Georgia was a bit of a mystery when we first arrived. It simply required a little effort and patience for its wild and unique nature to reveal itself.
The marina we are staying in is next to a historical downtown area that is small and quaint with a handful of restaurants and pubs to frequent.
The marshes surround and protect our boats as the tides rise and fall by 8 feet or more each day in the winding estuaries.
The paper mill on the horizon makes its presence known in north winds.
Cruisers are a friendly and talented lot who help each other out. This microcosm, along with the friendly and social marina (think happy hours, potlucks, yoga, boat projects, oyster roasts), is very satisfactory in itself.
It was cold when we arrived two months ago, with nights in the 40’s we had to run our heater! Mark and I saw signs for the local rodeo and had to check it out.
Neither of us had been to one before and we were not disappointed. We joined locals and families enjoying the crisp night under the lights. The one take-home for us was how challenging and physical it was to put on a show like this with human and animal athletes.
Venturing farther afield, it took some effort to uncover everything Coastal Georgia has to offer. At first, I’d head to a birding site that I found on eBird or a Park from the internet, only to be faced with impenetrable swamplands, unmapped winding dirt roads and no cell service to find my way out. In short, Coastal Georgia is very wild… in a good way!
I needed local knowledge and soon found it in a great community of birders. In fact, some areas can only be accessed with park staff, an automobile gate pass, a local fishing license or a guide. Hidden trails and nature access were soon discovered with the help of some friends. Bug spray is a must and soon enough, I too was tucking my pants in my socks, covering up to keep the ticks out.
Beyond birding, I’ve met some like-minded photographers and Brenda had the great idea to visit some local cemeteries for a camera walk.
Humbly beautiful, these cemeteries are full of history. We only scratched the surface. The most notable graves are from founding families as well as veterans of wars, from civil war times up to present. Centuries old symbols tell the story if you can translate it.
The so-called Gold Coast is amazingly beautiful. We had visited Cumberland Island on our first trek cruising south and got a taste of these wild beaches. Now, I’ve gotten to visit Jekyll, St Simon’s and Sapelo Islands and am getting a feel for their uniqueness. Canopies of live oaks with spanish moss, endless long flat beaches, inland scrub and pines and tidal marsh each host their own, unique ecosystems.
Birding is a huge highlight in all of the above. Once you start to understand what the birds eat and where they nest and travel to, you know where to look for them. Each time I’ve gone out this spring, I’ve encountered a new (to me) species. I’m reasonably good at visual bird identification. Now, a few of the bird calls are becoming recognizable as I struggle to keep up with my Audubon mentors. I did learn that audible bird ID is a major contributor when you are birding for a daily and/or life list. I contribute to eBird here and there, but am not a “life list” counter, just like we’re not a “miles under the keels” tracker.
Back on board, Mark is knocking out projects each day. We’ll keep the boat blog up to date on technical progress, but suffice it to to say he’s keeping busy. In the meantime, I’ve enjoy cooking in my new galley, complete with the new faucet and fresh water foot pump he recently installed. Meals are another way to explore and be creative, so my job is to feed Mark and keep him alive so he can fix the boat!