July 9, 2011: It was late afternoon as we reached the St. Simons sea buoy and the beginning of the deep, well-marked, five mile long approach in to St. Simons Sound. The breeze had picked up to the high teens/low 20s, a low chop developed, and small rain squalls appeared here and there in the distance. No lightning threatened, which was nice.
Suddenly we were hailed over the VHF by the very well-spoken captain of the car carrier that was anchored near the St. Simons sea buoy. It was the Otello, one of Wallenius Wilhelmsen's fleet, alerting us that the pilot they'd been waiting for was just about ready to take them in to St. Simons Sound to the commercial port, and would we be so kind as to wait for them to raise their anchor and go in ahead of us?
Of course we said yes to the much bigger, much faster car carrier that could squash us like a bug. We didn't care; it was a special treat for us this day, because we knew the Otello: we had last seen it on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, when it transited the Canal a few days ahead of us! What a small world! We shared our excitement with the captain...
...who apologized for not remembering having seen The Fox in Panama...
...which was a shame, seeing as how the Otello is Swedish-flagged, and The Fox was built in Sweden, so we're sort of sister-ships, and also too, The Fox stands out from every other white sailboat with a blue stripe, so the Otello should have recognized us. Amirite??
The big car carrier got underway slowly - and our fair tide was almost going to turn, and the light was fading - but the Otello's big engines soon overcame inertia and it moved ever faster while showing us the way from one pair of entrance buoys to the next in the hazy sunset. A small cruise ship and a couple of shrimpers scooted in ahead of us as we passed St. Simons Light, a picturesque, reconstructed Civil War-era lighthouse at the very entrance to St. Simons Sound. (That's it over there on the right, but I was too busy driving The Fox through the entrance channel to take photos; right about where St. Simons Light is, the channel takes a couple of sharp bends. Anyway, I obviously took the lighthouse pic on shore - if you were in your boat and saw it that close, you'd be having a very bad day.)
Keeping the barrier island of Jekyll Island to port, we continued following the entrance buoys westward into the Sound and then southward into the Brunswick River. Not wanting to travel the final 7 miles to Brunswick Landing Marina and try and find our assigned slip (1) in the dark and (2) after marina office hours, we decided to drop anchor just off the western side of Jekyll Island, along a stretch of the Brunswick River where the commercial entrance channel overlaps a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway - at about 31 deg. 06' N/081deg. 26' W.
I doubt we would have chosen this spot on our own, still being new to travel along the ICW, but it was delightful. The holding was excellent, the river currents were quite manageable, and the depths were a refreshing 10'-12' at low tide. The view toward Jekyll Island was all marshland and twittering birds, and the view across the Brunswick River in the opposite direction was all shore birds resting on spoil islands, with the lights of the commercial/industrial port in the background. It gave us a chance to have a good night's sleep in a pleasant, safe spot before continuing upriver and entering Brunswick Landing Marina the following morning.
How did we find this anchorage? Through Active Captain, an interactive cruising website recommended by many East Coast cruisers. More on Active Captain, soon coming. Meanwhile, there we were, chillaxing in the Brunswick River. It was so nice we made some martinis and toasted the whole area...