St. Simon's Island, Georgia

After a brief visit to Jekyll Island, we traveled one and a half hours to nearby St. Simon's Island.  St. Simon's Island is one of the famed Golden Isles, located in Glynn County, Georgia.  Once called "San Simone" by 16th century Spanish explorers, it is now a friendly and charming island for retirees and vacationers who come to swim, sail, and fish along the shores.  There are miles of bike paths on the island which wind under live oaks past golf courses, tennis courts, quaint shops and restaurants on the island.  

We anchored near Lanier Island near Golden Isles Marina which is adjacent to St. Simon's.  Lanier Island, east of the waterway, is named for Sidney Lanier, a Georgia poet.  Lanier wrote about the Glynn county marshes in his celebrated poem "The Marshes of Glynn" written in 1879, two years before his death at the age of 39. 

Sidney Lanier (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

In his The Marshes of Glynn, Lanier is speaking to his beloved country, the South, which lay devastated following the War Between the States. He feared the coming onslaught of industrialism and sought to comfort his southern brethren. The South still had one thing: itself, an expansive landscape full of beauty and richness which had always been the source of her strength and sustenance. "Look around you," he was saying. "Take courage from the land which God has given you, which has always nourished you, and which is still there. and be comforted."  

Here's to Sidney Lanier... a beautiful sunset taken from the deck of Genesis one quiet evening.

After taking a day to do "boat chores" and laundry, we dinghied over to St. Simon's Island to a small public park dock at Gascoigne Bluff.  Gascoigne Bluff overlooks the Frederica River.  The landing at the bluff became Georgia's first naval base and bears the name of the man who surveyed the Georgia coast for England.  Now it is a beautiful park and picnic area with a beautiful stand of live oaks.  These oaks have a famous history....Live oaks milled here in 1794 were used in building the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides".  In 1874 timbers were also cut here for the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Old Ironsides" (photo credit: Wikipedia)

We bicycled to south St. Simon's and visited the Visitor's Center, downtown area, and pier.  We visited the famous St. Simon's Lighthouse.

The St. Simon's Lighthouse is the oldest brick structure in the area and is still maintained as an operational light by the US Coast Guard.  It is only one of five surviving lighthouses in Georgia.  The restored lighthouse has an original third order Fresnel lens and shines twenty-three miles out to sea and serves as a navigational aid for boats entering St. Simon's Sound.

The original lighthouse was destroyed by Confederate troops in 1862 to prevent its use by Federal troops.  The lighthouse was reconstructed in 1872.  The small house, once a light keeper's cottage, now houses a small museum.  The grounds include an 1890 oil house and a Victorian style seaside gazebo.  

We climbed the 129 steps to the top for a spectacular view of the island.  The lighthouse is rumored to be haunted.  Supposedly the Svendsen family, who tended the lighthouse at the turn of the 19th century, claimed they often heard phantom footsteps coming down the lighthouse stairs.  The sound of the steps sent their dog, Jinx, into a frenzy.  It is believed that the haunting is linked to the death of the original lighthouse keeper who was shot by his assistant during an argument.  We didn't hear any footsteps that day..... all we heard was my huffing and puffing as we made our way up to the top!

Scenes from the top... looking out over St. Simon's Sound (left photo) and the Frederica River (right photo)

Another scenes from the top.... St. Simon's Neptune Park Pier is in the foreground... the Sidney Lanier Bridge at Brunswick in the back.

We lunched at the King and Prince resort, then bicycled back to the dock.  Went back to the boat and had a big nap.

The next day, we took the dinghy up the ICW to explore north St. Simon's Island.  We motored 10 miles up the waterway and traveled into the Hampton River to see nearby Sea Island, a private island.  We saw lots of birds on our trip, particularly great white and snowy egrets.

Egrets... a little history

 

Egret during Breeding Season (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

In the late 19th century, cosmopolitan women in Europe and America demanded feathers for their hats.  The flowing white feathers during breeding season, called nuptial plumes or aigrettes, were especially desired.  Aigrettes sold for $32/ounce, nearly twice the price of gold at that time.  For every ounce of feathers shipped to the milliners, at least four adult birds were killed.  By 1910 the Audubon Society counted only 1400 Great Egrets and 250 Snowy Egrets left in the four southern states.  Fortunately, the feather-hat-look finally died down.  The trend became fashionable among prostitutes.  Some prostitutes were even paid for their services with plumes rather than cash.  This lead to the death knell to the feather hats.  No respectable lady would be caught dead wearing an aigrette-plumed hat!  So, the egrets were saved!

We took the dinghy over to Brunswick one day (an eight mile trip) and had lunch at Port Cargo downtown. The Brunswick docks are home to many shrimp boats, a major business in the area.

On Saturday, we dinghied back over to St. Simon's and attended the Glynn Arts Festival downtown and had great crab cakes at a famous local restaurant, Barbara Jean's.  If you ever get a chance to eat at Barbara Jean's, it's a real treat.  They serve seafood with a home-style cooking flair.  They ship their famous crab cakes, too..... last year, they shipped 100,000 crab cakes! Yum!

After a week at St. Simon's, it was time to move on.  We mapped out a three day trip to Savannah... with two overnight stops along the way.

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