1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Gypsy Wind Sails to Deepest, Darkest Africa???

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gypsy Wind Sails to Deepest, Darkest Africa???

Discerning LiveBloggin’ readers will be asking themselves: “Why is there a photo of a Ring Tailed Lemur, from Madagascar of all places, on Wally’s blog? Isn’t he somewhere on the ICW, as in the US of A? How bizarre...and what’s this, a video of Ring Tailed Lemurs, plus four hardebeests from Kenya...and there’s some North American birds and white tailed deer, all on the same video? Has Wally gotten his videos from South Africa and South Carolina all mixed up?”

Well, LiveBloggers, those are excellent musings....but the truth is that kismet, as experienced in my day to day life, is the reason for what you see here. Serendipity and adventure are some of the reasons I cruise - you just don’t get days like this working in a cubicle. Let me tell you about it - but first, the sailing report for you hardcore types...
I had two great days sailing north from St. Simons - the first day the winds were light, so I motorsailed to St. Catherine’s Sound. The winds picked up for the last hour or so, and Gypsy Wind roared into the inlet under sail at over 7 knots. Great fun.
The next day, leaving St. Catherines, I sailed off the anchor and, without the least mutter from the diesel, on to Skull Creek at Hilton Head - an anchorage that was purportedly used by Blackbeard to hide from the navy vessels hunting him. The winds out of the southwest tucked themselves over my left shoulder, (which is the best location for my boat), and stayed there all day. Just for the record, that was a 6 - 7 knot day all day long, with almost no wave action....great fun. The new mainsail looked, and performed, like a dream! Every sailing day should be so great. On top of that, both days I left the anchorages with an ebbing tide, and entered the new inlet with a flooding tide. Had I gone on the ICW rather than offshore, I'd have fought current all day long both days.
Anyhow, back at St. Catherine’s Sound, I had anchored up in Warburg Creek beside St. Catherine’s Island. There’s a research facility there, been there for many years now - and part of their research at one point was on certain African animals, which I wasn't aware of previous to this trip.
 I brought Aduana ashore for her walk, and fortunately I had her on the leash, because there were about a dozen white tailed deer in the field in front of us - she’d still be chasing them had she not been on her leash. Northerners will notice these are very small deer compared to the White Tails we have in Canada, which are considerably larger. Even the same deer in Annapolis MD is more than twice the size of these pretty animals.
Later, while walking, we walked up to within twenty feet of still more deer - they’re comfortable with humans, even walking into some of the buildings, but dogs make them nervous. A little further on I walked up to some cages and saw - Ring Tailed Lemurs. How strange.
I watched them for a while, enjoying their antics and their curiosity over Aduana and I watching them. They’re pretty animals, with brilliant coppery orange eyes and a raccoon’s tail. They are very agile and active, and quite loud.
While returning to the boat, I ran into Elizabeth, who works on the island with her husband. Her father started the facility years ago and still works there. She explained the setup to me, and that the lemurs I saw, and another 100 or so running free on the island, plus a few other animals, were all part of previous research projects and were due to be returned to the wild eventually. Her father, Royce, explained to me later that the island is actually the best place in the world to study Lemurs, other than Madagascar. In some ways, he said, it's actually better, as the jungles of Madagascar have been badly defoliated whereas St. Catherines Island allows the lemurs more range and freedom. To learn about these things was fascinating to say the least, and reminded me of the safari I went on while in South Africa in 2010. And that's not even including the elephant I saw in Myrtle Beach....but shhhh!, that's another post!
Next year, I hope to arrange for a tour of the island facility for a group of southbound sailors, but in the meantime, here's a look at what you'll have to look forward to...

Don't forget - I'm speaking at the Port Credit Boat Show on the 23 - 25 of this month - the schedule for the show is here...Speakers' Schedule...a special treat this year will be Paul and Sheryl Shard speaking on cruising through the canals of France. Hope to see you there, it's a great show!