Friday, December 11, 2015

Brunswick Landing Marina : A social kinda place.
28th July – 10th August 2015.
Ok, to say that Brunswick Landing Marina (BLM) is a “social place” is pretty much a huge understatement. It has to be the biggest happening thing that we’ve ever experienced at a marina anywhere on this planet. We hadn’t actually planned to go to Georgia as plan A was to transit the Panama Canal, but fate, time and the weather gods intervened. Then with lady luck putting her tuppence worth in for good measure, Brunswick was where we ended up. Are we happy about that? Oh yeah.
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Where to start? Nestled on Academy Creek just off the Brunswick River the marina is literally a stones throw from the historic area of town. There are several eateries along the main drag as well as coffee shops, small mom and pop grocery stores, a bakery and an excellent library. Just out of town, a bike ride or a “get your heart pumping” walk away, are the usual suspects… Publix, Home Depot, West Marine, Lowes, Wal-mart,Target, Enterprise Rental Cars etc etc. So anyone who thinks there’s not much in Brunswick for cruisers should think again, ‘cause it’s all there.
Right, back to the marina’s social side. The evening we arrived we were met on the dock by Sherrie. Along with Cindy she is one of the dockmasters here. By and large she runs the docks while Cindy runs the office. After snuggling into our berth we were told to get our asses up to the marina’s clubhouse as it was happy hour and a bunch of people were waiting to meet the newbies. So dutifully, after a quick clean up, off we trotted.
Happy hour was in full swing and after a few meet and greets we realised that there were a couple of folks that we’d met in other places along the way. Bob and Vicky from Foxsea we’d met the previous year down in Guatemala and  Kerrie- Ann and Kim, owners of Busco Viento 11, we knew from our recent stopover in St Augustine. Actually everyone we met in that short space of time had made us feel exceptionally welcome and we felt right at home.

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Most people come to the marina at the start of hurricane season, June 1st, and either stay aboard or leave their boats battened down and unattended returning in November ready for the start of the cruising season on December 1st. The majority of insurance companies, ours included, insist that their clients’ vessels be above latitude 30.05 degrees north in order to comply with the hurricane clauses in their policies.
The popular marinas, BLM being one of them, fill up quick with return customers or new ones like us. There are over 200 slips in the marina and about one quarter of the boats have couples staying aboard during the off season. This makes for something more like a mini neighbourhood than a marina and if you’re not careful with all that’s going on everyday you can get socialised out pretty darn quick. Oh and before I keep going I should say that every event and activity during our stay was completely gratis,100% free, compliments of the marina management.


There was happy-hour wine and beer Mon, Wed & Fri evenings and a fresh keg of beer placed in the “kegorator’' every Sat on-tap ‘till whenever it ran out. Movie night was Thursdays, Chickenfoot dominos on Saturdays, musical jam sessions Tuesdays, Spanish lessons three afternoons a week,  ladies craft two mornings a week, pot luck dinners on Sunday evenings and probably a couple more things that I’ve forgotten to mention. Throw in the complimentary bicycles, cable TV, wi-fi, washers and dryers and gas BBQ’s on each dock, well you get the picture. It’s the sort of place you find very hard to leave.


Apart from the the marina activities the town itself also put out the welcome mat on the first Friday of every month.  As an incentive to keep the historic area alive and to attract people from the surrounding district, the shop keepers would throw their doors open ‘till around 9pm and host nibbles and wine for all the passerbys. Local bands belted out popular tunes in the leafy parks and squares along the main street and the restaurants also did a roaring trade. These nights always had a great community feel, with families, children and creatures great and small all welcome.

Labor Day in the US was celebrated on September 7th and the marina came to the party by hosting lunch for the cruisers in the form of a Low Country Boil. The coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina make up the low country, a term given it due to the coastal terrain, so it is most fitting to have a dish named after it. Now if you are like us, we’d never heard of such a delicacy. You certainly won’t find the recipe in any cookbooks downunder. But thanks to Mr Google all was revealed way before we got to taste it.
Known as Frogmore stew it was a handed down family recipe created by Richard Gay, a national guardsman, who needed to cook a meal for 100 of his fellow soldiers. Named after the town where he’d grown up, the dish was later renamed “low country boil”, after the US postal service eliminated the town’s name from its registry. The one-pot wonder is a combo of shrimp, smoked sausage, corn and potatoes. Crab, onions and butter are often added for more  flavour. Taking about one hour to bring out the best of the ingredients, it’s cooked in a large pot with a removable draining basket and is traditionally served straight onto a table covered with newspaper.
Along with everyone else who call the marina home we had a great afternoon. There was quite a crowd and we were all asked to bring along a side-dish to accompany the main fare, so there was a ton of food. Surprisingly there were no double-ups on the dishes. A local band played all the tunes from yesteryear  and quite a few of us oldies hit the dance floor for a bit of fun.You gotta hand it to BLM, they sure know how to throw a great party for their clients.
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Ok, so now you know all about the social activities, but it sure wasn’t all play and no work. We were both kept busy doing boat chores as we got ready to pack up GWTW for yet another hurricane season.. There were new engine mounts to install, engines to service, the watermaker to decommission, fridges and freezers to defrost, clean out and shut down, deck awnings to wash and pack away and dozens of spare parts to be ordered for next season.
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We also bought and installed a household A/C unit to leave running in our absence to keep the boat cool and ward off mold forming on the inside surfaces. But by far the biggest challenge came when Liam ran some Barnacle Buster cleaning solution through our genset. Following the instructions to the letter ended in disaster as the solution ate through the  generator’s gaskets and as murphy's law would have it, the rear of our genset where the gaskets are located is in the most inaccessible place.
After contacting those in the know who built our boat  they decided the only solution to reach the back of the genset was to cut a hole through the main central beam of the boat, a scary thing to do as that beam is structurally integral to stop the boat from flexing when under way.They all assured us that it would be ok so long as it was a round hole with a certain distance from the bottom of the beam. So with a four inch holesaw Liam gingerly cut the hole. With help from fellow cruisers Kim off Busco Viento 11 and Mike on the boat in the slip next to ours, after 5 days of cussing, blood sweat and tears literally, the job was done, the gaskets replaced and our genny roared back to life. Once we return to GWTW Liam will re-fiberglass the opening to give it back it’s full strength. Fingers crossed the advice we were given was correct!
Whilst at the marina another wedding anniversary came and went. We’d clocked up 30 years and had a nice lunch downtown and  later shared the day and a little bubbly with friends back in the clubhouse. Thanks everyone for making our day extra special.
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After a month and a half of living like landlubbers the time came to make a move. We said goodbye to GWTW and our new found marina buddies for the next seven weeks whilst we’d return to Australia to visit family and friends. As we’d booked our flights to leave from Richmond airport in Virginia, we’d rented a car to drive up and stay a few days with friends who lived there before catching the flight back to Sydney. As always, when packing up our home, we just needed one more day.This time we stretched it out to two. Weathering one last afternoon thunderstorm, a very frequent occurrence at this time of year in Georgia, around 2pm we turned off the lights, closed the cockpit doors and effectively ended yet another great year of cruising.

1 comment:

  1. Hey you guys! Great write up! We hope you can make it back to see us again soon. We miss ya.

    -Michael Torras