Madge is still on her mooring ball in the St. Marys River, and we haven’t moved aboard full time yet, but we’ve started our exploration of the Georgia barrier islands. Our first destination is pretty close to home. Cumberland Island, a national park and seashore, is just across the sound from St. Marys. It is the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands. As I mentioned in a previous post, Suzy and I volunteered to help the Park Service decorate Plum Orchard mansion on the island for Christmas. While we’ve been to Cumberland several times, we’ve never been to Plum Orchard. The mansion has recently been restored, and is the only Carnegie mansion on the island that is unoccupied and open for tours; however, it’s hard to get to because it is 7.5 miles from the northmost ferry dock, and the road is little more than a washboard dirt track through the palmettos. Years ago, Suzy and I anchored our previous sailboat, Skitso, in the Brickhill River at Plum Orchard, but that was before it was restored. We could only see the outside. We’ve wanted to return ever since.
Wednesday was a warm, windy, overcast day. We left Madge at rest and took the ferry with the other Park Service volunteers we’d be helping (about 20 of us, total), then hopped in a van for the slow, bumpy drive from Sea Camp dock to Plum Orchard. We didn’t mind that we wouldn’t get to visit the beach or the Dungeoness ruins on this trip — we’d seen them before. We immediately went to work, but it wasn’t so frantic that we couldn’t take a minute here or there to look around and appreciate the place. We had to take a break when a tour came through, so we grabbed our phones and started taking pictures.
At the end of the day, heading back to Sea Camp dock for the ferry ride home, we encountered more horses and a lot of turkeys. Deer and wild boar are the only hunted animals on the island — and then only under limited and strict conditions — so the turkeys have no fear of humans, even this close to Thanksgiving.