A few miles northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida, located along the banks of the Ft. George River, is the old Kingsley Plantation. It grew cotton and indigo during the late 18th through the 19th Centuries, and had a slave population that resided in 32 tabby cabins located about 1/8 mile from the plantation's main house and outbuildings. Nowadays some structures have been fully restored, and the remains of most of the tabby cabins are there to be seen. The plantation is expertly maintained and interpreted by the National Park Service. It is accessible by both car and by boat, so there is no excuse not to visit and learn something about a very ugly - but important and defining - chapter in US history.
This is not a political blog so I will only say that one cannot understand the US Constitution, or the Civil War, or certain trends in 21st-Century public policy, without learning about the US's institutionalized ownership of human beings and the exploitation of their labor to produce cheap agricultural goods, thereby building an economy that would not have existed but for all that uncompensated labor. OK, enough: back to the cruising blog that this is:
The Kingsley Plantation is an excellent representation of what most plantations looked like and how they operated, regardless of what crops were grown by any one of them. I have seen more than one plantation, and believe you me, once you have seen one you have seen them all. Make the Kingsley Plantation the one you see. It is by far the most accessible, best maintained, and best interpreted. Even the Park Service's on-site bookstore is outstanding.
We first visited the Kingsley by rental car, on a break we took from working on The Fox when it was on jackstands in Green Cove Springs. Our second visit to the Kingsley was by Fox, after we splashed in Green Cove Springs in January, 2013, and moseyed up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We'd heard there was an anchorage in the Ft. George River, right in front of the main plantation house, and it was reported to have enough depth for our 6'2" keel. We couldn't pass up the opportunity.
Well, sure; one of the unwritten rules of travel along the ICW is that an anchorage might have enough depth for one's boat, but the approach might not. Long story somewhat shorter: If you have a 6-foot keel, aim for the Kingsley/Ft. George River anchorage at high tide. For contrast, that pic over on the left is our boat anchored in a 14'-16' hole (8'-10' under the keel), at low tide. That's the anchorage. Big enough for maybe 2 boats our size. Snug. At that same low tide, we'd have run aground as soon as we left the ICW and tried to get to that hole. Protip: with a 6-foot keel the whole ICW from Sisters Creek Bridge north to St. Simons River should be done exclusively 1-1/2 hours before and after high tide. Unless you know for sure the area has been recently dredged. Which in our case, was not the case.
We arrived at exactly high tide on January 13, 2013, and it still took me 2 attempts to find enough water to exit the ICW and enter the Ft. George River. Once in front of Kingsley's main plantation house, though, I found that nice, comfy hole with 14'-16' depth at high tide. Knowing that many freighter-boats used to anchor in the same place back in the 1800s to load cotton, indigo and whatnot, I'll go out on a big ol' limb and say that the Ft. George River has silted in a bit since this was an actual working plantation.
Here's what's really fun about shoehorning a sailboat into this anchorage: you dinghy ashore to the Park Service dock, do the plantation tourist thing; and blend in with the other visitors. They'll eventually meander from the buildings over to the riverside, and you'll overhear at least one of them wonder, "How did a boat that size get IN here?!?"
With difficulty, sir; with difficulty.