St. Simons Island

Off at daybreak

June 25

As we slowly headed back down the quiet inlet in which we had anchored at Cumberland Island, our gaze kept returning to the shoreline. Goodbye, tangled driftwood. Goodbye, wild horses. Goodbye evocative, mystical eden.

Wind speeds markedly less than the previous day, we still had a jolly, roll-y ride through the notorious St. Andrew Sound. The Sound, justifiably known for its fiendishness, requires a wise skipper to do his homework, studying tide tables, current, wind and weather before crossing this inlet from the Atlantic. Although local knowledge might have provided a more comfortable heading, the 2-to-4-foot waves in close succession reminded us of some of our liveliest sailing cruises on Lake Michigan. 

Some might remember the MV Golden Ray, a 200-meter car carrier, which capsized in 2019, dumping its cargo into the St. Simons Sound. We can report that it is still there, surrounded by one of the world’s largest cranes, as they cut the vessel into pieces of scrap small enough to tow away. Just the previous day, we met a young man on Cumberland who was taking water samples for analysis, discreetly hinting at legal ramifications of this major marine disaster. He commented that car parts had been found as far away as Cumberland Island, some 40 miles south. We cruised by the sight, and later that evening from our slip miles away, we could still see the towering crane, lit up like a holiday palooza at night. 

The removal of MV Golden Ray and her cargo of cars as scrap, bit by bit, in the St. Simons Sound

We arrived at Morningstar Marina, not at high tide, but it wasn’t slack tide, either; and the current was strong, coupled with a 10 mph wind in the same direction. As Steve radioed the dock hand he asked twice for a slip which would allow us to dock INTO the wind. No response. Sure enough, we were assigned a slip downwind. After two scary tries, we insisted on an upwind slip with a side tie, and then docking was easy peasy. Another lesson in self-advocacy! As we talked to locals who had “watched the show,” all had stories about near misses—and some collisions—in that tidal current.

Other than the services at the marina—one lovely restaurant, a hair salon, a swimming pool, the requisite yacht broker—one needs a car or at least bikes to enjoy the island. We unpacked our folding bikes, only to discover the loss of an itty bitty screw which secures the handlebars/steerage; so first stop was the hardware store for said screw. Mission accomplished, we cycled down to the village for lunch, making a loop through both lovely and modest residential areas. One house had a big sign posted in front, “Not for sale. Don’t even ask!” an interesting  sidebar at a time in which, once again, the housing market is absolutely bonkers.

We have fallen in love with coastal Georgia: its barrier islands with their fine white sandy beaches, their earth-scented live oak forests and wide-open salt marshes, all which allow one to believe a fairy tale for the moment that all is well with the world.  Its access to Florida’s warmer climes and the eastern seaboard’s historic sights are attractive to us who have trouble deciding which is better. We make a mental note and tuck this little pearl away to re-examine at a later date, as we continue our journey north.

While cruising coastal Georgia on a beautiful day, one can pretend that all is well in the world.

3 thoughts on “St. Simons Island”

  1. Ahhh I love your writing so much!! Coastal Georgia…I’ve always wanted to visit. Sounds so lovely. Love you both! Caleb

    On Tue, Jun 29, 2021 at 07:47 Strands from Red Pearl wrote:

    > skhollen posted: ” Off at daybreak June 25 As we slowly headed back down > the quiet inlet in which we had anchored at Cumberland Island, our gaze > kept returning to the shoreline. Goodbye, tangled driftwood. Goodbye, wild > horses. Goodbye evocative, mystical eden. Wi” >

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  2. Continuing to vicariously enjoy your trip. Also appreciating that I don’t have to deal with the problems–getting only the fun part!

    This one reminded me of our own experience with the tide: We visited Ockracoke, NC several summers when in VA, taking along our 19 foot sailboat. With our 2 young children took sailing trips out into the sound, one to Portsmouth Island, NC. The island had been abandoned for about 15 years by the mid 1980s but was a very nicely preserved “ghost town”. On the way back, we crossed the Ocracoke Inlet: which had developed a brisk outward current as the tides changed. Motoring as “hard as possible” with our 5 hp outboard engine, we were able to avoid being washed out to sea. Didn’t have the internet and didn’t investigate any of this before the trip….A visit in a properly powered boat would be a lot of fun according to current articles.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this story, Mark. We, too, are considering a side trip to Okracoke and agree that timing with the tide is important, even in a larger vessel! Internet and electronic charts are huge assets, giving the novice, perhaps, more confidence than is rightfully his. Thanks for following us.

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