Tag Archives: barrier island

A lovely trip to Sapelo Island

It’s been a busy two weeks. Now it’s time to catch up.

Earlier this month, I had an interesting day-trip. I had been asked to address a “master naturalist” class being held on Sapelo Island. Sapelo is a coastal island about 40 miles south of Savannah. I was out the door by 6:30 am, just to make absolutely sure I was on board the 8:30 am ferry to the island.

I got to the ferry just as the sun was coming up and the view was almost worth having to get up in the dark of the night.

A beautiful morning.

Marsh near the Sapelo ferry dock.

Nearly ready to go.

The passengers on the morning ferry ride.

Sapelo Island is an interesting place. Even with the ferry, access is restricted. You have to be invited to go there, either because you are visiting one of the residents, or you have some business on the island.  I have been there before when I visited the old Gulluh-Geechee community of Hog Hammock. The occasion at the time had been to accompany a professor-linguist who was working with the local residents to translate some old recordings that had been made on the island in the 1930s. This time, I was headed to the University of Georgia Marine Institute. It is located on the old RJ Reynolds (tobacco fortune) property.

I and some of the other speakers were picked up at the dock in one of the open-air trucks.  I’m glad it was a bright, sunny day, and not storming.

Sapelo Island's answer to mass transit.

I met up with Don Gardener, the extension service agent who invited me to the talk. My talk apparently was well received. I was scheduled for an hour on the agenda, which is about three times our normal civic club talk. But the group seemed to stay engaged, and there were lots of questions. That is good.

While waiting to depart for the 230 pm ferry trip, I got to talking with Dorset Hurley, the research director of the Sapelo Island National Esturine Research Reserve. He had a little time on his hands, so he offered to take me for a drive around the south end of the island. Nice guy. The tour included the historic light house.

Sapelo Island light house

He also gave me with a great rundown of the kind of salt marsh research they are doing there.

The entire ambience of Sapelo is very laid back. One good example of that is what I was told to do in the event my expected “ride” back to the ferry dock did not arrive in time.

“Just take one of these pick up trucks. Drive it to the dock and just leave the keys in the ignition.”

Clearly, auto theft is not a major problem when you are on a small island and there is no way to get the vehicle off.

In any case, my ride showed up in time and I was on the 230 ferry for the half-hour trip back to the mainland.

Back to the mainland.

All told, it was a very nice day. Back to work.

An island weekend

I had to work this Saturday, but at least it was fun work.

I took a trip to Wassaw Island, a barrier island near Savannah.  The purpose was this — each year, we offer some “trips” as prizes for the silent auction that is part of the university system’s big fundraising gala. Today one of the winners of last year’s prizes came for his trip. We put them up in one of our cottages on our campus and took them to Wassaw Island for a beach and nature tour. My boss, his wife (who was our guide) and I hosted the day.

Wassaw is only reachable by boat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service dock.

It is entirely a nature preserve. When we were leaving the island, we saw a few boaters “beaching it” on the very south end. Aside from them,  I believe we were the only humans on the seven-mile long island. Our own private pardise for a few hours.

The family involved was very nice – the parents and two children. They seemed to enjoy the day. We docked at the Fish and Wildlife dock on the land-side of the island and hiked across the island to the beach.

Wassaw has a different look to it than some of the other barrier islands I’ve visited. It is newer and doesn’t have the same expanse of maritime oak forest. There is a 35 foot high sand dune (hill) running down the middle of the island.

Hiking up the "dune" on the way back to the boat.

On the beach side of the dune, the terrain is low-lying but the vegetation is mostly pine and palmetto – not many oaks at all.

Burned pines on the beach side of the big dune.

So we hiked across the island and spent a couple of hours just hanging around the beautiful beach.

Arriving at our "private beach."

Not very crowded today.

When we returned, we got cleaned up and I started cooking dinner. We provided a low country boil, and that was my responsibility. It went well. I managed to cook the shrimp just right. (It’s very easy to overcook the shrimp. Then they are soggy and tough to peal.)

Mrs. Poolman originally planned to join me on the day’s activities, but her boss asked her to work Saturday as an overtime day. She would earn some significant $$$ for the shift, so she jumped on it.

Today (Sunday) is our only off-day of the weekend. We spent it cleaning house (Mrs. Poolman) and yard work in the backyard (me). I’m grilling some chicken for dinner and Mrs. P is doing the green beans and new potatoes. We’ll be to bed early tonight. The work week awaits.

A great day on Ossabaw Island

I had a great time on Wednesday of this week – a day trip to Ossabaw Island. Ossabaw is one of Georgia’s secluded, undeveloped barrier islands. The only practical way to reach it is by boat.

The beach

We took off from our campus at 8:30 in the morning with a group of eleven scientists and technicians for the one hour trip down the Intra-Coastal Waterway to the island.

Ossabaw Island is held by the State of Georgia as a Heritage Trust. Access is by permission only.

We had several reasons for this trip. One reason was to conduct some maintenance on the “Barrier Island Observatory.” We are part of a group of organizations that are developing an observatory network on the island. This is a series of sensors and cameras that can by accessed through the Internet. Right now there is a weather station, a water sensor at the dock and at two wells, and a camera at the dock. You can see what they pickup here.

We also had a couple of geologists who needed to dig some core samples, and a graduate student who collected Spanish moss and air samples.

I went along to take pictures and to enjoy the day.

It was great to get out of the office. Along the way, we passed the bald eagle nest on Pigeon Island.

Once on the island, we got around on the back of pick up trucks.

The causeway from the dock to the island.

The island is beautiful and peaceful, with scenes ranging from maritime forest, to salt marshes to open beaches.

Salt marsh

Dead palm trees

A dead tree -- the result of erosion.

An interesting matrix of dead wood on the beach.

Tabby former living quarters

When we first arrived, we were greeted by “Paul Mitchell,” one of the island’s pet hogs.However, unlike on my last visit to the island, we didn’t see very much in the way of wildlife. We saw only one alligator. I think part of the reason for this is that the fresh water ponds on the island are very low, so the gators aren’t close to the various roads and causeways.

No water = no alligators.

All in all, it was a great day and a lot of fun.