We were intent on getting as far south as we could -- our ‘deadline’ was to get to Delray Beach, Florida in time to vote in the Presidential election -- every vote counts -- especially in Florida. But, the weather news was bad. A tropical storm was brewing in the Caribbean that would eventually ride up the US east coast. Landfall was still unknown; tropical winds were expected everywhere. The Bahamas and Florida were in the path, but the storm would likely veer east. We had an opportunity to get from Charleston to Cumberland Island at the GA-FL border, as far west as you can get on the east coast. Turned out to be a smart move as this was about the ONLY place on the entire east coast that escaped Sandy.
We set out with Gem on Saturday morning and had the anchor down by Sunday afternoon. Cumberland was as beautiful as we remembered. We walked along the beach where horses were busy eating, not caring if we came by. Wild turkeys promenaded along as we walked to the Dungeness ruins.
But enough about wildlife. This was election season and MV & Shane invited us over for a presidential debate party. (Its great to have Australian friends who take as much an interest in our politics as we do) What a novelty for us to watch TV on a boat! And the debate was pretty good -- Obama got his line in about the changing nature of warfare (bayonets and horses) -- we were pretty entertained. Of course this reminded us that we needed to get another 300 miles south to vote... and Sandy was getting closer.
Next day the waters near Cumberland were getting noticeably rougher and we started thinking about moving inland a little more. We found the North River on the charts; a serpentine waterway in the marshes a couple of miles west towards St. Mary’s. John called the boatyard there to ask about conditions -- when they said all the locals ride out storms up there, that was all we needed to hear. Gem took the lead and we headed over, with Shane calling out depth soundings to us on the radio. Three twists upriver and we anchored far enough in to avoid any storm surge -- plenty of marsh between us and the rivers/ocean. We stayed in the marsh till Sandy passed by -- and never saw sustained winds over 25 knots. While waiting, we had time to explore the town of St Mary’s, visit the Saturday market, eat local shrimp, and look for alligators.
But we were all getting restless. Even though the eye of the storm passed by, the winds and seas were forecast to stay elevated for days after. We parted company with Gem and decided to go south inside to St. Augustine, making tracks while the remains of Sandy raged outside. Gem was too tall for the bridges -- they headed back to Cumberland to wait for the window to travel on the ocean.
Cumberland Island: 30d45.928’N 81d28.335’W
North River off St. Mary’s River: 30d44.191’N 81d31.760’W