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.
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.
Wild horses! A.K.A. “marsh tackies” They must winter in the south and summer in the north.
Wild turkey! This island has it all!
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!
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.
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.
Jessica and Tasha very carefully examined this scallop and determined it dead on arrival.
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.
Shortly thereafter the guys went scampering into the dunes chasing Ghost Crabs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brian relinquished his walking stick “the sword in the stone” and we wearily headed back to the boat for supper time.
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.