My folks and I had a wonderful time catching up on St. Simon’s Island. The abundant sunshine and comfortable conditions allowed us to take bicycle rides around the island, enjoy food and drink at the local establishments and relax in the comfort of the hotel room at night. The kayak was locked up safe and sound below the pier in Gascoigne Park until the morning of my departure. I said goodbye to Mom and Dad on the dock as mom christened my boat with a small plastic cup of leftover Virginia wine from the night prior. I had a sip and it was a pleasant way to start my paddling day.
For most of the Georgia intracoastal region finding a solid campsite can be challenging. The extreme tides and the shallow tidal marshes meant either slogging through knee deep mud or dragging the boat over sharp oyster shells and grasses. This small campsite on a cedar hammock appeared too early in the day to be of use. It was so well appointed, I almost considered stopping for the day to stay overnight. Not sure if it was private or public, I kept on with hopes for a nice spot that evening.
The tip of St. Catherine’s Island has a nice sandy beach and some wonderfully done signs along the way. Clearly this is a frequent day spot of the Savannah boat crowds. Along St. Catherine’s, a private island home to a select few mansions and secluded histories, I met a Savannah College of Art and Design student from Saudi Arabia working on a documentary about the island. He gave me a slice of pizza and some water as I bobbed along their fishing boat and was filmed with his large camera.
The following night found me on the shores of Green Island. I was pretty sure this was a private island but there was nobody around and I had a long day. Driftwood along the beaches made for dramatic sunset shots.
An old Civil War era parapet, part of the historic occupation of this island. In Voyage of the Paper Canoe Nathan Bishop camped on this same island and was in great company with the island’s owner and inhabitant at the time time (1875)
Most days this is my get-up. Just paddling along in mid 60’s weather wearing all the UV and bug protection as possible 🙂 Having to only apply sunscreen to my nose and cheeks makes things easier and less messy.
The relative comfort of the ICW means many calm mornings paddling along rice paddies or areas once flood controlled. Remnants of the old canals, wooden walls and mechanisms still line the shores. The warmer temperatures here meant afternoon bugs were a possibility but the winds often blew enough to keep the no-see-ums at bay.
The many larger docks, mansion homes and the like signaled my closing on my birthplace of Savannah. One night I made it a boat ramp in Chatham County just as the sun set. Bucking the tide and a 20 mph headwind all evening meant I was pooped! I set up my tent out of the wind behind the bathroom building and was just settling in when a bright LED flashlight illuminated the scene. It was the fuzz! Emerging from my tent with both hands out, I made it clear I was no threat and offered to walk with the officer to my kayak for ID. While walking, I briefly explained my adventure to the young officer and knew by his enthusiastic response that I’d probably be alright. After running my ID in his computer system while I twiddled my thumbs on the curb, he handed my ID back and told me he’d keep an eye on my boat through his 12 hour shift. I was cleared to camp in the boat dock park for the night 🙂
The following morning I made serious miles and soon found myself crossing the south channel of the Savannah River. I had to wait out an oil tanker and cargo ship which were both crossing the main channel ahead of me. Their combined displacement actually drew down the river level a few feet before the bow wake returned with a curling lip to flood the shoreline. Once the tall waves quit beating against the falling tide, I crossed the channel quickly and angled my way back to the ICW and into South Carolina.