We’ve got a little crush on coastal Georgia. Sure, she’s shallower than a petri dish, and Drakka proceeds in constant peril of running aground, but her marshy petticoats are so beguiling. Spanish moss laces the muscular old oaks, weaving a canopy over dense groves of glossy green palmettos. Armadillos root through copper leaves as barrel-aged sunlight oozes amber through the vines... Ah! I’m bout to have me a Scarlett O’Hara fainting spell.
Instead of going directly upriver to Savannah, which is mighty expensive, Drakka insisted we dock in Thunderbolt, because, well, it’s named Thunderbolt. Also the marina delivers free donuts at dawn! Good morning, gut bomb. An old jalopy of a city bus connected us to historical Savannah. She’s pretty alright, like a southern belle whose gown has become patchworked over the decades with park benches and tourism buses. Even prettier, in my opinion, is the Bonaventure Cemetery, where the dead have leagues of mossy canopy trees and swarms of azaleas in bloom. We tried to lay in a pile of fallen coral blossoms for a photo op, but ended up tickled by ants and picking slimy petals out of my braid. Being poetic has it’s price, no?
On the guts end, we have seriously upgraded our anchoring tackle. Hank the drunk is hanging off the stern serving as a bird perch, Al’s in the lazarette, and up front is now Rocna: bling bling! She’s a spiked hunky chunk of steel boulder to keep us on lockdown through the windy nights. We were being frugal before, but being bedazzled with baby and beneeding sleep desperately, I was willing to throw in a kidney for a good anchor. In Charleston we also added 100' of galvanized chain to our rode so that we wouldn’t have any more midnight keel-wrapping rodeos. Hallelujah!
Also, on our last row across the river in Charleston, one of Dink’s oars gave up the grouper and broke off! Mid-stroke! Mid-river: Snap! The oar popped up looking like it’d been karate chopped by one of the local dolphins, and frankly I don’t doubt that it had. They are mischievous pranksters. Crookedly limping to Drakka, we made it aboard and found new oars in Thunderbolt.
With these new bodyguards of badassery, we discovered our favorite anchorage yet at Fort Frederica, a mossy green bend in the river with marsh flanking the west side and glorious gnarled oaks to the east. Armed with galoshes and a picnic blanket, we hopped into Dinkerbell (okay truthfully I don't "hop" so much now that I'm balloon-bellied) and made way to STORM THE FORT!!
Which was moated by mud, as it was low tide. That’s what rubber boots are for, right? Ohhhh NO, my friends. Not this mud. The sinkiest, stinkiest, stickiest black-pudding-devil-goop you can imagine!
I, the vanguard, immediately sunk into shin-deep squelch. C followed, and the two of us, possessed by giggles, sunk further with every laborious step. Slooomp! There goes one boot. Sluuuurp! There goes the other. Alligator asses! I’m stuck! Clawing at marsh grass and oyster shells, I abandoned boots and scrambled up the bank. C fared more successfully, and saved my submerged galoshes. We emerged like swamp things into the manicured preserve, where tidy tourists ambled about with maps and cameras. C peeled off his muddy pants (he had shorts underneath, you dirty thinkers), and left them to dry on a stump while we went hunting for a spigot to scrub our hands and feet.
Frederica is a magnificent historical park which we thoroughly enjoyed despite our gunked attire. Have you heard of 'tabby'? A building material made of oyster shells cooked into lime and mixed with more oyster shell fragments for bulk? Neato! While the sun set and the tide rose, I overheard three people muse as to whether C’s abandoned pants were a historical representation of a Revolutionary war soldier’s costume. Yes, my friends, we are putting the za-za-zing back into history.
From there we ventured southward to a marina at Jekyll Island (Complimentary bikes! Exercise! My atrophied thighs!), and then to Cumberland Island, which is a sprawling National Park Preserve. Batted by our old nemesis Augustus Gusty, we made slow, sideways-bucking progress. Grrrrr. Just as we came within sight of our anchorage at Plum Orchard, the depth monitor plunged mercilessly from 14 to 4 feet in a matter of seconds. But our charts proclaimed depths of 14’, and we were smack dab in the middle of the river channel!
Bump-bump-bump-ram! Shit in a shucked shoal! Drakka was STUCK.
Knowing the tide was rapidly falling, we dumped out our bag of tricks: Use our body weight to rock her loose = Nope. Release a sail to heel her hard over = Nope. Hail a passing fishing boat to pry us out = Nope. Row out an anchor to kedge off by pulling on the anchor line = Nope. Tough titties; we were in for the long haul. There’s an 8’ tidal swing in Georgia, which meant three hours before dead low. Which also meant at dead low Drakka would be in a skimpy foot of water, and the poor girl’s privates would be exposed for all the marshy Georgian world to see. She was not pleased, and we could hardly blame her. Sorry old girl, we meant well!
So wait we did, while she tipped gradually, humiliatingly over to starboard, until she was resting on her hull in the sand. As if it were haunted by ghosts, everything in the cabin went crashing off the shelves, and all the suspended towels and clothes hung eerily sideways. We literally had to climb with one foot on the floor and one foot on the walls to move about, all the while paranoid about the potential for backfilling. Backfilling is when your boat gets so stuck in the muck that it won't float upright again when the water rises, and floods into your cockpit instead. NO NO NO. Once again kissing our unlimited tow insurance card (envision sparkles and butterflies), we called Tow Boat US to ask: How far off is help, should this uncomfortable affair go code red? Turns out Captain Joe was more than happy to stack up some hourly wages by coming to our not-necessarily-needed rescue, and wriggled us off around sunset. We anchored in the dark, and huddled through the cold night as 25 knot gusts buffeted our weary sea dragon.
The North’s blizzard has caused a cold front down south as well, bestowing three nights of 30* temps on our shivering bones. My hair is more matted than a river otter beneath this beanie, and I can’t even tell you what my bottom most layer is, it’s been so long since I stripped down. I think my panties have anchors on them. I think? Our opaque breath so thoroughly fogs up the screen that we have to check the wind report at arm's length. We left NYC in November, and I'm still snoozing in double sleeping bags. Come oooon sun! Get your guns out and bronze up this pale jelly belly! Baby sea monkey needs to know what Vitamin D feels like!
We cross our fingers, toes, legs, nostrils, ovaries, everything, that Florida will melt us like cold pads of butter on a hot lobster. Mmmmm...