This is the story of my trip a week ago—it’s
been a busy week and I haven’t been able to finish up writing this
or about any other fun things I’ve done over the last couple of
weeks. Next week, I’m
heading to NYC for nine days. Hopefully,
that’ll give me plenty of topics to explore in my blog.
|Photo taken by Tim|
That's me taking a photo!
The sun beat us up over the horizon, when we rounded the big bend
in Lazarette Creek. I put on my
sunglasses as the rays shine through the booms and netting of the shrimp boats
docked before the bridge to Tybee.
"We just missed it," Tim sighed
s still beautiful,”
It's not quite 6:30 A.M. and we're paddling against a strong
incoming tide as we go under the bridge and head toward the Savannah
River. On our right is the historic
Cockspur Lighthouse, left over from the time before all the shipping into
Savannah was concentrated into one channel.
Low tide was at 4:30 AM this morning and one could still walk out across
the mud and oysters to the brick structure at the end of Daymark Island by the
South Channel of the river. The water in
the shoals in front of the lighthouse is rough and provides a little challenge
as we're tossed around in the mix of a north wind and incoming tide worked against the outflowing
current. A few minutes later we've
passed the lighthouse and enter smoother water.
|Tybee Lighthouse and water tower from beyond the break wall|
|Fort Pulaski (taken on return paddle)|
To starboard (my right) is the north point of Tybee, where there
is still a lighthouse used to guide vessels into the Savannah Harbor. To port is Fort Pulaski, one of the brick
fortresses built after the gallant efforts of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor
to repel the British in the War of 1812.
Fort McHenry, whose bombardment was observed by Francis Scott Key and
led him to write the nearly unsingable National Anthem, held and in the two
decades after the war, brick fortresses were built up and down the American
coast. However, by the time the Civil
War came along, with rifled artillery that could blast through thick brick
walls, such forts became obsolete and death traps to soldiers garrisoned there. After 36 hours of bombardment during the
Civil War, the South surrendered the fort and the port of Savannah was closed
|Container ship heading to Savannah Port|
(taken on the return trip)
Setting a northern
course, the three of us head to the rock break wall that protects the shipping
channel of the Savannah River. The
rising tide has begun to cover some of the rocks, providing us a passageway
into the channel that leads to the fourth largest port in the United
States. Ahead of the others, I cross the
break wall and wait in the river, but the tide keeps pushing me back toward the
rocks and I find I must keep paddling just to keep my place. When the others arrive, we look to make sure
no ships are coming, then sprint across the river. We're not sure how where we can get through
the break wall on the north. Tim has
informed us that we might have to paddle out into the open water, but when I
reach it, I find a gap that's easy to cross and wait for Matt and Tim on the
far side. I'm now in South Carolina.
|Bloody Point: notice the oil/gas storage containers|
at the Savannah ports in the distance
There, the silence is
disturbed by squawking of pelicans perched on the exposed rock along with the
droning of a diesel engine in a large shrimp trawler heading out to sea. Actually, we're already in the sea.
From here, we decided to head toward the water tower on Hilton
Head. Originally, our destination was
Daufuskie Island, but it seems as if Hilton Head is doable. Between us and there is an island we think
about stopping to stretch, but as we approach and before we can read the
"Stay Away" from this nesting site, we decide not to stop because the
stench of poop from 1000s of birds is just too much. We paddle east of Bird Poop Island, far from
the shore of Jones and Turtle Islands, places also protected for the purpose of
bird nesting. This area, north of the
Savannah River, is fed by the Wright and Cooper Rivers. Porpoises play in the water and occasionally
a pelican will do a head dive and come up with a small fish. We paddle toward a shoal line that exists on
the north side of Cooper River, where its waters drop sand on its way out into
|Development (not the cabins described by Conroy)|
As we approach, it appears that there may be a jetty instead of
just shoals, so we decide to return to our original plan and paddle westward to
s a good
distance as we're way out into the ocean.
We land at Blood Point at 9:30 AM.
This site was named for a battle that supposedly occurred here in the
mid-18th Century between two rival Native American tribes.
Daufuskie was the island that Pat Conroy taught on during the
1960s and which he used as a model (although he changed the name) in the book The
River is Wide.
There is still a
small Gullah community on the island, but much of the land has been purchased
and is now private resort communities.
We walk along the beach a bit and rescue a bunch of horseshoe
|Fornicating horseshoe crabs|
Mammals must not be the only ones in the animal kingdom who
rationality is compromised by sex. These
horseshoe crabs are having orgies in the surf which has tendencies to roll them
over and leave them exposed to the sun and birds. Sometimes the waves will roll them back
over, but soon the tide is falling and our efforts saves a few from baking in
the hot sun far from the receding waters.
After a rest in the sun, we push off and begin to head back the way we
came. A number of smaller shrimp trawls
are working the area north of the river and are followed by porpoises looking
for handouts (fish that get thrown overboard).
The tide, which has turned is beginning to run out to sea, is still
higher than it was this morning and we have no
problems making it over the break wall.
By the time we get to the Cockspur Lighthouse, it is a fight to paddle
|Matt and Tim passing the Cockspur Lighthouse on the return|
|Artist at work|
After going under the Tybee
Bridge, I hang close to the marsh on the northside, taking advantage of the
eddy current to make the paddling easier.
I spy a woman painting next at the end of a road where the old bridge
used to connect to Tybee and stop to image the scene she is painting, the marsh
and shrimp trawlers on the south side of the channel. At 12:30 PM, we arrive back at the boat
ramp. Tim, who has tracked our trip on
his phone, notes that we've paddled 12 1/2 miles (6.5 miles out and 6 miles
back). I am tired but happy.
|Looking under the bridge (taken on return trip)|