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.
After visiting St. Mary's, we were ready to spend some more time anchored out on our way up the coast. Since Eurisko draws 5 1/2 feet, we have never sailed Georgia's coast before, choosing to go outside in the Carolinas and reenter in Florida. But with 13 inches of draft, Walküre is the perfect boat to use to gunkhole the Georgian coast.
Our first day out of St. Mary's we were surrounded by miles of sweet grass. With the ICW so narrow and the grass so widespread, we seemed to be sailing on an ocean of grass. Finally we were somewhere where we could not hear a highway, a dog bark, a train or even other boaters. It appeared that we were so far from anything that no one ventures out into these waters very often. We chose the "alternate ICW" route in order to avoid St. Andrews Sound which can get nasty in a flat bottomed boat in the wrong wind. (For the record: yellow SQUARES are still to starboard when you are northbound, even on the alternate route.) After wandering along the narrow, grass-lined creeks, we finally decided to stop for the night in Umbrella Creek.
Because AS-29's tend to yaw at anchor, we have become fastidious riding sail users. What we had not yet thought of, due to our inexperience with strong currents, is that you can't use a riding sail when anchored in current since, at best, you only lay to the wind half the time. Instead, we chose to anchor with two anchors for the rest of our stay in Georgian waters.
After leaving Umbrella Creek we sailed through some of the most unique landscape we've ever seen. The grass began to gather enough dirt to form islands which grew large enough to support an occasional tree or two. One many of these islands were small, simple homes. This is the land of the Gullah, and we longed to learn more of their culture and way of life. On one island we saw trees but no house. Instead, there were cattle grazing: no need for a fence. That night we again anchored just off the ICW, this time in New Tea Kettle Creek. Again, because of the strong current and narrow waterway, we used two anchors to keep us off the shore that rose above us at low tide.
My favorite anchorage in Georgia was our third choice for the follow day. Each "perfect" anchorage along the way had its faults and we had to institute Plan C. Plan B had been behind the shelter of Pine Island off Cane Patch Creek. Though our cruising guide mentioned that the water behind Pine Island was "shoaling," we continued toward it anyway, confident that our 13 inches of draft would allow us to anchor even among the shoals. What we discovered was that Pine Island may be "shoaling" at high tide, but with 9 feet of tide, it was more suitable for 4-wheelers than sharpies at low tide: it was completely dry. As we sailed on toward Rush Creek we saw a cut off to starboard, which we aptly named East Rush Creek. Yards past where we thought we should stop, the lead line said we still had plenty of water, even after the tide went out. We dropped two anchors in the lee of tall trees, and started surveying our surroundings.
We spotted wild pigs in the forest, raccoons on the beach, and we gained an alligator friend who stayed within a few feet of the boat for hours. Dave says he was waiting for a cat to peek over Walküre's edge. When the tide went out, the landscape changed completely. Gone was the grass poking above the surface of the water. What was left were islands among muddy paths where the water once ran. And Walküre spent a few minutes on the muddy bottom the night of the new moon. We had only misjudged the depth and the tide by a few inches. We sat in East Rush Creek for days, enjoying the wildlife and the changing scenery with every tide. When it came time to leave, we decided we had enough wind to sail off the anchor and short tack out of the Creek and meander back to the ICW. With the high tide, we tacked from grassy edge to grassy edge, close enough to reach out and touch the sweet grass lining the channel. Walkure showed off her light air/shallow water sailing capabilities, or as Phil Bolger said, she has elegant maneuvering form.
We left the shallow anchorages of Georgia for a few days of playing tourist in Savannah. But we left with a smile, good memories, and a healthy respect for 9-foot tides.
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