Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cruiser's Thanksgiving at St. Mary's, Georgia

     One of the nice social aspects of the cruising life is meeting new people with similar interests. Simple Life had just arrived in the St.Mary's anchorage and the anchor was set. Bob and Pat from Chanticleer whom we'd met during the hurricane at Dowry Creek dinghied over to invite us to attend the free oyster roast at 5:30 hosted by Seagles Restaurant in honor of the cruising community.

     It sounded great but first we needed a nap. It was 11:00 AM and Joe had passed out in bed from exhaustion after the overnight passage. I heard a knock on the boat. Lawrence from Elle and I knocked on the hull to welcomed us and inform us of the evening's activities. We'd met Lawrence and his wife Elaine way back in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

     The town of St. Mary's Georgia organizes an annual Thanksgiving bash for all cruisers who are passing through each year. Activities began on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving and ended with a pancake breakfast on Friday morning. We'd heard announcements for the upcoming celebration over the SSB Cruisehimer's net for a few weeks. Last year there were over 100 boats in attendance! Joe and I learned early on this trip not to plan too far in advance while cruising and that all plans should be cast in jello. We figured if we were in the vicinity we'd plan to attend and since we'd arrived in time we did check in with the organizers aboard Sea Tramp.

Photo by Debbie Rolen

     At sunset, Joe finally awoke from his "long winter's nap" we didn't feel up to going ashore for the oyster roast.
     But, on second thought, we were talking about oysters. Let's reconsider, after all Joe could live on oysters. Feeling a bit shaky and still groggy from our overnight ordeal, we dragged ourselves ashore. You've heard the old cliche, second wind...well we caught ours.

 Picture a hot fire, cool outdoor weather and a man with a shovel roasting the oysters over a wood fire while everyone with shucking knives stood around an outdoor oyster bar equipped with screens to catch the shovel loads of roasted oysters. I felt like a spectator at a cave man party! I ate my share of oysters as well. I don't even like oysters, but I was so caught up in the ambience that I had to participate. It was also happy hour, two for one beer and wine for $3.00! Everyone was very happy...the bartender "Cindy Queen of the Bar" was the entertainment with her boisterous demeanor and heart of gold.

Cindy "Queen of the Bar"

The cruising life is always filled with surprises. On Thanksgiving morning as Joe was making coffee he heard a dinghy engine. He went into the cockpit and the owner of Sea Tramp who organized the Thanksgiving celebration was there offering two Bloody Mary's to kick off the days' festivities. They made the rounds of the entire anchorage with drinks for everyone.
      Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled for 1:00 PM on Thursday. Everyone brought a side dish and the town provided the turkeys and ham free of charge. At 12:30 the cruisers lined up around the block. There were over 35 cruising boats in attendance this year. Volunteers had been setting up tables and chairs all morning in the Riverview Hotel dining room on the waterfront in St. Mary's and it looked lovely. Joe and I were invited to sit with the crew from Chanticleer, fellow Rhode Islanders Jeff and Susan on board Meltemi, and Bob and Brenda aboard Pandora.

Even though our stay in St. Mary's was brief I met another another cruiser with whom I made fast friends. We met at the oyster roast while she was photographing the festivities. Debbie is an artist whose medium is photography. Her subject matter ranges from a fascinating reflection series of studies on the St. Mary's river to a series of textural studies titled Art Dirt. Debbie's husband Josh and Joe hit it off right away. Joe's only regret was that we left before Josh taught Joe how to throw a seine net for shrimping off the boat. Hopefully, we'll all meet again when we return in the Spring.

Josh and Debbie
her photo of the oyster roast is above

On Friday morning the anchorage began thinning out as boats began leaving for their southern destinations. Some planned offshore passages with long days of travel ahead and others like us were moving a short distance away to nearby Cumberland Island, Georgia. We all parted with warm feelings from the holiday gathering we'd shared and for the warm welcome from the town of St. Mary's Georgia.
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