Losing the Propeller: The biggest issue was losing the propeller just as we were setting the anchor right near the Cumberland Island National Park dock, near the St. Mary’s River in Georgia. I’m on the phone and Allen yells, “Norma, come up fast. Turn on the windless. We have no propulsion.” Allen thought it was the propeller, but he got on his wet suit and checked it out. Yes, the prop was gone.
Armadillos: After about an hour of making phone calls, Allen had a good plan. Meanwhile, we were in safe place with other anchored boats and were not drifting. The next day, we took the dingy in and walked all the way around Cumberland Island and saw several wild horses in the marsh far away, lot of tiny fiddler crabs on the shell-soaked mud flats, and then two armadillos. Now, who has the chance to see these strange-armored creatures while taking a walk in the woods? It was a real kick; both of them didn’t bat an eye at our being so close to them.
We joined a ranger giving a great talk about the Dungeoness ruins on the island of the Carnegie Family’s great brick house, and many other supporting buildings. Lucy Carnegie made sure that the house and environs were kept up until their last child passed. Then it became public park land.
Up and down over the sand dunes and boardwalks, Allen and I later walked across the width of the long island and ate lunch at the white-sand beach facing the Atlantic. It was lovely and made even more magical when a small, frisky but bold little (juvenile) sanderling walked quickly up to us, nibbled on our tangerine rind, and basically scoped us out up really close. We did not take any pictures because it was magical moments when a natural creature actually comes so close to humans without any prompting. We just sat as still as we could and enjoyed the moment.
Around 3:00 later that day, Andy from Tow Boat US came to tow us to Tiger Point Marina in Florida, just about 5 nautical miles away. The plan was to do a short haul the next day to replace the lost prop with the new feathered prop that Allen had on the boat. The problem was, however, that he had all the pieces needed except for the spacer. Had that dropped also? Again, Allen suited up and dove under the boat to retrieve the missing piece. His prayers to Mercury (which is gpoing retrograde this month) were answered. Yes, it was still there. Soon we had the new prop on and off we went on our way.
We went down the ICW to Kingsley Plantation. Allen is just now completed reading the biography of the once-African princess-turned-slave-but-now-slave-owner mistress Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley who lived here with her husband, the slaver Zebidiah Kingsley and his 3 other wives and their children and about 100 enslaved persons who made all their food, processed the fields of cotton, and other crops which enriched the Kingsleys. It is truly an amazing story and helps us understand that when the US took possession of Florida from Spain, it was not a good event for the enslaved and free black people.
Afterglow anchored at the Kingsley Plantation. The house to the left is Zebadiah's house, the house on the right is th M'aam Anna house.
We toured the 20 slave cabins made with tabby—a mixture of sand and the many oyster and clam shells found in native American burial mounds called "middens". One of these mounds originally stood over 40 feet tall and the length of a football field. Allen loved the audio tour and truly enjoyed the many historical connections we were making when we first heard about Anna Kingsley at the Fernandina Museum of History.
Also, just as we were arriving from the dinghy dock to visit the plantation, we had a rare treat—a sighting of a small but colorful sea turtle, one of the endangered species here in Florida. It did not take Norma long to purchase its lookalike in plush form at the Park store. We named him Timucuan (for the Natives who lived in this area when the European colonizers first arrived. The crew had a celebration greeting opur new crew member.
We are now in Jacksonville, known as Jax to the locals. We visited the Museum of Modern Art here but the real gem is the Jacksonville Public Library which has the best and oldest map collection that we have ever seen. Also, the library has an early French manuscript about the natives here, written thirty years after the expedition of Jean Ribault. It was quite fanciful. A fine Caribbean buffet made our day! On Saturday, we walked to the Riverside Arts Market and really enjoyed it. That is were we took the photo in the headline of this blog. Tonight we see the comedian Nurse Blake. Tomorrow we depart on our way to St. Augustine.