Cumberland Island to Georgia Marshes

After six months in Florida, we will cruise into Georgia on April 16.    (Delayed posting, so bear with me).


An easy 34.8 miles today, and a popular anchorage  next to a bridge.

Before stopping for the night, we went into a marina and filled up with diesel. First full fill since the Bahamas;   at $2.60 gallon,  $510 .00   for 195 gallons.

Deep  hole for anchorage – hard to find a spot to drop the anchor in less than 25 feet.

Its been a long time since our inflatable kayaks have been in the water.  Colleen wanted to make sure they still hold air.   It was a brief paddle into the muddy creeks through the salt marsh.
cumberland island   cumberland island

Then paddled out toward the bridge, only to find the current is very strong, making it a fairly unpleasant paddle.
We were concerned about going too far and not being able to paddle back to the boat!  Paddling against the tidal current to get back on our boat was a challenge.   Good news; they do hold air.   Dave is such a trouper, going kayaking after a long day navigating the currents and shallows.
cumberland island

We got a reminder to watch the tides- we saw Towboat US working to drag a beached pontoon boat near our anchorage.   They must have pulled up to a sand bar, and several hours later it was a mud flat!


Yeah… we crossed the border into Georgia on Monday April 17th at 12:30—leaving Florida for now.


We entered Florida on election day, November 8th, 2016 at Fort McCree near Pensacola .  Cruised east along the Florida panhandle then cut across the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs.

–    Thanksgiving was celebrated in Clearwater Beach.

–    Christmas was at the Rod and Gun Club in Everglade City.

–    New Year’s (and January) in Marathon

–   Feb. 3rd we visited Key West, the most southern point of the Atlantic ICW.

At this point we turned around to start north.  (March was in the Bahamas- then we returned to complete the Eastern Florida coast).  Stops included Palm Beach, St Lucie, Vero Beach, Cocoa Beach, Daytona and St Augustine…  Florida has a lot of coast line!

We cruised Florida’s 1415 miles of shoreline then crossed the northern Florida/ Georgia border six months after entering Florida!    What a memorable winter!


The Atlantic ICW runs 1245 miles from Norfolk Virginia to Key West.  Mile marker 0 is at Norfolk Virginia    The most southern mile marker at Key West is marker 1245.  Cruising from south to north, we will be counting down the miles.    Entering Georgia is mile marker 711.      If you do the math- we have 711 miles ahead of us to reach Norfolk Virginia; and we are 534 miles north of Key West.

The mile markers are handy in reading the charts, calculating the distance we travel each day, and estimating where the next anchorage or marina is located.       We jot down the mile marker location in our log book, and at any time it’s easy to calculate distances and find where we are on a chart.


With some discussion regarding taking the outside Atlantic route to bypass the marsh land of Georgia; we chose to stay inland on the ICW.  This is the 10th stated we have visited on our Great Loop Trip.        Entering the state at mile marker 711 , we get our first introduction to the Salt Marshes of Georgia.


By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.  Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band of the sand beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land. “

Excerpt from a poem “The Marshes of Glynn” written by Georgia poet Sidney Lanier in the 1870’s  , inspired  as he stood and beheld the vast marshlands that embrace the Golden Isles. Georgia’s coastal marshland encompass about 378000 acres in a four to six mile band behind the barrier islands. anchoring salt marsh
The term Golden Isles refers to the swaths of golden grasses. .  for more information just Google Salt Marsh for fascinating information on the eco -system of tidal marshland.
salt marsh anchor

The photo shows a Shrimp boat in the distance- it reminds me of a combine crossing a wheat field.   (showing my Minnesota farm roots).  This is low country- flat flat flat.  You can see boats in the distance across the marsh  flats. Here is the shrimp boat close up..  The marshes must be prime property for shrimping.

. cumberland island


This island suffered some damage last October from Hurricane Matthew.  The docks are closed during the week to allow repairs to be worked on.    We got permission to anchor out and tie our dinghy to the dock for a few hours on a weekday. Hiked to the beach side and trekked across a long boardwalk/pier over the sand dunes.
cumberland island beach

cumberland island beachSome of the trees are several hundred years old Oak trees.
cumberland isl. trees

What a different sight from any beaches we have seen to date.       First the walk was serene with overhanging trees covered with hanging  moss.   Then the wind swept beaches so packed that the sand was smooth as glass- even showing reflections once the waves receded .    Made for great photos!    (and hopefully will show up in Colleen’s art journal too

cumberland island     cumberland island Next was a hike to the other side of the island to the Dungeoness museum sight.    Along the path we saw an armadillo and also saw several of the wild horses near the old ice house

.cumberland island   salt marsh anchor Renewed respect for folks that do nature photography – these creatures are hard to snap- so are dolphins, manatee, turtles and birds.  (and we still see dolphins daily, still trying for a perfect picture)
anchoring salt marsh LESSON IN TIDE AND MUD

Arriving at Cumberland Island, we anchored comfortabley in 18  feet of water near the center of the channel. Prepared for a 7 foot drop in the tide.       When we returned to the boat on our dinghy after the hike,  we promptly went aground just 50 feet behind our stern!    Ankle deep in mud we both got out to pull to deeper water;  by the time we got on Moon Shadow,  we looked out over mud flats!  Moon Shadow was still fine, it was a hump in the middle of the channel behind our boats.

The tide drops a foot per hour; and swings about 7 feet in this area.   Low tide is 6 am; then high tide noon. Low again at 6pm. Then high at midnight. We are anchored with half a dozen other boats.   With a light wind, we all swing in the same direction.  A good sign someone is aground– they don’t swing with the rest of us!     Our neighboring boat was not swinging- soon we saw them pulling anchor to try to move into deeper water.

Looking ahead on the charts, we noted many locations with shallow water at low tide.  We plan to be on the move on rising tides-    This way if we hit shallow water, we can count on the tide coming in to lift us off the mud.     If you get stuck on a dropping tide, it’s a call to the tow company or sit for 6 to 8 hours for rising tide!!    It all takes daily calculation of tides, depths and currents.  The tides are affected by the moon so they are ever-changing- from inlet to inlet as well as week to week!


Cruising along with clear skies and no wind makes for an enjoyable day on the water.   As we cruised by buoy channel marker # 49,  we are at the most western point of the Atlantic ICW. salt marsh anchorLooking at a state map, we are due south of Buffalo New York and will be traveling in an  Easterly direction before heading North again. salt marsh anchor Tea Kettle Creek is a creek leading back into the salt marsh at mile marker 647. Today we traveled 67 miles. Here is the entrance to Tea Kettle Creek: salt marsh anchor and here is how it looks on our chart plotter: salt marsh anchor Next morning, we left Tea Kettle headed for another anchorage.   We had planned for a short day, however with the tides and currents it seemed prudent to get past the next tricky spot today. Our route through Hells Gate turned out to be uneventful, at rising tide there was plenty of water, even with the  challenging side- sweeping current it was doable.  (at low tide Hell Gate may have less than 4 feet in areas due to the 8 foot tide swing).   We maneuvered through the narrow, shoaling Creighton narrows, and up Little Mud River, also known for shoaling and shallow areas. Boaters refer to this as “skinny water”.


  Step up on soap box:    With all the warnings about shallow spots on this trip, I googled Maintenance and dredging of the ICW.      There is a recent article in at  with current information.   Here is a recap of what’s news;  The water is wide but not deep.   Keeping the ICW dredged needs federal funding.    The ICW moves many things from recreational boaters to  gravel, coal, grain to jet fuel for the jets that operate out of Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort.  Historically, there have been limited funds allocated for dredging and the result is shoaling in many areas causing shallows.  I may consider writing the congressmen to encourage funding of dredging along the Atlantic ICW!!

According to article and Boat US;   An estimated 13,000 recreational boaters , or “snowbirds,’ make the annual boating migration from the Northeast to Florida each year.  Averaging $300 a day in spending that supports small business jobs along the way.   There is a group called Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association (AIWA) that is lobbying Congress and the Trump administration to request a priority to funding and maintenance of navigation projects.


We traveled 50 miles total, and anchored for the night near Hammock Island at Possum Point.   We are traveling with our buddy boat Enterprise:

anchoring salt marsh

Early morning boat checking his crab pots:

anchoring salt marsh
The miles are flying by – we are only 8 miles from Isle of Hope Marina just south of Savanah Georgia.

Check back for photos and highlights from the genteel southern charm city of Historic Savanah.


About mnsailors

Our blog will highlight our travels along America's Great Loop. We sold our sailboat on Lake Superior for a Trawler to do America's Great Loop in 2016.
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