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Author Topic:   Cumberland Island Georgia Trip
Mambo Minnow posted 05-13-2007 06:16 PM ET (US)   Profile for Mambo Minnow  
Many beautiful trips within the Greater Jacksonville, FL area. We most frequently do our "Whalerin" on the St. Johns, but decided this weekend to go to Amelia Island, FL after the annual Shrimp Festival madness to explore the mouth of the St. Mary's River at Fernandina Beach.

There is a beautiful new, state funded boat ramp south of the Civil War era Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island. If you have never been to Ft Clinch, it is a real treat with Civil War re-enactors in the fortification. You can beachcomb for shark teeth. Not as well known as the more touristy Fort Matanzas in St. Augustine.

We launched uneventfully and motored north past the Fernandina jetties up the ICW into Georgia. Naval Sub Base Kings Bay was to our west. Playful dolphins accompanied us on our short, leisurely cruise.

Our destination: Cumberland Island National Seashore. This is the largest of the Georgia barrier islands and was given by the Carnegie descendants to the Federal Govt. The Govt in turn, leases back several homes to escendants/associates until they pass away. One of the Carnegie descendants runs the Greyfield Inn on the island.
A ferry runs out of St. Marys to Cumberland, but access is strictly limited.

Private boats are allowed to dock, but dockage for them is very limited. As we hugged the western shoreline, we approached SS Virginia, a classic, Chesapeake Bay schooner "Tall Ship" at mooring from the recent Sail Fest in downtown Jax the previous weekend. Several larger private boats were also moored overnight in the nearby channel. Several had dinghy's in tow to venture to the island. The Park asks those in boats exceeding 25 foot in length to moor as such, leaving dockage for smaller vessels.

We cruised the western shoreline, observing several of the descendents' private residences. A classic motoryacht, akin to a Judge yacht delivered supplies to the Greyfield Inn. There are no bridges to Cumberland; everything comes by boat. The descendents have several trucks/jeeps on the island, the only ones allowed. You can rent some bicycles, but most visitors are forced to venture on foot.

The island is a wonderful nature walk. A mile walk under a canopy of martime forest of live oaks is tranquil and serene. You have to do this trip in spring or fall because the bugs will otherwise eat you alive. We observed feral horses (not ponies!), armadillos, and several flocks of wild turkeys as we marched east from the landing to the Atlantic shoreline.

Along the way, we met two marine biologists who were on the island to observe the loggerhead turtles at night on the beach. We past the ruins of Dungeness, a large masonry retreat the Carnegies built but burned down in 1959. Adjacennt is the simple tabby home that is oldest on the island and dates back to times Revolutionary General Nathaniel Greene and his wife purchased the island and built the original estate. There are other historic structures including the preserved Plum Island estate and a one room Baptist church that the late JFK, Jr. and Carolyn Bissett were married within to escape the media frenzy. Our final destination was the pristine Atlantic beach, the kids enjoying a refreshing plunge into the surf.
Please note: there are no lifeguards, swim at your own risk.

We trekked back to the dock with two hours until sunset. If you are looking for a Whaler adventure to remote, less travelled places along the ICW, I would recommend you take a trip off the beaten ICW path and visit Cumberland Island.

David Jenkins posted 05-18-2007 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Great post! Thanks, MM!

We have camped on Cumberland under a canopy of huge oak trees. It was magical. Hope to do it again soon.

We had to anchor off shore after unloading at the dock. I had to swim back and forth from the boat to the dock. Next time I will bring an inflatible tube so that I will have a dinghy! Also, a bicycle would be ideal if your boat has room to carry one.

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