Along the way we saw this. A strange structure with a very specific purpose.
We also saw two Navy ships also with a very specific purpose.
Adding to the mystery, two hangars that open on to the water. Any idea what we are dealing with?
It is all part of Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base near the Georgia - Florida state line. From what I could learn, there are three classes of subs that homeport here.
Sometimes submarine resupply operations take place far from home, which is a service the two ocean going Navy tugs can provide (previous pictures). Also previously the two hangars can keep prying sky-eyes away from maintenance and munition duties.
One of our passengers onboard was a navy vet and he said that the large steel frame cage in the top image was something called a degausser, which was developed during WW II to removes the magnetic field that exists in a ship steel hull that would cause a mine to detonate as it got close. Today the cage removes the magnetic signature from these sleek warships and, in theory, allows them to pass unnoticed from foreign listening devices.
Also passing frequently undetected for most all of the two weeks that we have been cruising have been porpoises. Occasionally the cry would go out, "Oh, look, fish!", and of course the porpoises would disappear. These two did not escape the camera.
We would hit pockets of industrial activity as we moved in and out of larger shipping channels. This is a paper mill.
We did see reminders of the destructiveness of Hurricane Sandy. Tidal surge can do more damage than the wind and rain.
Watching over the waterways in the pilot house is Larry Creadle, captain of the Lady Jane. The Lady Jane is a working shrimp boat.
The Captain and his crew gave us two plus hours of magic as we trawled out to St. Simon Sound and back.
Son Cliff Creadle is manning the controls that help extend or "set" the shrimp trawler's net. We did two "sets".
Marine Biologist Paul Christian makes sure the descending net and attendant lines hit the water without tangling.
Once the net is set then everybody waits.
It takes less than 15 minutes of trawling before the catch is hauled in. What a variety of sea life that is brought on board!
A prize almost anywhere on the East Coast is the Blue Crab. However, we weren't after these beauties.
And we certainly weren't after the Horseshoe Crab that Harry was holding.
Nix on the intimidating little Pufferfish that this woman was bold enough to hold.
Now we're getting closer - not the squid at top left or flat fish but the shrimp with the long antenna lying in the background of the the catch deck.
We came for the shrimp and they were plentiful.
Though fresh shrimp for all was the big draw (mate Cliff Creadle took on the added duty of boiling and serving them to us), I found the by-catch much more interesting, as you might tell from all the other pictures above. Look in the mouth of the Spotfish above. Do you see the critter with two little black eyes?
Here are the two again. The small multi-legged creature on top of the Spotfish is a parasite that is quite commonly found in residence inside a number of fish that inhabit the backwaters of the Georgia sloughs.
Our constant companions were the seagulls and pelicans looking for handouts. Like a character from Nemo, you can almost hear this one say: "MINE!" Not this time. Any tasty shrimp were ours.
Jekyll Island is a place of dowagers. That's the way these wonderful old turn-of-the-century buildings strike me - stately and very much in possession of their aging faculties. The Jekyll Island Club was once the winter playground of the very rich. The original clubhouse above was built in 1888 and is still in use as a hotel.
As part of the Jekyll Island Club Historical District there are a number of preserved "cottages." This is Moss Cottage built by a founder of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea company, more commonly known as A & P. As the original founders died off, the cost of maintaining these palaces often became too much to bear for the heirs.
Another "cottage" is Indian Mound, built by one of the Rockefellers. Many of the remaining original resident's heirs abandoned the area from the lingering effects of the Depression and suffered further when the US Government closed the area due to the threat of bombardment. The Historic District has just spent over a quarter million dollars restoring this 24 room mansion. Proceeds come from tours and donations.
As its name suggests Faith Chapel serves all faiths. For many years during WW II most of the mansions and cottages sat empty. Most homes lost furnishings and decor. This church has two stunning stained glass windows that were left, despite other parts of the church being ransacked. How high were the high fliers that formed the Club and built their own cottages? Many of the winter residents came together (in secret, natch) to create today's Federal Reserve System.
Not all of the structures have been renovated. This Italianate tabby concrete house remains untouched. After the abandonment that the war years brought, the State of Georgia attempted to run the Club as a public resort but failed. Though the Radisson chain brought new life back into the Clubhouse in the mid 1980s, the Jekyll Island Club now is operated as a historical landmark.
Another bit of history from the heyday of the Jeckyll Island Club was the placement of the first Transcontinental Telephone call. It was actually a three legged call between Alexander Graham Bell in San Francisco, Thomas Watson in New York City and the head of A T & T, Theodore Vail, on Jekyll Island.
The grounds are a showplace for flora too. Though commonly misnamed as a palm tree, this is a Sago Cycad. The red seeds peeking out from the center denote that this is a female plant. They are extremely toxic.
Those of us over a certain age would recognize the term "Liberty Ship". Built during WW II as supply vessels, at least 99 of them were built here in Brunswick. Above is a large model of one such ship. Over the course of the war 2,700 of these identically designed ships were built all around the US. Today there are only 2 remaining Liberty ships still operational.
Never mind the large gypsum plant in the background and try to ignore the ungainly looking house at right. Instead look at the fingers of concrete between the water and grassy areas. These launch slips are all that remain of a huge shipyard that once occupied the land. Towards the end of the war a ship a week slid down those ramps. 16,000 workers toiled around the clock here to fabricate the Liberty ships.
From an even earlier era, this is an Oyster Buy Boat. Its function was to travel all the many remote channels where oystermen could be found. They served as a conduit to quickly get fresh oysters to the big city. Now many of these boats have been modernized and are used as private yachts.
Seemingly airborne, this mock up of a prehistoric dinosaur sea turtle skeleton greets visitors who arrive at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on nearby Jekyll Island. Most of the turtles under care here are normally found in the water.
Looking like an assembly line, the Center treats wounded, sick or orphaned turtles. The most common types treated are Green Sea and Loggerhead turtles.
Every turtle is given a name. This one is Gabriella. For some unknown reason, Gabriella has a problem swimming level. The dark object you see attached to the base of the shell is a weight that is supposed to keep her tail down. Looks like Gabriella needs more ballast for her bum.
Lest you think turtle education ends at the restroom door, think again. Additional indoctrination was found also on the sidewalls to this stall. Perhaps more than you wanted to know about the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
We were told that Georgia has more marsh land than any other state but proving it online was too much of a challenge. One thing for sure, our marine pathway through all the salt marshes was serpentine. No sooner did we traverse one section of the Intracoastal Waterway only to make a near U-turn and then nearly repeat the same route, albeit 100 yards further east. Above is one such segment as we snaked our way though the considerable wetlands of Georgia.
Though common but well named, Snowy Egrets pick tidal scrub growth to fashion their nests and raise their young. Scientists tell us that these egrets only recognize their mate by a "greeting dance" they do when returning to the nest, no matter how long they've been together. What do scientists know - maybe the birds are just happy to see their relief return.
At times we seem to cruise in remote backwaters but there is a actually a fair amount of traffic on the ICW.
This is the tug LouAnna Guidry pushing two small barges, one of which is a fuel barge.
Approaching Sapelo Island, the lighthouse is as much cosmetic as it is practical now that shipping follows other waterways.
Sapelo Island is 97% owned by the State of Georgia so I can only guess that this is a part of a tidal catwalk for the University of Georgia's Marine Biology Institute there.
This is the only way on and off Sapelo Island. Once established as a slave plantation, the island has gone through several other owners before the State of Georgia took over. The last major owner was R. J. Reynolds, Jr, scion of the tobacco empire. His mansion is now a Georgia State Park.
These twenty-plus hardy souls are coming back to the American Spirit after an afternoon on Sapelo Island. Of all the many fine field trips and excursions, this turned out to be the least popular. The weather and limited facilities on Sapelo conspired to produce something less than an optimal experience. The R. J. Reyolds's mansion was rented out, thus closed, the school bus that took them around was a tad uncomfortable and the wind and rain made moving about outside uncomfortable.
Despite the weather, there were always adventuresome souls who loved being outdoors. Get a little exercise and watch the world go by the Intracoastal Waterway - this is Janine who didn't let any weather bother her.
An early plantation on the outskirts of Savannah now in the hands of the Georgia State Parks Department, Wormsloe features this arcade lined entrance with live oaks. This image only hints at the length of the mile and a half driveway.
Savannah's oldest and largest Live Oak can be found at the edge of the "Magnificent Oaks" subdivision.
It is over 300 years old and was growing before Georgia was named a British colony.
Fort Pulaski was deemed,"As strong as the Rocky Mountains" and completed in 1847 as a Federal stronghold designed against "foreign" invaders. The Fort fell into Confederate hands at the beginning of the Civil War.
With in months of the start of the Civil War, Fort Pulaski faced it's first test as a stronghold. After only a day and a half bombardment of the fort by Union forces, the Confederates raised the white flag. The Feds were successful in retaking the fort due to a new "rifled" big bore cannon which easily covered a greater distance and delivered a more accurately explosive shell. Rifling (the helical groves cut into the inside of a barrel) is now common in most every pistol and rifle.
Even young alligators look old
How old is Savannah? Let's just say it is still aging.