Voices

Tenderly, he looked into the rushing water, into the transparent green, into the crystal lines of its drawing, so rich in secrets. Bright pearls he saw rising from the deep, quiet bubbles of air floating on the reflecting surface, the blue of the sky being depicted in it. With a thousand eyes, the river looked at him, with green ones, with white ones, with crystal ones, with sky-blue ones. How did he love this water, how did it delight him, how grateful was he to it! In his heart he heard the voice talking, which was newly awaking, and it told him: Love this water! Stay near it! Learn from it! Oh yes, he wanted to learn from it, he wanted to listen to it. He who would understand this water and its secrets, so it seemed to him, would also understand many other things, many secrets, all secrets.
But out of all secrets of the river, he today only saw one, this one touched his soul. He saw: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment! Great be he who would grasp this, understand this! He understood and grasped it not, only felt some idea of it stirring, a distant memory, divine voices.

Siddhartha

Brunswick Landing Marina

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We’ve been holed up since mid- August here in Brunswick. It was the best hurricane plan we could think of. If you look at the map, we are located on the western-most part of the continental US Atlantic coast. The bight formed by the sea coast here gives the area a little more protection, so we seem to have better odds against a direct hit. Not that it doesn’t happen There is a lot of real estate though, between the East River and the open ocean further east. To the southwest, there is Andrews island, which is very high elevation, because it is mostly man made from dredge spoil. We feel reasonably safe here. This year’s storm season has been very tame so far.

The local weather is more tolerable now. Summer afternoon thunderstorms have given way to a general northeasterly flow. The monarchs are beginning to trickle through, and the sunlight is changing hue. So there is hope.
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We have at least managed to get out for a few afternoon sails in the last week or so. The East River is wide and protected, with plenty of sea room to hoist the sails as soon as we are clear of the dock. It is a thrill to glide past the town waterfront under sail alone. Catamarans are generally quicker, but we had a humbling experience on Saturday out in the sound, when a production monohull smoked past us on a close reach, as we fiddled with the outhaul and the lazy jacks. There is much to learn yet about tuning and sailing this boat!

A small community of live-aboards tie up here, mostly waiting for cooler weather to head south. Speaking of that, we saw two more spoonbills roosting on quarantine island on Sept 19th, and several more in the Turtle River since then. I had no idea they stayed around this long. We have noticed more of these beautiful pink birds around here this year than I can remember. Last November on the trip to Merritt Island, we didn’t see any until we got into Mosquito Lagoon.
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You can see quarantine Island just east of the Sydney Lanier Bridge.It is that small clump of trees on the north side of the Brunswick river. They used to detain inbound sailors there around the turn of the twentieth century. Earlier, it was a popular dumping ground for ship’s ballast stones before taking on cargo in the port. There is a private house there now, and a dock.
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Just across the river at the marina is a good level spot to dry out at low tide, and the price is right! We had a pretty good mess of barnacles to scrape off after eleven months. It is hard to believe she has been in the water almost a year.DSC00284

Arredondo’s Map

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Gualquini. As it was in mid August 2015

A while back I was poking around looking for stuff about St Simons and stumbled upon Arredondo’s Map. Dated 1737, it is one of the earliest known that shows any detail of the island itself and surrounding area. I am fascinated with it, and have been trying to piece together a picture of Antonio Arredondo ever since. Sent back up from Havana in June 1742 to assist in the Spanish expedition against Georgia, he was a trained engineer, mapmaker, strategist, and did a lot of intelligence gathering for the Crown. You can read his journal of the infamous assault on St Simons that same year.

Arredondo made several maps, some with long-winded titles. This one is called, in English, “Chart for the Entrance of Gualquini, River of St. Simon, Lying in the North Lat. 31 degrees”. The legend at the top right is in Spanish and hard to read in places, but a translation appears along with the map on page 71 of the archived journal linked above. The first thing that jumped out at me was the name the Spanish used for Jekyll Island- “Isla de las Ballenas” or “Island of Whales”. The Right Whale calving ground off the coast here must have been unique enough to have earned the name. Up around where the SSI lighthouse is now, the map shows a small cluster of houses with palm thatched roofs, some earthworks and a small fort with the number and size of the cannons. This was called Gualquini, which started out as an indian village. In the early 1600’s a Spanish mission was built in the vicinity, then Oglethorpe and the English came and built a fort. Still later came the cotton plantations, and finally, then, folks from Baxley started showing up. It has been downhill since.

A couple of roads are shown, very roughly where parts of Demere, Military Trail, and King’s Way roads are now. The map legend notes a “lookout, made of logs”, that appears to have been about where Railroad Avenue was, before Hurricane Donna lopped off that section of the island. The Spanish journals mention the erosion of the beach even way back then.

Down about at what is now Gascoigne bluff and Epworth, it shows a couple of fresh water sources “good, but turbid” and un horno , or oven (I wonder who built it?). From there over to the south, there is a careening ground -a hard, fairly level, sandy beach that dries out at low tide, where boats of all stripes would, and still do, clean and paint their bottoms. There was, and still is, good deep water all the way around the south end of the island, and up the river to the town of Frederica. There was no causeway or bridge then, of course, so a lookout at Frederica could see all the way down the river, and across the sound to Isla de las Ballenas or Jekyll, as Oglethorpe named it.

The Spanish referred to passable inlets as barras. The current bar channel between SSI and Jekyll is referred to as Barra Gualquini, and the inlet into St Andrews sound below Jekyll was called Barra de las Ballenas. Anyway, I think the map is very cool. You can download the file from Hargrett Library’s site and print it out for your living room.

Anyone with any more info on Antonio Arredondo, please e-mail me.

Edit: The indian name is also spelled as Guadalquini here

Roseatte Spoonbills in Jones Creek

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Local Spoonbill fans probably notice a few birds visiting each summer. Every year around mid July you can spot one from the St Simons Island Causeway, down around Terry Creek. Often when crossing the Brunswick River Bridge on 17 going south I have noticed one or two wading in a tidal pond there just on the other side of the Jekyll Causeway entrance. This is the first year I have seen them in Jones Creek. Hopefully, that is a good sign. For the record, this juvenile was in Jones Creek on August 13, 2015.

sailing pics

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We took a few short sails into the Hampton River earlier this summer with Evy and her sister from California, Anne Marie, and with Steve and Janice. They have all been very patient with us as we work out the kinks in all the new gear. Sailing the winding river can be a challenge. We had some great afternoons together! More to come soon.

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River of No Return

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The anchorage in Cocoa is tucked in on the south side of the causeway, close up to the town. It is shallow with no current, good holding, and protection from all points North and West.
That morning there were a handful transients in there, some that had stopped for the night to watch the Orion rocket launch up at Canaveral, a few locals on moorings, and the usual derelict or two. I was there with the Spirit of St Simons and her brand new mast to meet with the local sailmaker, Scott Morgan, and get measured up for a new suit. I tiptoed through the crowd till I found a spot, and eased down the plow. As we rounded up, I took a look around and wondered what my daddy would think.

Seventy five years ago, my folks lived straight across this river on Merritt Island. They rented a farm house right down on the water. It was known as the Winslow place. Dad had an uncle- the bridge tender, who helped him get a construction job over at Patrick AFB. They lived in a shack right out on the bridge. Mamma always told the story about how they would go out there on Sundays and do their laundry, hanging the wet clothes out on the line to dry in the breeze as the traffic rattled past. As I was growing up I heard many stories about this place. Tales of fishing, snakes, mosquitos, oranges, the heat, the diphtheria…

My daddy’s favorite story was about how he rowed all the way across the river to town on Thanksgiving day, and bought a pork loin for dinner. My mother was beside herself. She was terrified of the water, but he loved it. He was fascinated with everything about it -the colors of the open sky, the herons and ibis, the pink clouds of spoonbills.

I was born a few years later, and in a different place. When I was little, my favorite spot was in his lap. He would tell me stories about times past, when he was young and alive, and then he’d serenade me to sleep. He was a big Tennessee Ernie Ford fan:

“ Loaded sixteen Tons, and what do you get… another day older and deeper in debt…”
I could feel the notes as they formed and rose up out of his chest.
“St Peter don’t you ask me cause I cant go…I owe my soul to the company stoooooow….”

My favorite song was what I called “wederee”, or actually, River of No Return. There are a couple of you tube clips of it online, so you can still listen to it if you like. Marilyn Monroe sang it in the movie of the same name, but when I hear Tennessee Ernie Ford sing it I can see my father.

“There is a river, called the river of no return… sometimes its peaceful, sometimes wild and free…I lost my lover, on the River of No return… Waileree Wail erreeheehee. [no return no return].”

Late in the night sometimes I drift into this special place. It is a sanctuary of sorts, that we must all dream of from time to time. It is a place of images where one can re- taste that long dormant sensation of love, security and the blissful ignorance that comes with childhood. When I imagine heaven, it is always some variation of this place. Usually this vision involves water, cypress trees, soda crackers and Vianna sausages, campfires, boats and fish, the smell of spent shotgun shells and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Its hard to mess up a pork loin. On the boat, I like to keep it simple. I just sear it up a little in my old friend, the cast iron skillet, drop the heat, and cover it. Let it simmer. It doesn’t take long. Put in some vegetables. Anything. Onions of course, but whatever you have. Carrots and potatoes might need par boiling first, unless you cut them up small. It doesn’t matter! If you are anchored up in the Indian River in late November, it is going to be good. A bottle of red wine will make it even better.

The old causeway bridge and the tender’s shack are long gone. The town has changed. The island has changed. The world has changed. But a pork loin with caramelized onions and carrots and red wine under a free and open sky is still as just as good as it ever was.

“ Wail-er -ree Wail-er-reeeeeee. [no return no return no return]”

Trip to Cocoa- First Post

The Spirit of St Simons was splashed in the Mccay River mid October of 2014. After that, we motored up to Jones Creek for a quick fit out, and then a few weeks later shoved off for Merrit Island, Fla., to step the mast and get measured up for some sails. My buddies Steve and Jim crewed the trip down. We had a blast! It was below freezing when we left the dock. Motoring down the ICW the whole way, we anchored the first night in the Crooked river in Camden county, the next night at Guana River down below Ponte Vedra. Then we were weathered in for two nights at St Augustine. Fifth night we anchored in Daytona down in the southern end, arriving at Harborside Marina on Merrit island on the next day. The boat makes about six miles an hour under power.

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Clear and cold. Heavy frost
leaving for merritt Island Nov 2014
Note tender still tied off athwart ships. Clowns.
017anchored up first night at Crooked River just off ICW
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Jim cooks up some supper. We ate very well this trip, right out on the open deck sitting cross-legged around the stove. Just like camping!
019Coming into St Augustine. The fort is just out of the picture to the left.

007 Scott Morgan and his rigging crew at work.

008The mast was first craned into place, then we had to cut the shrouds to length and install the turnbuckles

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Rigger Don goes up the mast to retrieve the sling and install the vhf antenna
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