Brunswick, Georgia

Melvyn Brown
Sun 19 Dec 2010 19:03

31:09.1N 81:29.9W


We postponed our departure from Thunderbolt for a day because the forecast on Tuesday was for temperatures only rising to 34deg in the afternoon, along with a wind that cut right through you.  We left on Wednesday and it was warm enough to remove our gloves by mid-morning!  We had to request an opening from a lifting bridge at 10.00am and were very conscious of the fact the traffic quickly built up in both directions as the bridge lumbered open and let us through.  I looked back and noticed the bridge appeared to have problems closing but eventually the two arms met and the traffic started to stream across.  In the early afternoon Melv commented that it looked as if we were going to be the last boat into Florida as in the course of any day we would expect to be overtaken by several motor boats and two or three yachts and we had seen no one else at all.  Later on we were listening to the VHF broadcasts from the bridge and it became apparent it had broken down after we had passed through and those waiting were warned there was no guarantee it would be open that day.  In the event they opened it at about 3 o’clock and boats were told to get down there quickly because this was their only shot.


We anchored two nights and arrived in Brunswick at lunchtime on Friday.  I only wish I could find something to say about Brunswick!  It was obviously a thriving industrial town in its heyday.  During WWII there were 16,000 people working in the shipyards day and night building Liberty Ships and they managed to build something like seven in a single month to meet the urgent need for merchant shipping at the time of the Battle of the Bulge.


The marina is very large and on the dock nearest to the marina office was a barge with a large object shrouded in black canvas and with a security guard watching over it (although Melv saw him killing time by fishing off the dock!).  Looking at the shape my first thought - quickly dismissed -  was that it was an anti-aircraft gun  Actually I may not have been too wide of the mark because from Wednesday they are filming sequences for the next X-men film in the harbour and boaters have been warned that movement in and out will be dictated by the filming schedule.  I almost wish we were staying to watch the excitement.


Tomorrow (20th) we set off for St Augustine and will cross into Florida.  We are leaving with warnings of shoaling and shallow waters ringing in our ears.  There is a website of photographs posted by the Brunswick towing people and it doesn’t inspire confidence when you see motor boats sitting on sand banks and even local shrimp boats awaiting a tow.  There was one of a yacht being rescued from the anchorage we used on Wednesday night.  The guide book comments that Florida not only receives government money but charges waterside residents a premium which should be spend on dredging the ICW…but isn’t.   I’m not sure Florida likes boaters, well not the ones that come and stay anyway.  They have laws which preclude staying more than a month and I get the impression they view live-aboards in much the same way we do Travellers.


Florida also has very strict laws regarding sewage disposal (sorry if you’ve just had your tea…).  Boats are obliged to have a holding tank which has been sealed by the marina where the last pump out took place (sometimes free, sometimes $5, 10 or even $15) or permanently locked by some other means.  We had already been told the authorities were liable to conduct what amounts to a dawn raid, demand to board your boat and inspect the holding tank whilst the crew is kept on deck, however one of the cruising blogs has an entry from a couple who were boarded as they waited with other boats to go through a lifting bridge.  The person posting the entry was of the opinion they used the location as a ‘toilet trap’ and a convenient means of raising revenue, rather than any commitment to the environment.  The holding tank in that case wasn’t sealed, because access was so difficult it proved impossible to place a tie, and whilst the law enforcement officer agreed he still issued a $250 fine, reduced on appeal to the judge to $100 (the maximum is $500).  Both the person we were speaking with and the blog entry comment on the aggressive attitude of the authorities and the blog also cited an incident where the skipper was escorted below at gunpoint!


Hoping for some Florida sunshine for Christmas.