDAY we'll share a new way to use ranges.
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