It’s Friday, the 27th of November 2009. Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and with it, the last vestiges of the turkey, cranberry sauce and the rhythmic tattoo of the rain that fell throughout the day.
I was up before dawn and, as I waited for the coffee pot to deliver up its magic elixir, I was treated to a magnificent sunrise off of the starboard bow. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the light breeze that wafted up from the south felt almost warm in comparison to yesterday’s weather.
After the mandatory walk with Schooner, I stopped by the marina office and asked if one of the dockhands could assist us with our lines. We arranged to meet in about 15 minutes and when I arrived back at the boat, Kim was up and ready to go. As if on queue, two dockhands appeared at 7:30 sharp, helped us with the dock lines and we were on the water within 5 minutes. Next destination, Brunswick, GA.
The ICW is serene today, not just quiet, but serene. This section of Georgia is primarily wasteland; comprised of tidal swamps and long abandon rice fields from a bygone era. There’s little or no traffic and we’re alone out here with sounding dolphin, wading birds hunting the shoreline and osprey surveying the entire scene from aloft. It’s the kind of day that makes the whole “cruising” lifestyle worthwhile.
For once, the current and tides work to our advantage and, at a consistent 7.5 to 8 knots, the miles fall rapidly behind us. As the sun begins to fall in the west, it becomes apparent, however, that we’re going to be 25 miles short of our destination at dark and 10 miles beyond any safe anchorage. A few quick phone calls are placed and some last minute arrangements made and we have a place at the Brunswick Landing Marina and our friends on the sloop, “About Time” waiting at the ready until we arrive. There’s only one “Oh, by the way” to this plan; the last 25-odd miles will have to be run through the twists and turns of the ICW in total darkness.
As the red ball of the sun vanished below the horizon, we poured out from the Little Mud River, into the Altamaha River. For the next hour, we ran north on a flood tide, reaching Buttermilk Sound, near Broughton Island, as the last gray bit dusk was snuffed out and we passed into pitch blackness. There was no water, no land and no reference for the next 11 miles, as we steered to the blinking red, green and yellow lights of the ICW markers.
Finally, we passed into St. Simon Sound at 8:00 pm. There, a sea of blinking lights that were visible in all directions greeted us. Lights from houses, businesses and cars along the shoreline blended with navigation markers, tower lights and other boats upon the water. It took a few minutes to get our bearings, but we soon realized we were entering the shipping channel that leads up to Brunswick, GA.
From the channel, it was another two hours (we were sailing against the current now) up the Brunswick River to the marina. We radioed ahead to “About Time”, who met us on the dock and at 9:30 pm, we were tied up safe and sound. It had been quite a day, 90 miles, traveled in 14 hours and of that, over three hours had been in the dead of night. Yes, it had been quite a day at that.