Cumberland Island Twenty-five Years of Cruising to Paradise! Part II of III By Fred Braman (Part I can be read in the February 2015 issue in Back Issues at www.SouthwindsMagazine.com.)
t only took one trip and I was smitten by Cumberland. The first dozen or so of my cruises to Cumberland Island were all made to Sea Camp Dock, which was discussed in part one of this series. I continue to stop at Sea Camp on most trips, as it is the best single place for cruisers, especially for a first time visit. But the island is nearly 18 miles long and no easy round trip hike. Eager to experience more of the island’s delights, I sought out other places to drop the hook that offered shore access and a chance to explore other parts of this great place. There are two good spots to do this, just off the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW), to the north of the Sea Camp area and on the way to Jekyll Island. Central and Northern Anchorages For committed Cumberland explorers, the Brickhill River offers two anchorages in the central and northern reaches of the island. The Brickhill is barely a river; more like a “marsh view connector” between two locations on the Cumberland River, a stretch of the ICW in this region. From the north, its
Chart 11502 showing the north and south Brickhill River anchorages on Cumberland Island.
mouth exits the Cumberland River and re-enters the same river less than 10 miles later. Both north and south accesses allow island exploration without hiking all 18 miles of its length, one way. Plum Orchard The area of Cumberland long called Plum Orchard is now synonymous with the elegant white mansion that dominates the bluff over the southern part of the Brickhill River. The site is very popular for visiting tourists, and the National Park Service (NPS) established a dock at the site. In years past, excursion boats used the dock to provide visitor access to the mansion. The excursions by water no longer operate, and the dock can be used as a dinghy landing for boats anchored in the river. Entrance into this part of the Brickhill River is straightforward, but care must be taken at the river’s junction with the larger Cumberland River. The AICW takes a turn to the west at Red 60A where the two rivers join. Channel markers here are tightly bunched to guide boaters through some shallows in the river bend. Directly opposite 60A is the entrance to the Brickhill. The river itself has good anchoring depths of 10 to 18 feet, but water at the mouth gets pretty skinny for the first hundred yards or so. I try to enter on a rising tide, at least an hour past dead low and see depths of 6-7 feet at that tide state. Upon entering, the deeper water is just left of the centerline. If the depth gets too shallow, try a little more toward the northern shore. Once inside, depths are good bank to bank, at least until well past the usual anchoring area, just beyond the NPS dock. Plum Orchard enters history near the beginning of the The Park Service map—available online at www.nps.gov/cuis, or at the Sea Camp Ranger Station
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