Relics in the Sand – November 28, 2012

Today we ventured ashore at Cumberland Island on a mission. Scott and Kim had shared with us the top secret location of piles of dredged sand. We were prepared to do an archeological dig on the site in search of fossilized shark teeth. Matt and Jessica joined us. We were armed with plastic bags in which to harvest the teeth, granola bars, pop-tarts, and water. There was no telling how many hours or days the dig would last. We had no digging or sifting devices of any kind but were prepared to sacrifice our bare hands for the effort.

We walked to the end of the park service road which placed us on a silt pile on the outskirts of the marsh. We cautiously treaded across the muddy sand. What if there was a trap, a soft spot, quick sand perhaps to deter us from locating the top secret piles! Our keen eyes were on the ground in search of clues that we were on the right track. Hoof prints informed us that the ground was safe, strong enough to support a marsh tackie. There must be something on the other side. Ah ha! Our first indication that sharks really do exist and had indeed swum near Cumberland Island. With motivation in hand, we continued our pursuit of the road which would lead us to the top secret piles of dredged sand.

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Safely across the silt we were relieved not only to discover the road, but to discover that it would be easily followed. The marsh tackies encouraged us onward.

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Suddenly, there they were! At least five piles of dredged sand magnificently raised like sunbeams their brilliance shone light on our cloudy, dismal day. What relics might we find, what treasures of the past, how many shark teeth, sea shells, and animal bones might these piles have preserved inside!?

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And was this supernatural, pure white marsh tackie leading us to the most plentiful pile?

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We started the dig straight away. We first (and fortunately) unearthed this handy sifter that had been left behind by the earliest archeologists to have explored the site. This primitive technology was most impressive; it enabled us to sift through massive quantities of sand in mere minutes! We also utilized resources such as oyster shells, sticks, and the bark of trees to shovel sand.

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At the end of what seemed like days, we declared our hour and 30-minute excavation complete. Three piles of dredged sand had been sifted and we had found handfuls of fossilized shark teeth. We began the long journey back to our boats, satisfied from the day’s hard work and reward!

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Cumberland Island, South End – November 27, 2012

Brian and I had previously visited the north end of Cumberland Island, and were now headed to explore the south end along with our friends aboard Serendipity and Hideaway. We awoke early on Tuesday morning, hauled anchor, and made a brief stop at the public dock to fill our water tanks. We motored the 7-miles to Cumberland and dropped anchor around 10:30am. We strapped on our hiking boots and packed a lunch, then headed ashore.

We docked our kayaks at the ferry dock; a ferry travels to/from St. Mary’s daily. We selected a route that would take us to the Dungeness (the four-story home built in the 1790’s by Catherine Greene, widow of Revolutionary War hero, General Nathaniel Greene). The Carnegie’s began building on Cumberland Island in 1884 on the site of the Dungeness foundation. We took the River Trail which led us to the Ice House. Deliveries of ice were received and stored in the Ice House. Inside the Ice House we found a rich history of the Carnegies’ life at Cumberland Island as well as history pertaining to the earlier French and Spanish battles for control on the island.

The Dungeness ruins were impressive even in their dilapidated state. We walked through the grand entranceway and explored the grounds around the main house. It was easy to imagine a life of leisure within these walls and grounds, surrounded by lush flora. The Dungeness was self sufficient; 300 staff members maintained the estate’s fruit and vegetable gardens, tended livestock, hunted, fished, and maintained the home.

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The Tabby House is the only structure remaining from the Greene’s era at the Dungeness. Tabby is a type of cement made with oyster shells.

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The Pergola

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The Greenhouse

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Wild horses! A.K.A. “marsh tackies” They must winter in the south and summer in the north.

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Wild turkey! This island has it all!

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Graveyard

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From the graveyard, we took the boardwalk toward the beach. We had a beautiful view of the marsh. Brian was able to use his newly acquired walking stick as a mud digger. Throughout the day the walking stick was also used as a sword, spear, clam digger, javelin, and baseball bat. Give a boy a stick…hours of entertainment!

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We arrived at the beach just in time for lunch. Matt, Jessica, Ryan, and Tasha were taking a rest on the dunes and enjoying their snacks. They were chatting with Ron and Kathy (sv Stormy Petrel), whom we all met at St. Mary’s. It was a beautiful day at the beach! The sun was high in the sky, there was a warm ocean breeze blowing, and the tide was low leaving us with 300-ft of sand for exploring.

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We found scattered, dead horseshoe crabs. We found various sizes and colors of beautiful shells; some were empty and some still had critters living inside. We found glass bottles, but no messages inside.

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Jessica and Tasha very carefully examined this scallop and determined it dead on arrival.

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When Brian and I spotted this along the beach I was given strict orders, “Don’t touch it!” On closer inspection it was an empty cartridge. Then, of course, the guys dug it out and got to playing in the sand.

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Shortly thereafter the guys went scampering into the dunes chasing Ghost Crabs.

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Jessica found these living whelk and scallops. After much intrigue and debate, we refrained from taking them home to eat. These Grandjeans will typically eat anything you put in front of them, but we thought it best when dealing with shellfish to research the area to determine what is actually edible.

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We walked the beach all the way to the end near the jetty. Brian and Matt continued to explore the jetty rocks while Kathy, Tasha, Jessica, Ron, Ryan, and I stopped to relax and soak in the sand and sun.

The group divided on the walk back as Brian, Matt, Jessica, and I wanted to explore a bit of the South End Ponds Trail. We hiked over the dunes just into the forest. There were impending rain clouds overhead and we decided we had a far enough walk back that we didn’t need to continue any further. We watched as some undefined military aircraft circled low overhead.

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Near the Dungeness ruins once again we spotted a tree lined with buzzards. If you look very closely in the branches you’ll see a sly raccoon perched above and behind the buzzards’ heads.

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The marsh tackies were grazing on the lawns near the Ice House. They had no interest in us, but we got as close as we were comfortable to watch the young ones.

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Brian relinquished his walking stick “the sword in the stone” and we wearily headed back to the boat for supper time.

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It had been a beautiful, fun-filled day with our friends. We spend time with Serendipity later that evening as it would be one of our last together for quite a while. The group would split tomorrow taking our individual paths toward the Bahamas.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know, What’s a Cruising Kitty?

DEFINITION #1: Our trusty Voyagers Handbook The Essential Guide to Bluewater Cruising, written by Beth A. Leonard, describes the cruising kitty as two categories: funds to buy and outfit a cruising boat and total expenditures necessary to pay for life aboard. Like most other cruisers, Brian and I decided to set sail when we thought we had our nearly outfitted boat and enough money stashed in the cruising kitty to sustain our life aboard for approximately three years. To further preserve our kitty, we decided to not outfit the boat with too many modern conveniences that not only extract money from the kitty but also may potentially break and cost money (and headaches) to repair (examples: refrigeration, hot water, plumbing, and water maker).

Our cruising kitty consists of savings, investments, and generous family gifts (if you think I’m hinting here, I am). Our only income since we’ve stopped working has been here in St. Mary’s, GA where we brought in $30 at a swap meet for the sale of a windex and electric trolling motor. We’ve borrowed, given, and graciously accepted various gear from fellow cruisers all of which has aided in further outfitting the boat. The trick is to stretch the kitty as far as possible by becoming self-sufficient and scrimping. We’re getting good at both and we’ve stocked ourselves with stores of food and boat/engine replacement parts. Our primary expenses are fuel, food, maintenance, entertainment, and insurance. We will soon add customs’ fees to those expenses when we begin cruising in foreign countries. Brian also includes caught fish, crabs, etc. on the income list, still justifying the cost of fishing gear with meals eaten by successful hunter-gathering. We’re hoping that our expenses per month will continue to trend downward, looking forward to the next quarterly report.

DEFINITION #2: A cute, cuddly, living, breathing kitty cat. Cruisers and cats seem to go together like white on rice. We’ve met many cruisers who have a furry crew member or two, including our friends aboard Anthyllide and Serendipity. Some cruisers leave home with their kitty cats and some find their new pets along their travels. The kitty cats are great companions and find their own private nooks in the boats. The kitty cats do go topside as well. We’ve learned that cats can swim! And cruisers with kitty cats will leave a net or large rope trailing off the stern of the boat so that if a kitty goes in by accident they can swim and climb themselves back aboard. (This has been proven to work!)

Anthyllide found their kitty cat, Ally, as a very young and very unhealthy stray in St. Mary’s, GA. They began feeding her, taming her, eventually befriended her and got her the medical attention she needed. Ally has lived aboard Anthyllide for one year. She is totally spoiled!

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Serendipity just became new parents to adopted, Georgie, who was also born in St. Mary’s, GA. Georgie was born in a cat rescue shelter. She is six-months old and quickly making herself at home aboard.

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Brian and I enjoy visiting our furry friends too, but when it comes down to it we’d prefer a kitty that stays in the bank!