Friday, January 19, 2007

Cumberland Island, GA, to Fernandina Beach, FL

6.5 nm
Wind: NW 15-20 knots
Maximum speed: 5.8 knots
Average speed: 4.6 knots
Latitude: 30°40.38’N
Longitude: 081°28.13’W

Yesterday, we wondered how anyone could be so lucky to get paid to live on Cumberland Island--today we met them. We went ashore for some civilization today at Fernandina Beach, a quaint little town at the Georgia-Floriday border, and happened to run into the gang that works on Cumberland Island, on some R&R themselves.

They work for a place called Grayfield Inn, one of the remaining privately-owned places on the island, still owned by Carnegie scions. Some are caretakers, others inn staff, and it’s as abandoned and solitary of a life as we had imagined. I’ve never met a group of people who loved their jobs so much.

They talked about pulling in nets from the beach, full of crabs and fish, huge on-beach barbecues with fish that had been caught four hours before, surfing on the breaks off the island, drinking homemade wine from wild grapes, and catching oranges from the top of trees so sweet and full of juice that they’d burst if they hit the ground.

I’m a little bit worried about the extent of our social skills when people meet us and immediately discern that we’d be great at jobs that require large amounts of isolation from the civilized world. But they’re evidently looking for couples to combat the loneliness out there, specifically boat people who have their own housing and transportation.

I really don’t think we’re ready to end our cruise yet, but the idea of earning more cash in an idyllic island paradise is sorely tempting. Especially one where I could run on the beach... If it worked out, I could be convinced. I can only hope that as we go, we’ll continue to run into choices like this. If we keep our minds and options open, we’ll find some extraordinary place to be for a while. Someplace we’re meant to be.

Still, the Bahamas beckon. So close. We met three crew off a 42-foot Beneteau who are heading straight to Eleuthera from here, with a plan to be there in three days. We’re so close. But we end up dawdling in Florida for a month. The list of people we have to visit just keeps getting longer. Everyone has a cousin who’s moved to Florida. And we’ll be even slower if we keep meeting people as cool as the group we met tonight.

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