Cumberland Island Fall Cruise


Sonas has been at home dock for the majority of late summer. Most of this was due to some traveling that we did off the boat, but we also took the opportunity to do some maintenance and updating.

We replaced every battery on the boat. 12 6v AGM golf cart batteries for the house. Both generator AGM start batteries (we have 24v system), both 12v AGM batteries for the electronics, and both AGM 8D batteries for the engine starts, windlass and bow thruster.

We also added a series of battery monitors which gives us a full read out of the batteries, their health, charge, draw etc.

We added a new touch screen display on the flybridge to replace the old one which had no longer worked, and added two Garmin marine cameras feeding into the screen. One on the radar arch looking backwards, and one in the engine room. This is replicated in the pilot house.

We replaced the port exhaust hose after noticing a small tear, the starboard was replaced two years ago.

So after all that was completed and we had settled from our travels we headed off the Cumberland Island for four days. Readers of this blog will already know that this is one of our “happy places,” and we go up there as often as we can.

We had been watching the forecast and were hoping it would hold as it was absolutely perfect boating weather! For all four days the forecast was for around 80f during the day and mid-60s at night. With zero wind.

Leaving home dock on a calm morning

On Tuesday we were out through our lock right as it opened at 8am. Ran north on the AICW to the St John’s and turned right for the ocean. Once past Mayport Naval Station and outside we found flat calm waters with hardly a swell. This held all the way to the St Mary’s Inlet. One thing we noticed was all the sailboats heading south out of the St Johns, all taking advantage of the weather.

Mayport Naval Station
Sailboats at the St John’s River inlet outbound
Pelicans over calm waters

We ran up to the Cumberland Island Anchorage on the East River right off the Sea Camp dock. As we passed the Dungeness/Ice House dock we saw that the yellow danger tape was still on the tender dock, then we saw the same on the Sea Camp dock. These docks had been damaged two or three years ago and had not yet been fixed. The good news was there were men working on the docks, so we were hopeful they would be open soon! For now we had to use the small 30 foot or so south portion of the Sea Camp dock temporarily allocated for tenders. Then on Friday we were notified that the work on both docks and the subsequent inspections were complete, and the docks were now open for tenders to use.

There were around 20 boats already anchored, and this was consistent over the 4 days. These were the northern climate boaters heading south , further into Florida and/or the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Cumberland Island anchorage

Once anchored we cranked up the generator just long enough to launch the dinghy. Sian took Bella ashore for a necessary, then we took her for a longer walk on the beach later in the afternoon. We had the 18 mile beach all to ourselves! As we were leaving the island to go back to Sonas we watch an Ohio class nuclear sub depart from Kings Bay. We would also see one coming in on day two and another leaving on day 3!

Kings Bay Submarine Base

As forecast the air went still and the water to glass in the evening. We never heard a murmur all night. The sunset was glorious.


Next day, Wednesday, Frank and Julie arrived on their Larson, Escape and Don and Susan on their Grand Banks, Passage. We took Frank and Julie ashore for a ranger led beach walk.

Uncle Frank with Bella

In the evening we six had dinner aboard Passage. Again the waters were glassy and silent all night, with yet another beautiful sunset.

On Thursday Sian, Frank and Julie were dropped off at the Dungeness dock and took a ranger led tour of the Dungeness ruins, watching the wide horses graze nearby.

Wild horses

Around lunchtime Bill and Betsy arrived on their Great Harbor, Pipe Dream. Everyone came across to Sonas in the evening for grilled steaks and camaraderie. And for the third night we had a calm anchorage.

Pipe Dream
We awake to a beautiful day!

Finally on Friday everyone left late morning and we ran outside on even calmer water than our trip up.

Time for morning doggie ablutions!
Followed by morning coffee!

This is the perfect weather for Florida boating!!

One thought on “Cumberland Island Fall Cruise”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your latest article…it just popped up in my feed. I understand by your traveling directions it would seem you guys are in Queens Harbor. My wife and I keep our boat just down the river in Harbortown. We don’t have a trawler yet, but we treat our 36 foot Trojan (Speakeasy) like one. We enjoy anchoring in the area and have yet to explore anchorages in the northern regions of our area. After reading your article, I’ve got a feeling we’ll be checking it out soon as well. So, thank you and hope to see you out and about one day.

    Scott &Malina

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