Biding Time in the Marshes

Many Moons has extended her stay in the small town of Darien, Ga. in the salt-marsh tide-creek ecosystem, as this coastal region is called. The other Looping boat near us has done the same. We’ve entered days of projected rain and winds, with conditions worse north of us. Weather delays are expected on The Loop. So, we explore as the skies permit and otherwise hunker down and study — that is, study the tides (and related strong currents) of the region, especially given our eventful arrival. It’s an 8-foot tide here, and at times that translates to an 8mph current – same speed as our boat. This aspect of Georgia and South Carolina is known to challenge unwary boaters. The effect on a boat’s movement is even stronger than the strong currents of the Ohio River. A boat that came in recently during similar conditions as us ran into the yacht parked behind us, breaking their windows as they collided with the yacht’s anchor. (Maybe its skipper didn’t have Jeff’s boat-handling skills. The 1st mate probably didn’t jump to the dock either!)

There’s a kind of ongoing debate regarding The Great Loop: How much should you try to learn in advance, and how much “on-the-go?” Ideally, you find a good balance. The new Looper near us stops by regularly to discuss weather apps, which I also did early in our trip. Right now, the bigger concern is those swirling currents that we watch change from hour to hour (sometimes minute-to-minute) alongside our boat. I feel the need to consult the on-line experts about what lies ahead, while Jeff prefers to consult local experts in person. Both wise, but you can’t ask locals until you’ve already arrived. (He also learns best by doing, but that often involves a “yikes” the first time, at least for me!) I’m remembering the variety of learning styles that I studied, post-retirement, while becoming a Licensed Unity Teacher. It helps me give room for both his style and mine.

So I’m considering what other app or website or Facebook Page I need to watch that focuses on the waterways ahead of us — because this tidal challenge will continue north, as boaters are warned. I’m also listening to a “Looper Radio” podcast about how to navigate it successfully. For example, we should always try to dock during slack tide (we learned that one coming in here), and avoid travel during a falling tide (pretty sure we blew that, but our shallow draft helps), and the slack after low tide lasts longer than after a high tide (as we learned yesterday when we moved the boat). I enjoy learning – about almost anything new – but it can be daunting when both comfort and safety are at stake.

It helps to break things up. Before the rain commenced and all the learning re-commenced, we had time for some leisurely exploring in and around town and time for Jeff to undertake the small but necessary maintenance projects. Photos and captions below. (Next, I look forward to finishing a book I brought along, which is unrelated to boating and currents!)

The dock manager gave us an offer to move to a better spot and we took it. Before moving, we watched the tide and currents carefully to wait for “slack.” Jeff dropped sticks into the water to see what they did – an ingenious and simple technique. See how calm it is? Slack! So moving the boat was effortless this time.
Many Moons tied happily on the outside of the dock on our 2nd day here. Clear views of the marshland!
See that yacht behind us? Its anchor recently took out the windows of a boat that tried to enter this same spot that we are in right now. Gotta take those currents into account! (Photo taken from the fly bridge.)
Darien was first settled by Highlanders from Scotland – see previous post.
These “bottle trees” pop up all over town. We’ll have to ask what that’s all about.
A different view of Darien’s waterfront.
Jeff and I went different ways on the bikes today. Selfie on the bridge overlooking the shrimp fleet…red-faced, with cock-eyed helmet. 😉
Many Moons, 2nd-from-right, is again dwarfed by larger boats, even at this small marina. We’re happy to be on the outside, vs. inside where we ended up when we first arrived.
Butler Island, which I found by accident after crossing the bridge by bike. A wonderful discovery!
The marshes of Butler Island with I-95 visible in the background, reminding me of what we pass by while flying down the East Coast’s major interstate.
Remains of a rice mill on the former Butler Plantation. The single largest slave sale in U.S. history (400+) was initiated from this plantation.
Threatening skies shortened my stay on Butler Island. I could have stayed all day! (With a chair, book, and coffee in hand.)
While I explored the marshes, Jeff visited the shrimp fleet. Look at the busy-ness on the deck of this one! Jeff learned that the captain of the smallest boat netted about $100,000 in a year. Not a bad income.
The view looking west, from the bridge near our dock. That’s the rather famous shrimp boat “Grave Digger” on the right and Darien’s free docks in the center. I-95 is visible in the distance.
Skies darkened more by our 3rd day in Darien. Days of rain on the way….
At this angle, the shrimp fleet looks like it’s sitting in the marsh!
Jeff doing maintenance on the winch.
The most common tree we see here is the live oak, dripping with Spanish Moss.
This abandoned house looks fairly eaten by the live oaks!
Fort King George was the first English fort on the Georgia coast, built in 1721 to deter the Spanish. I watched a fascinating series a few years ago about this time and region. Wish I remembered its name.
Jeff descends the steps of the fort. Such sturdy construction!
The view of the marshes through a gun port of the fort.
Barracks at Fort King George — sleeping and dining for 30 or so. Imagine spending all your off-duty hours in this one room, surrounded by marsh wilderness. No wonder they shared diseases and died too easily.
Ah, cappuccino. It seems every little town has a small cafe that offers specialty drinks.
The bikes are getting a lot of use here.
Jeff needs a haircut. The only barber shop in town is closed until Thursday. Fortunately, we’ll still be here.

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