|Coming ashore on the south end of the island|
The weather was perfect for early November. The temperature, while in the mid-50s in the morning, would warm up well into the 70s. The morning skies were clear. The tides were running high (9.9 feet total) due to the full moon being a day away. The wind was calm and the waves promised to be less than a foot. Five days after I had paddled in the Okefenokee, I was ready for another adventure.
|click to enlarge (I realize my point to Delegal isn't quite right)|
At 9:30 AM, eight of us gathered at the Delegal Creek Marina with our kayaks and supplies for the day. Before 10, we were in the water and paddling fast through the creek and into the Ossabaw Sound, heading for open water and the south end of Wassaw Island. The water from the extreme high gave us an extra push as we made great time, arriving on Wassaw in less than an hour of paddling.
|North end of Wassaw|
A number of shrimp boats were working the south end of the island and on the point, hundreds of birds of a number of varieties (the most elegant being pelicans) gathered. Because the surf was minimal on the falling tide, we rounded the point and pulled up on the beach. Taking a thirty minute stop, we explored a bit, walking around to regain feeling in legs desiring to be stretched after being cramped inside boats.
Leaving the north end of the island, we paddled out into the ocean and headed north. We figured it would take about an hour and a half of paddling to cover the seven miles along Wassaw Island and that about half way, we would stop for lunch. Although Rudy (the only guy not paddling a red boat) had organized the trip, he had not paddled this stretch of beach, nor had any of the rest of us, so we had no idea what we would find. We paddled against a light breeze, watching fishing jump about us and seeing a few porpoises. At what appeared to be half-way, we headed to shore near what we thought was beached buoy.
Checking out what seemed to be a buoy from a distance, we discovered a stack of plastic chairs, the perfect lunch spot. We all wanted to know if Rudy was going to have someone from a club drop by with wine and sandwiches. Although the island is mostly owned and is a protected wildlife site, the family that has owned it for over a hundred years and who sold it to for a million dollars (well below appraised values) several decades ago so that the island and marsh would be protected, still owns a 200 acre slice in the center of the island. These chairs belonged to them. They also have a home on the island, and we walked down the road toward it, through a tropical looking forest of pines and palms. No trespassing signs kept us well away from their private retreat.
|Road leading to private property|
|Heading toward Cape Charlotte|
After lunch, we stacked the chairs and left the place as we found it and began to paddle north. The tide is beginning to turn and before I can get my spray skirt in place, a wave breaks over my boat. I paddle out beyond the waves and remove the spray skirt and sponge out most of the water, then resume paddling north. As we approach Cape Charlotte, the waves increase in size from what we’d experienced when out in the open water, but they are still relatively tame. Here, the island is being eaten away by the ocean currents and a ghostly graveyard of former live oaks forest that juts out into the water. We pass the point and paddle by the ruins of the Spanish American battery and pull up on the sandbar west of the point. As we stretch out legs, a number of porpoises swim by. Here, we all have decent cell phone signals so before we head out, we make calls to have people pick us up on the Priest Landing Marina.
|North End of Wassaw|
I am the last to leave and my lollygagging provides me (and a couple of others) a treat. As we paddle toward Rommey Marsh Creek, we spot a number of porpoises playing (or mating) in the wrack (dead marsh grass that floats on the water). As we approach, we see them roll with each other and jump out of the water. Others blow water out of their blowholes. I only have an old waterproof camera available (my DSLR is safely secured in a waterproof box inside a dry bag inside my kayak). The waterproof camera is slow and I am not able to get a good shot, but I enjoy the show. At times, the animals are just feet from my kayak.
I arrive back on Skidaway a little before 4 PM. We had paddled 17 miles with 3.5 hours of paddling, but we also had a good tide pushing us out toward the south end of Wassaw and then back toward Priest Landing.