This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Georgia - Cumberland Island

The barrier islands of Georgia create a large protected body of water with many anchorages and places to visit for cruising boats.  Because of shallow places along the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, some cruisers avoid Georgia - they are missing many interesting and charming places.  As an introductory image, the dunes at the northern end of Cumberland Island was selected to illustrate the varied geography of the island.  The dunes here are over 30 feet high. The northern end of the island rarely has any people, being a 15 mile walk from where the ferry drops visitors.  If examined closely, three of the Cumberland Island horses can be seen in the above image.

Cumberland Island, reachable only by boat - park ferry or private vessel - the largest of Georgia's barrier islands, is 17.5 miles long.  It is the southernmost Georgia island, only a few miles north of Fernandina Beach, FL, on Amelia Island.  Most of the island and waters are protected as part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, a National Park.  It is such an enchanting place, that even an abbreviated description such as this post deserves a separate story from the rest of the Georgia coast.

Anchorages are scenic and serene, whether the weather gray, or . . .

clear and sunny.

These images are from two different anchorages along the north end of the Brickhill River, which runs through Cumberland Island on the western side from mid-island to the north end.  It is a spot to access the north end of the island, providing views of different geography.

The sand dunes on the north end of the island are higher than the live oak trees, and are located a great distance from the shoreline.

Steve and Kim Hakala are both biologists.  Kim grew up on Cumberland Island.  They spend as much free time as possible on Cumberland at their family home along the north edge of the island.  Kim is a professor of biology at St. Johns River State College - the link to the Last Dance crew.  Having the Hakalas as tour guides to the island makes the visits most educational and enjoyable.

While there are no improved places, such as docks or landings, to go ashore from the north anchorage, in keeping with the Park Service's philosophy of no man-made structures in wilderness areas, there are a few sandy spots along the shore of the Brickhill River to land a dinghy.  Great care must be taken as much of the shoreline is covered with oyster beds, which would result in dire consequences for inflatable dinghies.

Plum Orchard

One of the cottages Lucy Carnegie built for her daughters is located near the middle of the island, close to the southern end of the Brickhill River.  It is owned and maintained by the Park Service.  After years of indecision and, finally, some investment, this winter retreat is now open to the public on a consistent basis.

An all-time favorite anchorage lies just east of the house on the Brickhill.  The river is a bit narrow to provide swing room at anchor but, fortunately, the river depth carries close to both shores.

The house grounds have some amazing examples of the native live oaks and other plantings from the Carnegie period such as the tall date palm in front of the house and the Italian cypress tree behind this live oak.

The limbs of the old live oaks grow out and down from the trunks to compete for light, often laying along the ground before rising back up into the sunlight.  (A close look at the image at left reveals Last Dance at anchor.)

A park volunteer is now housed within Plum Orchard for security and some minor maintenance tasks.  The big change in duties is that the volunteer conducts tours of the house 5 days a week.  The chap at left spent many years cruising on a sailboat before becoming a park volunteer, so he has a good understanding of the boater arriving by dinghy.

The Park Service conducts a tour once or twice a month, bringing people by ferry to the dock on the Brickhill.  At Christmas, a special tour is conducted by the rangers, dressed in period costumes

Entry to the house is through a huge foyer, about the size of a two-car garage, that has a fireplace with seating located under the staircase.

The features of the house and some of the original furniture remain to accurately depict the architecture and styles of the times.  The lamp in the gun room/music room is a rare tortoise-shell Tiffany.

At a time when few houses had indoor plumbing, Plum Orchard was built with 11 bathrooms, large and with heated towel racks.

History on display - another reason to visit Cumberland Island.


Seeing the natural environment of a barrier island remains the greatest attraction of Cumberland.  Trails and dirt road provide access to many different areas of the island.  The live oaks growing on the east side of the island, nearer the beach, become twisted with the constant ocean winds sculpting the branches.

Critters are everywhere.  From Ghost Crabs on the beach,

to an alligator in the marsh,

to wild horses,

to traces of Coyotes on the beach, the living, breathing part of nature is all around.

Reading List

A visit to an area with history is enhanced by an increased knowledge of the historical background before the visit.  Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses, Charles Seabrook, is recommended to gain an understanding of the human activities on the island.

After visiting a place and developing a vision within your mind, novels with a setting in that location allow one to visit again, through the experience of the mental images created by the authors.  Two novels on the reading list, set on Cumberland Island:  Palindrome, Stuart Woods; Endangered Species, Nevada Barr.

Watching Suggestions

Georgia Public Television has produced a documentary on the Georgia Barrier Islands that is both interesting and informative: Click here to experience the Secret Seashore

CBS Sunday Morning broadcasted an article on Cumberland Island, featuring one of the residents, a descendant of the Carnigies:  Click here to view the CBS Sunday Morning article.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Florida Events

St. Augustine Visit

Last Dance returned to St. Augustine, joining the shrimping fleet.  Shrimp boats have often been a photographic study on this journey, so it is appropriate that Last Dance had an opportunity to join them at their dock.

Well, not actually on the shrimp boat dock, but right next to it, tied to a rusty dredging barge.  The barge does have an advantage of floating, keeping the boat and its mooring at the same height, while the shrimp boat docks are fixed.  But, the real reason to be tied to the barge was that it is located right behind the shipwright's shop so this craftsman could make some upgrades to Last Dance.

This new blog almost began with a new boat, as the crew seriously contemplated moving to a larger boat, a DeFever 53.  The 53, while only marginally longer, is over twice as large in size.  It would have given much more room for hosting friends and family and more features for the crew.  Some friends had their beautiful, impeccably maintained DeFever 53 (sistership left) on the market.  However, the Last Dance crew couldn't get their ducks in a row quickly enough to keep from becoming two-boat owners, and the opportunity passed.  So, the smaller platform was scheduled for some upgrades in preparation for Loop 2.

A major upgrade was a new floor in the galley/salon. Well, actually, on a boat it is called a sole. The carpet had gotten tired and worn.  It became time for a decision.  Practicality and beauty of a wood sole won the vote and a shipwright - John Lubbenhusen, Old Florida Boat Company - was engaged to install a holly and teak floor (teak is the dark wood, holly the light).  While the crew prefers to accomplish tasks on the boat themselves, this was one where experience and a well-tooled workshop was worthy of an investment.

Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Last Dance had a schedule to travel to Fernandina Beach the second weekend in March to attend the Amelia Island Concours and to visit with friends Mark and Mary Ann Harris.  Glen purchased a 1963 MGB when a freshman in college, continuing enjoyment and care of this car for 37 years.  A decade ago, when living on a boat robbed the car of a garage for safekeeping, Mark purchased the MGB to add to his MG collection.  Of course, schedules on boats rarely happen as planned, so as Last Dance floated next to the barge, the crew fought traffic on the drive to Amelia Island.  (Glen reunited with the MG, Sebring, 2007)

Ford GT40

The Concours is held on the Amelia Island golf course at the Ritz Carlton.  Allowing cars and people to trample the golf course turf gives one indication of how important this show has become.  They had over 300 historically significant cars on display.  With at least 3 photos per car, there are over 1000 photos to share, but only a few have been selected.  One of the classes celebrated the 50th anniversary of the development of the Ford GT40.

Henry Ford tried to purchase Ferrari motor car company in 1963 so that he could enter international sports car racing.  Enzo Ferrari's refusal to sell so angered Ford that he began a program to develop a race car to take on Ferrari, most importantly at Le Mans.  The GT 40, named for its roof line being 40 inches high, won Le Mans in four consecutive years - 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969.  The 1966 win was the first race winning effort by an American car since a Duesenberg won the French Grand Prix in 1921.

After the win in 1967 with a 7 liter engined Mark IV GT40, the European sanctioning body rewrote the rules to limit engine size to 5 liters, to outlaw this dominating race car.  Henry Ford, again angered, ended the Ford GT40 racing program.

Although the Ford factory ended their race program, GT40s continued to race.  John Wyer, head of a British-based racing team, campaigned GT40s with a 5 liter engine, both in Europe and at the Daytona and Sebring endurance races.  As a measure of historical significance, the above John Wyer car, which competed at Le Mans in 1968, but did not finish, sold in 2012 for $11,000,000.

The number 6 car (chassis #1075) won the Le Mans race in 1968 and 1969, the only automobile to win consecutive races at Le Mans.  If the historical significance of a car that was a DNF at Le Mans is $11M, how would this car be so measured?

Porsche 911

2013 is also the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911, a car still in production.  Although it has changed greatly through the years, the basic styling lines are quite similar.

Porsche has a very successful racing history at racetracks around the world.  A production-based Porsche, similar to above, won the Daytona 24 hour, against the faster prototypes.  Porsches have won at all the major endurance races, many times.  Like the Ford GT40, they had one race car, the 917, so powerful and successful, that it, too, was banned through rule changes.  Many examples of Porsche race cars were on display.

Porsche's racing formula was small, light, dependable cars.  Often classed with cars with much larger engines, Porsche won at endurance races with quality design leading to consistent, never-faltering cars.

Corvette Stingray

The first Corvette Stingray was also a 1963 model, another 50th anniversary.  Before the production car debuted, a prototype Stingray was built in 1959.  It was more than a concept show car, designed to be placed on a viewing platform; this car raced, winning an SCCA championship in 1960.  Only one ever built, and it was in attendance among the 1963 Stingrays.

Most of the 1963 Stingrays selected for the Concours were built with the rare Z06 performance package, all beautifully restored cars.

In 1963, the Corvette division produced a few race cars, known as the Grand Sport.  They proved to be fast on the track, for a short time.  Then, General Motors pointed out the company policy against supporting automobile racing and the factory-sponsored racing program ended.  A much different philosophy than held by Ford at the time.

The cars representing these three 50th anniversaries brought back many great memories for Glen.  He saw the GT40's race at Daytona and Sebring.  He was in the Chevrolet showroom the day the 1963 Stingray was unveiled.  And, he watched Porsches race successfully at Sebring, a number of years before the 911 came on the scene.  Having learned history by actually viewing and participating in events that become historic creates exciting memories.  Realizing that you witnessed what is now considered history, makes one realize that they have been around a long, long time.

Miller Race Cars

Glen's father grew up in Indianapolis and worked at the Indianapolis Raceway for Champion Spark Plug.  At that time, the Indy 500 was the biggest sporting event in the world.  Indy race cars were a large part of Glen's early education.  So, it was exciting to see Harry Miller's race cars featured.  Miller's were the class of Indianapolis in the 1920's and 1930's.  Advanced engineering and beautiful craftsmanship produced high-quality race cars.

All of Miller's engines were double overhead cam designs, a more complex design, but one producing better efficiency and more horsepower.  Miller engines traditionally were straight 8s, V8s, and L4's.  To meet the demands of a Hollywood backer, Miller built a V16 in 1931.  Only one was ever built.  The left bank of the engine is pictured above.

A Miller straight 8, car and engine built in 1926.

A 1941 Miller V8 stuffed into a 1926 Bugatti race car.  This car competed at Indianapolis in the 1941 and 1946 races.

This 1927 Miller was powered by a 91 cubic inch, straight 8, supercharged engine, in a front wheel drive chassis.  It won the national championship in 1927.  In an attempt to reduce speeds at the racetrack, Indy rule makers had shrunk the maximum size of engines in the cars.

New Cars

With many thousands of car buffs in attendance, upper-end new car manufacturers vie for space at the Concours.  McLaren had a number of models on display.  Originally a race car manufacturer only, they began producing a few high-tech street cars just over a decade ago.  Technology has changed greatly in comparison to the race cars of 50 years ago.  This McLaren is significantly lighter and has a higher powered engine than the race winning GT40s - and it is street legal.

The exotic car standard bearer had a collection of new Ferraris on display, including this F12 Berlinetta.

The new 2014 Corvette Stingray was displayed on the 18th green.  Reviving the Stingray name and termed the C7, as the seventh body style in the Corvette line, it was surrounded by examples of the 6 previous body styles, all in white to emphasize the contrast.  In the background of this image, a 1953 first year car and a 1963 Stingray split-window coupe, examples of C1 and C2 body styles.

Old Cars

The Concours always has a number of classes for pre-WWII automobiles.  Most of these are absolute works of art.  The design and craftsmanship of the times produced lasting beauty.  1936 Jaguar SS 100

1929 Packard Custom Eight Roadster

1935 Auburn Speedster, commonly referred to as a "Boattailed Speedster," for obvious reasons.

The Tulip wood body on this 1913 Peugeot is quite boat like.  The body style was officially titled by Peugeot as Skiff Automobile.

The serpent horn on this 1909 Thomas Flyer is surely a work of art.  This car won the 1908 New York to Paris race.  Sadly, the Thomas car company ended production in 1912.

Of course, there was a class for MG's, as a part of the pre-WWII automobiles.  A beautifully restored, deep red, supercharged 1933 MG was among the group.  Since there was little room under the tight bonnet, the factory installed the supercharger in front of the radiator.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

The cloud reflections in the paint of this 1957 Mercedez 300 SL Roadster, illustrate the impeccable restoration and preparation required to be selected to participate in the Concours.  Just being selected to show in this event carries enough prestige to increase the value of a car.

Art is always a part of the event with the most well-known and respected automobile artists in attendance with their works.  A new twist was a artist creating a piece during the show.

One of the classes for the 2013 Concours was "What Were They Thinking?"  The 1974 Fascination, built in Sidney, Nebraska,  most definitely belongs in this class.

The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance - a good reason to be in Florida in March.

Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city in Florida and a most interesting stop along the waterway.  A quaint downtown filled with interesting shops and great restaurants (29 South and Bright Mornings are two favorites) and a secure marina are among the attractions.  Shrimping is still a large part of the economy and the town has a large celebration in May known as the Shrimp Festival.

Many are attracted here - you never know who you might meet.  Above, Last Dance is docked next to Hi-Banx.  The flags on the mast give some hints as to the owner of this vessel.  The upper flag is obvious; the checkered flag with a gold "F" is the France family flag.  Hi-Banx refers to the high banked track at Daytona, the famous auto racing facility built by Bill France.

Also at the Fernandina docks was possibly the most beautiful yacht ever built: Sycara IV, a 151 foot boat combining elegant, classical lines with the newest technology.  The exterior teak is varnished to a perfection not even found on pianos and the wood-looking mast and bowsprit are actually carbon fiber.  Even the dinghy is designed after the beautiful runabouts of the 1920's with the latest mechanical technology.

The link below will lead to many photos and the story of this amazing vessel.  As you look at the interior photos, note the teak and holly soles in many areas of this boat.

Sycara IV Photos and Details