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Cumberland Island, GA: A Magical Place

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Charleston, SC to Cumberland Island, GA //


We made our way back out to sea on the morning of Monday, December 3 after a joyful weekend in Charleston. We had a good weather window for an overnight passage and so we pointed or bow towards Cumberland Island. We were eager to explore this idyllic enclave based on our friends recommendation, but probably most excited that we were positioning ourselves a hop, skip and a jump from the state of Florida. The overnight passage itself was a bit underwhelming, while the winds were forecasted to switch from SW, to W, and eventually NW the following day, they remained pretty light and barely from the West for the entire passage. We were only able to put our sails up around 8am on Tuesday and had to motor-sail shortly after that. But, getting to explore the beauty of Cumberland Island more than made up for the endless motoring the previous evening.

After coming in through St. Mary’s Inlet in the early afternoon, we anchored behind Cumberland Island. Even though we were exhausted, we decided to dinghy in and walk around. Taking a stroll under the Spanish moss covered live oak trees, getting a peek at wandering armadillos, and seeing white-tailed deers and wild horses making their way through the grounds was a dreamy experience. Along with the wildlife we got to explore the Dungeness Ruins, a monumental mansion built by the Carnegie family, abandoned in the 1920's, and burned down as recently as 1959! Just from walking the premises you could clearly imagine the grandness of it all. The grounds used to be occupied with orchards, a greenhouse, service quarters, a giant fountain with steps leading out to be marshlands, amongst many others features you would find in a lavish estate. The massiveness of the ruins was reminiscent of something we’d find in Ancient Rome, yet with the sense of opulence and extravagance typical of the Gilded Age. It was a pretty incredible site, especially as the sun was setting. Nevertheless, being the architects that we are, we were honing in on the details of the remnant walls and were most attracted to how well a hundred plus year old shell agregate concrete.

We ended up completing a 4-mile loop that took us through the dunes along the white sandy beaches on the eastern side. It was a pleasant 60-degree sunny day, but nowhere close to make us wear our bathing suits, so we continued through the boardwalk back to Seacamp Dock, and dhingied back to Sparidae for dinner.

Over dinner we kept going back and forth on whether we should stay another night or continue making a move for Florida in the morning. But after some weather checking, the winds were forecasted to pick up to 15-20 knots with higher gusts of up to 25 knots in the early hours of the morning. Along with that, 4-6 foot waves were building offshore along the coast. We thus decided to continue through the ICW towards St. Augustine, FL the next day.

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